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
  • 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

By natural hazards we refer to ravines, broken faces of the land, brooks, and the like, each of which should be used to its best advantage. There is something so undeniably pleasant about a natural hazard that it seems out of the question to duplicate it artificially. DONALD ROSS

 

    

Friday
May012009

Lehman Defends Really White Chest Bump Gone Awry

Finally, some much needed Champions Tour controversy as Tom Lehman defends last weekend's chest-bump-gone-awry with Bernhard Langer, the whitest thing anyone has seen since Golf Digest unveiled their final four candidates for the Bethpage Break 100 deal.

(Incidentally, they name the whitest man in American on NBC Saturday, during coverage of the whitest sporting event in America, the Kentucky Derby.)

Lehman, with no choice but to speak out:

One thing that many people have not forgotten yet from my win is the chest bump that Langer and I attempted. I got all kinds teasing about that and probably can't repeat a lot of it. People have asked "What was that?" or "You'll have to work on that one" or "Chest bumps been outlawed forever in all future Champions Tour events". I've gotten a number of comments. But stuff like that is good for golf. Whether you think it looks stupid or cool, whether its semi appropriate or not, it gives flair and emotion to a game that can be lacking in that. When people that I know are all talking about it, it's interesting and gives them something to talk about. That puts golfers in a new light, where at least it's not just tipping your cap, nodding, saying thank you.

Can't argue with that.

Friday
May012009

No Truth To Rumor That Bob Hope Classic Talking To George Lopez About Sponsorship Bailout

After all, he's in better financial shape than Chrysler.

Looks like they aren't touching the C-word after yesterday's news. For immediate release:

Bob Hope Classic on Solid Ground

(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL/La Quinta, CA) — The PGA TOUR and Desert Classic Charities, Inc. reaffirmed in a joint statement Friday that the Bob Hope Classic would be played in 2010 and beyond.

“The foundation that has been built over the last 50 years provides solid financial footing for the Desert Classic Charities group to continue the strong traditions of the Bob Hope Classic,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “The TOUR and Desert Classic Charities are proud of the more than $50 million that has been raised for Coachella Valley charities, of which the Eisenhower Medical Center has been the largest recipient.”

“We continue to appreciate the long-standing support provided by 2000 volunteers, the local corporate sponsors and our 384 pro-am contestants from across the country,” said John Foster, president of Desert Classic Charities. “We look forward to welcoming the best of the PGA TOUR back to the city of La Quinta next year as we continue our mission of serving human needs in the Valley.”

Friday
May012009

U.S. Open Entry Record, Again

The game may be suffering but there appears to be no shortage of players with a 1.4 or better. This USGA.org story notes 93% of the entries were filed online, over 600 came in the last day, the ages range from 13-78 and lists the exemptees for Bethpage. I was relieved to find out that Azumo Yano is in.

Friday
May012009

The Sixth Major Really, Really Wants To Move Up Two Slots

For all of the joking about Quail Hollow's sixth major status, it sure sounds like the player raves for those Mercedes courtesy cars the wonderfully narrow course, it seems the talk has gone to the club's head, as Erik Spanberg reports in the Charlotte Business Journal (thanks reader Bill for this):

Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris, in an interview at the course this week with the Charlotte Business Journal, confirmed the club will likely end the tournament in 2014 when the title sponsorship contract with Wells Fargo & Co. expires. Quail Hollow’s deal with the PGA Tour ends the same year.

“Our intent right now would be to do the best job possible until 2014 and then, after that, I would say we’re not predisposed to continue to have a PGA Tour event after that,” Harris said.

Ahh...with majors in their eyes...

Bringing a major to Quail Hollow has been mentioned by players and others around the game since Harris and then-Wachovia chief executive Ken Thompson created the tournament in 2003.

“If they wanted to, they could host a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship or a Ryder Cup, no question,” says CBS golf broadcaster Jim Nantz. “As far as the quality of the course, they’ve got the system in place — they operate the tournament right now as a five-star operation.”

Generally, the USGA and PGA of America don't like it when you publicly lobby for a major, though there are exceptions if you have a luxury hotel, an irresistibly compelling course or financial possibilities that are just too good to pass up.

But there's also the logistical issue, which could be cleared up by 2014 if corporate hospitality is still verboten. Otherwise, Davis Love noted the limitations of Quail Hollow as nicely as he could in a press gathering recently:

Q. With so much influx on the Tour, one of the things that's been suggested for us in Charlotte is that perhaps some day 10 years, 15 years, Quail Hollow might host a Major championship. How would that course fit the Major Championship profile? And how tough would it be if they narrowed down the fairways with more rough?

DAVIS LOVE III: There's a lot of courses that can handle a Major championship, certainly Quail Hollow as a golf course can, it's the infrastructure that goes around. If Johnny Harris said you all come look at Quail Hollow for a U.S. Open or a PGA, they wouldn't look much at the golf course to start with. They'd say wait a minute, is there room for parking? And is there room for corporate hospitality? Is there room for buses? All the things they do well there with a medium-large tournament. But if you get an extra large tournament, can you handle it? That's the argument at Marion, that's an argument at so many places, can you get people in and out? Is the infrastructure big enough?

The golf course is great. It's certainly hard enough. Our argument is it doesn't have to be hard, it's still a great golf course, no matter what score you shoot. Like last week, 11-under is a great score to win The Masters. That's what your score should be. If it's 5-over, somebody has made the course too hard. And if we don't shoot under par something is wrong, the course is too hard. Just like if you went to an NBA game and nobody dunked it and nobody made a three-pointer, you'd say wait a minute, somebody made the bucket too small or the basket too high. Quail Hollow, sure, they've got deep rough and fast greens. It would certainly handle a Major championship. But I don't think there's enough room for everything else that goes with it.

Thursday
Apr302009

"We’re letting them get excited about birdies instead of just watching people make a bunch of pars.”

I didn't get to see any of the Quail Hollow Championship's opening round, but looking at the leaderboard and reading a couple of accounts about the course setup, it should be interesting to see how the rank and file PGA Tour player views the lower-rough, faster green approach.

Here's what AP's Mike Cranston wrote, quoting tournament director Kym Hougham:

Hougham said they started thinking of tweaking the course after hearing golfers complain of high rough at a number of tournaments in Florida a couple of years ago.

“When the club became comfortable with them shooting 16-under par or 18-under par, that gave us the green light to go out and try this,” Hougham said.

The recession accelerated the move.

“In these economic times, we want this to be entertainment,” Hougham said. “When the people who play their discretionary dollar to come out here, we’re giving them roars and we’re giving them smiles. We’re letting them get excited about birdies instead of just watching people make a bunch of pars.”

See. There are benefits to "these economic times."

But here's what concerns me. Steve Elling posting at CBSSports.com:

Woods hit 5 of 14 fairways in his opening round and shot a 7-under 65, his best round ever at Quail Hollow, to claim the first-round lead while playing alongside Furyk, no less. Mickelson hit 7 of 14 fairways, missing 7 of his last 9, but still shot 67 and is tied for second, two shots back.

Mickelson applauded the firm greens, which required a deft short game, and the short rough, which meant players could attack the greens at their own risk.

"By always having a shot,I think the fans are enjoying seeing the recovery shot, which is the most exciting shot in golf," he said. "But because the greens are firm, those shots are difficult."

I'm guessing it won't be long before we hear some grumbling from short, straight, grinder types that this the low-rough concept is the Commissioner's conspiracy to get Tiger and Phil in contention and to drive up ratings.

Though if you look closely, for every Woods and Mickelson, there were several shorter-knocking grinder types on page one (Maggert, O'Hern and Flesch).

Hopefully it will be remembered that the tour brass and field staff initially resisted the move to setups downplaying the role of rough. (I don't sense they are entirely sold on the idea yet either.) However, let's say it is a grand conspiracy. What is the downside? The PGA Tour is in the entertainment business. Isn't it their job to set up courses in a way that promotes excitement and heroics?

Thursday
Apr302009

Olympic Golf Movement Scores Best Endorsement Yet: Bruce Jenner Thinks It's A Bad Idea

John Strege reports that the former Olympic great turned-Botox-gone-bad-reality-show-star says golf belongs in the Olympics but will never amount to much. That was probably after he heard it would be stroke instead of match play.

Wednesday
Apr292009

"There's definitely a different setup."

Neat to see the tour setting up the sixth major at Quail Hollow in a way that helps prepare the players for next week's fifth major. Or maybe it's just part of the plan to mix things up and more importantly, play a better form of golf where accuracy is rewarded with firm greens instead of chip-out rough? Either way works.

From Jim Furyk's press session Wednesday:

We've come here a lot of times where the rough has been very deep, thick. It's been a huge premium on accuracy, and the rough is very low this year, as low as I've ever seen it and probably as low as I've seen it in almost any TOUR event I've ever played, outside of Harbour Town. It's obviously a different style.

I assume the greens are going to get very firm and quick, and it's a good golf course. I think that it'll play well in both styles. I'm anxious to see how it pans out through the week.

Q. Are you surprised to see it that way?

JIM FURYK: Well, I'm not, because we got a little heads-up in our green sheet or information sheet that the rough was going to be cut at two inches, and that kind of -- and the green speeds were targeted a little quicker than they were in the past. They were talking about possibly 13, which they're not right now, but if they get these greens firm and fast I don't think it matters if there's rough out there or not, it's going to be really difficult. But it's definitely a lot different setup than we've seen in the past.

Wednesday
Apr292009

"Here’s how you fight the economic madness devouring our civilization. You take away six burgers and a couple of pizzas."

That's Jim McCabe's grabber of a lede. Sadly, burgers and slices are what it boiled down to for MIT's golf expenditures, yet the sport was still dropped. The story gets more infuriating when you hear the details shared by McCabe:

Now Burke, nor any of his players are ignorant to the world upon us. “We understand cuts have to be made, that you have to make budgets,” said Nick Swenson, a freshman from Yorktown, Va.

“But we’re not an expensive sport,” said Ted Keith, a senior from Acton, Mass. “We’re $30,000 a year.”

Swenson and Keith organized teammates for a meeting with athletic director Julie Soriero, but if they went there Monday night with any degree of optimism, it was quickly deflated.

Soriero told the players their plan to fund their own team with fund-raising efforts was unacceptable, that to keep golf as a varsity sport they would have to raise a $3 million endowment.

The story goes on to look at the sheer absurdity of a $3 million endowment. After that infurates you and you feel the need to vent, here's an MIT athletic department feedback page.

Wednesday
Apr292009

“I didn’t see the playoff hole"

Chad Campbell is handling his Masters defeat quite admirably, at least based on this Doug Ferguson note. After all, this can't be easy viewing even with the missing playoff:

Chad Campbell had a tough time going over some of the shots he missed on the back nine of the Masters, where he lost in a playoff, but it didn’t keep him from watching the tournament on tape.

But not the entire final round.

“I didn’t see the playoff hole,” Campbell said with a smile.

That’s probably a good thing, for he was in the middle of the 18th fairway with a 7-iron, blocked it into the bunker, blasted out to 5 feet and missed the cut to get eliminated.

It’s not like Campbell turned off the TV or turned his head. He used a digital video recorder, and well ...

“You know how it works with playoffs and stuff,” he said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t continue to record. And for some reason, it didn’t record it (the playoff). I really don’t know what happened, to be honest. My wife just told me that it didn’t get the whole thing.”

Wednesday
Apr292009

Donegan On John Daly And The PGA Tour

Lawrence Donegan makes a case for forgiveness in light of the news that the tour is considering alcohol-related sponsorships.

What is worse for the image of professional golf: the sights and sounds of leading players cursing aloud on live TV on a regular basis, or a two-paragraph report on Daly being huckled off to the cells after another hard night on the town? This is one for the photo-finish equipment, perhaps, although not in the eyes of golf's etiquette police, who have decided that Daly's pariah status is now irreversible.

Wednesday
Apr292009

"On one hole, we had a ball blown off the tee four times, but other than that there was no problem."

Sounds like a good time was had by all at the Ballantine's Championship. This could be a first for press releases:

McGINLEY FULL OF PRAISE FOR ‘WONDERFUL’ OFFICIALS

Paul McGinley led the tributes to tournament officials and workers after the 2009 Ballantine’s Championship was completed amid some of the toughest conditions ever seen at a European Tour event.

Howling winds and unseasonal plunging temperatures had threatened to derail last week’s €2.1 million showpiece at Pinx Golf Club on the holiday island of Jeju in Korea.

But the show went on – with players, officials and volunteers alike braving the elements to ensure all four rounds were successfully completed before Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee emerged triumphant in a three-way playoff.

McGinley, who finished joint 46th after battling through some of the most trying conditions he could remember, was full of praise for tournament directors David Williams and David Parkin and chief referee John Paramor.

“They did a wonderful job in extremely difficult conditions and they should be commended for that,” said the Irish star. “I thought the golf course was very difficult, but it was playable.”

While some players – faced with hitting into fierce winds and contending with balls moving on the greens – felt the third round might have been halted, McGinley believed the decision to continue was correct.

“It’s all about opinion. Yes, it was very difficult, but there wasn’t a par three that wasn’t reachable, there wasn’t a par four that you couldn’t reach in two shots and there wasn’t a par five that wasn’t reachable in three shots,” he said.

“I can’t speak for other guys who maybe said their ball moved a few times, but nobody in our group had a ball move. On one hole, we had a ball blown off the tee four times, but other than that there was no problem."

Sounds like a blast!

Wednesday
Apr292009

Obama And Biden Hit The Green

Nice spot by Robert Lohrer who caught Pete Souza's official White House image of the President and Vice President out breaking in the White House putting green. Thanks to Chip Gaskins for the Flicker version.

Wednesday
Apr292009

All Is Right With The World: Tiger And "Henry" Are A-OK

I tell you, I was losing sleep. Steve Elling reports that Tiger put break-up rumors with Hank Haney to rest as the sixth major approaches.

Wednesday
Apr292009

Apologies...

...For the Porsche ad. That was not one I agreed to and I'm working to have it removed.

Wednesday
Apr292009

Daly Purportedly Unveils White Belt...

In this EuropeanTour.com story on Monty's pleasure at seeing John Daly on the European Tour this week, it's hard to pay attention to the text or even Long John's promised white belt unveiling with those pants.

Head to the story link for the chance to study the pattern up close...to determine which Elton John garage sale he picked 'em up at.

 

Wednesday
Apr292009

Britain Reeling From Jerry Kelly's Decision To Skip The Open

Well, European tour professional Alastair Forsyth is upset. And he's Scottish. Still...

I'm like reader Gene, wondering if the press will view this the same way Kenny Perry's choice was treated, or if Kelly gets a pass because he's a Wisconsin guy and not as highly ranked and playing as well as Perry was.

 

Tuesday
Apr282009

"For me, I don't talk golf course architecture. That's not my whole life. I do that for a living and a job."

Matty G sat down with Tom Fazio, one of the game's artists to talk about the state of his business, money, his deep passion for his work, money, buddy trips, money and his buddy Tiger.

How much did it cost to hire you to design a course 15-20 years ago, as opposed to today?

My fee in 1989 was $500,000. And with the golf boom that occurred, fees went to $2 million.

I thought you had to have won a major to clear the $2 million hurdle?

Is it negotiable?

In my case, the number isn't negotiable. What is negotiable are the terms.

Have you ever talked design with Tiger?

No.

Do you foresee that happening?

I would think it would. I don't know. Tiger's going to be moving at some point. He's building a house in Jupiter. I saw Jack Nicklaus last night at dinner. He sat at the table next to me. We live right here in North Palm Beach. I don't get to see Tiger because he lives in Orlando but I would look forward to talking to him. It would be interesting. Everybody has their opinions and everybody sees golf a different way. Seeing it through Tiger's eye would be very different.

Hasn't Tiger said he consulted Tom Fazio before going into the business?

What is your weakness as a designer? What are you working on given the state of the game and technology?

The whole world, where we are right now, the most important issue is the economics of any project and any golf course. Economics are a factor. What can you get built for a reasonable cost. The cost is a major factor on what can be done and how it can be done. The days of being able to do whatever you want to do are not logical and practical anymore.

But it was so great while it lasted! And what a legacy of excessive budgets and designs devoid of repeat playing interest for the sport to look to!

Have you lowered your fees?

I haven't had to do that, but I think that could be in the cards depending on the location and other things. That has happened in every aspect of the game, whether it be a resort or private golf. I think we'll see the price of memberships, in lodging rates, in dues and many other things. That's very realistic of what's going to happen in the future.

Always ahead of the curve.

You say you know Mike Keiser, do you ever ask him why you didn't get a crack at one of the courses at Bandon Dunes?

Because Mike didn't want to have a course he'd have to redo in five years? Sorry, continue...

No. I'd have to go back and ask Mike if he asked me to be involved. I can't even remember. I wasn't working out west when Bandon Dunes was started. I had a reputation that I wouldn't go west of the Mississippi. It wasn't true, but people pick up on that and someone wrote it. My sons are young and the Internet is their life, and they'll see something and they'll call me and say, "Dad, can you believe what someone just wrote about you? That's awful. You can't let them get away with that." And I say, well, it's America and everyone is entitled to say what they want to say.

Hey sons! Dad's always knows best.

That's just the way it is. I have a lot of people tell me, "Gosh, I wish I would've known you work west of the Mississippi." I didn't work west of the Mississippi on multiple projects but I did one at a time. I think that's interesting.

Not really.

OK, last question. Obviously you get along with Jack, but if it's you and Tom Doak, and Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye in a room, do you guys all get along and what would be the topic of conversation?

I don't know. I don't know Tom Doak. I've never spent any time with Tom Doak. I know Pete Dye really well. In fact, when I have my big charity event, I have 50 clubs together every two years and have a two-day golf tournament called the Fazio Cup, and raise money for children's charities. And one year I had it I wanted to have a speaker. And I thought, 'Who would be the perfect guy?' And so I called Pete Dye and he did, and people were blown away. And the first thing Pete Dye says, he stands up, and says, "You SOBs out there, if you would've hired me instead of Tom, I wouldn't have charged you as much as he did." He's a character. And Jack is a good friend. I think we would talk about our kids. That's what I think we would talk about. And I would talk to Pete about that because I know his son. For me, I don't talk golf course architecture. That's not my whole life. I do that for a living and a job. I was sitting in the locker room at Seminole with several great players, a couple of great tour players, and we were talking about the economy.

Here I would have guessed they were talking reverse-Redans.

Tuesday
Apr282009

Klauk In The Fifth Major...For Now

Doug Ferguson reports that Jeff Klauk, son of longtime TPC Sawgrass super Fred Klauk who recently retired and has plenty of time to track his son's progress, is in The Players next week barring a surprise winner at Quail Hollow.

Tuesday
Apr282009

"There's going to be a break-in period"

E. Michael Johnson offers a short primer on the groove rule change and notes that many players are opting to wait until later in they year to even practice with them, something that has surprised me in conversations about the U-groove change. And apparently Jim Furyk agrees.

"I think it's a good idea in kind of getting players involved and saying, hey, don't wait till the end of year," said Jim Furyk. "This is something you want to get a hold of early on."

To that end, Furyk received some wedges with the conforming groove to test just prior to the WGC-CA Championship at Doral. Those who opt to wait, he said, might be in for a bit of a surprise.

"There's going to be a break-in period," said Furyk. "Some people will start January 1 with no issues and other guys, they are going to need some time to get used to it. But eventually, give it six months or whatever, and everyone is going to be on the same page."

Tuesday
Apr282009

"Maybe the $2 million they were going to give to Tiger is now extra prize money."

Steve Elling considers the many ramifications of the HSBC/WGC announcement, including the negative impact on the Disney event, the apparent demise of a Sea Island event in 2009, and the likelihood that Tiger and Phil will not appear too often now that the appearance fee aspect that drew them in the past has been eliminated.

Here's another potential complication for the marquee types: As a U.S.-sanctioned event, players no longer will be allowed to accept appearance fees, as Woods has done twice in the past.

"I don't think the guys are going to travel," Retief Goosen said. "I think it will be pretty much the same sort of field we have seen there in the past -- mostly European, with the Chinese and a few American players. I can't see Tiger and them going all the way there to play that.

"Tiger and Phil [Mickelson] used to go play it because they got a $2 million appearance fee, and we won't see that anymore. I think that might change some guys' minds to go.

"It was a pretty big purse before, with $5 million, now going up to $7 million. Maybe the $2 million they were going to give to Tiger is now extra prize money."