Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

The average golfer is inclined to become emotional when talking about golf course architecture. RICHARD TUFTS


    

Wednesday
Nov122008

"Bankruptcy is another matter, however."

Steve Elling makes a case for why it'll be hard for companies to justify spending government bailout money on PGA Tour sponsorships.

But even more interesting was this item, which may punch a hole in the PGA Tour's "ironclad" contract status and gloating.

Six automakers sponsor events on the PGA Tour, including two by Buick, which is hemorrhaging money so quickly, it might not make it to the end of the year. Bankruptcy is an increasingly likely scenario, according to the automaker, which could and should jeopardize the two Buick stops on the '09 tour calendar.

Understand that when the tour signs a deal with a title sponsor, it is written in blood. Just because Wachovia and Buick are in hot water doesn't mean the tour contracts are void or that financial details will be changed. The suits at tour headquarters play hardball. Tournaments must buy their way out of deals if they wish to escape before the contract term runs its course.

Bankruptcy is another matter, however.

"That would really be the one scenario where we would consider (voiding a contract)," tour communications chief Ty Votaw said two weeks ago at the Ginn sur Mer Classic, an event that is on life support because of the swan-diving real-estate market. "And if that was to transpire, we'd be standing there in line along with all the other creditors." 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Par Mates Are Here!

Thanks to reader Chema for news of this classy, much needed effort to grow the game at Las Vegas' Royal Links.

Attention Eliot Spitzer: I know you are mostly a tennis man, but I think it's time to take up the Royal and Ancient!

From the Par Mates page, where you can learn more about these Rhodes Scholars:

Par Mates are extremely attractive and outgoing young ladies / girl caddies that will keep the golfers company during their round and help with course arrangements like orientation, introduction to course personnel, call in food and beverage orders, maintaining scorecards, shopping assistance in the golf shop and other services designed to replicate the five-star assistance provided by major hotel concierges staff. They’ll even repair divots, fix ball marks, clean balls, clean clubs and help with yardage, ball flight and obstacles. Additionally they will serve as your personal hostesses during the round to eliminate any hassles or drudgeries and make the experience more pleasant, enjoyable and fun. 


Cost: $225 per caddy
Booking Requirements: 72 hours in advance of your tee time

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

"We are disciplined in our approach to negotiating programming rights"

You can't blame Turner for pulling out of the R&A sweepstakes when the dollar figure is at $25 million, but the timing of their press release seems odd. Perhaps they want to make sure ESPN knows that no one else is bidding? 

Don't the folks at Turner understand we all lost interest in them when they sent Bobby Clampett packing?
 

Turner Sports Declines to extend TV rights with the R&A for The Open

Turner’s 7-year deal with the R & A culminates with TNT’s coverage of the 2009 British Open Championship from Turnberry, Scotland, July 16 -19

Statement from David Levy – President of Turner Sports

"We are disciplined in our approach to negotiating programming rights. While we were unable to reach terms on future rights that made economic sense for our company, we respect and value the R&A and our partnership of the past six years, and look forward to TNT's final year of covering The Open."

Turner Sports will air approximately 28 hours of the 2009 Open Championship on TNT during its four days of coverage. TNT will also continue to air approximately 17 hours of golf’s final major, the PGA Championship, with this year’s event taking place August 12-16, from Hazeltine National Golf Club inChaska, MN. TNT will also air in 2009 the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the toughest event in the sport to qualify for with only that year’s major winners receiving an automatic invitation. The 2009 PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be held at the Port Royal Golf Course on Oct. 20 & 21. Turner Sports also operates and manages two of golf’s premier Web sites in PGATour.com and PGA.com. 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Compton Opens With 70

Steve Elling reports on Erik Compton's opening round 70 at second stage, while Adam Schupak sat down with Compton for this Golfweek.com Q&A. 

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Poulter Too Distraught To Play On After Driver Theft

I didn't pay much attention to the story about Ian Poulter getting his driver stolen at the HSBC until he pulled out of the European Tour event in Singapore citing the theft and the inability of Cobra to get him a replacement.

"I am really gutted," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I have been thinking about it for four hours and I have decided to withdraw because my new driver will not arrive on time.

And the real fault lies with...the OWGR!

"It is disappointing because I did not come all this way not to play. But with so many world ranking points at stake, if I played badly (by using a different driver) I may have lost ground."

He couldn't get it around for 18 holes without either a fill in or his version of a 3-wood?

Wednesday
Nov122008

“One walk here, Tiger put down 22,000 steps [on his pedometer]"

Tom Cunneff fills us in on Tiger's press conference to unveil The Cliffs' design Included is a full color course rendering with a disclaimer I've never seen before (but probably wise): "Artist rendering subject to change."

Naturally, I will be getting some mileage (pun fully intended) out of this: 

Several site visits also helped Woods with his rehabilitation from the knee surgery he underwent days after winning the U.S. Open in June. He and Anthony, a noted outdoorsman, went on long strolls around the property.

“One walk here, Tiger put down 22,000 steps [on his pedometer],” said Anthony. “And to show you his enthusiasm, he just had his operation on his knee, and we've got this big group of boulders out here, and so Tiger's climbing up on these boulders, and jumping from one to the other. I'm thinking the whole time, he's going to fall off, and I see the headlines: 'Tiger re-injures knee on a High Carolina rock pile.'”

The bigger headline, were it true, would have been: "Tiger Charges By The Step!" But I guess he was humoring boss Jim Anthony, who gives pedometers out like they're business cards.

Wednesday
Nov122008

The Golf Club of California Closes

Thanks to reader Scott for Tod Leonard's extensive and fascinating look at the demise of The Golf Club of California, which closed its doors November 1. 

The moral of this story: don't let home developers design golf courses. Or run them.

Wednesday
Nov122008

Deep Thoughts

On the news that American Express is seeking $3.5 billion in government funds because the company packaged pools of credit card debt and sold them to investors in the securitization market (good one!), I'm just wondering if (A) this means we won't get those incredibly cool little TV's at majors and (B) if this is part of the USGA's education in improved business practices. 

After all, in Walter Driver's 2007 President's letter, he wrote that the USGA was "learning from our corporate partner, American Express, how to be more responsive and tailored to our individual Members."

Maybe they're packaging pools of lousy handicaps to investors in the secularization market?

Wednesday
Nov122008

“We do say he created the course"

The Perthshire Advertiser's Gordon Bannerman reports on the new design credit for Jack Nicklaus's Gleneagles Centenary Course, home to the 2014 Ryder Cup. You may recall that players were not too fond of David Kidd's redo. Include Jack in that category.

But it has emerged that Nicklaus isn’t impressed with Gleneagles playing around with his original design, which opened on the “finest parcel of land I have ever been given to work with” back in 1993.

The Golden Bear is growling over Gleneagles tampering with the original design without his knowledge or input. It barely rates a mention on his website, which profiles the many Nicklaus Signature courses which have emerged around the globe.

Now, instead of billing it as a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, Gleneagles flag it up as being “created” by the golfing legend.

A spokeswoman for Gleneagles said: “Jack Nicklaus designed the course for us in the early 90s.

“In the last few years and in the build up to being the hosts for the Ryder Cup, we have had another designer tweak a few holes.

“We do say he created the course and we have an ongoing relationship with the Jack Nicklaus organisation.”

Tuesday
Nov112008

Golf Digest Break 100 Thing Returns; World's Haikuist's Rejoice Over Six Word Entry Essay

Because it's un-American to let a highly-rated, all-around hugely successful thing die, the folks at Golf Digest, NBC and the USGA are bringing back the Golf Digest Challenge.

But there's a catch: last year's 100-word essays were too long-winded, so this time around the Digest editorial team will only have to consume 56,000 six-word submissions. Oh, and those "encouraged" videos (wink, wink).

My gut says the 100-word essay was not eliminated to keep Craig Bestrom from smashing his Macbook after reading 6,000,000 inane words. No, I think it's to protect Bestrom from my multiple entries on the sheer hideousness of Rees Jones's remodeled 18th hole at Bethpage Black (pictured, left...but don't stare at it too long...it may cause macular degeneration).

Still, I've sketched out a few six word entries and was hoping you might tell me which of the following has the best chance of winning. And of course, feel free to post your own below should you need some friendly feedback.

Okay, here we go.

In the blatant rear-end kissing division:

  • Jerry Tarde is God...pick me

Garnering sympathy category:

  • One golfer, in spite of himself.
  • Viagra doesn't work for me anymore.

I missed my calling as a not-as-clever-as-I-think ad executive, division:

  • Intelligently designed to break one hundred.
  • Live free, work hard, break 100.

  • Six words is the new 100.

The I-am-perfect-for-a-reality show mindset:

  • I am a narcissist...pick me.
  • Because everyone else pretty much sucks.
  • My dying wish: meet Mark Rolfing.

Inane, cliched and apparently never going away Mastercard rip-off category:

  • Knowing I might break 100? Priceless.

Homage to President-elect Obama:

  • Fired up and ready to go!

And I'll let your imagination determine where this goes...

  • Once you go Bethpage Black, you...

Tuesday
Nov112008

"He still takes seven or eight pricy anti-rejection medications every day"

Steve Elling reports on Erik Compton starting Q-school second stage Wednesday and notes:

A newlywed with a baby girl due in late February, he told CBSSports.com on Sunday that he pays $600 a month for health insurance through the bridge program called Cobra, designed to fill gaps in coverage when workers are between jobs. He said it expires in six months and after that, he'll be scrambling for answers. His 14-hour heart surgery last May 20 and resulting hospital stay cost $1 million, he estimated. He still takes seven or eight pricy anti-rejection medications every day, he said.

Tuesday
Nov112008

"I'm delighted to say that the demise of the PGA Tour has been overstated considerably"

In noting the slight total purse increase for the 2009 PGA Tour schedule, an unbylined ESPN.com story includes this:

"I'm delighted to say that the demise of the PGA Tour has been overstated considerably," commissioner Tim Finchem said Monday night at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Getting cocky are we? 

Bob Harig breaks down the schedule changes here.

Tuesday
Nov112008

SI, Golf Magazine Buyout Offer

Richard Perez-Pena reports on a request of 100 volunteers for a buyout at Time Inc. and notes:

Hardest hit in the first round is the group that includes Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids and Golf magazines. In a memorandum to his staff, Terry McDonell, managing editor of Sports Illustrated, asked for 40 people to leave voluntarily, out of an editorial staff at the magazine group of about 250 people.

Tuesday
Nov112008

"The issue won’t be put to a vote Monday."

Garry Smits says the PGA Tour Policy Board never planned on approving or disapproving the FedEx Cup fix Monday, though that doesn't explain why all of the PAC board members yapping to the press were under a different impression.  

He also confirms this, which has come up in nearly ever story:

Instead of points re-setting after the regular season, they won’t be re-set until after the third playoff event, the BMW Championship. All 30 players who reach the Tour Championship will have a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not hearing anything that will prevent a player who had a great year from taking several playoff events off prior to the Tour Championship? 

Tuesday
Nov112008

"Passengers and pilot loved their work."

I finally mustered up the strength to read Bill Fields' emotional piece on Davis Love Jr.'s plane crash. For some odd reason Davis III's win Sunday made it a little easier to tackle.

It's tough to read these things when it falls into the lousy-things-happening-to-great-people-file. I still remember chatting with him while watching Davis play at Riviera when he was a rookie and hitting the ball incredible distances with persimmon. What a gentleman.

 

Tuesday
Nov112008

Callaway Granted Permanent Pro V-1 Sales Injunction

Golf World's E. Michael Johnson reports a stunner that could have huge implications...or not?

The United States District Court in Wilmington, Del., has granted Callaway's request for a permanent injunction to stop sales of Acushnet's current line of Titleist Pro V1 family of golf balls, effective no later than January 1, 2009.

In its ruling today, the Court also rejected Acushnet's request to overturn the jury's December 2007 verdict which found that Callaway Golf's golf ball patents were valid and infringed by Acushnet's Titleist Pro V1 family of golf balls.

But...

Key to the ruling, however, is the phrase "Acushnet's current line of Titleist Pro V1 family of golf balls." Although the court's ruling would appear to indicate that some inventory of Pro V1s currently on shelves may have to be stopped, the Acushnet Company, parent company of Titleist, said it will file an appeal and that it does not expect the ruling to have a material adverse impact on its results.

 

Tuesday
Nov112008

PGA Tour '09 Schedule Looks A Lot Like '08

Pretty remarkable considering what's going on. Of course, there no Fall Finish dates announced yet. Here's the list and the PGATour.com spin.


Monday
Nov102008

Q&A With Bob Smiley

Bob Smiley is a television writer moonlighting in the world of golf literature, producing an entertaining new book on his pursuit to watch every hole Tiger Woods played in 2008.

Released today by HarperCollins, Follow The Roar is a fresh and decidedly novel approach to the genre of golf books where an author takes us inside the ropes for a year. Smiley was mostly outside the ropes and media centers (explaining his clear eyes and thin physique), yet he captures so many entertaining moments in Tiger's epic half-season.

The impressively produced book features end sheets with all of Bob's tickets along with a lavish photo insert that includes several indelible images taken by some of the best in the business.

Bob hosts his own blog here, and kindly answered a few questions about the book.


GEOFF: The idea for Follow The Roar really started with an email from an ESPN.com reader?

BOB: It really did.  During the 2nd round of last year's Target (now Chevron) World Challenge, I decided to dive into Tiger's mob for the day and write about the experience.  I'd seen Tiger play at Riviera a couple times, but never from start to finish.  I stuck with him from the second he stepped out of his beige Buick Enclave until he signed his card for a tournament-record 62.  The piece triggered a wave of response from golf fans who had braved crowds to see Tiger and loved reliving the experience or those who had never seen him in person and wished they'd been there.  Buried in the emails was a woman who asked me whether I would be following Tiger the whole year.  It was a ridiculous idea.  Until I realized it was a brilliant idea.
 

GEOFF: And when did the book deal come into play?

BOB:  Twenty-four hours before Tiger began his season.  I was up early and starting to pack for the trip to the Buick Invitational in January when the news came through that HarperCollins had made an offer on my book proposal to help me do this.  I would have gone to San Diego with or without a deal and chronicled the tournament.  But the following week Tiger would be in Dubai, and that would have been a little tough without some outside help.
 

GEOFF: An accountant friend had you not making it past July without going broke. I take it you were the one person grateful for Tiger's knee needing major surgery? Or would you rather have continued on?

BOB:  Well my mom thought my airfare budget was way off since, in her mind, Tiger would be letting me travel with him for free on his jet by the end of the year.  But no, I would always have loved to have seen more.  I'd love to know how Tiger would have navigated the wind and rain during the first two rounds of the British Open.  That said, he went out with such a finish at the U.S. Open that it's hard to imagine that even he could top it.  
 

GEOFF: In most instances you were covering him without the aid of a press credential?

BOB: The only press pass I ever received was in Dubai of all places.  And only then because I was surfing around the tournament's website, found an online application for a credential and hit send.  But I'm not a reporter by anyone's definition.  From the beginning, Follow The Roar was always intended to be an everyman's adventure with Tiger and his world.  I wanted every reader to start pick up the book and think, "this could be me."  
 

GEOFF: Do you think it made your quest more uniquely informed because you were viewing him outside the ropes and without the pleasure of free food accompanied by depressing lunch room discussions about the demise of newspapers?

BOB: Inside the ropes or out, most reporters aren't walking 18 holes with any one group.  It's just not a good use of their time.  What that meant for me was there were shots Tiger hit and things he said throughout the season that I know no other writer witnessed or wrote about but I. Being on the outside also meant being free from any journalistic pressure to be impartial and civil.  My feelings about Tiger over the course of the year ran the gamut from disdain to adoration and back again.  
 

GEOFF: Was there a favorite character you encountered along the way?

BOB: In Tucson, I had an extra ticket and put it on Craigslist for free, the one rule being that whoever took it had to follow Tiger and Tiger only with me for the day. No complaining, no long beer lines, no bathroom breaks.  It ended up going to a tough Tucson taxi driver who gave me a free ride to the tourney and broke the ice by showing me the gun he had hidden away in his glove compartment.  
 

GEOFF: Any brushes with Stevie?

BOB:  Nothing a little facial constructive surgery didn't heal.  
 

GEOFF: Have you sent a copy to Tiger? 

BOB: The supremely naive part of me would like to believe that Tiger will bounce out of bed one morning this week, drive to the bookstore and buy it.  The realistic part of me knows that Tiger Woods is so powerful that he probably saw a finished copy before I did. 
 

GEOFF:  Anything you'd like to ask the big guy?

BOB: Plenty. But my guess is that given the opportunity to spend time with the greatest golfer ever, our conversation would quickly devolve into me making swings with an imaginary club and asking him what in the world I'm doing wrong.  

Monday
Nov102008

FedEx Fix Tabled For "Further Review and Discussion"

Steve Elling blogs that the disastrous FedEx Cup fix expected to be green-lit this week by the PGA Tour Policy Board hit a snag: the PGA Tour Policy Board. 

All along, some tour officials and players expressed doubts that the complete framework could be hammered out by Monday, but the tour needs to implement the plan before the start of the 2009 season since the regular-season points awarded for individual tournaments stand to be affected. 

“While the proposed framework was favorably received by the Policy Board, no action was taken pending further review and discussion with sponsors, network media partners and players,” tour communications chief Ty Votaw said in a statement Monday night. “The Policy Board will reconvene via teleconference, at which time final approval will be sought. Final action is expected prior to Thanksgiving.”

The board received the idea of reduced fields and a system rigged to protect those big free-market loving stars so favorably, they tabled it for more discussion.  

Commissioner Pelosi, errrr...Finchem, makes $5 million a year to not bring these things to the table without the necessary votes. Of course the mavericks who stepped up here are not exactly going out on a limb. Reduced fields upset the rank-and-file and make for lousy television since they produce an unusually high number of runaway winners (tune into a WGC for evidence of that). You'd just like to think the Commissioner would realize that before presenting a plan.

But worse than that blind spot is the decision to ignore momentum building for a bold Tour Championship conclusion. If ever there was a time to take a chance--dismal ratings, nervous sponsors, two straight FedEx flops--isn't this it? 

Monday
Nov102008

"He has probably put more steps on this ground at this stage of development than any architect we've dealt with"

In Jerry Potter's story on Tiger's press conference to launch The Cliffs, he shares this from developer Jim Anthony:

Woods said he was able to walk about three months after surgery, and Anthony said his early visits to the site left him worried. "He has probably put more steps on this ground at this stage of development than any architect we've dealt with," said Anthony, who has courses built by Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio.

That's not really saying much. Those three, walking a site? Without cameras? Right.