Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

I may be wrong, but I believe that the golfers of today want originality. Even those who are not particularly analytical sense the difference between a purely natural hole and one which suggests the artificial.  A.W. TILLINGHAST


    

Thursday
Feb192009

Did IMG Steer Clients To Stanford Financial?

Thanks to reader Tuco for Peter Lauria and Kaja Whitehouse's New York Post story claiming that IMG directed its clients to Stanford Financial. IMG is vehemently denying...

According to three sources with knowledge of the situation, IMG and Stanford have a quid-pro-quo agreement under which Stanford Financial pays IMG a low- to mid-seven-figure consulting fee in exchange for IMG advising its clients - which include golfers Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, David Toms, Sergio Garcia and others - to have their money managed by Stanford.

The backroom bargaining has exposed IMG to charges of double-dealing, and is raising questions about where the firm's allegiances lay: with Stanford Financial or its athlete clients.

"It's certainly a conflict of interest," said one source. "IMG is trading on its athletes' names to make money for themselves and then turning around and telling them to invest money with Stanford."

Wednesday
Feb182009

Greetings From L.A., Pro-Am Edition

Skies cleared to make for a beautiful pro-am day. Normally I try to take cover on pro-am days since the media center is right in the firing lines. Today I spent some time on the range to watch a few players I don't normally get the chance to observe.

Early on, I witnessed a true first: fifty or so Japanese media members watching Ryo Ishikawa hit balls. And not just watching, but they were glued to every shot. Some were even making notes. Yes, notes of a driving range session. And when he moved to the side tee to work out of the practice bunker, the herd followed. Truly a different world!

Chopra (click to enlarge)Daniel Chopra spent a good 15 minutes trying to hit lob wedges over the range fence before finally giving up. Judging by the state of his, uh, highlights, I think his time would have been better spent at one of L.A.'s finer salons.

Trevor Immelman came to the range and no one seemed to know, care or even recognized the Masters champion. Pretty strange. That said, watching his beautiful swing next to that of Jeev Milkha Singh provided quite the contrast.

Jeev Singh at the top of his unique backswing (clck to enlarge)Singh must have the strangest swing for a great player. I had hoped to interview him but he seemed determined to hit about 300 balls and you can only stand and watch someone that laid off at the top so long.

I watched Vijay Singh and he didn't seem the least bit bothered by the Stanford Financial situation, so hopefully his money was invested elsewhere.

And finally, my major quest of the day ended with good news: Stuart Appleby is not, contrary to what I've heard, a complete jerk to his pro-am partners. In fact, I can report that he not only spoke to them, but signed autographs for young boys and even posed for a photo, patiently waiting while a young Wang took way too many shots and way too much time trying to frame the image. Appleby displayed great patience and dispelled most of the myths about his pro-am demeaner with the GeoffShackelford.com staff.

Wednesday
Feb182009

"I always say if it was built before 1960, there's a good chance I'm going to like it."

Jim Furyk, killing any chance he had for the ASGCA's Donald Ross Award, talking Wednesday at the Loss-of-Trust Open about Riviera and classic architecture in general.

I always say if it was built before 1960, there's a good chance I'm going to like it. If it was built after 1990, there's probably a pretty good chance I won't. It doesn't always hold true, but it's a good rule of thumb.

Wednesday
Feb182009

"A wood not an iron"

Thanks to reader Quan for this Aaron Gouveia story that sounds like something out of a Larry David episode. Guy holds door open for another guy who doesn't say thank you, so guy opening door utters sarcastic "thank you" (something I will never do again after reading this!).

Police officers were called to the Hess gas station at the corner of Sandwich Road and Route 151 at 6:45 a.m. Monday following an altercation between two customers. The incident began with one man not saying "thank you" to another man as he held the door open for him, police said.

When he was exiting the gas station, police said, a 50-year-old East Falmouth man held the door open for Carlos Navarro, 38, of Falmouth. When Navarro allegedly failed to thank the man for opening the door, the 50-year-old man allegedly uttered a sarcastic "thank you" to Navarro, police said.

Navarro told police he believed he had been disparaged, which led to a heated argument. Navarro then went to his car and retrieved a golf club — a wood not an iron — and struck the alleged victim several times in the stomach and legs, police said.

Police said the alleged victim suffered minor injuries in the incident.

So glad we got that clarified on wood or iron. As if it really makes a difference when you are getting beaten with one!

Wednesday
Feb182009

PGA Tour Sponsors: "Three Camps"

I thought reader "Hitting Three" made some interesting observations (as did several others) on the original Stanford Financial post.  Hitting Three broke down PGA Tour sponsors into categories of financial well-being. In case you missed it:

PGA Tour sponsors, 3 camps:

Camp Solid: (24 events)
=======================
Mercedes...seem to be fine.
Sony...seem to be fine.
AT&T...seem to be fine.
Northern Trust...seem to be fine, for a bank anyway.
Accenture...seem to be fine.
Honda...seem to be fine.
Mastercard....debatable but AP can always rope in a new one.
Computer Associates...seem fine.
Transitions...ditto.
Shell...should be fine.
Master's...self-funding, what a concept!! (obviously not a PGA Tour event)
Verizon...seem to be fine.
Zurich...ditto.
Valero...stock went from $75 to $15, but otherwise fine?
HP...fine.
Travelers...ditto.
AT&T (2)...seem to be fine.
John Deere...stock from $90 to $30, but seem fiscally sound.
Royal Bank of Canada...prob be ok, but keep an eye on 'em.
Bridgestone...should be fine.
BMW...ditto.
Coca Cola...ditto. (it's "Co'cola" for the uninitiated)
Viking...men will always grill out.
Disney...guess there will always be a Disney tournament.

Camp Coin Flip: (8 events)
==========================
Mayakoba...luxury travel, who knows, unless it's a wash site then they are fine?
Crowne Plaza...hotel biz? has to be a questionmark.
Morgan Stanley...appears to have survived brush with death, but TARP limits them.
Wyndham...hotel biz? stock has gone from $37 to $4, I'd be worried.
Deutsche Bank...another bank, stock is down 75%, flip a coin.
Turning Stone...prob be ok, I guess.
Shriners...who is the sponsor?
Fry's...with the recent fraud who knows?

Band Camp: (10 events)
======================
Chrysler...life support, probably not a viable sponsor going forward.
FBR...stock traded at .22c today. Most .22c'rs don't make it.
Buick...ditto Chrysler.
Banco Popular...bank, stock down 75% in last 3 years, seems v shaky.
Wachovia...vaporized, acquiror has no interest in Tour.
Stanford...raided today by SEC for "massive on-going fraud".
US Bank...bailed on the sponsorship after '09.
Buick (2)...life support, brand may not even survive.
Legends..."a project that is currently on hold" -- doubt they are back for '10.
Barclays...stock down 87%, and it's a bank, Ty bulk up in legal!

- 56% of events appear to be on solid footing.
- 20% in coin flip territory.
- 24% looking like burnt toast.

Not a pretty picture... 02.17.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHitting Three

 

Wednesday
Feb182009

"Tom Morris of St Andrews" Wins 2008 USGA Award

Here's the story on USGA.org.

 

Wednesday
Feb182009

Minorities Pave Way For Anthony Kim To Skip L.A. Open

Daniel Wexler looks at the progressive nature of the event formerly known as the L.A. Open, while Doug Ferguson notes the power of IMG the interesting early season scheduling by the next great PGA Tour hope, Anthony Kim.

Anthony Kim grew up in Los Angeles and spent his last few years of high school in the Palm Springs area. But the West Coast swing will end without Kim at either of the PGA Tour stops in his hometowns.

He missed the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with a shoulder injury, leaving Mark Calcavecchia to quip, "Has he heard of Advil?"

More peculiar is how Kim could miss the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. Instead, he is playing on the European tour for the second straight week, this time at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia.

Kim has played only twice on the PGA Tour this year, tying for second in Kapalua and missing the cut in Phoenix.

Wednesday
Feb182009

Stevie: "He never tees it up unless he believes he can win and he's ready to go."

Stevie Williams is still in New Zealand and not sounding entirely like someone about to jump on a plane for Tucson. Which makes sense, since a Tiger return to the match play seems like an odd choice when you consider the 36-hole days involved on the weekend. Or Stevie's bluffing:

"It's going to be anytime, shortly," Williams said.

"He's probably 95 percent of the way there. He was waiting for the birth of his second child which just came last week so he's ready to go. He just needs a little bit more walking. He hasn't been able to walk too well," he added.

"Anytime in the next few weeks he's going to tee it up. He definitely wants to play a couple of tournaments before Augusta so any day now he's going to make a decision when he's going to play."

Tuesday
Feb172009

Greetings From LA: Quiet Tuesday Edition

Riviera took another rain beating overnight and seemed pretty saturated this morning, but by midday was drying out. I even spotted some of Matt Morton's dedicated crew out mowing fairways, an encouraging sign that things are too water logged.

I walked with a few players and listened in on some driving range chatter, all the while noticing that Vijay Singh was constantly on his cell phone. I'm going to guess those weren't fun calls. 

My best attempt at a Borat thumbs up needs work (click to enlarge)Fun for me was getting my photo taken next to the Titleist truck, something I did just for my vast Fairhaven readership, which looks a little thin these days based on Google Analytics.

I also forgot how boring it can be listening to golf pros talk about shafts, lofts, lies and other minutae. At least they're passionate about something! We certainly know it's not golf architecture.

Anyone not have a camera in Ryo's gallery? (click to enlarge)Fans were in such short supply that teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa's gallery was dominated by photographers and television crews (see lousy iphone image, left). After briefly catching a glimpse of the young lad who sported banana yellow slacks he picked up at a Tom Weiskopf garage sale, I was thrilled to hear he joined up for back nine play with two giants of the game. He covered this in his afternoon press conference:

Q. I believe you played a practice round today with Chris DiMarco and J.J. Henry. How did that come about, and did they give you any advice or words of wisdom?

RYO ISHIKAWA: Both players are so kind to give advice like, you know, the pin positions last year or something like that. So every single hole, those two players gave me some advice.

I wanted to play the PGA TOUR since I was young, and it's kind of like a dream playing with those superstar players. So, it's like a dream.

I think that's the first time superstar has been used to describe J.J. Henry, but you have to love the respect he's paying his elders.

Speaking of respecting elders, John Strege filed this enjoyable summary of Ryo's news conference

Tuesday
Feb172009

Stanford Financial Clippings

Steve Elling labels the Stanford Financial charges a disaster and Bob Harig manages to wrangle a quote out of the LPGA spokesman who says they are monitoring the situation.

Geoff Caulkins talks to a FedEx briefcase and it sure sounds like the air freight giant is already in talks to rescue the Memphis stop they once sponsored.

Martha Graybow of Reuters says the case raises new questions about the SEC. But I found some of the timing mentioned interesting considering the LPGA just recently signed up (Nov. 19) Stanford for its Tour Championship despite this:

A complaint filed last year against Stanford's firm by two former employees contended they were aware of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the firm's sales practices while they worked there.

The employees, Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl, said in their Texas state court lawsuit that they left rather than participate in unlawful business practices. They departed in late 2007.

A Guardian blog post by Andy Bull examines the likelihood of poor due diligence performed by the England and Wales Cricket Board before taking Stanford's sponsorship money. So will questions will be raised about the due dilligence carried out by the PGA and LPGA Tours who are so visibly leaning on Stanford?

More immediately, the Stanford Financial "Eagles for St. Jude" spots should prove to be uncomfortable for the Golf Channel anchor who has to note the program. As should future airings of these ads:



Tuesday
Feb172009

Latest Trump Bankruptcy Not Exactly Assuring The Scots

If they only knew how many times The Donald has been through this, they'd understand it's all part of doing business the Apprentice way.

He said the company "represents substantially less than 1% of my net worth, and has for some time".

"If I can't manage something, it's not for me," said Trump who holds 28% of the company's stock, according to a recent filing. "Now I will study and watch as the horrible and outrageous fees being paid to lawyers and consultants will suck the blood from the company."

Last night, Aberdeenshire councillor Paul Johnston, an opponent of the Menie golf development in its present form, said he believed events in America did have a bearing on the Menie development.

"He is a property developer at the riskiest time ever for property development and the questions is, will it ever get finished if he starts it? People are worried it will never happen and Mr Trump, by his resignation, is breeding uncertainty. I am not in high finance but this doesn't look good.

"Clearly he always has the option of making life easier for himself by scaling back the development here and still build the world's greatest golf course but without destroying the sand dunes. This whole development may be built on sand."

Tuesday
Feb172009

Bandon, Here They Come?

Matty G looks at the efforts to make Bandon Dunes more accessible via commercial aircraft and also quotes my cousin Tobin who has creating an innovative air service for those wanting to get around some of Oregon's better courses.

 

Tuesday
Feb172009

What Kind Of Club Is Natalie Holding?

Alright, behave yourselves please, my mother reads this site!.

Here is an email query going around wondering what kind of club shaft that Natalie Gulbis, current Celebrity Apprentice star, is holding? Here's the email:

 

 

Tuesday
Feb172009

Stanford Financial Raided By U.S. Marshalls**

Oops. Now this should test those ironclad PGA Tour contracts. And on the LPGA side, ADT must be looking better and better down at headquarters.

Tuesday
Feb172009

ZZZZZZZ: Olympic Golf Would Use 72-Hole Stroke Play Format

76 pages of questions?

IGF Submits Detailed Questionnaire to International Olympic Committee, Constituting Golf’s Formal Olympic Bid

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA (February 17, 2009) - The International Golf Federation announced today that a 76-page detailed questionnaire was submitted on Sunday to the International Olympic Committee Programme Commission, constituting the formal and technical bid to include golf in the 2016 Olympic Games.

The questionnaire sought specific information on various topics relevant to golf's bid, including how golf would be presented if it were part of the Olympic Games and information on golf's worldwide appeal and governance structure. The submission of the questionnaire was the next step in the process set forth by the IOC Programme Commission and followed a presentation in November to the Commission in Lausanne, Switzerland by Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF, and PGA TOUR executive Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee.

"We are pleased with the formal bid document, and now look forward to working with the Programme Commission on the preparation of the final report to the IOC Executive Board in advance of our presentation to the Board in June," Votaw said. "We worked diligently to solicit input from the world's leading players and golf organizations to address and finalize a number of key issues contained in the document, including the recommended format for competition."

Recognized as the representative body for golf by the IOC, the IGF is proposing 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women. Leading players expressed that this is the fairest and best way to identify a champion, mirroring the format used in golf's major championships. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff is recommended to determine the medal winner(s).

There's your buried lede of the week or maybe month.

Golf needs another 72-hole stroke play event like it needs another financial firm sponsoring a tour event.

Oh but it's fair! And it's just like the majors.

Example 90,702 demonstrating golf's lack of imagination rearing its ugly head yet again.

Tuesday
Feb172009

"Stanford Depositors Head to Antigua for Redemptions"

Thanks to a reader for this WSJ story on investors arriving in Antiqua to withdraw their money from offshore accounts of Stanford Financial. It doesn't sound good, and as the reader reminded me, Stanford's ties to the PGA Tour extend beyond the Memphis event and the LPGA's season ending Tour Championship, with major IMG endorsement deals and the eagles for St. Jude program on the PGA and LPGA Tours.

 

Monday
Feb162009

"Don't be surprised if an official announcement is made later this week regarding Woods' return in Tucson."

If you had match play in the pool, Jason Sobel says you are looking like a winner:

Though I've been saying for months, purely on a hunch, that I believed Tiger Woods would make his season debut at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral, I'm ready to concede defeat, as it seems like every day there are more and more signs pointing toward that comeback getting started at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship beginning Feb. 25. Don't be surprised if an official announcement is made later this week regarding Woods' return in Tucson.

And as Sal Johnson elaborates in a Golfobserver rant that also takes CBS to task for weak coverage, it's time. Other than a few bright spots, the tour is really suffering without Tiger.

Monday
Feb162009

Kim Jong Il Puts Jacqueline Gagne To Shame

We have a new serial hole-in-onester to replace Ms. Gagne seems, but in Kim Jong Il's case, he made his 11 holes-in-one in one round...and it was the first round he'd ever played!

Apparently it was Kim Jong Il Day and besides learning that his birthday improves the weather, various other wise tales were shared including this item leaked about His Wonderfulnesses golf game:

Kim, who avoids travelling on airplanes for his rare trips overseas, did learn to be a crack fighter pilot.

He goes through intensive memory training every day and can remember the phone numbers of workers, lines of computer code and the personal biographies of cadres.

And legend has it that the first time Kim played golf, he shot 11 holes-in-one and carded a score about 20 strokes lower than the best round ever for a professional event over 18 holes.

Monday
Feb162009

Greetings From L.A. Annual Monday 10th Hole Report

I toured Riviera today and as always it seems to have handled the rain well thanks in part to George Thomas and Billy Bell's ingenious surface drainage.

The last few years these Monday walks have given me the displeasure of reporting bizarre changes to the masterful 10th hole. Because, you know, it has always been such weak hole on an otherwise great course!

I'm pleased to report the restoration of the short grass area taken away and bemoaned about ad nauseum here and here!The restored short grass area includes a new swale that may collect balls, and therefore divots. (Click to enlarge)

Apparently there is a fear that this short grass next to the green encourages players to recklessly drive through the green into the area in front of the 11th tee, where they then face a terrifying wedge shot back. I blame that approach of players in recent years more on the ball than the hole itself. And even though the Shotlink data proved otherwise with regard to the impact of short grass, this area has been re-graded with a sea of newly installed mounds (not as horrible as it sounds, but not great either) and a new swale installed next to the green.

While it is true that players essentially treat the hole like a long par-3 now compared to just four years ago (thank you USGA and R&A!), I'm not sure if the various tinkering here really has made things more strategically interesting. But again, that's not the club's fault, that's a governing body issue.New mounds to penalize agressive drives blend in as well as can be expected. (click to enlarge)

This newly graded short grass area and swale is retaining water. But that's not a big deal. Though I'm guessing if water is collecting there, something else will too. Hint: they're little, white, dimpled and usually when PGA Tour players hit them, the boys tend to leave divots (yes, even next to a green). So we'll see if that becomes a problem this week. (The old short grass area on No. 10 was more gradual in slope, so balls finished in a variety of locations.)

Another change of the welcomed variety involves the 11th tee, where Ted Robinson's old propped-up monstrosity has been eliminated and a nice tee at grade constructed, with some needed length also added to the hole.

As for second year sponsor Northern Trust, there isn't much difference in the setup and the tournament remains a pretty uninspired operation compared to most PGA Tour events. The media tent is larger in response to an onslaught of Japanese media requests this year, while the spray painted Northern Trust logo off the tenth tee is infinitely tackier than last year thanks to the dark green backdrop added (see photo).The dark green paint strengthens the Northern Trust brand. (click to enlarge)

And despite my pleas, the pivotal 18th hole scoreboard remains missing.

Last year the old school manually-operated scoreboard was eliminated to make room for a dignitary seating area, but this year the seating is not present yet fans will still be deprived of following the leaders as they make their way to the great 18th.

I know, I know. They have the electronic board to remind them every five minutes who the host pro is and how the FedEx Cup race is playing out...I guess I just like the added touch of watching a number get changed and for players to come face to face with their situation as they make one of golf's great walks.

The 18th with scoreboard and without:

2006 with the old manual leaderboard greeting players and entertaining waiting fans (click to enlarge)

And 2009... (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Feb162009

"How dreadful that they are all the same."

I'm not the only one who spotted the irony in Peter Dawson's justification of the R&A's membership practices, as Derek Lawrenson writes:

Quote of the Week: "Golf is a very broad church, and there is plenty of room for every sort of golf club. It would be dreadful if we were all the same."

Chief Executive Peter Dawson's hilarious defence of the men-only status of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

Coming in May: the announcement of the next captain of the R&A, who will be a white male, aged sixty-something, privately-educated, grey-haired, and an ex-CEO.

How dreadful that they are all the same.