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

Frequently the natives resent the invasion of the golf pioneer . . . Once an irate farmer emptied a thirty-three at myself and the engineer at a range of only five hundred yards, and he made us take cover too. He was a renter, and knew that we were there for no good. As he took no interest whatever in the Royal and Ancient.




"Never has a change of such consequence been made with such a lack of transparency or without appropriate input from those affected."

Frank Thomas pens a guest opinion piece for the Sunday New York Times and blasts his former employer over the groove rule change. He notes bifurcation without using the "B" word:

This means that for the first time, golf will have different rules for different levels of players. Golf is different in that the finest professionals and middling amateurs can compete side by side, as they do in tournaments like the AT&T National Pro-Am. For many golfers, part of the game’s appeal is knowing that they are playing the same game on the same courses as the world’s best.

Didn't that really go out the window about 10 years ago?

No matter where you come down on the grooves issue, I do think Thomas's statement about transparency is worth considering, though I'm not sure how accurate it is considering the documentation posted online.

The U.S.G.A. has not shared its evidence that a problem exists, nor has it demonstrated that this solution addresses the problem while doing the least damage to the golfing population as a whole. Never has a change of such consequence been made with such a lack of transparency or without appropriate input from those affected.

Here's the problem I have with Frank's argument:

Golf participation is declining, and we have yet to hear of people quitting the game because they found it too easy. We do not need equipment rules aimed specifically at making it harder for Tiger Woods or anyone else.

His solution in the past was to advocate reducing the number of clubs in the bag to ten and to grow more rough. And I don't think either of those ideas will bring too many new players.


"I'm not capable of hitting a drive that goes straight for 270 yards then turns sharply to the left."

John Huggan visited Augusta National recently, watched Geoff Ogilvy bat it around in wet conditions, and talked to the Aussie about different aspects of the course. A few highlights:

"Some spots look bad at Augusta, but only when you are actually there do you realise that they may not be quite so awful," contends Ogilvy. "That's the genius of the greens. Certain spots look wrong but are actually right. And on every hole there is a spot off the green that is better than a bad spot on the green.

"Professionals spend their whole lives trying not to 'short side' themselves with their approach shots. But, at Augusta, that is sometimes the thing to do. Take the par-3 6th. If the hole is cut on the top tier to the back right, you are much better off missing on that side. Just off the green to the right is way better than on the green but down the bottom of the slope. The 7th green is similar. If the pin is on the left side, you are better to miss the green on that side than be on the green and right of the cup. You can easily putt off the green from there. And the 8th is the same. If the pin is back and left, missing the green long and left is a good spot to be in."

This obviously explains how No. 13's lengthening has changed the dynamics there.

The problem is that moving the tee back has almost eliminated the possibility of going sensibly for the green in two shots.

As Ogilvy said: "I'm not capable of hitting a drive that goes straight for 270 yards then turns sharply to the left."


First Masters' Sole Survivor

Scott Michaux files a most enjoyable video story on Errie Ball, 98 and sole survivor of the first Masters.


Masters iphone App Is Available

As are the other mobile options.


"I think it comes down to definition: I've seen golf clubs were the code is jacket and tie, and you have old guys with soup-stained ties and jackets with patches."

Thanks to reader Chris for this Mike Aitken and Craig Brown story on the latest change in the name of growing the game in the British Isles: denim.

A campaign called "Love Golf? Join the Club", aimed at filling 10,000 vacancies across Scotland, has been launched with an emphasis on customer service and a more relaxed dress code.

The scheme was announced at Hilton Park, near Glasgow, by Scottish Golf Union (SGU) officials wearing jeans and T-shirts.


Michael Williamson, an Edinburgh golf consultant, believes flexibility is the key to increasing membership. "Most clubs have a variation of 'smart casual', and a lot are being ever more flexible on the issue," he said.

"I think it comes down to definition: I've seen golf clubs were the code is jacket and tie, and you have old guys with soup-stained ties and jackets with patches.

"I don't think it's exactly what you specify, it's all to do with attitude. Tiger Woods wears a collarless T-shirt and he's the best golfer in the world, so why shouldn't people be allowed into golf clubs wearing that?"


"Casey offers value in Masters betting dominated by Woods"

With Paul Casey tied for the lead in Houston, The Guardian's Dan Roebuck looks at the early wagering and is looking prophetic in suggesting Casey's a bargain heading into the Masters.


"When the phone did ring, it wasn’t US Air on the other end; it was Titleist."

I always knew those lax rules on free equipment would finally have a positive effect. Jim McCabe reports that Titleist has outfitted the "Chicopee Six" survivors of US Air 1549, who lost their sticks when their flight landed in the Hudson.

Company representatives had heard the men were going to follow through with their Myrtle Beach trip and wanted to fit the men with new clubs. Plans were made for an April 2 visit and when the Chicopee Six arrived, they discovered that new FootJoy golf shoes were part of the package.

Rob Kolodjay could not hide his emotions.

“I’m a humble guy, but we’ve received so much media attention,” he said to Titleist club-fitters Karen Gray and Fordie Pitts III. “That’s been hard. We didn’t ask for the attention. But you folks (at Titleist) have been so good, I could cry.”



When it rains it snows, or, when it snows it falls hard. Ah hell. Tom Watson joins the chorus criticizing changes to Augusta National in greater detail than I've seen anywhere else. This is from a newly posted architecture-driven Q&A on The all caps would be Tom's:





"It really does take a lot more energy to be upset than it is to not."

One of my favorites characters, Christina Kim, is tied through two rounds of the Nabisco. Though I don't like the sound of this chilling out stuff, which was posted on the LPGA's excellent notes and quotes recap page.

Q. Did you have an epiphany or a moment or incident where you felt you had to chill out? Was there something that happened?

CHRISTINA KIM: There is something that happened that I cannot disclose at this time. (Laughing). More than anything, you wake up, you go out, you play, you're grumpy out there, people are like, that's not you, that's not what you're normally like. You get off the course, your feet hurts, your back hurts, your head hurts. It really does take a lot more energy to be upset than it is to not.

I remember when I was at the prime of my game a couple of years ago, I was the person that would go to volunteers and say: ‘Thank you for coming out this week, without you we would not have an event,’ thanking spectators; instead of: ‘Get out of my way, you're in my line,’ or things like that.

Sometimes it just happens. You wake up one day and you realize, what on earth am I doing? This is not right; this is not who I am. That kind of happened on Monday morning probably around the same time I got the new putter actually.


"A great course is designed primarily to challenge low-handicap amateur golfers, not tour professionals."

I've been questioning Golf Digest's Resistance To Scoring definition since at least 1999. (BTW, checked with mom and I did not have issues with RTS at birth, so go easy on the bias accusations). But I have moaned about the evaluation process many times, including how clubs feel the need to pander to panelists.

And while I understand that the RTS concept dates to the magazine's founder and the initial list focusing on difficulty, I thought it would an interesting exercise to look at the magazine's definition of the category which Ron Whitten says vaulted Augusta National to the #1 spot in the latest ranking.

Here's what panelists are given to determine Resistance to Scoring:

How difficult, while still being fair, is the course for the scratch player from the back tees?

What it means: A great course is designed primarily to challenge low-handicap
amateur golfers, not tour professionals.

Now, this is odd since Golf Digest has added people to its panel who are not low-handicap golfers. So how would they be able to evaluate a course from a scratch player's perspective?

Of course I think there should be people of all skill levels on the panel, with the RTS category dropped.

Anyhow, the magazine fleshes out the meaning of RTS this way:

How to determine Resistance to Scoring

The question is not whether a course is tough for the tour pro. On a calm day, no course is too tough for the tour pro. At last look, the course record is 62 at Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No. 2 and Prairie Dunes. And will soon go lower, no doubt.

And those 62s just came so easily to the player.

At any time, given the skill level of the average tour player, and the incredible equipment they use, even top courses set up in championship condition can be easy.

Ah yes, easy. Because anyone who has played the game will tell you it becomes easy more often than not.

Davis Love III’s 269 at Winged Foot West in the 1997 PGA did not mean that the course was toothless. Only five players broke par in that event and no one broke par in the 2006 U.S. Open. The 2006 winner, Geoff Ogilvey finished at four over par.

Is that Ogilvey guy a hybrid of Geoff Ogilvy and Joe Ogilvie?

We prefer to consider how testing the course is for a scratch golfer, a player who may be several shots worse than the average tour pro from the back tees. That’s because most courses, even those on our list of America’s 100 Greatest won’t be played by tour professionals. But they will be challenged by scratch players many, many times.

To deserve a high score in Resistance to Scoring, the course must be difficult but still fair.

A course that demands 260-yard carries over hazards from every tee is indeed difficult, but is not fair. Particularly if half of those tee shots are into prevailing winds.

So do you have to keep a checklist on tee shots into prevailing winds? And if less than half are under 260 does that mean the course is difficult but fair?

A course with every green guarded by water is difficult, but again it’s not a fair test.

If the course is tough but unfair, give it a lower score.

If it’s eminently fair but not particularly tough, give it a lower score.

What if it's just fair, not eminently fair? Who wrote this, Richard Tufts?

Only if it achieves that balance of being both testing but fair in its challenges, does a course deserve a high score in Resistance to Scoring.

Fair. People, it's your mantra.

The ideal in Resistance to Scoring

The ideal course must take into account various weather conditions. It cannot be brutally tough on calm days, because on windy days it then becomes impossible.

There's a newsflash from the city.

It can’t be tough only when tee markers are placed to the very back because on wet days it then becomes unreachable. It can’t rely only on pin positions tucked behind bunkers because pin placements must be rotated to spread out wear and tear.

Example: A model for Resistance to Scoring might be Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island. At 6,973 yards long, with smallish greens and all sorts of hazards, it can be a difficult course for a scratch player. Yet it is hard to find an unfair hole on the course.

Glad we're not seeding the panelists with any potential biases!

Even in windy conditions. Its routing is such that consecutive holes don’t face identical wind conditions. The greens provide approach options for windy conditions. Some of its greens accept low running shots. Others have hazards in front but no trouble to the rear. Only a couple are heavily guarded targets. Note: The highest average Resistance to Scoring in the 100 Greatest is Shinnecock Hills G.C. with an average of 9.08.

That's good to know.

Why we use evaluations for Resistance to Scoring rather than Slope Rating or Course Rating

The combination of USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating can be a good indicator of a course’s resistance to scoring, though not a perfect one. In general, a course with a Course Rating above 73 and the Slope Rating is above 130 can be rated above 7.5. A course would need to have a Course Rating above 74 and have a Slope Rating above 140 to be rated in the 8.0 to 8.5 range. Keep in mind that Shinnecock Hills has the highest Resistance to Scoring average in America at 9.08.

Yeah we got that about Shinnecock the first time.

So I don't quite understand how a Course Rating can't be automatically used when they are able to quantify what a Resistance To Scoring score should be based on that rating.

Of course, I still just can't fathom why the difficulty has anything to do with the merits of a course. Seems like Fun would be a whole bunch more important.


"You always felt at Augusta you could take a chance on something, whether it was a tee ball or a second shot"

Bill Fields files an enjoyable profile of Ben Crenshaw on the 25th anniversary of his first Masters win, and while I enjoyed many of the anecdotes, Crenshaw's assessment of the revamped Augusta National is really the most insightful. Because for all of the quibbling we can do about second cuts and Christmas trees planted, it really comes down to what the players believe is possible. And if they aren't buying in, setup ploys will not matter:

The old Augusta was a tightrope, where risks were encouraged but a fall could hurt. "You always felt at Augusta you could take a chance on something, whether it was a tee ball or a second shot," Crenshaw says. "You had more room to play, and more people could play dangerously. It was totally different from any challenge in the world." To Crenshaw, the narrowing of the fairways from the equivalent of wide boulevards to country lanes altered things dramatically. "The second cut on lots of holes—that's first and foremost, because the course went from here to like this," he says, moving his hands very close together. "I think they needed to do something in the way of length, [but] I wouldn't have constricted it as much.

"There is no question it has become more of a defensive proposition," he continues. "The thing that set Augusta apart forever is that it's exciting and theatrical. People would pull off shots, but the flip side of that is that if you failed—and Jones wrote about this—it would tax you mentally. If you failed, it had a big effect on you. All I remember is how I felt there as a player [in my prime]. I hope the guys today are doing the same gyrations that we did. That, to me, is the question."

Golf Channel announced Thursday that Crenshaw will be working their weekend roundup coverage.


"In my opinion the course is so wet right now that it will be a miracle for it to be playing fast by Thursday."

That's Stewart Cink Twittering after his practice round at Augusta Thursday. Besides the comment above...

  • FYI when the club rebuilds greens they generally soften the slopes, due to ever-increasing green speeds. This year no different.  17 minutes ago from web
  • Overall it appears this year the changes are the fewest in several years. 19 minutes ago from web
  • Fifth green changed most significantly, with a totally new pin location on the extreme left of the green. 25 minutes ago from web
  • Rebuilt greens: #1, 5, 6. First hole shortened by 7 yards. Seventh hole back tee extended forward for setup flexibility. 27 minutes ago from web

Still haven't signed up for Twitter? Cink alone has made it a blast for me to follow along, as have a few others. He really has the hang of how to share handy little bit of information that you can't get anywhere else.


"The Internet Writer of the Year says four more majors is a tall order even for a man as good as the world No 1"

I'm having a hard time imagining the New York Times touting an award won by their golf writer in a sub-headline, but that's what The Times does for John Hopkins' latest Spike Bar column. Perhaps it's a British thing to be so humble. You know like the Queen and Phillip so modestly giving Barack Obama a signed photograph of themselves, as they do with all visiting dignitaries.

Either way, "The Internet Writer of the Year" is sticking to his guns and suggestions he's not going to wager on Tiger Woods winning more majors than Jack Nicklaus.

No, it was not an April Fool's Day piece, I'm sad to say.

My view is constant on this and always has been. I will not put any money on Woods even equalling Nicklaus's record.

You mean betting on the sport you cover isn't against company policy? Love those Brits!

My money is still on Nicklaus. Woods's injured leg does appear to have recovered but say he attracts another injury, this time to the other leg or to an arm. Say he is injured in a car accident as Ben Hogan was or, dare one say it, physically attacked? What happens then?

Dare, dare. And wow, what an uplifting thought. Perhaps you'd like to detail this more? Are we talking a Monica Seles thing here? How lovely.

And you wonder why Tiger has a boat named Privacy.


And The Hits Just Keep On Coming...

Look at the Golf World cover to its Masters Preview. So much for any hint of the media defending Hootie and Tom Fazio's modifications to Augusta National and the ensuing damage to the Masters, gulp, brand.

And John Hawkins, who was not exactly kind in his recent writings, offers solutions he feels would help fix the place (Lose the rough, add some tee flexibility, make the par-5s more tempting, slow the greens).



Just Wondering What The Tour Wives Are Thinking...

...after reading articles (here and here) about their PGA Tour playing husbands getting touchy about television wanting to put wireless microphones on their man, has me wondering if the traditionally--but-not-always blond life partners are asking the spouses about what precisely is said that can't be heard on national television.

Wife, After Google News Alert Shows Her Article Where He Is Complaining About The Microphones: Honey, what is so awful about what you and [insert looper name here] are talking about while you're standing around all day waiting for Sean O'Hair to pull the trigger?

Tour Drone Who Forgets That Television Networks Pay His Mortgage: Oh lovey, you know what men talk about. Credit default swap, the way Nancy Pe...Barack Obama is to blame for everything. You know, things that men on the PGA Tour are expected to talk about.

Wife, Growing Skeptical: Well that's wonderful honey. Here I thought maybe you were talking about young ladies in your gallery or something lewd like that.

Tour Drone Who Thinks What He Does Is So Very, Very Important To The Survival Of Mankind And The Cure Of All Disease: No no dear, just man stuff. Say, how was the Louis Vuitton outlet store today?


"If I wanted total privacy then I would stay at home."

Lawrence Donegan looks at the caddy-miking issue and gets more player feedback. I suppose this could be the biggest negative of the entire exercise:

Perhaps the only foolproof answer is to live your life like Padraig Harrington, the tee-total, non-swearing Irishman who is as squeaky clean in private as he is in public.

"Personally, I would have no problems with my caddie wearing a microphone. In fact, I've worn one on the golf course in the past [during exhibition matches and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an end of season event featuring that year's major winners]," said Harrington.

"Obviously, you couldn't be as free and easy in your conversations with your caddie. But if I wanted total privacy then I would stay at home."

So sure, the guys who are miked might be more careful. But in the heat of battle, I suspect they will forget the mike is on. After all, those great NBC chats picked up by the sound guys lately have been done so with the sound man almost on top of the players at times, and the conversations were still pretty fun to listen in on.



A reader spotted an interesting footnote in the latest Golf Digest ranking. Posted at the top is this note:


I seem to remember past rankings leaving ties in place, but I'm sure a ranking afficionado out there will clarify what has been the case on that.

In the discussions I've had with panelists and readers of the magazine this week, several have questioned just how many votes Augusta National received to earn the top spot considering that it is so difficult to access (and playing the course is a requirement to "rate" it). Two panelists have already told me their requests have always been denied.

Perhaps questions need to be asked about the makeup of the panel and the importance of access in the rating process. Check out this tiebreaker:

28. (36) CASTLE PINES G.C.
Castle Rock, Colo. / Jack Nicklaus (1981) 7,696 72 64.65

29. (26) BETHPAGE STATE PARK (Black)
Farmingdale, N.Y. / Joseph H. Burbeck & A.W. Tillinghast (1936)

Yes, Castle Pines--an ultra-exclusive club--received more rater evaluations than arguably the most famous public course on the planet which, incidentally, hosts the U.S. Open this year.

There are several more tiebreakers on the list and most make more sense, including Peachtree (Peachtree!) getting more evaluations than Scioto.


Houston Officials Try To Copy Augusta, Right Down To The Really Petty Stuff Too!

Melanie Hauser on the impressive job Steve Timms has done making Houston a key pre-Masters stop, right down to mimicking the humorous fairway mowing patterns designed to help Augusta's USGA members save face for not having controlled distance  to cut down on the deleterious impact of golf ball roll.

Alvaro Quiros, who has moved up to 25th in the world, decided to play after talking to Garcia.
"He told me that Houston is a good tournament for many reasons, but one of the more important ones is the setup, you know,'' Quiros said. "For example, when we arrive to the second shot on the first hole, Sergio told me look, "Can you see the grass is cutting against you? It's typical of The Masters."

"Normally we have the grass cut in our favor or to the green and here it's against. It's a good thing the mowing of the greens and the speed of the greens are very close. It was raining. After three, four days of sunny -- this is very good. The shape of the rough is a little bit lower. I heard about last year -- it was a little bit higher or thicker so, yeah, it's a good test for me especially for this one.''


"That's right, No. 398 would get in the Olympics, but the last two Masters champions"

Gary Van Sickle looks at the glorified-WGC nature of the Olympic golf format and says it's not so glorious. Sorry, but this is what happens when you lean on top players and television executives for creative solutions.


The Hootie Index