Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

Putting affects the nerves more than anything. I would actually get nauseated over three-footers, and there were tournaments when I couldn't keep a meal down for four days.
BYRON NELSON

 

   

Thursday
Jul302009

"It's the equipment"

That was Andy North on today's U.S. Senior Open telecast to explain why Crooked Stick's maximum yardage for the Senior Open is longer than it was for the 1991 PGA. The context of a USGA event telecast made the graphic (below) and comments quite the eye opener and I'm sure it was greatly appreciated in USGA Hospitality.

As the graphic was posted North pointed out that the Champions Tour driving distance average in 1991 was 261 yards; 274 yards in 2009. But no love for all the time the guys have spent in the fitness trailer getting massages lifting weights.

Thursday
Jul302009

"The author expects to be mocked, belittled, and made the object of unrelenting scorn, and really that’s part of the appeal in doing this."

Alan Shipnuck retires his Hot List column in favor of a "mailbag" format.

Refresh my memory: didn't he do this once before in the early days of the Internet? It got a bit ugly at times, no?

Thursday
Jul302009

Kohler In On Milwaukee Rescue?

We've heard mumblings about a "chill" inducing pitch to save the Milwaukee stop and Tim Rosaforte sheds a little more light on what that may mean:

There's also a chance in this shuffling that the RBC Canadian Open would get a better date than just after the British Open. And Herb Kohler's name has been thrown into the group joining Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker in an attempt to save the Milwaukee event.

Thursday
Jul302009

Is That GUR?

Did anyone else think that was a white ground under repair line around the telephone poles at Crooked Stick's 9th hole for the U.S. Senior Open?

Thursday
Jul302009

Rear Admiral Speaks: "Fight the battle you’re in, not the battle you wish you were in."

Beth Ann Baldry and Alistair Tait sit down with Rear Admiral Marsha Evans about her efforts as interim LPGA Commissioner. I never thought I'd find comfort in militaryspeak, but after five years of MBAspeak...

GW: How do you think your military background will help your role with the LPGA?

ME: In the military, you learn as a very junior officer to focus on the mission. 2010 and beyond, that’s the mission. . . . In the military, we used to say there’s no prize for second place in war. There really is no prize for second place in meeting the needs of the players.I think a second aspect is what we call situational awareness. You’ve got to be aware of what’s happening in your environment. . . . People say, ‘Oh, the economy,’ and wring (their) hands about how bad it is. Well, OK; what are you going to do to overcome the challenges? It is what it is. All the time worrying about it and wringing your hands over it, you’re not moving the ball forward. I think that’s another piece of it. I think there are opportunities for us in this lousy economy. Opportunities to build relationships with prospective sponsors.Today they may not be our sponsor, but now is the time to start talking with that key list of partners we would like to have so that when the economy changes, we will be well-positioned coming out of it. Fight the battle you’re in, not the battle you wish you were in. The battle we’re in is pretty straightforward.

And this is refreshing...

GW: Is that an avenue for you to pursue, now that we’re in this economic climate?

ME: We have the opportunity to have tournaments that aren’t on the big-world scale – like this tournament, for example. . . . (Smaller markets) are an opportunity for us. This is what grows a fabulous fan base. . . .I want it to stay accessible. Not everybody lives in a megalopolis. Some live in the medium and smaller communities. For me, I think it’s critical that we have the opportunity for wide-ranging geographies.

Wednesday
Jul292009

Swimming Is Rolling Back, Why Not Golf?

I finally read up on swimming's governing body realizing their sport was hurt by the hi-tech body suits that led to world records.  Karen Crouse's NY Times story should give you a nice background on the issue, while this Amy Shipley story explains coach Bob Bowman's outrage at the time it will take to implement the ban.

But in light of the groove rule change saga and the desire to do anything but roll back the ball, reader Ryan offers this:

With what could be called swimsuit-gate at the current World Championships, where the EQUIPMENT (ie/ the suits themselves) are being credited with increased performance and world records shattered, and thus the history of the sport being changed, governing bodies have decided to BAN these ultra-buoyant new suits for next year (2010). They are apparently reverting back to standardized suit construction from 1996, and the predicted result is that Phelp will be just THAT much better than everyone else who was falsely lifted (pardon the pun) by these suits (due to sponsorships, Phelps of course, can't wear the newest of the new technology).

The crossover point, of course, is the golf ball, and perhaps adds more fuel to the battle here. If swimming can do it at the drop of a hat, why can't golf? Imagine a world with the 1996 Titleist Professional!

It is fascinating that Michael Phelps will probably be even more dominant with this rollback, just as many of us believe that Tiger Woods (and probably Phil Mickelson) would benefit from a golf ball rollback more than your average professional.

Also interesting is the notion that breaking world records finally made some say enough.

Perhaps a similar boiling point would have been reached in golf were it not for all of the fairway narrowing, hole tucking and rough harvesting of the last ten years?

 

Wednesday
Jul292009

Say It Ain't So: Valhalla Getting Another PGA Championship

Sheldon S. Shafer and Jody Demling report the wonderful, sweat-inducing news. Maybe by 2014 they'll have figured out a way to take advantage of those power lines?

On a positive note, Elpseth Burnside tells us about Carnoustie and St. Andrews landing Women's Open Championships in 2011 and 2013.

Wednesday
Jul292009

"It won't have the hustle and bustle as the last show."

With a teaser like that I'm sure you can't wait to set your DVR's.

Seems John Daly and Golf Channel are getting together on another reality show, this time to demonstrate what a bore Daly has become. I got sleepy just reading the AP story detailing this spellbinding television concept.

Daly said Wednesday an upcoming reality show on the Golf Channel, featuring him, will provide a glimpse of his new-and-improved boring life.

"I'm more laid back," he said in an interview with The Associated Press between puffs of a cigarette in the parking lot of Warwick Hills, the site of this week's Buick Open. "It won't have the hustle and bustle as the last show."

Wednesday
Jul292009

"Bob Seger is bigger than Tiger."

David Grant offers an entertaining account of Tiger's pro-am round with Bob Seger, who drew bigger ovations and just as many fans as the world No. 1.  Jo-Ann Barnas in the Detroit Free Press also reported on the round and posted other Buick blog items.

If you're a Seger fan like me, you'll enjoy his post round press conference. Nice move by the tour to bring him in, especially since he's not a fan of interviews.

Some highlights of the sloppy script:

Q. Did Tiger have a good sense of your career and who you are?

BOB SEGER: I gotta tell you this. This is funny. About five years ago I met Tiger -- he won't remember, but [H]Al Sutton took me to the Ryder Cup room. So I met everybody. Phil wasn't there. He was off doing something. But I met everybody on the team except for Phil, and Tiger goes up and I'm taking pictures with all the golfers' wives, all Furyk and [F]axon. Tiger is right here. And I see Tiger off in the corner he's talking to Chris, young Chris, and he says, "who's he?" He had no idea who I was. (Laughs). He was 25 at the time, 25, 26.

And...

Q. Can you talk about teeing off on the first tee?

BOB SEGER: Oh, my God.

Q. Can you talk about that?

BOB SEGER: I actually did -- that's right. I had a good swing on that tee, but yeah, nerves.
Oh, my gosh, through the first six holes I was a wreck. I don't know how I made those putts, but I did.

Q. You got a bigger cheer than Tiger there.

BOB SEGER: Oh, I've been here 40 years, you know. I got a few fans around here.
Yeah, but he's really special. To stand that close is so -- such a privilege, to someone that great.

And this is fun:

Q. Bob, two questions. Can you talk about just how the opportunity developed to play in the Pro-Am with Tiger?

BOB SEGER: My wife's -- one of my wife's best friends, her brother knows Larry Peck at GM, and they're old friends. And so last year, you know, I was set to do this, play with Tiger. And I was up watching the Open with my wife, and I said, oh, there's no way he's going to make it, with the knee. And of course, that was the story, him winning the Open.

I knew there was no way he was coming. I said, well, I had my chance, and I was practicing, too.

I was practicing like six days a week. Short game, short game, short game.

Wednesday
Jul292009

"My perception was that finally, unfortunately, the monumental factor of what he was about to accomplish penetrated that isolation he was in, that now he's thinking that he's got to get the ball down in two to win the Open."

There are a couple of stellar Tom Watson-almost-wins-the-Open follow ups to read, starting with Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times. You know I'd rather see a Cher concert than read another golf-is-a-metaphor for life column, but Friedman put a fresh spin on a familiar topic after watching the final round on Armed Forces television in Afghanistan.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with. Also, pro golfers, unlike baseball, football or basketball players, have no fixed salaries. They eat what they kill. If they score well, they make money. If they don’t, they don’t make money. I wonder what the average N.B.A. player’s free-throw shooting percentage would be if he had to make free throws to get paid the way golfers have to make three-foot putts?

This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.”

So Tom Watson got a brutal lesson in golf that he’ll never forget, but he gave us all an incredible lesson in possibilities — one we’ll never forget.

And John Strege catches up with Sandy Tatum, who uttered the quote at the top of this post. Here's just part of what Watson's pal and the former USGA President had to say.

Tatum did not stay to watch the playoff. "It was going to be too painful," he said.

In the midst of his improbable run at the Claret Jug, Watson was asked how he thought Tatum was handling it. "I think Sandy will have a heart attack," Watson replied.

Tatum sent Watson an email on Tuesday. He wrote in part: "While I cannot begin to express how what I saw affected me, a heart attack would have been much easier to handle...Thanks for giving me four days, absent two plays with the putter, on Cloud Nine."

Tuesday
Jul282009

Golfweek: Greenbrier To Fill Schedule Spot

If this turns out to be true, a very nice move for the tour and an upgrade architecturally over the Buick, but I'm not so sure about the West Virginia market compared to Detroit.

Thoughts on how this facility would work as a tour stop?

Tuesday
Jul282009

"Woods ramping up TOUR schedule ahead of Playoffs"

Doug Ferguson analyzes Tiger's decision to play three weeks in a row and it's fun to see how his story was treated by the different websites. Particularly since it makes only passing reference to the FedEx Cup (the last time Tiger played three straight weeks)

See if you can guess which version of Ferguson's story was posted on PGATOUR.com!

Woods ramps up for homestretch

Woods ramping up TOUR schedule ahead of Playoffs

Woods ramps up play heading for homestretch

Tuesday
Jul282009

"MARKETING IS THE BOSS"

Via ESPN.com's E60, we learn Anna Rawson's prescriptions for healing the LPGA Tour. These almost make you feel sorry for Carolyn Bivens. Almost:

Every player should tee off to her favorite song at the beginning of the tournament and have it played again when she approaches the 18th green. Major League Baseball teams play music as batters approach the plate and it's great. Fans connect with players for their music and it builds anticipation. I don't think our golfers would have a problem with this because nowadays who doesn't practice with their iPod on?

Exactly. Your ipod is on and only you can hear it. Just the way most of us like it.

Plus, it would help me on the tee; the forced quiet is nerve-racking, so hearing music will help break the tension.

Well at least she's thinking big picture here and not about herself.

For each tournament, I would have a fashion designer create a piece of clothing or accessory for the trophy ceremony. For the LPGA Championship, we could have a jacket specially made by Donna Karan. For the Kraft Nabisco, a gown designed by Vera Wang. For the P&G Northwest Arkansas Championship, CoverGirl could give the winner a makeover before the presentation. Whether the designer item is a gown, jacket, skirt or piece of jewelry, after signing her scorecard the winner would be taken to hair and makeup (cover that white forehead!) and fitted by a tailor for the ceremony (with the last six groups in the final round pre-fitted the night before so the size would be ready).

Okay that's not so bad actually. But I think we may be aiming high with Vera and Donna. May have to settle for Marty Hackel or the Golfweek blonds.

4. MARKETING IS THE BOSS

Oh boy....

Until further notice, all decisions should be made from a marketing perspective. That idea might sound crazy to some, but I say let's have that discussion when LPGA players reach the point where they can be accused of being over-marketed, overpaid or over-exposed.

I thought they just fired the last Commissioner in part for emphasizing marketing over golf?

5. READY FOR OUR CLOSE-UP

Every group should be miked up and followed by its own camera crew, not a hard or expensive thing to do in this era of cheap, portable devices that can send images and audio around the globe in an instant.

No problema! The networks will agree that's not hard nor expensive. It's merely impossible!

Tuesday
Jul282009

“I lost 30 pounds after last season thinking I was going to work out and get better. I got worse.”

I'm smelling a golf magazine instruction spread by Carl Pettersson: How dieting ruined my game and how McDonald's can help you get your mojo back.

Ron Green Jr. reports on Carl's claim that weight loss ruined his game:

After winning the Wyndham Championship last year, his victory dinner included a stop at McDonald's on the drive home.

Then he was off the fast food for a while.

“I'm back there now,” Pettersson said, smiling.

Tuesday
Jul282009

Kleenex Alert: Jack Has Only 40 Courses Under Construction

Darren Rovell writes that Jack Nicklaus was on CNBC today "to talk about his new branding alliance with designer David Chu and Howard Milstein" and was asked about his design business:

Nicklaus: “Right at the present time, we have 40 golf courses under construction, which is down. We normally have about 60. We have been 120 or 130 golf courses under contract, as you’re going through zoning or financing or whatever they might be. So our business is still there. Yes, it is a slowdown. A big slowdown. And I think that golf course design at this present time is a luxury –- certainly not something that somebody does every day. We still have a business...In China, golf is just exploding. China is probably our key market today.”

 

Tuesday
Jul282009

Brave Strangers

Only Tiger could lure the attention shy Bob Seger out for a round of golf. I'm guessing their Buick Open pro-am round will be a classier affair than last year's Kid Rock-John Daly fiasco.

Monday
Jul272009

“The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of a traditional V-groove design.”

Bowl and Grass flesh out the notion that Bomb and Gouge golf might not be impacted by the groove rule change because most irons already had conforming grooves and their well-paid brat handlers haven't had U-groove on their mind before looking at a 22-yard wide fairway and saying "screw it, let's hit driver."

Not exactly a newsflash from the city, but the next part of the post is.

In a self-admitted lede-bury, Bowl reveals that some newly submitted clubs appeared to be technically conforming but were rejected because they still produced too much spin for the USGA's taste buds. However, because of broad language focusing on the reduction of spin, the clubs were ruled non-conforming.

He drops this, gulp, bombshell along with the incorrectly dated USGA memo that could mean "World War III."

I'll admit we're burying the lead here but the news just came across my desk as I was typing this, a notice sent to manufacturers today (click thumbnail to read the notice) makes it pretty clear that any enhancements not covered by the new rule but affecting spin will not be tolerated. Indeed, in its haste to get the word out, the USGA couldn’t get the month right on the official announcement. Nevertheless, the new language, attached here, reiterates the idea of the intent of the rule, namely: “The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of a traditional V-groove design.” That very easily could mean there won’t be any meaningful innovation in grooves or face pattern that might enhance spin production ever again.

(Let me just note for the millionth time how sad it is that the USGA is fixated on producing an effect from rough, which has historically been almost always an artificial tool introduced to offset unregulated distance advances.)

Either way, as Bowl notes, the memo is tidying up what appears to be a loop-hole in the original "Notice to Manufacturers" and is sure to fuel claims that the USGA is reserving the right to make it up as they go. And while I didn't agree with the tour policy board members who wanted to delay the implementation of the rule, you have to figure this latest development could make their "rush-job" claims more credible.

Monday
Jul272009

"As far as the fan base goes, a rising tide of interest lifts all ships."

Steve Elling raises a question I'm sure many of us will be asking as the U.S. Senior Open tees off the week after the Senior Open Championship and during the Women's Open Championship. Who is doing the scheduling for these fledgling tours?

Last week, the Senior British Open was staged in England. This week, the over-50 crowd plays in the U.S. Senior Open in the States, which is not only counter-intuitive, but counter-productive. Majors in successive weeks on different continents? That's almost as dunderheaded as the women's schedule-makers. The first three women's majors of 2009 were staged the week before the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open on the men's tour, all but guaranteeing that they would pass as overlooked and under-reported. Compare notes, people. As far as the fan base goes, a rising tide of interest lifts all ships.

Monday
Jul272009

"Those fat old guys riding around in golf carts and chomping cigars on the Champions tour are playing for more money than the LPGA players. That's demeaning to female athletes!" 

After months of behind the scenes investigation and source cultivation while reporting for Golf Magazine, Alan Shipnuck tackles the not-to-delicate question of Wilhelmina Models entering golf and selling sex appeal as a way of generating attention for the LPGA Tour. More importantly, this gives golf.com another chance to soak up the hits from the inevitable hot babe photo galleries. Synergy baby!

The W7 was born last year when Wilhelmina Models, the global beauty factory that counts Rebecca Romijn, Fergie and countless runway glamazons as clients, decided to break into women's golf. The inspiration came when Dieter Esch, then the Wilhelmina chairman and now a company consultant, attended an LPGA tournament in Florida. "Like many people, I had certain stereotypes of LPGA players," Esch says. "I was surprised to discover how many of the players were young and athletic and attractive and very personable. To be honest, the tour has done a pretty pathetic job marketing its product, and I knew we could do much, much better."

Monday
Jul272009

Olson's Bank Shot Ace

Thanks to reader Tim for spotting a posting of Leif Olson's incredible hole-in-one last week's Canadian Open, now on YouTube.