Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

I have always felt that Riviera Country Club has one of the greatest golf courses in the country. When I was on the tour in the 30s and 40s, wining the L.A. Open, especially at Riviera, was considered as important as a major.




"Like it or not, golf's public perception is that of a 'recreational activity' rather than a 'business industry'"

Chris Gray, superintendent at Marvel Golf Club in Kentucky writes about golf course water myths and takes a different stand on the A-OK stance regarding golf using "one half of 1 percent of all daily water used":

The simple and confirmed fact is that we use 2.08 billion gallons of water per day for golf course irrigation in the United States. Despite the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's spin doctors' attempt to diffuse this alarming water-use rate as "one half of 1 percent of all daily water used," this number is still too large for the general public to blindly accept. Like it or not, golf's public perception is that of a "recreational activity" rather than a "business industry" that supplies $76 billion a year to the economy. Our critics can do simple math and want us to reduce this number.


"Take away the topics of football and women, and most Tour pros are mute."

More great stuff from Part 2 of Connell Barrett's Q&A with Brandel Chamblee.

I liked this about the relationship between players and media, which I can confirm by the number of guys who I've tried to ask a question of only to be told they plan to hit balls for the next 4 years:

The separation between Tour players and everyone else—the media and fans—is too wide. And there’s only one reason: money. If the players weren’t so rich, they’d need the media to cast them in a different light, to get more endorsements. In their minds, they don’t need you. They’re rich enough. You’re not gonna impact their life in any way. But they don’t realize that the media can help them connect with fans. Here’s an example. I haven’t seen Jim Furyk smile in two or three years. Last week we spotlighted him on Golf Channel, and he was fan—f---ing—tastic. Funny and jovial and great. I’m gonna root for him now. He gets it. Before, I didn’t even want to watch him because he looks so grim. These guys should be entertainers, not just guys posting numbers on a board.


“We cannot go on in the golf business as we are now."

Sean Martin shares some of the highlights of Gary Players' Asian Amateur press conference. At least he's saying the right things, even if he hasn't built a single golf course that anyone would ever think to call a model for the future.

“It’s costing too much money to maintain the golf courses. We’re building the golf courses too long, because the golf ball is going too far, so the costs are going up instead of going down. . . . And it’s stopping the number of people that are playing. So it is critical we cut the ball back for professional golf, 50 yards. Leave the technology for the amateur.”

50 yards works for me.

“We have to build golf courses for the people. We have to change. Change is the price of survival. We cannot go on in the golf business as we are now. We have to get more people playing, more people out, more children playing, and we’ve got to change our whole concept.”

I know where to start! No more golf courses designed by famous players who overcharge and overbuild. What do you think Gary?


"New Augusta National event finger-lickin' good"

I'm not sure why the Asian Amateur needs four corporate sponsors, but Steve Elling only wonders why they let this weird photo opp with Colonel Sanders occur:

There's nothing at all wrong with having sponsors to defray costs of a worthy project, mind you. It's just that the photo was jarring because of the corporate contrast with the decades-old Masters mindset.

Sean Martin writes about that first tee scene and the ceremonial first tee ball hit by Billy Payne.


"Until such time as the composition of the the LPGA Board changes, they'll keep hiring Marketing people ala the 'Brand Lady.'"

Jim McCabe writes about the strong marketing background of new LPGA Commissioner Whan:

“These are difficult times, but he will bring a lot of skills to the job,” Rugge said. “He is a solid marketing guy,” adding that Whan is "full of energy” and "has plenty of ideas.”

If Whan used a business philosophy to guide him, it was similar to what he used at Procter & Gamble years earlier and Mission Itech recently.

“I’m a guy who builds brands,” said Whan, when asked how a guy with golf, toothpaste, and hockey skates for a background will lead the LPGA. “I believe in brands.”

Now I understand he's just been thrown into a news conference with little knowledge of the organization and he has to say something, so some jargon is inevitable. But after sleeping on the notion that the LPGA has again hired another marketing-driven type prone to brand worship, I've been trying to figure out why they went down this road again.

Thankfully, reader Sam must have been reading my mind:

I was curious why the LPGA seems so fixated on hiring Marketing types.  What I learned was that all of the outside Board Members, save one, are marketing gurus. From

"The LPGA independent board members are: Leslie Greis, founder, CEO and managing member of Perennial Capital Advisors, LLC; Dawn Hudson, former president and chief executive officer, Pepsi-Cola North America, Pepsico, Inc.; Bill Morton, former chief executive and current chairman of Jack Morton Worldwide; Bill Susetka, former CMO of the LPGA as well as former president, Clairol U.S. Retail and Clairol International; and Nancy Wiese, former vice president of worldwide brand marketing/advertising, Xerox Corporation. Hudson is chairman of the Board of Directors of the LPGA."

Greis is a finance type.

Until such time as the composition of the the LPGA Board changes, they'll keep hiring Marketing people ala the "Brand Lady."


"Golf's governing bodies have dithered on the distance question since the early 1990s, but that attitude seems increasingly unsustainable."

So I'm reading David Owen's look at some of the bold efforts to reduce water consumption by Las Vegas golf courses and thinking about what a joy it is to read a New Yorker-style story in Golf Digest. It's packed with great information, insight and some personal observation from Owen, who has just written a new book titled Green Metropolis.

As the piece progresses he touches on the development of drought resistant grass cultivars and then pretty much tells us that these types of efforts are all nice and stuff, yet...

...there are a few relatively easy answers to some of golf's environmental and economic challenges. UNLV's Dale Devitt made an observation to me about turf replacement that applies to golf's other resource-related issues, too. He said, "When you talk about water savings in a landscape, the big savings don't come so much from changing what you're growing. The big savings come from reducing the size of the landscape."

Well, surely he won't venture into the forbidden land. Don't do it David! You'll never be able to dine in Carlsbad again...

For this past year's U.S. Open, the par-4 seventh hole at Bethpage Black was stretched to 525 yards. The expansion of golf's scale in recent decades has mainly been the result of technological advances in clubs and balls, as well as improvements in player conditioning and swing technique. Those advances have made golf more fun to play, in many ways, but length, in itself, has added little to the game, because advantages in golf are always relative. (Phil Mickelson can hit the ball farther than Tom Watson did in his prime, but so can Tom Watson.)

Yes, but think of the product that's been moved and the subsequent health of the sport! Can't get anymore green than that.

What is indisputably true is that making golf longer has enlarged its environmental and economic footprints: Bigger golf holes require more land, turf, water, fertilizer, fuel, chemicals and maintenance equipment, as well as increasing labor costs, stretching the time required to play, reducing the appeal of walking, and increasing green fees -- and in recent decades all those needs have been magnified by changes in golfers' expectations about acceptable levels of course grooming.

But other than that, the distance chase has been great for the game?

Faster greens and tighter fairways consume more resources and cost more to maintain, and they are more vulnerable to a long list of plant diseases and climate-related stresses; keeping grass uniformly green, in most environments, requires steady chemical intervention, in addition to irrigation.

The most direct way to shrink golf's environmental impact, and to contain its growing costs, would be to shrink golf itself -- in professor Devitt's phrase, to reduce the size of the landscape -- and to re-examine conventional ideas about things like weeds and putting speed. Golf hasn't always been played on 7,500-yard billiard tables.

Wait, did he just suggest we go backwards to move forward?

Many exciting technological advances related to conservation and golf-course maintenance are being developed. But technological innovation alone can't solve all of golf's environmental and economic challenges, and even the most promising-seeming discoveries have a history of carrying unintended consequences and hidden costs. Golf's governing bodies have dithered on the distance question since the early 1990s, but that attitude seems increasingly unsustainable. We can take the initiative in shrinking golf's landscape, or we can allow economic crises and environmental disasters to shrink it for us.

So there you have it, a well known, highly regarded writer in a major golf publication telling us that if the game is going to survive, it's going to have to end the chase for distance, and, un-American of all un-American activities, think about rolling things back in order to survive.

I've asked Mr. Owen to answer a few e-questions about his story and will be posting them Friday.


"Hank and I will go back forth with text messages, some angry, some decent."

So much interesting stuff in Part 1 of Connell Barrett's Q&A with Brandel Chamblee about a wide range of topics, but naturally the Tiger talk is most interesting:

CB: Sounds like you pay close attention to Tiger's swing.

BC: I have this argument with [Tiger's swing coach] Hank [Haney] all the time. Hank and I will go back forth with text messages, some angry, some decent. I have huge respect for Hank. I took lessons from him out of college. But you can say that we agree to disagree in terms of swing philosophy. In my opinion, Tiger's still struggling with his golf swing, and it hurts him in major championships. He doesn't hit the ball as far or as straight in majors, and subsequently he has to rely on his putter more. He's not [winning majors by] five shots anymore. He's not intimidating players the way he used to because he's not 40, 50 yards ahead of them anymore. He's not hitting short irons [into greens] while they hit middle-irons. He's playing from where they play. He's still better. He's still smarter. But now he's one of them. He's not blowing them away.


"The financial crisis gave the European Tour a perfect chance to get together with other tours around the world"

John Huggan explains why Rory McIlroy's pending decision to play four more times on the PGA Tour could prove to be a huge black eye for the European Tour, but more interesting is the criticism from Rory agent Chubby Chandler regarding George O'Grady's missed opportunity to create a world tour.

Either way, in practical terms at least, Mcilroy's decision won't make that much difference to his relationship with the European Tour. He already plays a dozen or so times on the PGA Tour as a non-member and accepting his card would add only three more tournaments to his annual commitment. Still, such a move would represent a pretty significant symbolic blow to executive director George O'Grady at a time when his schedule for 2010 currently has more holes than the Mission Hills resort in China; and the prize money for the "R2D" has just been cut by 25 percent. Europe's headman has never needed his top boys more than he does right now.

Indeed, there are those who feel that O'Grady has -- credit crunch or not -- missed a trick when it comes to at least tweaking the dominance enjoyed by the PGA Tour and, perhaps even more importantly, giving his members more opportunities to play.

"The financial crisis gave the European Tour a perfect chance to get together with other tours around the world," contends Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler, managing director of International Sports Management, whose clients include McIlroy, Els, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke. "When everybody was struggling, that was the time to have a go as a global partnership. There were gaps in the schedule.


"I'm glad Barack Obama plays golf and doesn't care who knows it."

I guess Bob Carney finally got tired of all the frustrated losers writing Golf Digest letters for noticing that our President not only is playing golf, but not hiding and doing it at a time when the game could use all of the positive publicity it can get.

Hey, I'm glad Barack Obama plays golf and doesn't care who knows it. I'm glad he plays with men and I'm glad he played the other day with a woman. And I wish you could celebrate it, too.
However, next to Steve Williams' caddy bib, nothing seems to bug you like Obama's golf. He has his defenders, occasionally, but most letter-writers refer to our coverage of the President as "politics" and "politics" doesn't belong in a golf magazine. You probably object to my noting here that the president with that round overtook the immediate past president in annual rounds played, 24 to 23. Or, in the view of their spouses, 48 and 46, our goal, Republican and Democrat alike, being to play half as many rounds as our spouses think we do.

But really, political philosophy aside, how can a golfing president be a bad thing? As a friend of mine said today, only in America would we criticize a President when he wins the Nobel Prize. And, I'll add, only in America will golfers -- golfers!-- get after a magazine for writing about a golfing president, or criticize a president for playing golf!


Construction Commences On "Greatest Course In History"

Thanks to reader Peter for noticing The Donald's eloquent, humble and eloquent again because it's just that beautifully phrased.

“We are pleased to announce that work on site will begin tomorrow (Wednesday, October 28), ahead of schedule, to build the greatest golf course in history. For a golf course there are no dunes and there is no land as large and magnificent anywhere in the world. I want to thank Aberdeenshire Council, the business community and the residents of Aberdeenshire for their ongoing support”. 


Take That Brand Lady: New Commish Slips Three Brand References Into One Sentence!

Where to start after Wednesday's introductory news conference for eventual former LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan?

I did enjoy Stephanie Wei's firsthand account of Ron Sirak and LPGA flak David Higdon sparring, but really, how can you not love the notion that the LPGA failed miserably after hiring a marketing gal from California, going right back to the well and hiring another marketing maven from the same place and with the same propensity for empty jargon.

Anyway, just before we get to the good stuff, I want to be clear: most of us Californians do not speak like this.

Why don't we start on his exclusive chat with AP's Rachel Cohen, talking about the exciting 2010 schedule news.

Whan said he was "surprised and excited" when he saw the 2010 schedule, which will be released in mid-November.

"If that's a downturn year, then this brand's more resilient and stronger than I even thought coming in, and I was pretty confident going in," Whan said. "The LPGA's just fine."

Sounds just like the Brand Lady. Which reminds me, I'm taking nominations for Whan's nickname. Brand Boy? MacJargon Man (an homage to his original family name, MacWhan)? Please, help me with this important task.

Okay now to the good stuff.

Whan has also worked in marketing for non-sports companies, including Procter & Gamble.

"I don't think anybody was immune to the business downturn in 2009, but at the end of the day, having been on the brand side of the big corporate brands, they're always looking for partnerships that can build their business and build their brand," Whan said. "The LPGA represents a very unique and powerful one."

And from the press conference:

At this stage of my career, or maybe I'd even say this stage of my life, I really look to three things when I think about the future, and that's people, that's opportunity, and that's passion. When it comes to people, this search more than anything else proved to me that this LPGA organization is literally surrounded with overwhelming talent, and I don't just mean business acumen talent; there's plenty of that, but the value-based passion for the game, passion for the brand, passion for the sport. It's really overwhelming.

The more I got into the process, the more I realized these are the kind of people I want to surround my life with and be a part of.

You know, maybe that's where I have blown it in life. I haven't surrounded myself with people who have a value-based passion for the game.

I can't wait to get started, not just because of the upside potential, but because of the base we've already built, but where we can really take the LPGA in the years to come.

He's so eager to get going, but he's going to wait another two months to start the job. Let the doublespeak begin!


Pinehurst #2 Finally Getting The Treatment It Deserves

If you ever bemoan the rankings, just remember they do serve a positive purpose as evidenced by Pinehurst #2's recent and well deserved plummet down the list for the architectural sterilization driven in part by a cattle-herd operational mentality which decided sandy pine scrub would slow down play. Seems they have gotten the message, because as Ron Green Jr. reports (thanks reader Gene), Coore and Crenshaw are being hired to return some soul to the place:

Tinkering with what is considered Donald Ross' masterpiece is a delicate matter, and Pinehurst president Don Padgett III is taking a careful approach.

He has consulted with Coore and Crenshaw as well as Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competitions for the USGA, who will oversee the set-up for the U.S. Opens.

"They are trying to develop a concept to restore the course to a lot of the original design criteria while, at the same time, have it be a championship venue for the Opens," Padgett said this week.


The main alterations would involve bringing back more of the sandy areas dotted with wire grass off the fairways, places where there is now rough. It would be similar, Padgett said, to how the course was in the 1930s and 1940s when Ross lived in the area and worked on it.

"What people expect of No.2 has gone away," Padgett said. "I think they (Coore and Crenshaw) plan to bring that back."

Padgett said if the plan moves forward, it will be at least a year, maybe longer, before work begins.

"I'm just glad to be headed in the right direction," Padgett said.

Me too!


WHEW! New LPGA Commish Unleashes All Of The Essential Business Jargon In First Press Release!

I was worried we might get some straight shooter but judging by his first press release quote, new LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is going to pick up right where the Brand Lady left off, at least in the B-speak department. More on that momentarily.

Ron Sirak's story about the Oct. 28 announcement calls the naming a "bit of a surprise." Golfweek was first to post to break the news by a few minutes, linking Beth Ann Baldry's story noting Whan's bio.

Whan, believed to be 44, most recently has been president and CEO of Mission-ITECH Hockey. The 1987 graduate of Miami (Ohio) University served as executive vice president/general manager of North America TaylorMade Adidas Golf from 1995 to 2000, and he also worked at Wilson.

I received the press release dated October 28 and it notes a few key details, such as this pertaining to the Rear Admiral and interim Commish, Marty Evans:

Evans will work with Whan during a transition period before he officially assumes the Commissioner helm in January 2010. Both Whan and Evans will attend the LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex the week of November 16 in Houston, where a player meeting will be held and the 2010 LPGA season schedule will be released.

“The LPGA is a resurging, resilient association, and Mike will be a leader around which the wonderful LPGA staff and all of our stakeholders—players, fans, sponsors, TV partners, tournament owners and others—will rally,” Evans said. “Mike will enjoy working within the reenergized climate of collaboration that we’ve all worked so hard to create this season. I’m looking forward to working closely with him during the transition period as we celebrate the close of a tremendous season and look forward to the LPGA’s 60th year in 2010.”

Re-energized climate of collaboration? Militaryspeak translation: mopping up post-Brand Lady will make Mike look like a genius, all thanks to me.

As for the new Commish and his first words...

“It is rare to work for an organization that combines all the passions in your life, but with the LPGA, I feel I’ve been presented with the unique opportunity to do just that,” Whan said. “First, this is an association surrounded by passionate, value-driven people. Second, I’m energized by brand building and the work involved in marketing and growing a sport. Third, I simply love the game of golf—both the life lessons it teaches and the friendships it helps create.”

He's energized by brand building...he's talking life-lessons and dropping the essential G-word...but an organization surrounded by passionate, "value-driven" people? Now that's special. To slip the V-word in so artfully speaks to the great potential this man has.

Nice work committee. The blogosphere thanks you.

And by the way, don't write to tell me that he meant value in the sense of morals, character, etc... That would have been values-driven people.

By the way, anyone care to share their definition of value-driven people? I looked it up in Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary. No luck.


Rory Reconsidering The Decision He Never Made

An unbylined Telegraph report says that Chubby Chandler's e-mail to SportsBusiness Journal last week was incorrect.

“I am still thinking about it. I love playing in America. I play well over there and I am still thinking about taking out my PGA Tour card next year.

“There are a few things to weigh up. For instance, I don't want to try and play an event in America and come straight back to play one in Europe. That's tough.

“I am not saying that money is a factor in this, but the European Tour has been hit a lot harder by the economic crisis than the American tour.

“Look at the Open last week. There was no one in the top 20 in the world in the field and yet they were still playing for $5m.”

Nope it's not about the money!


Rickie "Golf 2.0" Fowler

The Golfweek staffers writing this week's Monday scramble took issue with Rickie Fowler's SFX agents' hilariously dated, so-2004 branding of their new star client.

After all, he is “Golf 2.0,” (as he’s been dubbed by his management company, SFX), has a face built for Hollywood and so far makes a hole-in-one in every other Tour event he plays.
He is the next big thing, covered in flourescent Pumas, whether he likes it or not, and that’s just something that comes with about as much hype as you can fit into a 30-minute pregame show or the entire golf blogosphere.

We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but Rickie Fowler will:

    •    Win next week at the Viking Classic
    •    Win the British Open next year at St. Andrews
    •    Make Rory McIlory cry
    •    Pull the U.S. economy out of the recession, and
    •    Help Lindsay Lohan turn her life around and win a Nobel Peace Prize.

I must say I'm intensely jealous of the lucky interns who got to sit in on the Fowler branding meetings. One can only imagine what inconic imagery these 2.0 hipsters left on the editing room floor. I wonder if a "Next-Nicklaus" was bandied about?

Thankfully, it looks like Rickie's game is so good that he'll soon make us forget about the antics of his handlers.



"Well whoop-de-do for you!" 

Scott Michaux shares one of those epic telemarketer horror stories that would be more entertaining if the print industry weren't having such a tough time. He also features a follow up from Golf Digest Editor Jerry Tarde, who looked into the situation of a rogue, yes, rogue agent. There are rogue subscription-selling agents out there. It's getting to where you just can't answer the phone anymore.


“Best guys in college golf that are coming out, shows you college golf gets them ready."

Asher Wildman reports that Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark's great play at the Open had the elite college field at Isleworth thinking they are all a lot better than they are and coaches thinking they were making a difference.

After talking with players, I was curious to know what a coach thought. Who better to ask then East Tennessee State coach Fred Warren, who might be the living encyclopedia of college golf?

“Doesn’t surprise me at all,” Warren said. “Best guys in college golf that are coming out, shows you college golf gets them ready. Just look at the elite players having success: Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, J.B. Holmes, Anthony Kim – these guys are playing great.”

That's who he thinks of when he thinks of college golf's ability to produce?

Jason Sobel is excited about Fowler and Lovemark, however, likely influenced by television's fawning over the two, he reminds us that next-great-thing hype usually is a waste of time.


"It's akin to earning a Purple Heart for falling down in the latrine."

I have to say that it's quite sad to see one of the coolest perks in sports appearing to be a casualty of the FedEx Cup/limited field lovefest. Hope they figure out a way to remedy what Steve Elling laments in this week's Up and Down column:

It's akin to earning a Purple Heart for falling down in the latrine. Michael Sim won his third Nationwide Tour event the week before the FedEx Cup series began, which meant that instead of securing the automatic "battlefield promotion" to the big leagues, he was out of luck. The FedEx fields are limited to the points leaders, and he has had no success landing positions in the Fall Series tournaments, either, as established players jockey to keep their cards. Last week, still locked out of a spot in the PGA Tour event, the 25-year-old Aussie went back to the Nationwide and finished second in that circuit's season finale. Since winning his third Nationwide event in August, he has played in one PGA Tour event, and it was on a sponsor exemption. While the landscape of the tour has certainly changed since the FedEx and Fall Series was concocted, there needs to be some accommodation for the players who earned their spots on the major-league roster. The conditional access needs to be greatly updated or eliminated. As it stands, it's about as meaningful as Elvis Presley's black belt in karate.


C-C's Ready To Go

He doesn't have to pitch a Game 7 and now he has a wedge line named after him. So good to see the nice folks in Fairhaven, Massachusetts paying homage to...oh, not that CC? David Allen at writes:

In response to the new restrictions being placed on the volume and edge sharpness of grooves, Titleist has come out with a conforming line of its popular Vokey Design Spin Milled wedges. The new wedges are named, appropriately enough, Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C wedges. The C-C stands for the “Condition of Competition” adopted by both the USGA and R&A, which prohibits PGA Tour and most Tour-level participants from playing the non-conforming irons and wedges after January 1, 2010.

Titleist will continue to manufacture and sell the previous generation non-conforming Vokey Design Spin Milled wedges through 2010. The C-C wedges, which will be available through authorized Titleist retailers beginning November 1, 2009, generate a higher launch, less spin and more run-out than the previous “bigger groove” wedges.

Wouldn't COC have been more accurate?


See, Bivens Was A Visionary!

Granted, wrong tour, but look at the insights we could glean if players were allowed to Tweet mid round.

As Stephanie Wei notes, the USGA says there's nothing in the rules that forbids the use of an electronic device during a round. However, I thought we decided this was a no-no since with Twitter or any phone that a player could receive advice?