Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

After this hole of many disastrous memories, the eighteenth need have no great terrors. We drive over the burn, cross by the picturesque stone bridge, and avoiding the grosser forms of sin, such as slicing into the windows of Rusack's Hotel, hole out in four, or at most five, under the critical gaze of those that lean on the railings. BERNARD DARWIN




Norman Fades In Senior Open Championship Despite Chrissie's "Different Thought Process" Instillation Efforts

Loren Roberts won the Senior Open Championship after Greg Norman faded following Saturday's 64. Earlier in the week, The Australian's Patrick Smith took Norman to task for suggesting that ex-wife Laura somehow cost him some majors.

He was asked this: "Had Chrissie been in your life 20 years ago would you have won some of those that got away?"

Norman replied: "Chrissie would have instilled a different thought process and I would have said the answer would probably be 'yes'."

Laura's thought processes must have been pretty good during his 88 international tournament victories and his two British Open wins but, apparently, she just got ornery at the Masters, the US Open and the US PGA.

Like the 1986 PGA when Bob Tway holed out from a bunker on the 18th. Bloody Laura. Or the US Open the same year when Norman shot a final-round 75 after leading. The bitch. Then a year later Larry Mize holes out from hell on the 11th, second hole of a play-off for the Masters. Quit playing with his mind, woman. Or in the 1989 British Open playoff when he whacked the ball dead into a fairway bunker. Damn you Laura.

If Laura had this much power over the man as he built a business empire, then she really did earn her multi-million dollar divorce settlement, no?

And what does it say about Chrissie's thought process techniques that Norman had to cut staff recently?


"There's no pretence. That's what I love most about the game over here. 'Let's go play.'"

John Huggan talks to Tom Watson about the Open, Scotland and how he loves the more respectful youth of Scotland.

Indeed, it wasn't until 1981 – by which time he had won three Opens in Scotland – that Watson, finally saw the light, courtesy of his close friend, Sandy Tatum, a former president of the United States Golf Association.

"Although I'm a Yank and always will be, I clearly love being in Scotland," says Watson. "And I clearly love links golf. And I love playing links golf with people who love it. It was Sandy who first got me feeling that way, though. Just before the Open at Sandwich in '81 I played Ballybunion in Ireland (where he was club captain in 2000] for the first time. Then we went to Prestwick, Troon and up to Royal Dornoch. Playing those courses was the beginning of me understanding what it was all about. I wasn't even playing particularly well at that time, but it all gave me a new appreciation. Seeing links golf through Sandy's eyes was a learning experience for me. To that extent, I will always be grateful to him."


That, however, is just about as close as Watson gets to grumpiness when in these parts. The rest of his time here is spent wallowing in something not far removed from utter contentment. This is a man who, in so many ways, fits right into our environment. Ask him what he enjoys most about Scotland and a lengthy list spills haphazardly from his lips.

"I like the nature of the people," he says. "I like the way golf is played. I haven't driven for a few years, but I feel comfortable on the left side. And yes, I've queued for fish and chips. I love haggis, too. But grouse is a different story! I play fast; the Scots play fast. 'Let's get on with it.' There's no pretence. That's what I love most about the game over here. 'Let's go play.'"


Calc: Nine In A Row!

John Nicholson of AP reports that Mark Calcavecchia broke the tour record for consecutive birdies Saturday, breaking one of the more incredible tour feats and quite possible the most impossible-to-guess trivia answer ever:

Calcavecchia broke the record set by Bob Goalby in his 1961 St. Petersburg Open victory and matched by Fuzzy Zoeller (1976 Quad Cities Open), Dewey Arnette (1987 Buick Open), Edward Fryatt (2000 Doral-Ryder Open), J.P. Hayes (2002 Bob Hope Classic) and Jerry Kelly (2003 Las Vegas Invitational). Hayes played alongside Calcavecchia on Saturday.

There will be detractors who will say it shouldn't count because they played preferred lies, but nine in a row anywhere--even touching the ball--is amazing. It's amazing in a four-man scramble!


"Going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players."

Robert Thompson notes Tim Finchem's remarks about a possible "flex" schedule concept and considers how it could impact the Canadian Open.

Here are his comments, which were news to me. Has anyone seen him talk about this elsewhere?

Q. I was just wondering how much discussion has been held so far about the possible change of date.

TIM FINCHEM: Well, we talk about dates all the time with every tournament, so a fair amount. You know, I think as I believe I said publicly, one of the things we're looking at in the mid term, which would be after our television agreements are renewed, which are currently through '12, so starting in '13, is going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players.

And I think that would be particularly beneficial, potentially, for this week because we've got a tournament that it would be good for this tournament to be able to reach more players with what's going on this week, and why this is a tournament staged at the level it currently is.

I can't swear we're going to go to that. There are a lot of issues with it. There are some down sides to some weeks, but it's something we're looking very carefully at. We've had some very preliminary discussion with the RCGA and the RBC. We'll be talking about that more over the next 6 months. But that is certainly something we'll look at going forward as a possibility.


Seve Again Vows To Be At St. Andrews

Poignant comments in this unbylined report:

He said: "With putting, Ihave to make a mark on the ball then use it to line up the putter. I've also lost the perception of distance for long putts.

"But if things go normally, which Ihope they will, Iwill be there at the Open to say goodbye and thank you for what you have done throughout the years."

He added: "Probably some people will feel sorry for me and maybe cry, but Ifeel happy. I am a very lucky person because throughout life Ihave had so many great moments. Ifeel Ihave lived two or three lives."


Golfweek: Next Buick Open To Be The Last

Adam Schupak with the scoop, the event was 51. He also includes word that the PGA Tour will be announcing a new event with sponsor the week after. Now that is pretty incredible in this economy.


MacKenzie And Wikipedia

If you read my Sharp Park story in Golf World--I know many of you have studied it and already cut it out for your scrapbooks--you'll know that Brent Plater, the primary environmentalist and San Francisco State lecturer lobbying for its closure "for the good of the game" is suggesting that Alister MacKenzie created a faulty design and furthermore, there is none of it left, so the course should go.

(I know, don't even begin to ask things like, how would he know the design is faulty if he was not alive back then and none of it is left today to study.)

Mr. Plater has repeated this claim many times by citing Daniel Wexler's book, even appearing to repeat his claims under the name Arnold Palmer below Curt Sampson's story posted at (the misspelling of "McKenzie" is the same mistake in his early writings on Sharp Park and to me. Now, we architectural junkies bicker over MacKenzie's spelling, but the a in Mac is never an issue, it's that dreaded upper or lower case k).

Thanks to Mr. Plater's redundant message of MacKenzie's mistaken work at Sharp Park, I'm guessing that this hilarious modification to MacKenzie's Wikipedia page was the work of those hoping to see the course closed. Obviously the reference is totally out of context with the rest of the biographical sketch and will be edited out probably by the end of the week, so I'm offering a screen-capture and a copy-pasted version of the text for you to see just what kind of mudslinging the proponents of saving Sharp Park are dealing with.

(click on image to enlarge)

Here's the text, unedited. Not exactly a graceful or appropriate or accurate transition.

MacKenzie worked in an era before large scale earth moving became a major factor in golf course construction, and his designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature of the original site. He is admired for producing holes that offer an ideal balance of risk and reward, and for designing golf courses that challenge yet also accommodate players with a range of skills. The Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica has little resemblance to the initial design. Golf historian Daniel Wexler’s book “The Missing Links”: “Following the early 1930s deluge that washed several of (the course’s holes) out to sea, a massive berm was constructed (largely upon land once occupied by holes three and seven) to prevent history from repeating itself. The subsequent rerouting of the county road and reconfiguring of the lakeside holes has further muddled things so that today only a handful of holes run consistent with MacKenzie’s originals, and no appreciable trace of his strategy remains in play.”


"But what about the guys who come in a close second?"

Thanks to reader John for Darren Everson's look at the recent runners-up, their heartbreaking defeats and how they handle it.

Steve Elling looks at the disappointment that has marked the first three majors and warns us that we may be in for more if Hazeltine's recent history is an indication.


LPGA Players And Caddies Flee Hotel Fire; Bivens Not A Person Of Interest At This Time


Giuliani To Appear On Big Break; Finds Ideal Forum To Resolve Disputes With Father, Duke University

From the NY Post comes this exciting news that the current season is filmed at Orlando's Disney World, tentatively titled "Big Break Orlando Because It's A Recession And No One Wants To Watch Leggy Babes Bundled Up In Gore-Tex On Some Cold Canadian Island." Of course, I don't know where Andrew Giuliani fits into this, but I'm sure those of you who watch this dreck will fill the rest of us in.


How Natives Should Look

Since most of you defended the silly hack-out native grass at Turnberry, I thought I'd give you a look at what I think is an ideal native grass look. And I'll get a shameless plug in for my friend and occasional design mate Gil Hanse's new course at Castle Stuart, where he collaborated with Mark Parsinen and Jim Wagner.

Some made the point about Turnberry having been closed for many months as an explanation for the density of the natives, yet these images taken by Bruce Wellmon (posted on GCA) are from opening day. The course has not been played prior to this round except by a handful of people.


Tiger To Play Three Weeks In A Row!?

Bob Harig calls it a mild surprise that Tiger Woods is entering the Buick and therefore playing three weeks in a row. And frankly, I'm shocked. I mean, who wouldn't want to play soulful Warwick Hills, Firestone and Hazeltine in consecutive weeks?

While I'm sure some will suggest Woods is finally realizing that he needs to play just a bit more often and that perhaps his 2008 U.S. Open win mistakenly planted a seed that he could get away with little tournament preparation, I see it differently. This has nothing to do with majors. This is about getting in shape for the PLAYOFFS (C).


Will Someone Ask...Na

I see Kevin Na opened the Canadian Open with a 63, but it was noted in a recent story that he didn't even file an entry form for Open Championship entry and therefore missed out on an alternate spot. Unfortunately no one asked him about this after the round.


Watson Ready To Go Again At Sunningdale

After receiving a standing-O upon boarding his flight to London reports John Strege via Mark Soltau, Tom Watson is in in good spirits upon arriving at Sunningdale according to Brian Creighton.

Oliver Brown reports that Watson is paired with Greg Norman in the opening rounds of the Senior Open.

Mike Aitken previews the Open and says the old guys are reminding everyone they can still play, though Nick Faldo was the lone dissenter while Bernhard Langer thinks there should be more major exemptions for the geezers.

And to get your ready for the week's events, Daniel Wexler posts all of the pertinent links, including aerials for Sunningdale and Glen Abbey, what some say is Jack Nicklaus' best work in southeastern Ontario.


"Put it this way: Will Tiger let his own two kids carry on in public like that?"

Rick Reilly has had it with Tiger's on course antics:

The man is 33 years old, married, the father of two. He is paid nearly $100 million a year to be the representative for some monstrously huge companies, from Nike to Accenture. He is the world's most famous and beloved athlete.

And yet he spent most of his two days at Turnberry last week doing the Turn and Bury. He'd hit a bad shot, turn and bury his club into the ground in a fit. It was two days of Tiger Tantrums -- slamming his club, throwing his club and cursing his club. In front of a worldwide audience.

I would agree the club tossing is a bit much, but personally I love the swearing. Like this anecdote from Michael Bamberger's SI game story:

Tiger Woods likes to say "second sucks," and he acts as if he means it. When Steve Williams, Tiger's caddie, implored Woods to hit a provisional ball after a horrid way-right shot off the 10th tee last Friday, Tiger kept walking and muttered, "F--- it," before finally making a U-turn.


"I'm playing against Tom Watson, he's 59, he won his first major, I think, right around the time when I was born"

Steve Elling on Stewart Cink's conference call comments Wednesday after his Letterman appearance:

Cink would have had to be an idiot not to realize that his caddie was the lone man on the course pulling for him to beat the eight-time major winner and Hall of Famer. Rest assured, Cink is no moron.

"I knew that the people were really pulling for Tom to win, because that was the story that everyone wanted to be written," Cink said Wednesday in his first lengthy interview since winning. "It was, honestly, as a sports fan, it was a tremendous story.

"Maybe the biggest sports story in the last couple of generations and I was the one standing in the way of it. I had to really put that aside, though."

The magnitude of what he faced finally struck him when regulation ended.

"That really never got to be difficult until the playoff," he said. "That's when the bizarre stuff really started to hit me a little bit. Like, what, Tom Watson? You kidding me?

"I'm playing against Tom Watson, he's 59, he won his first major, I think, right around the time when I was born, and he's been winning tournaments ever since. You know, it was very strange."


"Nobody in the world’s going to want to take 70 million less."

With a contract expiring after next year's event, the PGA Tour has to be encouraged by today's comments from Deutsche Bank CEO's Seth Waugh:

“You can think of the golf tournament as a silly little thing in terms of what’s going on in the world,” Waugh said Wednesday, citing studies that put the economic impact of the Deutsche Bank Championship at $40 million to $70 million annually, “but these are the bricks that can build the economy back up. Nobody in the world’s going to want to take 70 million less.”


Sharp Park Images and Thoughts

My Golf World story on Sharp Park looks at the complicated battle over the future of Alister MacKenzie's gem in Pacifica, California. Many points are covered in the story and as you can imagine there is even more to say than I can fit in 2000 words, but I believe the story gets to the essence of this battle to save the place.

To supplement the piece, I thought I'd post a few images to give you a better idea what the property looks like and just how dynamic the MacKenzie vision was for this property.

The opening graphic is courtesy of MacKenziephile Sean Tully, who found this early course rendering in an old newspaper story. While it does not appear to be by MacKenzie's hand, it does appear in a style produced by his firm.  Tom Naccarato took the map and spruced it up, including some credit to designers Egan and Hunter who were a part of the job.

As always, click on the images to enlarge.

Early course rendering showing many of the dynamic design features (Click image to enlarge)

The Angus McSweeney clubhouse was completed by WPA crews (Click image to enlarge)

Wildlife of all types is abundant at Sharp Park (Click to enlarge)

Sharp Park Golf Course viewed from Mori Point (Click image to enlarge)

The approach to No. 2, a MacKenzie green complex screaming for some simple restoration of green size and bunker (Click image to enlarge)


View of the 3rd tee and golfers at Sharp Park. Monterey Cypress were planted by SF park legend John McLarren (Click image to enlarge)

View from behind the 13th tee, a beautiful par-5 with what remains of the Laguna to the left. (Click image to enlarge)

The approach to the 14th features classic MacKenzie mounding and a beautiful deception bunker placed well short of the green to reward drives from the left side (where one of the alternate fairway options was once in play). (Click image to enlarge)

Atop the sea wall with the 16th hole left and the Pacific to the right. (Click image to enlarge)


"If a 59-year-old guy looks like the best player in the field at a major championship, there is something wrong with your era."

Jaime Diaz files a provocative perspective on the Tom Watson run at Turnberry and comes away impressed by Watson but discouraged with the soft modern professional. This is no rant about the all-exempt tour (well there is the money angle), but mostly a statement about skill and the influence of today's equipment.

...the last round at Turnberry provided a revealing snapshot of the current era of golfers—and frankly, exposed them as wanting. For all their power and superior physiques and technical proficiency, the evidence keeps suggesting they are as a group (with one giant exception) competitively softer and less-accomplished shotmakers than their predecessors. And unless a few of them can come closer to being more like the giant exception, their place in history, much like the baby boomers, will end in the shadow of the golf equivalent of the Greatest Generation—a group including Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and, of course, Watson—that ruled the game in the 1970s and into the 1980s.


"It's these little moments that make Open week different and memorable."

Alan Shipnuck's SI game story focuses on the communal aspects of this year's Open Championship, and includes yet another reminder that the game probably needs many more pitch-and-putts:

On the grounds of the hotel is a wonderful little pitch-and-putt, and that, too, was a place for the players and their families to unwind. Cink's boys, both tall and smart and a little shy like their parents, played the course a couple of times during tournament week. On Saturday evening Briny Baird and 2004 British Open champ Todd Hamilton enjoyed a spirited match, while nearby Butch Harmon was overseeing a rowdy skins game involving Rory McIlroy and a handful of friends and caddies, each playing multiple balls and employing old-fashioned stymies on the greens, which meant that instead of the balls being marked they were left in place as obstacles, leading to some billiards-style combos and very loud trash talk. It's these little moments that make Open week different and memorable.