Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • 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
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • 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
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

It is not the love of something easy which has drawn men like a magnet for hundreds of years to this royal and ancient pastime; on the contrary, it is the maddening difficulty of it.
ROBERT HUNTER

 

  

Friday
Jan012010

2009 In Review: GeoffShackelford.com Stats Edition

Thanks to reader Jack (I think) who suggested I plug in Google Analytics after my spellbinding end-of-2008 post revealing your preferred browsers.

After a year of Google code tracking your every move, I thought I'd share some stats about GeoffShackelford.com readers. While I am injecting bits and pieces from the three different site metrics--Google, Squarespace and Quantcast--each produced wildly different numbers (so much for the web producing reliable tracking numbers).

Squarespace (my wonderful site host which I highly recommended if you are looking to start any kind of website), provided the biggest numbers while web traffic tracker Quantcast's were the lowest. So going with the median, here's what Google Analytics produced (all numbers exclude search engine hits):

  • January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009 produced 2.07 million page views
  • In that time, the site received 375,790 "unique visitors" (whatever that actually means!)
  • December, normally the slowest month, was the site's busiest of the year and for that matter, the most since I started blogging. You sure are getting excited about that groove rule change!
  • I can report that in 2009 you averaged a healthy 3:03 minutes on the site

In the thrilling browser race...

Internet Explorer 49.07%
Firefox 29.61%
Safari 16.80%
Chrome 3.12%
Mozilla Compatible Agent  0.43%

Readership here is still largely US-based. The top 10 countries reading GeoffShackelford.com:

1. United States 77.34%

2. Canada 10.36%

3. United Kingdom  4.53%

4. Australia 2.19%

5. Netherlands 0.52%

6. Sweden  0.40%

7. Ireland 0.37%

8. New Zealand 0.33%

9. Germany  0.32%

10. Spain  0.31%

Just imagine if the site wasn't banned in China!

The top 30 cities in the world. New York wins in a landslide and I'm big in northern Florida!

1. New York 6.85%

2. London 1.95%

3. Los Angeles 1.73%

4. San Francisco 1.70%

5. Atlanta 1.52%

6. Chicago 1.49%

7. Melbourne 1.17%

8. Toronto 1.12%

9. Ponte Vedra Beach 0.95%

10. Washington  0.82%

11. Philadelphia  0.78%

12. Austin 0.76%

13. Far Hills  0.73%

14. Portland  0.69%

15. Charlotte  0.64%

16. Orlando 0.63%

17. Calgary 0.54%

18. Weston 0.54%

19. Dallas 0.53%

20. Houston 0.52%

21.Denver 0.52%

22. Sydney 0.48%

23. Glasgow 0.47%

24. Vancouver  0.46%

25. Jacksonville 0.45%

26. Victoria 0.43%

27. Tucson 0.42%

28. Arlington 0.41%

29. Edinburgh 0.40%

30. Augusta  0.35%

City visits in United States:

1. New York  8.86%

2. Los Angeles 2.29%

3. San Francisco 2.19%

4. Atlanta  1.96%

5. Chicago 1.93%

6. Ponte Vedra Beach 1.22%

7. Washington 1.06%

8. Philadelphia 1.01%

9. Austin 0.99%

10. Far Hills 0.95%

11. Portland 0.89%

12. Charlotte 0.83%

13. Orlando 0.82%

14. Dallas  0.69%

15. Houston  0.68%

16. Denver  0.67%

17. Jacksonville  0.58%

18. Tucson 0.55%

19. Arlington  0.52%

20. Augusta  0.46%

21. Windermere 0.46%

22. Macon  0.43%

23. Minneapolis  0.42%

24. Seattle 0.42%

25. Phoenix 0.39%

How you're logging on and reading the site:

Cable  39.26%
DSL   22.95%
Unknown   22.88%
T1   11.08%
Dialup  2.58%

The top 10 ways you got to GeoffShackelford.com:

1.(Direct) 58.88%
2.google / organic  17.89%
3. twitter.com  4.06%
4. google.com / referral   2.27%
5. sports.yahoo.com 2.15%
6. yahoo / organic  1.27%
7.  golfclubatlas.com / referral  1.22%
8.  golfdigest.com / referral  1.22%
9.  my.yahoo.com / referral  0.42%
10.  golf.com  0.42%

And finally, the ten most likely search results that delivered you here. Uh...ah forget it. Nos. 9 and 10 are disturbing on a level that I can't even begin to fathom.

1. geoff shackelford  23.17%
2. geoff shackleford  7.33%
3. geoffshackelford.com  2.46%
4. shackelford  2.21%
5.  geoffshackelford  0.99%
6. sea island company bankruptcy 0.84%
7. geoff shackelford blog  0.73%
8. tiger woods winning percentage 0.62%
9. christina kim nude  0.60%
10. mark rolfing 0.55%

Thursday
Dec312009

Happy New Year!

Thanks to all for your insights, wisdom and humor. It's been an interesting year and 2010 figures to be another doozy! I look forward to sharing it with (most) of you.

Geoff

Thursday
Dec312009

"I used to make a lot of Penal courses, but a Penal course is easier to play than a Strategic course. The Strategic school is one of my favorites."

Mike McAllister made my year by profiling aspiring architect Cody Carroll, a 10-year-old who has been drawing golf courses since he was 4 and has been eyeing 8 1/2 acres for his first design, all the while using Grounds for Golf as his "second bible."

Meanwhile, Cody's understanding of how courses are designed also have been raised. Off the top of his head, he cites the various schools of design mentioned in Shackelford's book -- Natural school, Penal school, Strategic school, Heroic school, Freeway school, Framing school, Next school, etc. -- and explains each one in a concise manner.

"I favor the Strategic and Heroic schools," Cody says. "I used to make a lot of Penal courses, but a Penal course is easier to play than a Strategic course. The Strategic school is one of my favorites."
He's also trying to learn more about golf's most celebrated architects. He mentions his top four designers -- Pete Dye, A.W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie. He has played Dye's TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course ("I like the course, but I wish there were less pot bunkers," he says) as well as Ross' Hyde Park course in Jacksonville. He's well versed in those two designers but sheepishly admits that when it comes to MacKenze and Tillinghast, "I get them mixed up sometimes."

Thursday
Dec312009

"It's an anonymous message board user's buddy, who knows a guy from a golf club who lives near Tiger Woods. Please forward this post to 10 people."

Deadspin's Tommy Craggs has emailed with the likely arsonist behind the Woods chain email and the version I posted is looking better by the day.

It began as a Facebook message, then spread via etsix to a golf forum and soon elsewhere, arriving on Dec. 26 at the scary glowing box in Furman Bisher's house, which is when things really got out of hand.

Thursday
Dec312009

Is Tiger's Indefinite Leave Through July!?**

While AT&T is staying on as sponsor of the July tour stop, it seems Tiger will not be serving as host this year:

Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said that since Woods is on indefinite leave from professional golf, he will not serve as host for the 2010 event. However, his Tiger Woods Foundation will continue to be the beneficiary of the AT&T National, under a contract that runs through 2014, Votaw said.

My initial hunch is that the tour either knows Tiger's not playing in July, or Tiger is never again serving as "host" of the event. So I emailed the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw with those questions. He wrote back:

I can confirm neither of those things. The decision was made at this point in time that, given his indefinite leave and the uncertainty of his schedule for the foreseeable future, he would not serve as host for the 2010 AT&T National.

Thursday
Dec312009

So Much For The Friday Afternoon News Dump: AT&T Drops Tiger**

Though I do think New Year's Eve is kind of your basic Friday afternoon no matter what day it falls on.

Some good news in the announcement: they are not dropping their sponsorship of Tiger's PGA Tour stop. Oh, and they wish Tiger well.

Wednesday
Dec302009

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, New Year's Eve Edition

I continue to be confounded by WESH 2's report quoting Sgt. Kim Montes about Tiger's interview with police almost a month after the FHP said it was done talking about the case. WESH reporter Bob Keeling's on air report can be seen here, and in it are a few more quotes from Montes about Tiger's condition and the rumor mill:

"The only thing we noticed was a fat lip."

"No other facial injuries…no reason to believe he was the victim of domestic violence."

"All these rumors of these injuries are false."

As for the source that gave the chain email rebutted by the FHP credibility, Furman Bisher has filed what Deadspin called an "adorable" follow-up blog post. Bisher writes:

It was not intended for anybody but those who are plugged into my blog—which is free of charge. No subscription charges are involved. Since I retired from daily columning, I simply like to write a few things now and then, and stay in touch with friends, and pass on information from trusted sources. Anybody else who got it is an intruder, no friend of mine. God knows, how 43,000+ people who have nothing to do but peep in on such an insignificant website as mine irritates me.

That, I suppose, illustrates my electronic illiteracy.

Pretty much.

But, if you are among the offended, then stay off my website. It’s for friends only.

Someone just made his treehouse off limits to the other kids in the neighborhood!

No less absurd in the electronic illiteracy department is former Golfweek editor and now amateur blogger Dave Seanor lashing out at "amateur bloggers" for picking up Bisher's post and alerting the world to the idiotic chain email.

As with most bloggers – including Examiners – his prose is not edited. Forget the fact-checking aspect. In this case, an editor’s touch for nuance would have served Furman well, introducing the email pass-along as amusing parody and nothing more. But it wasn’t positioned as such, was picked up by amateur bloggers eager (read desperate) to fill space during a quiet holiday week.

Mind you he files this on Examiner, one of the great purveyors of internet junk where bloggers are paid by the hit. Please, continue digging...

Of course, those bloggers aren’t subject to editing filters, either, so the post continued to be passed off as “news,” when in fact the only news value to it was the traction it gained in the blogosphere.

Had Seanor clicked on the very links under his own post he would have noted that it was Deadspin--most definitely not an amateur blog--that first alerted the world to the ridiculousness of the chain email and later pointed out the absurdity of Bisher claiming it to be credible. He then links to amateur bloggers like Ryan Ballengee, Stephanie Wei and yours truly who in our own unique ways pointed out the problem with the email that Bisher suggested was credible.  None of the "amateur bloggers" Seanor attempts to implicate as mainstream purveyors of the chain email ever attempted to pass it off as news.

No, the blame would go to the person who initially wrote it, the discussion board it was posted on and the 30 million or so who passed it around. But only Mr. Bisher had the credibility and audacity to pass it off as newsworthy.

Iliana Limón in the Orlando Sentinel files a more thoughtful analysis of the chain email's impact and offers this from Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute:

Like Snopes.com's co-founder, McBride cautioned against buying into the rumors without verification.

"I think professional journalists have a responsibility to bring another level of scrutiny to the e-mail," she said. "Can you name the original source? Can you confirm the origination of the information? If you can't do either of those, the information is suspicious."

Ryan Ballengee will always remember 2009 as the holiday that he spent picking apart a UC Davis study on the economic impact of Tiger's accident and fallout, concluding pretty impressively that there is "no direct corollary between Woods' actions and the movement of stocks."

And we'll leave the last word to Scott Michaux, who comes to Tiger's defense:

But this notion that Woods held himself up as some sort of perfect human specimen is ludicrous. Show me a single one of those Accenture, Gillette, Buick, Nike or Tag Heuer ads that includes his wife or children. Name one time that he ever volunteered any private-life insight other than the cliched responses to oft-repeated questions that were lifted from the boiler plate that any one of us would use regardless of our own marital or parental discord/bliss.

Woods never flaunted his family life in the way that Phil Mickelson does. That's no besmirch on Mickelson. That's simply who Mickelson is. His professional and private lives are intertwined like nobody else's.

Tiger has never tried to be like Phil. He's never apologized for his salty outbursts. He's never held his family up as the model. He's never tried to be Gandhi.

Woods' single-minded public focus has been to be nothing more than the greatest golfer who ever lived. And in that mission he has yet to fail.

Wednesday
Dec302009

"Geoff Ogilvy was stumped."

Doug Ferguson files his annual year end compilation of entirely useless and yet-oh-so-entertaining anecdotes from the PGA Tour season. This was my favorite:

Few golf courses elicit such a wide range of descriptions like the TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship. Several players were asked this year to describe the course in one word. Padraig Harrington served up "exciting." Tiger Woods opted for "tricky." Paul Goydos called it "surprising."

Geoff Ogilvy was stumped. He is considered among the most eloquent players on the U.S. PGA Tour, someone who puts great thought into every answer and usually nails it. On this occasion, he couldn't come up with the proper description.

Five days later, Ogilvy was headed for another middling result. He has never finished in the top 10 at The Players Championship, missing as many cuts as he has made. Walking off the 14th tee, Ogilvy saw the reporter who had asked him the question earlier in the week and called him over.

"Annoying," he said, with no context, although it was quite clear what he meant.

Wednesday
Dec302009

FHP Met With Tiger After All

Orlando's WESH 2, inspired by the chain email recently posted by the former Atlanta sports columnist the television station calls Furman "Busher," reports that Tiger Woods did in fact meet with Florida Highway Patrol officers four days after his accident and that he only had a "fat lip."

FHP spokeswoman Kim Montes said Woods met with troopers at an undisclosed location on Dec. 1 to deliver his ticket and see if Woods had any injuries that might not be consistent with his traffic accident.

Montes said troopers only noted "a fat lip" and no other facial injuries -- and no reason to believe he was the victim of domestic violence.

This would appear to refute a report first published by an Atlanta sportswriter indicating Woods had been struck with a golf club by his wife, Elin, and had a gash in his face that required him flying to Phoenix for plastic surgery. Woods agent has denied that account.

On the day Tiger Woods was issued and signed a traffic ticket for careless driving, the Florida Highway Patrol confirms two captains and a trooper met in person with Woods and his attorney Mark NeJame.

Montes said that meeting happened "in Orlando at an undisclosed location."

Mentioning that back in early December sure would have helped a lot of people, namely Tiger and maybe even Furman Bisher, who has turned all cranky about his newfound fame.

According to Montes, when Woods was presented with the $164 citation he was "polite," said "yes sir," made "no other small talk and signed the ticket." Montes told WESH 2 the troopers also were also looking for evidence of injuries not consistent with the traffic accident outside his Windermere home.

Again, why couldn't they have shared that at the time? It would have been to everyone's benefit.

Now, about that email posted by Mr. "Busher" for what he now says was for his friends only...

The Internet and entertainment TV shows have been buzzing with rumors that Elin Woods attacked Tiger Woods with a golf club. Longtime Atlanta sports editor Furman Busher posted what he called a "legitimate message" from a "trustworthy journalist" that details the alleged attack. The message claims Woods flew to Arizona for plastic surgery because Elin Woods "virtually" knocked out two teeth. (Read Busher's blog post)

But the FHP said the timing of the alleged surgery wouldn't have allowed Woods to be at the Dec. 1 meeting.

Okay, so naturally this revelation could have probably cleared up a lot from Tiger's perspective and provides example #459 why his handlers have absolutely butchered his reputation by not better refuting rumors.

Though I must say it's also curious that the FHP felt the need to speak to the email claims a month after they said they had nothing else to say. Here was their original statement:

This was a single vehicle crash, with a single occupant. Unfortunately, it is one of thousands that occur in our state each year. Mr. Woods has satisfied the requirements of Florida law by providing his driver license, registration and proof of insurance to us. With the issuance of the citation, the Florida Highway Patrol has completed its investigation into this matter.

The FHP is not pursing criminal charges in this matter, nor is there any testimony or other evidence to support additional charges of any kind. After reviewing the evidence available to us, and in consultation with the Office of State Attorney Lawson Lamar, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence available to issue a subpoena for additional medical information that may exist in this case. We cannot speak to the existence of any blood evidence, nor are there claims of domestic violence by any individual.

The Florida Highway Patrol will not conduct additional press conferences or interviews on this matter.

Turns out that last line wasn't true and we should have believed the literal interpretation of the initial statement that "Mr. Woods has satisfied the requirements of Florida law by providing his driver license, registration and proof of insurance to us."

Both Tiger and the FHP have taken huge public relations hits in the aftermath of the accident when such a simple sharing of basic information could have dramatically reshaped the story.

Hey, it's only credibility.

Wednesday
Dec302009

How Has Tiger Helped Everyday Golf? 

There seems to be great consternation that Tiger's problems will have a negative impact on the game and the business of golf.

A few of you are making sure to remind us that the game will go on no matter what happens to Tiger.

Yet outside of delivering a coolness factor that has encouraged more kids to play and a greater awareness of the sport (no minor contributions), how has Tiger impacted the everyday game? And how much of a setback will the last month's saga have on the everyday game?

Tuesday
Dec292009

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, 34th Birthday Edition

With Furman Bisher's stamp of approval, publications galore (and heavily trafficked blogs) have picked up the "real story" email details, with some now quoting Bisher directly! (Give credit to the Daily Mail for taking down their version that originally said "Bisher writes" every other sentence.)

Deadspin's A.J. Daulerio details how many times he's received the email and notes the added details in later editions. (My favorite is the stuff about Mark O'Meara playing poker with Tiger Thanksgiving night, even though he moved out of Isleworth a while ago and lives in Houston.)

Leslie Gornstein of E! analyzes the validity of the email and even manages to get a quote from agent Mark Steinberg about the contents:

"This is just another patently false rumor being circulated," Steinberg tells E!

Note to Steiney: just a few details from your end would put a stop to a lot of the speculation and absurd stufff. For example, you could explain that you weren't in Orlando the night of the incident, so that would make it kind of hard for you to have hopped in the car and headed to the hospital. Just a thought!

Gornstein also notes this regarding the Bay Hill aspect of the chain mail:

The email says: Woods is now staying in golf legend Arnold Palmer's upscale golf community, Bay Hill, in Orlando. Apparently, Woods' sports agency implored Palmer to coach him through this tough time; Palmer is seen as possibly the only person who can get through to Tiger.

The truth: That's news to staffers at Bay Hill Country Club, who tell E! they are unaware of Woods visiting since the incident.

Stephanie Wei tracks the source and puts out an APB on the culprit.

I'm just disappointed the version I posted hasn't been picked up by Bisher yet.

Just four years removed from the "Tiger at 30" orgy of columns, features and other assorted essays, Randell Mell is the only golf writer daring enough to tackle Tiger's 34th birthday needs.

But if you were going to get him a gift, what would you get him?

A compass? To find his way back?

A chauffeur? To avoid driving into fire hydrants at night?

Ear plugs? To shut out the jeers that may be coming?

Forgiveness? If you haven’t granted it, will you?

Words of encouragement? And if so, what would they be?

A prayer? If you believe, what would you pray?

Speaking of his birthday, X17 says he's spending it at Wickenberg, Arizona clinic for PR purposes.

"He has been there for a few days since his handlers forced him to enter the program. They feel that if he blames his cheating on addiction, the public will forgive him."

Jose Lambiet talks to several folks in Palm Beach and Tiger definitely is not there living the good life with Rachel Uchitel. (Thanks reader Steven T.)

It seems several people are taking issue with the UC Davis study that has now been picked up all over the place. Holes are punched here, here, here, here and here.

Steve Elling praises Golf Digest for benching Tiger's column:

We'll probably never know who made the editorial call and why, but the game's most popular publication, Golf Digest, has benched playing editor Tiger Woods indefinitely in the aftermath of his trysts with various women in various towns at various times in various positions (hey, that's about as nice as I can phrase it). After enduring ridicule for having Woods on the cover this month with a photo-shopped picture of President Obama -- the cover was in production weeks before the Woods scandal broke -- the monthly magazine elected to give the world No. 1 some time off to plot his personal and professional course. Besides, the next cover story was probably something like, "Tiger Woods: Escaping the Ultimate Bad Lie." Just wondering aloud: How many of these firms that have, somewhat controversially, stood by Woods have signed binding contracts they cannot escape from?

And finally, Bob Harig talks to several players about Tiger's play golf over the last decade.

As for anyone else putting together this kind of 10-year stretch?

"You never say never," Cink said. "When Jack was doing it, we all said, 'Nobody will ever do this again.' I think it probably will happen again, just because of the way that history does repeat itself.

"But at this point, it's hard to imagine. It's hard to imagine someone getting a lot better. Except if Tiger was an extremely straight driver of the ball. The next guy to come along to be the greatest ever will have to be a really accurate driver. That's the only thing someone could do better, and even then it's not guaranteed."

Tuesday
Dec292009

"This is the biggest bogey Finchem has ever made."

The surprisingly chipper talk of Tiger coming back unblemished meant this exchange from the SI Confidential went unnoticed:

Anonymous Pro: The thing that we thought would drive the Tour was the World Golf Championships. If anything, those events are killing the other tournaments. Why? The WGC tournaments draw top players away from regular Tour events, which we need now more than ever.

Bamberger: The Tour basically oversold Tiger, and in the end it's an uphill slog when he doesn't appear. The Tour's long tradition is about local events and local charities. They tried to join the big leagues and were somewhat successful but found that golf is still a niche sport, although it can break out from time to time. The WGC events haven't connected with anyone and at the same time have ruined the real heart of the Tour, stops like L.A. or Hartford or Colonial that are now unfairly perceived as second-rate.

Anonymous Pro: Tiger and Phil wanted the season to end sooner. They weren't playing after mid-August, sometimes not even in the season-ending Tour Championship. Now that the FedEx Cup concludes the season in September, they're taking advantage of the downtime they asked for by playing overseas for big appearance fees. Didn't Finchem know that was going to happen? I'm not blaming Tiger or Phil. I'd play in a dress for $3 million. It is the Tour's fault for allowing it, and it really rubs me the wrong way. This is the biggest bogey Finchem has ever made.

Short term I think it's terribly wrong to call the WGC concept a bogey. But in the post-Tiger accident and Great Recession economy, long term the events appear to bring as many complications as solutions.

I'm guessing that hard questions internally about the value of WGC events will be forbidden as long as Finchem is commissioner. But the combination of increased animosity outside of the U.S. toward the America-centric concept and the inability of stops like San Diego to draw sponsor interest, could mean 2010 will lead to a closer examination of the World Golf Championship concept. Long overdue.

Monday
Dec282009

"The whole sexcapade thing will have no effect on Tiger's golf."

Soon after reading the latest SI Confidential on 2010, Tiger and Phil, it was a relief to receive emails from a few readers who shared my reaction: what planet have they been on the last month?

Okay, not delusional like certain Golf Digest readers wanting their Tiger column back, but guys, we're talking about a man who hasn't been seen in a month after crashing his SUV into a tree. That kind of disappearance would seem to suggest that he was either seriously injured to the point it could have an impact on his ability to perform physically, or, he's so severely humiliated that believing in a quick return as the same dominating force takes a tremendous leap of faith.

Example #1:

Hack: I don't see a changing of the guard. The best player in the world still wears red on Sundays.

That would be the red shirt lampooned on talk shows, in late night comedy sketches and on NFL sidelines?

And when exactly will those Sundays be when he's plying his trade? In 2010? I'll take a sighting first, then we'll talk schedule.

Bamberger: The whole sexcapade thing will have no effect on Tiger's golf.He can block out distractions like nobody's business. Weird things motivate him, like Stephen Ames or Vijay's caddie calling him out.

I don't know, I'm thinking this is just a little bigger than Stephen Ames or Vijay calling him out? But that's just cynical me.

Anonymous Pro:  I think he's a lock to win the British Open at St. Andrews.

Hey, I'll just be glad to see him teeing it up at St. Andrews.

Shipnuck: I guess it's possible Tiger could go to Whistling Straits with three majors in his hip pocket.

Oh it's possible, but highly unlikely.

I would love nothing more than to see Tiger come back better than ever with not a hint that his quest to be the all-time best is interrupted. But after the last month, it seems unfathomable to think that his quest will ever be the same.

Monday
Dec282009

The New Inside Story On Tiger Woods

I've received the "Inside Story On Tiger Woods" email over 50 times and I see the esteemed Furman Bisher posted it causing several outlets to take notice. However, today I received a new and I believe far more accurate version of the letter. I'm reluctantly sharing with you exclusively.

I talked to a Member who lives 10 subdivisions and one Disney theme park away from Tiger in Isleworth. As we know Tiger’s agent is Mark Steinberg, his father was named Earl and his wife was Elin. My Member plays golf and is friendly with an IMG Agent, well, as friendly as one can be with an IMG Agent.  This agent is very good friends with Steinberg, again as friendly as one can be with Steinberg or another Agent of any kind. They share offices on the planet earth. This information came from the other IMG Agent to his masseur who then shared it with his personal trainer who heard it from his own massuese's personal trainer, who then gave it to me today, and according to them this is up to date as of yesterday when the Member left Orlando to vacation in the lower Galapagos Islands in search of endemic species.

On Thanksgiving Day, after Tiger and Elin and the family had a nice skinless turkey dinner followed up by an HGH-laced pumpkin pie, Tiger spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch watching cartoons with the kids, texting Rachel and proofreading the paperback gallies of "How I Play Golf." After each received and sent text message he would clear his message box to rid himself of the evidence of Rachel's pregnancy (octuplets apparently, and she and Tiger were texting possible names back and forth). Sometime in between there, one of his Orlando buds called him to see if he wanted to get together at the Clubhouse to play strip poker with several Perkins waitresses, to which Tiger said "Hell yeah!." Tiger left the house around 7:30 to go play strip poker, but left behind his non-AT&T cell phone….and one message he had forgot to delete from Rachel in which she suggests the name "Sam" for one of the triplets, regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl.

When Tiger returned home around 11:30 -12 that night, Elin confronted him about the text message in the phone, and they started a heated discussion about why the hell she let him talk her into naming a girl Sam in the first place. According to what I was told, there was more “incriminating evidence” than just the text message (i.e. photos of all 14 since-revealed mistresses and a recipe for an Actovegin smoothie that Elin had been looking for). Tiger tried to play it off to Elin by telling her she was reading too much in to it, and did not know the story, etc. that Dr. Galea was a great guy and those were just his nurses he had forwarded photos of and Tiger was merely being given a choice of which one would administer future in-house blood platelet treatments. 

Tiger then went upstairs to change into his gym shorts and a Nike Dri-FIT UV fabric t – shirt, came back down, and Elin confronted him again; to which Tiger gave the same story only this time he admitted that even he had reservations about the name Sam for a girl. Tiger then sat down in a chair in the living room, and Elin sat across from him urging Tiger to just come clean, all the while pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at him. Tiger stuck to his guns--no pun intended--and denied everything except the part about resorting to HGH and Actovegin-laced blood platelet therapy. At one point Tiger turned away to look at the TV because he heard a Golf Channel promo for Tiger Week, and as he turned back, Elin hit him on the right side of the face with the head of a prototype Nike Victory Red Forged Split 9 – iron with conforming grooves. When she struck Tiger, she put a huge gash in the right side of his face next to his nose (causing his nose to bruise some, knocking two of his upper teeth out, breaking the bone on the upper right side and in general leaving him looking like Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent/Two Face character in The Dark Knight).

Tiger ran like Usain Bolt out of the house (which is why he had no Nike-branded shoes on, a possible contract violation that IMG is quite concerned about) with Elin swinging the golf club throughout the hallway to the garage (i.e. causing the severe damage which has been reported, including some light denting to his 2007 PGA Tour Player of the Year Award). Tiger jumped in the Escalade and tried to leave; and as we know from various Asian television re-enactments, Elin knocked out the windows in the Escalade even though the car was on loan from GM. When Tiger did his best impersonation of Woody Allen pulling out of the driveway and crashed, Elin panicked and was not sure what to tell the police (which is why there are two conflicting stories from her, and she decided the attempted murder version might be a mistake to share). When this happened, Elin immediately called Mark Steinberg to tell him what a crappy driver Tiger was, and Mark told Elin to tell him what hospital they were going to, and he would meet them there with both of his cell phones fully charged and ready to start renegotiating any and all deals except the pre-nup.

Tiger is transported to the hospital with Elin in the ambulance calling him various names all in a noble attempt to help him regain consciousness, and as they arrive Mark is there waiting for them whiter than Casper and sweating like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. The people from the hospital and the doctors take Tiger in for X-Rays etc to check out the damage caused. The doctors tell Mark there is not much they can do to repair the teeth, the gash, or the Elephant Man look to his face, but the doctor knows a guy who knows another guy that the guy met at an outing at Pinehurst back in October who knows a cosmetic dentist and plastic surgeon in Phoenix who turned down Michael Jackson but who can make Tiger look as if nothing happened, even promising to take the V-groove gash lines out of his cheek. Tiger tells Mark to prep the jet and let’s head to Phoenix to get this done and to get away from that crazy Swede who tried to kill him.

Friday morning after Tiger is released from the hospital, he does not return home; he and Mark board the plane for Phoenix and call Dr. Galea to see if he has any thoughts on blood platelet spinning for facial injuries. If you remember, FHP kept showing up at Isleworth to talk to Tiger, and was told by another FL attorney (who Tiger hired for PR reasons and to deal with the inevitable fallout of 14 women falsely claiming to have slept with him) Tiger was not ready to talk. Well, now we know why, he was in Phoenix having a total face transplant, and did not arrive back in Orlando until either late last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning after he'd stopped in at the MGM and played a few hands of poker.

The surgeries were more intense than what they had originally planned, which meant Tiger was in PHX longer than he should have been and he's considering suing the doctors for keeping him away from home, where Elin was waiting to make him clean up the mess she'd made and to have him take the 2007 PGA Tour Player Of The Year Award to FastFrame to get re-framed before FHP could be let inside. Upon arriving back in Orlando, Tiger and Elin have been in intense marriage counseling sessions (up to 6 to 7 hours a day, with 15 minute breaks every second hour for full body blood platelet spin sessions complete with double HGH) every day! Both Tiger and Elin have told the counselors they love each other dearly and want to make the marriage work because they know a chain email like this will make it around eventually and the sponsors have said that a married Tiger is worth a lot more to them than a single Tiger. The reports you are reading on TMZ and RadarOnline are about 30% accurate at best according to Mark, who says he knew nothing, knows nothing and never did know anything except that only 30% of the stories are accurate.

In regards to Tiger’s boat being in Palm Beach this week, along with Rachel; that part is true. However, Tiger is not physically on the boat, nor is he actually in Palm Beach, but instead in an unincorporated marina on a boat about 5 minutes away; and Rachel is not on the boat as far as Steinberg knows. Her proud parents live 6 blocks from where the boat is, but that is it, Tiger and Rachel are not screwing 10 times a day like they did in the past because she's starting to show and she wants to look as good as the Octomom when she delivers. She may even explore a reality show depending on what happens with Tiger's marriage.

Tiger has not returned to his house at Isleworth since the day of the accident except to pick up his favorite pair of Nike Dry-FIT underwear, his golf clubs and attend the therapy sessions that he tells everyone have been wonderful soul-searching awakenings.  IMG has enlisted the assistance of about 150 lawyers to cover their rears and also dragged one of most recognized sports figures to help ease the PR nightmare, so Tiger has taken up residence in Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill. IMG contacted Arnold Palmer because of the high regard in which Tiger holds Arnold's devotion to his wife Winnie and because Arnold finally changed the 16th hole back to a par-5. Arnold has agreed to help if Tiger will commit to the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the next 40 years, and IMG has said if anyone can get through to Tiger, Arnold may be the only person since he's about to move back ahead of Tiger in annual endorsement money after this episode settles down.

The moving trucks being shown on TMZ and RadarOnline are moving out pictures and furniture which were damaged when Elin practiced her golf swing in the hallways well after their Thanksgiving Day argument; not of her moving to Sweden with the kids so she can live happily ever after. Yes, Elin has retained a divorce attorney, but has not filed any papers because she's determined to save the all-encompassing Tiger brand, and as of yesterday, according to my barista at Starbucks who dated a friend of the waitress from Perkins that Tiger never denied having an affair with, she has no intention on doing so. Tiger has not made any public appearances or statements due to the surgery and plastic surgery he had in PHX, and because the only thing he really has to say at this point is, "Go $#%@ Yourselves." It will be about another month if not more before he gets in front of a camera, and even then it will not be in HD and it'll be under a silhouette lighting package with post-production work by Industrial Light and Magic or, if they haven't dropped him, his EA Sports created digital persona. Yes, Tiger is hitting golf balls late at night at Bay Hill and still spraying the driver all over the place, even shanking one off a side wall in their teaching center (which is equipped with lights, a couch for sleeping, fully stocked refrigerator and The Golf Channel).

That is as up to date as I have……..

Monday
Dec282009

Study: Tiger Costs Shareholders Billions

UC Davis Assistant Professor Victor Stango has studied stock market tendencies, stock value and the timeline of Tiger's accident, concluding (PDF) that significant shareholder losses resulted from the ensuing saga.

We estimate that shareholders of Tiger Woods’ sponsors lost $5-14 billion after his car accident, relative to shareholders of firms that Mr. Woods does not endorse. The losses are both economically substantial and widespread across many millions of shareholders.

The losses that we measure are distinct from any personal losses suffered by Mr. Woods in the form of lower current and future endorsement income. The total economic loss associated with the scandal is the sum of the two: the direct losses to Mr. Woods and the spillover losses suffered by shareholders of his sponsors. Our estimates of the latter are a cost associated with Tiger Woods’ actions that was likely ignored when he chose to make his “transgressions.”

Mr. Woods’ sports-related sponsors seem to suffer more than his other sponsors. That is to be expected. Economic theory predicts that Mr. Woods should be able to capture nearly all of the excess profit generated by his endorsement of a firm like Accenture. For Tiger Woods, having Accenture as a sponsor probably does not increase the overall value of ‘the Tiger brand all that much. Mr. Woods should therefore have a lot of bargaining power when negotiating that deal, and may be able to extract a payment very close to Accenture’s incremental profit from the relationship. And if Accenture is paying Mr. Woods something very close to its extra profit from his endorsement, it is not much worse off without him than with him. Indeed, our estimates show no ill effect at all for Accenture after the accident.

On the other hand, Nike and other premier sports-related sponsors are special for an athlete like Tiger Woods, because they are themselves unique brands. It is likely that partnering with Nike adds a substantial premium to the value of the Tiger brand, and creates other financial opportunities for Mr. Woods. If so, then Nike should be have enough bargaining power to itself capture some of the profits generated by partnering with Tiger Woods. It is the decline in those profits measured by our event study.

Finally, we should caution that our estimates are statistically ‘noisy,’ in that they could be significantly higher or lower than the numbers we report. One must make that caveat in any statistical study like this, and in our case the statistical margin of error is particularly large in part because Mr. Woods’ sponsors are (with the exception of Nike and EA) subsidiaries of larger parent companies.

Monday
Dec282009

“We immediately jumped on that and said we have to dig deeper"

In an NY Times Business story, Brian Stelter explores TMZ's business model and upcoming expansion into sports.

This year, TMZ continued to provide fodder for news media ethics classes (and police investigations) by, for instance, publishing a photo of the singer Rihanna after an assault and reprinting details of the actress Brittany Murphy’s autopsy report.

Sometimes the objections to TMZ’s tactics come from within Time Warner. In an interview on Golf.com, James P. Herre, the managing editor of the Sports Illustrated Golf Group, called TMZ’s sourcing on recent pieces about Mr. Woods “beyond flimsy.”

But Mr. Levin defended the reporting, saying TMZ “has the same rigid standards as any operation in America.” Its track record of accuracy may speak for itself. He recalled that the initial claims surrounding Mr. Woods’s car accident on Nov. 27 “made no sense.”

“We immediately jumped on that and said we have to dig deeper,” he said.

Sunday
Dec272009

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, Post Christmas Edition

Though the story itself didn't tell us much, the New York Daily News piece focusing on Tiger-trainer Keith Kleven shifted some focus from talk of affairs and back to the question of how Woods gained 25 pounds of muscle.

Teri Thompson, Michael O'Keeffe, Nathaniel Vinton and Christian Red tried to track down Keith Kleven for comment and were unable, but they suggest that Kleven is distancing himself from Woods and they talk to skeptical trainers about Tiger's transformation.

But over the last three weeks, Kleven has chosen not to respond to interview requests from the Daily News, or, according to his business manager, from any media. Kleven, like many of Woods' corporate sponsors, has apparently joined the stampede of those taking refuge from Woods' fall from grace in the wake of his post-Thanksgiving car crash.

Thanks to reader Tuco for Norm Clarke's Las Vegas Review Journal "Confidential" column suggests the Daily News isn't the only publication probing for more information into Tiger's physical transformation.

Vegas Confidential was contacted by several major media outlets in recent days, each citing my Sept. 8, 2006, interview with Kleven, who said Woods had gained 25 pounds of muscle. At the time of the interview, Woods had won five tournaments in a row.

The Woods-Kleven connection goes back to the early 1990s, just before Woods committed to attending Stanford.

"He came to UNLV to look at the school and to talk to me. I was caddying and working for (golfer) Mark O'Meara," said Kleven, whose institute is at 3820 S. Jones Blvd.

Kleven told me that Woods had become an animal in the gym during the conditioning program. "I send new things to him all the time," Kleven said.

John Paul Newport offers this food for thought into Tiger's eventual attempts to restore his career.

I have interviewed Mr. Woods one-on-one, in person, four times. All but one were short, routine encounters, but in 2002, two days after he won the Masters, I spent nearly an hour with him in Las Vegas and part of that interview felt like a real conversation. He talked about the struggle he was having finding balance in his life, not just in balancing the demands on his time, but more in the sense of finding harmony—in his words, "a sense of who you are."

His life these days is pretty clearly out of balance, and I have zero idea whether Mr. Woods has the inner resources required to regain it, either on the course in the form of his intimidating mojo, or in his personal life. He might. It's not as if whatever drove him to have so many sexual affairs instantly invalidates his physical talent, his capacity for work, his desire to achieve.

The other sharpest memory I have of my time with him in Las Vegas suggests a place from which he could start: the range. After our conversation, I watched him hit balls for a while. It was not a practice session per se, but a 10-minute respite between a photo shoot, a television interview and some pre-arranged interaction with two clients. In those 10 minutes only, curving balls right and left at a distant boulder despite a howling crosswind, he seemed to be himself, having fun, stripped of myth.

One among the many rumors in circulation about Mr. Woods these days is that he has found a way to hit golf balls at night, to clear his head, away from prying eyes, somewhere in Orlando. I hope that's true. For him, that's getting back to basics.

The next few pieces have taken on a post-mortem analysis even though as far as I know, Tiger is with the living. (Where? Who knows).

Several readers emailed Mike Wise's Washington Post column.

Three stories piquing prurient interest the past year involved a born-again former Pro Bowl quarterback, a college basketball coach who wore his Catholicism on his lapel, and Tiger, the heir apparent to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan in the sports world, an icon marketed to be the most wholesome of them all. When all three fell from pedestals -- and one of them paid the ultimate price for it -- that's not a dangerous trend of infidelity; that's disease.

When married billionaires bring breakfast waitresses to the family home in the middle of the day after they've already hooked up in a parking lot, that's not sex; that's real affliction.

When the world's most recognizable athlete uses his Blackberry to text a relative kid in Las Vegas about how much he misses her -- and she's but one of a dozen -- that's not sex; that's sickness.

Doug Glanville compares Tiger's situation to that of baseball players faced with daily temptations.

In an athlete’s environment, money can be its own pollutant; you can become desensitized to the significance of what it can buy. Typically, if a person spends hundreds of dollars on arrangements to pass time with someone, that someone would be important in his life. But when you have extensive financial resources, it’s easy to send similar signals to people who are meaningful only for a moment. Even worse, you might only concern yourself with what it means to you. As the money flows in, so do the toys — cars, clothes, bling — and once in the stratosphere, a la Tiger, it is amazing how easy it is, if you are not careful and grounded, to start seeing women as another accessory in your life.

Karen Crouse considers the role Earl played in Tiger's life.

Woods’s parenting role model was his father, Earl, who was committed to rearing him after having two sons and a daughter in a failed first marriage. Earl, a retired Army officer, attributed the divorce to military obligations that took him away from the family. Asked how he would manage to be there for his children when golf takes him away from home so much, Woods told me, “It’s going to be a lot more difficult, there’s no doubt.”

Maybe it is impossible. Perhaps Woods was destined to be like his father, only not in the way he had hoped. Over lunch on the veranda at the Masters one year, Earl Woods said, “I’ve told Tiger that marriage is unnecessary in a mobile society like ours.”

The way Woods talked about his children, I was sure he was going to prove his father wrong.

This Herald-Story notes that after four weeks of mostly negative comments, the discussion forum on TigerWoods.com has been taken down.

Weeks after Tiger Woods admitted to the world he had been unfaithful in his marriage, the forums section of the golfer's official website has finally been shut down.

Administrators of the website had continued to allow angry fans to express their disgust at the golf superstar's fall from grace, with many of the posts highly abusive.

“You are such a piece of garbage ... good job wrecking your family, butthead,” said one of hundreds of postings. 

Another said: “You are a laughing stock - just another arrogant athlete who thought he could get away with anything ... your image was nothing but a fraud.”

The story also noted this:

The scandal has proved to be fodder for Facebook users with groups and fan pages attracting large numbers.

Among the most popular has almost 400,000 fans, while another "I did not sleep with Tiger Woods" has 40,000 fans.

Less popular are the groups "Free Tiger Woods" with 1000 fans and "Get off Tiger Woods already!" with 400 followers.

Andrew Adam Newman notes that Tiger's "How I Play Golf" will be an audio book this spring but the lightly anticipated paperback release of the remainder shelf staple has been tabled because the hardcover "still sells well," according to the editor at publishing imprint, gulp, Hachette.

In the audio book, Mr. Woods shares the “psychological practices he uses daily to keep his game in top shape and help him transcend all the ups and downs of golf,” according to a description in Hachette Audio’s spring-summer 2010 catalog, which was mailed recently to bookstores and journalists.

“The catalog went to bed months before the scandal unfolded,” Anthony Goff, publisher and director of Hachette Audio and Digital Media, wrote in an e-mail message. “We had no idea he’d be all over the news for anything other than his golf game.”

And finally, in the how far we've sunk as a society/how far Tiger has sunk as a brand category, they've woven a Tiger joke into the torturous Aladdin show at Disneyland. People pay to see this?



Sunday
Dec272009

GolfDigest.com Groove Discussion, Vol. 2

More good stuff, especially about 7 minutes in when Paul Goydos starts talking about how "architects have gotten lazy" and how it takes imagination to design short holes that test all kinds of players.

Saturday
Dec262009

"I only came because he (Pavin] did."

John Huggan's annual Huggy's yields plenty of fun items, including this on the Ryder Cup captains:

No, this category has nothing to do with Tiger or any of his many female chums. No, in a closely run contest that has already, almost a year before the matches take place at Celtic Manor, seen the pair of them make compensated appearances all over the globe, this tacky little Huggy goes jointly to Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin.

Really, there has been virtually no escape from the men who will lead Europe and the United States into the biennial battle come next September. They even showed up, inexplicably, at the World Match Play Championship in Spain, where Monty was overheard to comment, "I only came because he (Pavin] did."

Just about the only thing this highly motivated duo have yet to attend is the opening of the proverbial envelope. Can only be a matter of time though.

Saturday
Dec262009

Of All The Amazing Things Tiger Has Done...

...I have to put his now month-long disappearance right up there with his 14 majors. Okay, maybe that's a bit much, but consider that he crashed his Caddie in the wee hours of November 27th and hasn't been seen since despite being one of the five most recognizable people on the planet and having a huge price on his head.

Granted, it's been a total disaster from a P.R. perspective and each day he hides his aura takes a hit, but you have to admire the ability to disappear!