Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON

 

  

Thursday
Nov262009

"There was a time when the U.S. seemed unbeatable in the World Cup."

Garry Smits reminds us that it wasn't long ago the U.S. sent its top players to the World Cup, something I thought about while watching round 1 and noticing that most other countries sent high-profile teams (nothing against Nick Watney and John Merrick, fine Americans they are).

Wednesday
Nov252009

"Get ready for another Torrey Pines playoff"

Sean Martin has what may be the strangest story of the year. Or certainly the most bizarre in the world of college golf: Tim Mickelson in an 18-hole playoff with one of his USD players for a spot in the event formerly known as the Buick Invitational.

Wednesday
Nov252009

Warning, This Post Contains Information That May Be Offensive To Anyone With A Pulse: PGA Tour Executive Compensation Edition

I used to be able to joke about PGA Tour executive pay, but when you see these numbers...

Jon Show of Sports Business Journal did the digging and writes:

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem took home $5.3 million in 2008, up from $4.76 million the previous year and roughly flat with what he received in 2006.

Tim Finchem’s salary remained $1.3M, but performance bonuses pushed his total up. Finchem’s salary remained constant at $1.3 million, meaning the fluctuation is due to performance bonuses paid under a plan established by the compensation committee on the PGA Tour board of directors with the help of a compensation consultant.

Forget Finchem, that's old news. This is the part where the children must leave the room:

The second-highest-compensated executives in 2008 were co-COOs Charlie Zink and Ed Moorhouse, who each made about $1.7 million. Other executives receiving at least seven figures include CMO Tom Wade, CFO Ron Price and David Pillsbury, also president of PGA Tour Golf Course Properties.

Five over a million! Growth!

Show says new IRS rules gave us more information than in the past.

Among the revelations in the new filings is that the PGA Tour pays “health or social club dues or initiation fees” for one or more executives, which primarily consists of memberships at TPC Sawgrass.

Also, the 538 PGA Tour full- and part-time employees received $78.8 million in salaries, other compensation and benefits, up from the $74.4 million that 551 full- and part-time employees received in 2007.

I know what you're saying, these numbers were sketched out before the bubble burst. So note how they are anticipating the Great Recession down in Greater Jacksonville:

In the 2008 filing, the tour also outlines a long-term incentive bonus plan payable to high-ranking employees in 2009 and 2010 unless the individual terminates his or her employment. Finchem’s bonus is scheduled to be nearly $1.9 million in 2009 and 2010, followed by Zink and Moorhouse at $534,127 each.

Now, I'm not real good with numbers and common sense stuff here (blame Pepperdine), but how is it that you already know what's someone's bonus is going to be before the year's work takes place? How is that an incentive to work, since after all, bonuses are incentives, no?

Anyway, here's the expanded 2008 list in SBJ and a link to SBJ's findings for 2007.  And congrats to everyone on their pay raises in these thriving economic times!

PGA Tour Compensation   Name   Title   Total Compensation

Tim Finchem  Commissioner  $5,248,979

Charlie Zink Co-COO $1,768,832

Ed Moorhouse  Co-COO  $1,707,845

David Pillsbury* EVP, championship management $1,162,253

Tom Wade CMO $1,141,881

Ron Price CFO $1,209,464

Rick George  Chief of operations $776,693

Ty Votaw  EVP, communications and international affairs  $726,195

Rick Anderson CLO  $666,743

Henry Hughes CEO, The Players  $737,941

Bill Calfee President, Nationwide Tour  $698,414

Gil Kerr*  SVP, broadcasting and programming $534,534

Jeanne Lightcap* SVP, accounting and financial reporting  $480,158

Jeff Monday  SVP, tournament development $481,323

Mike Bodney* SVP, Presidents Cup  $491,955

Now there's a job I want. $491,955 for a once-every-two years event! Sorry to interrupt...

Jon Podany*  SVP, business development  $462,775

Bob Combs Former SVP, communications and public affairs $477,858

Slugger White* VP, rules and competition  $468,865

Mike Stevens* President, Champions Tour $398,230

Sid Wilson VP, player relations $394,610

* Not previously listed  Source: Form 990

Tuesday
Nov242009

"For the first time in 27 years the Skins Game won’t be part of Thanksgiving weekend."

I don't care how farcical the Skins Game became the last few years, I'm still sad that a once fun Thanksgiving tradition has died. Tom Cunneff offers this solution along with his list of best Skins Game memories:

Here’s a solution to bring it back next year: turn it over to the ladies, who are just as compelling, if not more so, as the men these days, with Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen, Lorena Ochoa and Paul Creamer as participants. Heck, bring Annika Sorenstam (left) out of retirement and make it a fivesome.

Whatever happens, it was a pretty good run that led to some phenomenal ratings and fond memories. Here are some of the highlights:

Tuesday
Nov242009

"THE FIRST 10 YEARS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM"

Okay, it's a slow news week so why not enjoy some perspective-giving stats from Dave Lancer of the PGA Tour. My favorite belongs to Tim Petrovic and his three (!) double eagles:


THE FIRST 10 YEARS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM

The PGA TOUR has just concluded the first 10 years of play in the new millennium and we’ve compiled some notes and statistics from play over that span.

Not to anyone’s surprise, Tiger Woods won the most tournaments (56), but who had the most holes in one or the most double eagles?  Read below to find out that and more.

Most Wins
Tiger Woods                56
Vijay Singh                 26
Phil Mickelson              24
Kenny Perry                11
David Toms                 9
Jim Furyk                    9
Ernie Els                      9
Justin Leonard              8
Retief Goosen               7
Sergio Garcia               7
Mike Weir                     7
Davis Love III               7
K.J. Choi                      7
Adam Scott                  7

Most Top 10s
Tiger Woods                121
Vijay Singh                  118
Phil Mickelson               96
Jim Furyk                     93
Ernie Els                      73
David Toms                  73
Davis Love III               67
Stewart Cink                64
Jerry Kelly                    62
Scott Verplank              60

Holes in One—310
Most by one player—Robert Allenby (6)
Longest—Jay Williamson, 250 yards at #6 Quail Hollow, 2008 Wachovia
Shortest—Mike Heinen, 106 yards, #7 Pebble Beach, 2002 AT&T National Pro-Am

Double Eagles—38
Most by one player—Tim Petrovic (3)

479 Tournaments
169 Different Winners
103 Playoffs
Played in 28 states
Played in nine countries outside the U.S.—Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Puerto Rico and South Africa (Presidents Cup)

Winners came from 18 countries outside the U.S.—South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Paraguay, Fiji, Northern Ireland,  Spain, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, England, Trinidad & Tobago, Ireland, Argentina, Colombia, Scotland

Different International winners—45
Total victories by international players--152
Most individual winners—Australia, 12
Most victories by one country—Australia, 33

Most individual wins by international players:

Vijay Singh                26
Ernie Els                    9
K.J. Choi                    7
Adam Scott                7
Sergio Garcia             7
Mike Weir                  7
Retief Goosen            7
Geoff Ogilvy              6
Stuart Appleby          5
Padraig Harrington     5
Rory Sabbatini           5

Number of players who won majors—22
Players who won more than one major--       

Tiger Woods                12
Padraig Harrington        3
Phil Mickelson               3
Angel Cabrera               2
Retief Goosen               2
Vijay Singh                   2

Number of rookies to win—24
Number who have won again—14

Number of different players in their 20s to win—44
Total victories by players in their 20s—117
Most different players in their 20s to win in one year—13 (2008)
Most victories in one year by 20-somethings—20 (2000)
Most by one player in his 20s—31, Tiger Woods

Number of different players in their 40s to win—39
Total victories by players in their 40s—86
Most different players in their 40s to win in one year—10 (2003)
Most victories in one year by 40-somethings—14 (2003)
Most by one player in his 40s—22, Vijay Singh

Most money won—Tiger Woods, $76,349,910 

Tuesday
Nov242009

“Mr. Trump has been granted planning permission to demolish my home, but I do not wish to sell, and I do not wish to be forced out"

Looks like The Donald is picking on a little old lady...again? Same thing in Atlantic City and he lost that one, no?

Peter Woodifield of Bloomberg reports on the case of Molly Forbes v. Trump"

“Mr. Trump has been granted planning permission to demolish my home, but I do not wish to sell, and I do not wish to be forced out,” Forbes said in the statement. “I never expected in my life to face eviction from my home, let alone for a golf course.”

Trump’s proposed development on the Menie estate north of Aberdeen was the subject of a public inquiry last year when the Scottish government intervened after Aberdeenshire Council rejected the first application. In September, the municipality granted planning consent for five areas of land, including where Forbes lives. Trump may seek approval for compulsory purchase orders if Forbes and the other owners refuse to sell.
The Trump Organization has about six months to negotiate an agreement before it needs to apply to the municipality for the purchase orders to ensure it can start building houses at the resort in two years, Donald

Tuesday
Nov242009

"Why has Barack Obama forsaken basketball for the links?"

The WSJ's Elizabeth Williamson tries to get the lowdown on Obama's love of golf over basketball, but doesn't resolve the matter. She does, however, share this about the security situation in case you were thinking of lacing a range ball with a bomb, think again. 

Matt Lombard, a staffer in the pro shop at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Martha's Vineyard, hoped to catch the president's game during the Obama family vacation on the island in August. He says he was bringing golf balls down to the driving range when the Secret Service stopped him, dumped the bucket and tapped each ball with a small hammer.

Mr. Lombard was shut into the pro shop with a couple dozen other people, who saw the president tee off with a swing Mr. Lombard describes as: "Eh, not so much." The group strained to see a presidential putt. "He took it as a gimme," says Mr. Lombard, referring to the tradition of automatically counting the next stroke as in the hole if the ball is close enough. His conclusion: Mr. Obama "ought to play a little more basketball."

Monday
Nov232009

"This guy is it. He is I-T. He is No. 1."

Don't miss Jaime Diaz's interview with Lee Trevino in this month's Golf Digest.

The Tiger Woods talk caught my eye:

The only weakness that Tiger has is his driver. But he overcomes it with his short game. If Jack Nicklaus had driven the ball like Tiger, with the short game Jack had, he might never have won a major championship. Jack was a mechanic with his driver, great with his irons—especially long irons, high—and he was an excellent putter. He wasn't very good with his short game or the bunkers. But Tiger from 100 yards in, with the wedges and the chipping and the creativity, is as good as anyone who has ever lived. Usually the harder the shot, the better shot he hits. That makes up for so much, and that's where Tiger gets the edge on Jack.
Where do you think Tiger is with his game?

As much as Tiger works at the game, as good as he is and with all the shots he knows how to hit, I can't believe he can't figure out a way to drive the ball straight. The key to golf is the driver. If you don't have the key, you can't start the car. No. 1, I think he's trying to hit it too far. He doesn't need to. No. 2, I don't think he should be playing graphite. I think he should find a lightweight steel, and I think he should go back to a 43¾- or 44-inch driver. It would give him better control. If he hits it down there 290 in the fairway, he'll win every single golf tournament. The only reason people beat him is because he sprays the driver.

Hard to find fault with that! No?

Monday
Nov232009

"Too many inexperienced operators are using price as a blunt instrument to generate activity."

In Roger Vincent's front page, below the fold story on golf's struggles, the inevitable discussion about "heavy discounting" comes up and as usual, I just can't comprehend the mentality of holding firm on pricing. I know some of you B-school grads out there can explain to me why deflation of prices during lean times amortizes value equity depreciation dynamics, so please help us understand exactly why it is that we read stuff like this:

To boost business, many private clubs are offering no-interest loans to help the less-well-heeled buy memberships, and public courses are rolling out the equivalent of blue-plate specials, including cheaper rates for off hours and discounts on lessons and merchandise.

Some think heavy discounting is a mistake.

"The trend of downward rates in the golf industry has been the real cause for many courses failing," said Mark Tansey, president of Palm Desert-based Sunrise Golf Inc., the company that will run Escena for its owners. "Too many inexperienced operators are using price as a blunt instrument to generate activity."

Not that golfers are protesting.

Dwain Richardson, a hospital food director with an 18 handicap, enjoys the "twilight" specials at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs. By starting midafternoon he can usually play 13 or 14 holes before it gets too dark to see. He pays only $29 and gets the use of a golf cart plus two free drinks at the bar.

Low prices keep golfers like him coming out, he said, which could cement new habits.

"I would play every other day if I could," Richardson said. "I can see why people get addicted."

Monday
Nov232009

"The recession has dealt a mean bogey to golf."

If I didn't know golf when reading Roger Vincent's front page LA Times story on golf's economic struggles, I think I'd read these numbers and think, gee that's not as rough as other industries:

Hundreds of courses have closed in the last two years and many formerly exclusive country clubs have slashed fees or opened their greens to the public.

Sales of golf balls, clubs and apparel -- a multibillion-dollar industry -- have dipped 10% this year as players trim spending, according to golf researcher Pellucid Corp.

But perhaps the most dramatic examples of golf's woes can be seen in the string of barren fairways and locked gates. Through September of this year, at least 114 of the nation's 16,000 or so golf courses had closed, according to the National Golf Foundation, a number that was offset only partly by the opening of 44 new courses.

There's more from this story worth chewing on, but for starters, is a 10% drop in purchasing and 114 course closures out of 16,000 as much of a contraction as other industries have seen?

Sunday
Nov222009

"What would I do with my parking spot?"

Chuck Culpepper relays a classic Dan Jenkins story courtesy of daughter Sally:

In the course of an unconquerable endorsement of Texas Christian for the No. 1 ranking in college football -- its collective victims have won more games than any of the other unbeaten teams' collective victims -- Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post offered full disclosure.

While extolling her hometown of Fort Worth for its "superior Railroad barbecue and the transcendent cheese enchiladas at the Paris Coffee Shop," Jenkins confessed that her parents, who include the great sportswriter Dan Jenkins, "are both TCU alums, and such devoted fans that they have a monogrammed parking space at Amon Carter Stadium right next to the ex-chancellor's.

"They once bought a house because it had a stunning view of the stadium from the back porch. 'Gee, this is nice,' I said, shading my eyes against the sodium glare of the lights. 'You can walk to games.'

" 'No, I can't,' my father said. 'What would I do with my parking spot?' "

Sunday
Nov222009

“Intent doesn’t factor in for a couple of reasons"

I can tell how passionate you all are about this Doug Barron drug testing story since no one passed along Rex Hoggard's story highlighting the tour's response after some of us called them out for not responding to Barron's claims. (Isn't it special how they chose Golf Channel and GolfChannel.com as their outlet of choice.)

Rich Young, the tour's attorney made what seems like a fair point:

“Intent doesn’t factor in for a couple of reasons,” Young said. “It would be very hard to prove what’s in somebody’s head and why they used a banned substance. Secondly, the rules are clear on this. They know what they are allowed to use. Doug clearly used testosterone even though he knew he wasn’t allowed to.”

Young also addressed concerns the Tour’s punishment of Barron, who played just one Tour event in 2009 and has not made enough in the last three seasons to cover the potential $500,000 fine for his violation, was too harsh when compared to other sports like baseball, which suspended Los Angeles slugger Manny Ramirez for a blatant doping violation for 50 games this season, or one-third of a season.

“When he was told he couldn’t do (testosterone, although Young concedes Barron’s use of beta blockers is a more “complicated” issue), he may not have liked the decision, but for him to ignore the decision is a flat out intent to violate the rules,” he said. “He may not have done it to become Barry Bonds, but he was told what the rules were and chose to break them.”

 

Sunday
Nov222009

"The interim commissioner, Marsha Evans, logged about 45,000 air miles to clean up after Bivens and salvage next season."

Thanks to reader Rick for Karen Crouse's look at the hardship the new LPGA schedule inflicts on players down the money list, focusing on Reilly Rankin.

I couldn't help but notice this little jab:

The L.P.G.A. is a model of diversity and inclusion that has been at the forefront of globalization. And yet it is wobblier than it has been since its infancy in the early 1950s. In July, a player revolt led to the resignation of the commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, who had secured only nine contracts for 2010 events.

The interim commissioner, Marsha Evans, logged about 45,000 air miles to clean up after Bivens and salvage next season. Michael Whan was named the eighth commissioner in the organization’s 59-year history in October and will officially take the reins in January.

“I think that we should be commending Marty for making a difference in getting some relationships back on track,” Lorie Kane, a tour veteran, said of Evans.

Saturday
Nov212009

"Q-School: The good, bad, ugly and disheartening"

Golfweek does their typically stellar week covering Q-school.  Sean Martin reports from second stage qualifying in Brooksville, Florida and Jim McCabe offers notes on the other qualifying sites, where plenty of big names did not advance.

 

Saturday
Nov212009

"Against the advice of his manager and at least three vastly more experienced players, the 20-year-old officially announced his intention to join the PGA Tour next year."

John Huggan analyzes Rory McIlroy's decision to play a few more PGA Tour events next year and perhaps most refreshing in the story was the revelation that unlike some recent prodigies, his management team was not attempting to direct him toward the most money.

Friday
Nov202009

Allenby On PGA Tour Players: "It's just everything is handed to them on a silver plate."

Mike Walker at golf.com passes along some of Robert Allenby's comments from Dubai about why there aren't more American PGA Tour players like Jason Duffner playing abroad:

"You know, Americans play for so much money, and when you've got a purse where $1 million, a million plus, is first prize, not to say that they are spoiled, but it's a little bit that way. It's like, well, why would I want to travel, when I can make a million bucks instead of going to Europe and only making $500,000 or $600,000?"

"The reason why I want to travel and play elsewhere is because I want my game to get better, and always, even at the age of 38, I want to get better. And the only way you can get better is to play different golf courses. If you're playing the same golf course every week, every year that you come back to, it just gets a little boring. For me, that's what I've found. I've got a little bit bored playing in America. I'll still play there full time, but I'm still going to try to play more tournaments in Europe at the same time and combine the two together."

"But I just think, you know, they have got it a little bit too easy. It's just everything is handed to them on a silver plate. And not to be rude or anything like that, because I'm very respectful for the amount of money that we do play for in America. We are very lucky and very fortunate. But I think the money that we play for in America, that's the reason why you don't see a lot of Americans or a lot more international players coming over and playing in Europe. They are in a comfort zone, and I think that's pretty much what it is."

Friday
Nov202009

Lee Westwood: Elite Golfer, Discussion Groupie

Thanks to reader Peter D for Rob Hodgetts' BBC story on Lee Westwood hanging out at the 606 discussion group and creatively proving his identity when fellow groupies didn't believe it was him:

Westwood says he has been on 606 for a while but decided to reveal his true identity last month.

"I've been on here for a couple of years. Just thought I'd go public and give you a bit of an insight to the pro game," he posted.

Chatting directly to the public is nothing new, of course, in these days of micro blogging site Twitter and the like, but to prove his authenticity to the 606 community Westwood has taken interactivity to new levels.

A user calling himself leewestwood1 appeared on the golf pages in October but last week his claim to be the European Tour rankings leader and six-time Ryder Cup player was tested for the first time.

To prove he was real, leewestwood1 promised to wear a red shirt in the first round in China. The English number one was indeed sporting red.

A coincidence? Maybe, as some players often wear the same colour on designated days, but the hunt was in full cry.

"It gets a bit boring in China with jetlag. Thank God for 606 and a Slingbox," wrote leewestwood1 after the round.

"I'll give you the choice of white, purple, turquoise or blue tomorrow."
The posters settled on purple and sure enough, Westwood teed off in purple.

Friday
Nov202009

"The question has to be asked though - who does this dickhead think he is?" 

Tip of the cap to John Strege at GolfDigest.com's Local Knowledge for catching this column by Peter FitzSimons, who I think it can be safely said will not be heading up Australia's efforts to lure Tiger Woods back Down Under.

For though it is little noted, Woods is the most fined professional golfer of the current age, and some of it was on display during the Masters - the most appalling of which was when he duffed his shot on the 15th, and hurled his club so savagely it bounced up and landed in the crowd! Had the likes of John Daly done the same thing, it likely would have made fierce headlines and drawn extremely negative comment from all and sundry. But because it was Woods, the fawning television commentators all but ignored it, as did most of the golf writers. The question has to be asked though - who does this dickhead think he is? And how does he get away with it? Is there not some level of responsibility that goes with being the best in the world, to not behave like a petulant prig?

Who knew the Sydney Morning Herald was a tabloid!

Friday
Nov202009

2009 PGA Tour Statistical Odds and Ends, Driving Distance Included

The PGA Tour's Dave Lancer posts his "odds and ends" from the 2009 ShotLink data base. A few that caught my eye:

Charley Hoffman had the year's longest drive -- 467 yards on the first hole during the third round of the Valero Texas Open.

A total of 47 400-yard drives were recorded this year. Dustin Johnson had the most -- five.

Who carries the ball the farthest off the tee on TOUR? J.B. Holmes at an average of 298.6 yards.

The 47 400+ drives prompted me to look back and see if that was a new record in the ShotLink era (though I'm sure Old Tom hit a few back in the day).

400+ drives:

47 2009
12 2008
26 2007
30 2006
18 2005
32 2004
35 2003
1 2002
1 2001
0 2000
1 1999
5 1998
0 1997
0 1996
0 1995
0 1994
0 1993
0 1992

I also opened Excel and tabulated the final 2009 PGA Tour Driving Distance average. I came up with 287.95, up from 287.3 last year.  Just remember that small up-tick in case we hear that distance numbers have been on a steady decline since spring-like effect was more tightly regulated.

And I suppose it should be stated that the advent of drug testing did not ignite a major decline. Not that anyone thought the spike in distance had anything to do with performance enhancing drugs.

While the averages are down from the peak in 2005 and 2006, the driving distance numbers remain astounding compared to where we were in 2000-2002.

Consider the number of players averaging over 300 yards.

In 2009, 13 players averaged over 300 yards (same number as 2008).

Only 1 player averaged over 300 in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

In 2009, 77 players averaged over 290 yards. The 2008 number was 74 averaging over 290.

To put that in perspective, just 18 players averaged over 290 in 2002.

Friday
Nov202009

Today's U.S. Open Ticket Special...

...gives the impression that a lot of tickets are still available, and at $425 for the week and $110 for the weekend along with no cheap hotels anywhere nearby, I'm guessing the divot tool they're throwing in for the holidays isn't going to lead to server-crashing demand.