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

There is no doubt that sand-dune country is the ideal site for a golf course, as it possesses certain natural advantages which are not met with elsewhere. The porous sand provides perfect drainage: and grasses which flourish there are of the finest kinds. The undulations are ideal for the game, as they are numerous but not mountainous.  H.S. COLT


    

Friday
Feb062009

"OK, let me throw out another idea for you to reject."

Ron Whitten sort of buries the lede (in a copy and paste kind of way) when he repeats this story about the Jack Nicklaus-Tom Doak dream design pairing (why can't we have this on tape?).

Out in the dirt at Sebonack:

Jack: "Why leave that knob? The only criticism it'll get will be from good players who can't see the fairway."

Tom: "My thing is visual. All you see is green grass. The knob makes it visual. It pulls the green toward us. It plants the idea of going for it."

Jack: "In the mind of a scratch player or an 11-handicapper? You've said a bunch of stuff that a scratch player would never think."

Tom: "Well, a low-handicapper. If the green looks close to him, he'll overswing and get into trouble."

Jack: "All this stuff over one little pile of dirt. Look, it's my tee back here and if I want to get rid of it, I'll get rid of it."

They move down the fairway, where a plastic-lined, environmentally dictated retention pond was installed at the base of a hill below the proposed green. Both agree the pond looks too artificial.

Jack: "What if you built a waste bunker along the edge of the lake, break up that linear look?"

Tom: "I don't want to put a waste bunker against water. That looks like a hundred other modern golf courses. That's what I really don't want to do."

Jack: "You really don't like it?"

Tom: "I like to let human nature work against golfers sometimes. Why bunker right up to the water and dictate their shot? If they're silly enough to hug the lake on their second shot, then it's their fault if they go in."

Jack: "But we have to take up the elevation somehow. There had been a cliff between the pond and the fairway. Another option is to put that cliff back."

Tom thinks about it for a minute, then shakes his head.

Jack: "OK, let me throw out another idea for you to reject."

What a shame with this economic crisis, it's going to be so hard to get these two modest, humble men together for another collaboration.

Friday
Feb062009

Boo: "I'm looking at the WCWs, the WGWs"

The Golf Watch's Richard Simon has posted a two-part Q&A with Jeff Babineau on the state of Golfweek, but even more fun than that is his his link to Boo Weekley's recent 19th Hole interview with Vince Cellini and John Hawkins where the PGA Tour's finest tries twice to refer to the WGC events, and fails.

"I'm looking at the WCWs, the WGWs...

I don't think it's online, but that episode of the show also featured a priceless Hawkins rant about the 2018 Ryder Cup-to-Dubai talk.

Thursday
Feb052009

"Tradition or otherwise, the R&A has developed a habit of ignoring history, even its own, when it wants to."

Finally, someone is scrutinizing the R&A...wait, oh, it's not for redesigning courses in lieu of distance regulation or rendering the Road hole unrecognizeable?

Lawrence Donegan reports on Scotland's senior most politician calling for an end to "chauvinistic" attitudes after not offering a membership to Dr. Louise Richardson, new St. Andrews University principal. Her predecessors were given R&A memberships.

"The Royal and Ancient Golf Club should follow their long-standing practice of offering membership to the Principal of St Andrews University and I am sure that after due consideration they will continue with that honourable tradition," the first Minister said today.

It is highly unusual for a politician of Salmond's seniority to become embroiled in the affairs of a sporting club but the politician is also a keen golfer who has long taken an interest in the health of the sport. He was joined in his criticism by Claire Baker, a Labour member of the Scottish parliament, who said Dr Richardson should be accorded the same courtesy and privileges as her male predecessors.

"It's more than 500 years since Mary Queen of Scots became the first woman to tee off at the home of golf but it seems that the Royal and Ancient is still stuck in the middle ages. It is high time the fuddy-duddies who run the club put their chauvinist attitudes to one side and joined the 21st century," she said tonight.

Thursday
Feb052009

"But who would have thought when they picked up the 2009 media guide that they'd see Weir, Steve Marino and Lucas Glover with full beards?"

Garry Smits posts an item about the possible PGA Tour appearance crack down, with this study of the media guide:

There are 312 players photographed in the fully-exempt section and the conditionally exempt section combined. Of that number, 53 players have hair clearly below the collar, mustaches, full beards, goatees or simply varying growths of beards appearing to be anywhere from a few days to a week's worth of non-application of the razor.

In the 1999 media guide, 10 years in the past, there are 288 players pictured in the two sections. Only 22 of them had facial hair or long hair, nine among the fully exempt section.

Some players have always had some growth of hair. In addition to the aforementioned Bryant and Villegas, Marco Dawson, Jerry Kelly, Ian Poulter and Frank Lickliter are at least consistent.

But who would have thought when they picked up the 2009 media guide that they'd see Weir, Steve Marino and Lucas Glover with full beards? Or the usually immaculate Trevor Immelman and the fashionable Brett Quigley having their photos taken without having shaved for a few days?

Thursday
Feb052009

Rackham Fight Is Over

A rare bit of good news for golf courses these days. Thanks to reader Chuck for this.

Thursday
Feb052009

"We're not joining that bleeping union."

Ed Sherman profiles Dick Wilson in this week's Golf World, and naturally the tension between Wilson and Robert Trent Jones is the best part.

As the preeminent architects of the post-World War II period, Robert Trent Jones and Wilson were fierce competitors, often up for the same jobs. A 1962 story in Sports Illustrated was headlined, "Golf's Battling Architects." Critiquing Trent Jones' work, Wilson said: "I think he gives an impression of too many straight lines. Straight lines are something you want to get away from."

Von Hagge recalls Wilson once was told that a prerequisite for landing a job was joining the American Society of Golf Course Architects, which Trent Jones had formed in 1946. The request had Wilson fuming. "Dick was such a competitor," von Hagge says. "He used a lot of profanity and said, 'We're not joining that bleeping union.' The real underlying tiger there was Jones was asked to put it together, and Dick wasn't. He never joined."

Wednesday
Feb042009

Follow Up: "More A Guide Than A Policy"

Regarding the debate about player appearance and the PGA Tour's possible crackdown on the daily Ratso Rizzo tributes that have become commonplace, I'm leaning toward the side of headquarters in wanting to see players clean things up a bit. I know, the possibility of a directive from Ponte Vedra dictating shaving frequency or haircut recommendations is a tad frightening.

If the tour makes their point carefully and shrewdly, they will be doing their players a service. If they break out in jargon and legalese or sound like Sister Shrewd from Our Lady Of Perpetual Misery, then there should be some fun player-only meetings this summer.

The PGA Tour sells itself as displaying the talents of fairly humble, clean, civilized athletes. This has led most of us to find the modern day professional quite boring, while making the players quite rich. Lately, the tour has encouraged and tried desperately to market some of the quirkier personalities like Boo Weekley or Charley Hoffman or anyone else who shows signs of individuality.  As Evan Rothman noted in a recent piece for Golfweek.com, it's a good thing that the PGA Tour has tried to loosen up a bit and embraced the characters or the party scene at Scottsdale, all in the name of livening things up.

But like men's tennis in the 90s and early 21st century, the players have taken this theme a bit far, becoming grittier, cockier and all the way much less multi-dimensional in the way they play, making it very hard to get excited about cheering them on. Throw in lean economic times, lousy ratings and the players need to do their part to keep the old ladies tuning in and the corporate drones happy, like it or not. So yes, that will mean shaving more often or even losing the Bozo the clown look by getting a haircut now and then.

If the tour explains that this is a take it or leave it suggestion for their benefit, I suspect some players will respond. If the tour issues a multi-point memo that reads like it was drafted by an SS grooming expert, this could snowball into a, gulp, messy situation.

Wednesday
Feb042009

"As soon as I got done, I just got on the phone"

Reader Lee is right that Rich Beem's approach to retaining sponsors is something more folks on the PGA Tour will need to do in the coming years. Of course, not a big surprise since this is a guy who gave us the all-time greatest hole-in-one reaction, and it was just an Altima!

Doug Ferguson writes:

Two days after he finished the year at No. 140 on the money list, Beem pulled out his phone book and pored through a stack of business cards he had collected over his last decade on the PGA Tour and tried to strike a deal.

“As soon as I got done, I just got on the phone,” Beem said. “I called up people I knew, either CEOs of their business or high enough up and said, ‘Listen, you had talked about doing something with golf, would you like to get into it?’”

His agent helped him negotiate a modest renewal with Callaway Golf (bag, clubs, ball, glove and a logo on the shirt) and a modified deal with Mars, the parent company of Uncle Ben’s rice. Beem used to wear the logo on his cap, and now will do corporate outings.

Beem did the rest on his own.

On his cap is Guggenheim Properties, a private financial services firm with offices in Chicago and New York, courtesy of a longtime relationship with Jack Salerno. On the sleeve of his shirt is Nelson Financial Group – Beem is neighbors in Idaho with one of the executives. He also arranged deals with Oakley (clothing, sunglasses).

None of these would be considered blockbuster deals, but each have a personal touch, and provide enough for Beem to take care of travel expenses as he tries to get by on a schedule built on sponsor exemptions and his conditional status.

Wednesday
Feb042009

"any Swede"

The March issue of Golf Digest features an anonymous PGA Tour player survey and includes some pretty fun questions. My two favs:

WHO'S THE SLOWEST PLAYER ON TOUR?
Ben Crane: 43%
J.B. Holmes: 32%
Glen Day: 11%
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Michael Allen, Jason Allred, Tiger Woods, "any Swede"

What is it about the Swedes, anyway?

NAME ONE GOLF ANNOUNCER YOU COULD LIVE WITHOUT
Kelly Tilghman: 30%
Nick Faldo: 17%
Peter Kostis: 13%
Johnny Miller: 9%
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Curt Byrum, Bobby Clampett, Brian Hammons, John Hawkins, Renton Laidlaw, Dave Marr III, Gary McCord, Mark Rolfing

Congrats Peter!

Wednesday
Feb042009

Donald Knew What He Was Doing All Along: Weak Pound Trims $600 Million Off Scotland Project Price Tag

And now it makes such financial sense!

Peter Woodifield reports the heartwarming news for Bloomberg:

“On a fairly conservative basis, I certainly think a 30 percent saving is doable,” George Sorial, Trump’s executive in charge of the project, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “When you are in the construction business in 2009, you have to find silver linings where you can.”

Raw-material costs have also fallen since Trump announced the plan with the drop in the crude-oil price, while the U.K. recession has made contractors cut their bids, Sorial said.

Trump hopes to start building the first golf course, which he says will be good enough to host the British Open Championship, by the end of this year, Sorial said. It should be completed within two years.

What a relief.

Wednesday
Feb042009

"Depending on who you listen to, McIlroy is a better player at his age (19) than Tiger Woods, has no limits on his potential, and can start planning his hall of fame speech."

Uh oh, and I didn't write that. Worse, it's Jim McCabe (I think he might have some Irish blood) who dared to question the Rory hype and compares Tiger's record at the same age. Advantage Tiger.

Wednesday
Feb042009

"How come McIlroy's kid has already won a tour event at 19 and my kid is still in college taking dance movement classes?"

In this week's SI/golf.com/Golf Mag/Time Inc. omnibus roundtable recapping last week's golf, you have to enjoy this exchange where the lads brought Gary Van Sickle's son Mike, elite player Marquette University golfer and patient saint offspring of the beloved cranky writer, into the discussion.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I'd be curious to learn what Mike thinks about Rory McIlroy's win today in Dubai. Back at Carnoustie in 2007 he was an amateur phenom, but now he is one of the better European players out there ... and he's still only 19!

Mike Van Sickle: It's hard to really imagine winning a Tour event at the age of 19. You hear about so many solid players that can't even make it onto the tours until their late 20s or even 30s, but Rory is winning events at 19? Not only is that impressive, but at 22 I'm starting to feel old.

Evans: I think a very good player can get it up every now and then to win a tour event; a great player is a consistent winner. McIlroy may just be the flavor of the week.

Van Sickle: How come McIlroy's kid has already won a tour event at 19 and my kid is still in college taking dance movement classes?

Mike Van Sickle: It's actually Disciplines of Movement. We practiced our leaping in the last class. It's a lot of fun. How much do professional dancers make?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Modern Dance, Mike, would be an excellent and different thing to list under "Hobbies" in the Tour media guide.

Van Sickle: I don't know. "Dancing With the Stars" might be pretty lucrative if you could get on there.

Tuesday
Feb032009

PGA Tour Preparing To Issue APB For Repeat "Overall Appearance" Violators

John Hawkins reports that guidelines are being drawin up and Colonel Rick George will be supervising the effort to clean up the PGA Tour's grungiest.

In reality, it probably won't deter Sergio Garcia from showing up with a four-day growth, which can't be nearly as offensive as those canary-yellow pants he wore at the British Open a few years back. "More of a guide than a policy," is how George characterizes the company position. "There are no parameters, per se. We just want the players to be neatly groomed, and there are a lot of ways to interpret that. We want them to be mindful of their overall appearance."

How worried should the players be about fines and enforcement? Uh, Hawk reminds us how seriously they take slow play. Oops!

If the tour looks the other way when it comes to slow play, one can't envision a guy getting fined $1,000 for hiding a pimple on his chin. You can appeal to the world's best golfers with a voice of gentle reason, and as long as the courtesy cars keep showing up, they will do what is in the best interests of the game, but laying down some murky law? Good luck.

Tuesday
Feb032009

"He represents what we as Americans have in common, not perceived differences."

It sounds to me like Tiger Woods heard some of the grumbling about his inaugural festivities appearance, and more than makes up for it with some nice comments in his latest website post:

President Obama recently asked me to speak at the inauguration opening ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was such an honor to be invited and be a part of history and to speak about something that means so much to me, our men and women in the military. He was very busy, so we didn't get to talk much. I didn't want to get in his way. I did ask him if he wanted to play golf and he said, 'I'd love to.' So we'll make it happen. I think the thing that impressed me the most about him was the way he carries himself. He has great leadership qualities, and his accomplishment truly embodies what's best about America. He represents what we as Americans have in common, not perceived differences.

Tuesday
Feb032009

"From an advertising and promotion standpoint, our view is we still need to advertise, now more than ever"

Doug Ferguson on Buick's approach to this week's event at Torrey Pines:

Torrey Pines looks beautiful as ever, with sunshine filling an endless sky and weather that feels more like summer than it did during the U.S. Open. But clouds are gathering.

"From an advertising and promotion standpoint, our view is we still need to advertise, now more than ever,'' Peck said. "But based on the whole economic situation, we're trimming back everywhere we can.''

The corporate box on the 18th is smaller, and Buick won't be serving alcohol to contain costs. It didn't bring out some of its large signage, which was expensive to ship from Michigan. The lawn area in front of the lodge, which used to be a showroom of sorts with the latest vehicles, is now an outdoor restaurant.

"It won't make a huge difference on TV,'' Peck said. 

Tuesday
Feb032009

Rory Only One Modest About Rory

Since some of you across the Atlantic get a little worked up because I've dared to question the British press hype machine (and Lord knows, I've never picked on the American version), I will ignore the "boy wonder" reference or the 10-majors-before-30 wager you can pick up, or his agent's breathless email/press release and leave it to Rory McIlroy for some perspective on Rory McIlroy's accomplishments, courtesy of Karl McGinty:

"I mean, I've just won my first event and it's great, but I have still got a long way to go," added Rory, who's just as level-headed in dealing with comparisons between himself and Woods, a player he's idolised since age six.

"I don't think anyone can be compared to Tiger," he said. "I'll never be able to do what he has done for golf. Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to win Majors -- what's he done, 14 of them? Well, I just hope to keep getting better and better and trying to win golf tournaments. If I can do that, I'll be happy.

Now that's impressive!

 

Monday
Feb022009

"Players don't get better in the long-term if they stand on the tee and are not required to exercise their imagination."

It's comforting to know that the shallow love for rough and narrowness at the expense of strategy is not relegated to PGA Tour course setup. Derek Lawrenson on the setup last week in Dubai:

The Emirates Course in Dubai is one of my favourites but I do think the way it was set up last week meant it lost some of its charm.

Architect Karl Litten cleverly designed it so players would have numerous options both from the tee and with their approach shots. Many of those options, however, were taken away by growing the rough.

Take the par 4 sixth, where Litten's idea was to hit your tee shot as far to the left as you dare to get the best line into the green. Not last week.

That would have left you in the thick rough, meaning the only option was to aim for a thin strip of fairway.

Those in charge could point to a high quality leaderboard for validation. But players don't get better in the long-term if they stand on the tee and are not required to exercise their imagination.

Monday
Feb022009

"Next stop, the US Tour, where he will tee it up at the world match-play in Tucson at the end of this month."

Lawrence Donegan reports that despite my desperate pleas and campaigning, Rory McIlroy's schedule does not include a Northern Trust Open exemption. 

Monday
Feb022009

“They need to spread the wealth or my fear is that the PGA Tour may become the tennis tour"

Jon Show considers the many ways the PGA Tour could beef up the client-player experience, and while I enjoyed reading about the need for players to attend more cocktail parties so they could hear inane stories and share tips that won't work, this part is really what it still comes down too:

Players must commit to a minimum of 15 events to keep their tour cards. Most top players average around 20 events; Woods played 15 and 16 events his last two full seasons, down from a high of 21 in 2005.

“The power in golf is shifting into the hands of the players at a time when the players need to understand their importance to each community,” Seymour said. “That’s critical because they will kill the golden goose if they do not give back.”

Players have opposed the creation of a rule requiring them to play in every event within a certain number of years; Davis Love III, a player advisory council member, most recently voiced his resistance. But support is growing outside the locker room for something similar to the LPGA’s rule requiring the women to enter every tournament at least once every four years.

“They need to spread the wealth or my fear is that the PGA Tour may become the tennis tour,” said Bill Colvin, who consults on marketing for a number of PGA Tour sponsors.

So there is one good bit of news in this economic crisis: fewer (if any) competing events in the vein of Milwaukee or Reno in the coming years should help free up a few weeks on schedules, no?

Monday
Feb022009

"But she knows that’s simply not true for players like Lee, who had to leave the game to find out she loved it."

Beth Ann Baldry with an enjoyable look at LPGA rookie Jeehae Lee, a Yale grad who wisely gave up a career in banking to give the LPGA Tour a shot...and secured her card. Oh and her English is impeccable.

The economics major spent a summer working for Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong after her junior year. She accepted a job with Australia’s Macquarie Bank her senior year and planned to return to Hong Kong after graduation. Starting salary: $60,000, plus bonuses.

Then a new coach came to town, and convinced Lee to give it one more try for her last semester of school. She had a light class load and not much to worry about. Surprisingly, her game showed little rust.

To the shock of her family, and herself, Lee backed out of her bank job and joined the Futures Tour, where she and countless others, lost money.

There were many occasions when Lee stood in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. and said to herself, “I could be living so easy. What am I doing?”