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

As I go back over the years of my golf there are many faces which come before me, and they are not alone of those with whom I have constructed courses, for to learn golf architecture one must know golf itself, its companionships, its joys, its sorrows, its battles--one must play golf and love it.




"That is hardly elitist."

Martin Ziegler files an optimistic Scotsman story on golf's chances for inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games. How about this part of the International Golf Federation's case, made by Peter Dawson:

"Golf has become a very affordable sport. In the USA, 72 per cent of courses are public facilities, 56 per cent of players have a household income of 25,000 to 100,000 dollars. That is hardly elitist."

I wonder if he displays any kind of nervous tick as he says that, presumably not wearing his R&A jacket?

And since the women's majors aren't quite as well defined, I actually believe this could become the case on the women's side:

Michelle Wie, women's golf most famous player, said taking part in the Olympics would be "the highest achievement for every golfer".

She said: "Winning an Olympic medal will be the highest point you could reach. Competing for your country would make the stakes that much higher."


CBS Needs To Hire Paul Azinger

I haven't watched a lot of the Presidents Cup today, but what parts I have seen were made infinitely more interesting thanks to Paul Azinger's commentary as well as the positive effect he has on Nick Faldo. Since CBS's ratings are noticeably lower than NBC's, maybe it's time to liven things up? Thoughts?


The Ubiquitous Hank Haney?

For a man who doesn't think much of the media, it's just heartwarming to see Hank Haney making the rounds now to talk about Tiger. First there was the call in to Alan Shipnuck, then now he's on FanHouse, then yapping it up with's Connell Barrett and finally, doing Ryan Ballengee's podcast.

But it wasn't until Monte Burke nabbed Haney for that the truth came out.

You recently became the spokesperson for Charles Schwab's ( SCHW - news - people ) retirement services. Are there parallels between golf instruction and retirement advice?

There are lots of parallels. The most important thing you can have is a plan, whether that's for your investments or your golf game. You have to be patient. Both require longterm approaches. There are ups and downs, and you can't get too high with the ups or too low with the down.

After that, don't ever tell me this blog fails to provide you with useful information. Ever!


"The Tour Championship has got to be the last event of the year — it's got to."

Gary Van Sickle follows up with SI's infamous anonymous PGA Tour pro for a take on the FedEx Cup and Fall Series, and perhaps is echoing what many players are thinking.

SI: It doesn't seem like the Fall Series tournaments get much support from the Tour, especially with all the talk that the season ends with the FedEx Cup. The fall events don't count for FedEx Cup points and don't include an automatic Masters invite for the winners.

Anonymous Pro: It's perplexing to players. Nobody understands why the Tour treats the Fall Series so badly. I think finishing the season in November is still the way to go. Either move these fall events up earlier or make them count for something. The Tour Championship has got to be the last event of the year — it's got to. We've missed the boat. The fall events mean nothing except to the guys from 120 to 150 on the money list, and the public doesn't care about those guys.


The Presidents Cup Is Here!

As excited as I am? I didn't think so.

Well I scoured the reports on tomorrow's pairings and a few writers managed to get me interested enough to watch day one. Check out Jeff Rude's hodgepodge of notes, jokes and anecdotes, including a few Michael Jordan items and some Dave Stockton thoughts on putting.

Steve Elling focuses on the intriguing format differences in the Presidents Cup versus the Ryder Cup. Rex Hoggard reminds us of one huge difference this week, which you realize is a bit of a rally killer when it comes to producing tension.

And Thomas Bonk focuses on quirky Captain Couples, whose liable to say just about anything. Larry Dorman looks at Greg Norman and notes:

Suddenly, there is no more giggling teenage love story going on in his life, and he is out there alone in the lurid glare of the spotlight that accompanies a high-profile international event. The timing, on the announcement and on his surgery, could hardly have been worse.


"Clothes don’t make you look thinner — diets do."

Stephanie Wei grills Marty Hackel about tour players and fashion, drawing some lively answers out of the Golf Digest fashion guru. I think I smell a Phil-Marty discussion on the range:

Phil gets a lot of grief about his wardrobe. And recently he wore white pants the week he won the Tour Championship. What’s your general feel on him these days?

His shirts have gotten a little snug. It’s way better than a few years ago when his shirts were oversized. Clothes don’t make you look thinner — diets do. Americans think oversized shirts make you look thinner, but they don’t. Next few people you hear criticize Phil, ask them to look in the mirror. Because it’s mostly oversized guys. He’s not batting a thousand, but who is on the PGA?


“We are losing members of the LPGA who have provided significant service to the association"

I'm not buying the economy as the sole reason for cutting eight positions at LPGA headquarters, especially since one of the positions was created by the Brand Lady. Clearing the deck for the next Commissioner...?

“Due to the changes in our tournament business and other effects of the world-wide recession, the LPGA has eliminated the position of deputy commissioner effective December 31, 2009,” Evans said in a statement. “Libba Galloway, a key contributor to the LPGA for nearly a decade, will transition out of the association at the end of the year. We thank Libba for her leadership, commitment and the countless contributions that she has provided us.”

With the tour’s schedule shrinking, revenues are shrinking. The LPGA staged 34 events last year, will stage 27 this year, with tour officials projecting they’ll stage between 23 and 25 next year.

“We are losing members of the LPGA who have provided significant service to the association,” Evans said in a statement. “We thank them and wish them well in their future endeavors.”


Michael Jordan's Attempts To Contract An Oral Cancer Will Have To Wait

Reason No. 1 why I love California...


"Arguably what's at stake is the future of San Francisco public golf, and by extension, the value of public golf everywhere."

Miraculously no one has asked yet how the PGA Tour and City of San Francisco spent $23 million and got a functional but ultimately disappointing Harding Park redesign. Brad Klein noted quite accurately that "a round here produces the sense of waiting for something to happen that never quite materializes."

Which is why I suppose the Presidents Cup re-routing--a blatant move for the corporate tent folks as Ron Whitten documents in Golf World--doesn't really matter much. If you know the course and want to get a nice feel for the new sequencing, check out Brett Avery and Golf World's interactive map.

Meanwhile, SF native Jaime Diaz makes the case that no matter what you might feel about the course, this is a huge week for public golf with two courses fighting for their existence and beleaguered Harding looking to stay on the PGA Tour's radar.


Olympic Golf In Trouble?

A few stories are hinting at a possible protest vote and overall uncertainty about golf's "universality" by IOC members. Lawrence Donegan thinks some of the recent defenses from Jacques Rogge for golf's finalist slow may not bode well, whiel Owen Gibson believes the concerns may cost golf it's shot in the 2016 games.

Some IOC members retain concerns about whether the Olympics would be the pinnacle of achievement for golfers ahead of the four majors, while others argue that it does not score well on the criterion of "universality" given the expense and difficulty of developing golf courses in Africa and parts of Asia.

I don't know where they'd get any ideas like that before they've even gotten the estimate from Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam to build the official Olympic course, The Bear and The Swede. And with 60 player fields contesting glorified WGC events that has excited positively no one, how much less universal can you get than that?

And, let's hear from Peter Dawson, who heads up an all-male golf club that'll admit a woman by 2016. Maybe.

Dawson admitted some IOC members had raised concerns about whether the Olympics would represent the pinnacle of the sport but said they had not been widespread. "We have been able to allay that fear by emphasising the broad support among the world's top players. There is only one Olympic tournament for every 16 majors," he said.

And it's still just a boring old 72-hole stroke play event with a goofy world ranking-based format for entry. Zzzzzzzzz.

And then there's this protest vote bit, which is so IOC:

Some IOC members have privately voiced disgruntlement that they will not be offered a choice of sports from which to pick and have speculated that golf might suffer as a result of a protest vote.

But Craig Reedie, the British IOC member who was part of the programme commission that evaluated the seven sports, said: "The executive board clearly feels it is giving the members the guidance that was requested of them."


“So do I think they made a wise move?’’

Alex Miceli says Jack Nicklaus is sounding more giddy than ever about the USGA's backdoor ball rollback.

“But I think they’re really on the right track,” Nicklaus said. “I certainly hope so, because what’s going to happen is that the golf ball – the pros are going to be the ones that drive what goes on.

“And the pros are going to hit the ball in the rough. They’re not going to be able to stop this golf ball out of the rough with the V-grooves. They’re going to want a softer ball so they can hit a softer shot. When you have a softer ball, it’s going to curve more and not go as far.

Then they’re going to have to change the driver to fit it. They’re going to have to change the ball to fit it without getting into a lawsuit, which is what the whole objective has been.”

It may be circular logic, but if you follow it to its likely conclusion, it makes sense: making the classic course relevant again in a technological age.

“So do I think they made a wise move?’’ Nicklaus said. “Yes. I just hope they go far enough that they bring it back to where many of these wonderful golf courses we’ve got in the world, frankly, are really tests for people. further away.”


Even In A Sling, Scribblers Try Twisting Norman's Arm

While Bob Harig reminds us of Greg Norman's history with the Presidents Cup (playing a 22-year-old Tiger, supporting the idea of the event), Steve Elling says that no one heard much of what Norman said today about his surprising selection of Adam Scott because he was too busy evading questions about the breakup with Chrissy.

As he promised via his publicist when the separation was announced, Norman was quick to distance himself from the marital issue, which doesn't mean it's going away anytime soon. They were, perhaps, the ultimate sports power couple -- modern-era icons in their respective sports and Hall of Famers.

"Well, first of all, about that, I'm not going to make any comment on that," Norman said.

Norman said that the 12 players on his team hadn't asked him about his disintegrating relationship nor apparently offered much in the way of condolences, either. Everybody seems to be on eggshells about it.
"We haven't even talked about it," Norman said. "We talked about my shoulder, absolutely, it's pretty hard to ignore that. But at the end of the day, somebody's private life is their private life. They respect that.

Maybe that's why he didn't pick Rory Sabbatini?

Sam Weinman offers up the Cliff's Notes version of the press conference questions--including the three different tries to get a Norman comment on Chrissy--for those of you hanging on the Shark's every word.

Lawrence Donegan wants to respect Norman's privacy, however...

but showing respect for someone's privacy doesn't preclude pointing out how hypocritical it is for celebrities to court the media when it suits their purposes only to then turn around when it doesn't suit them and say...well, see above.


"Did Tony Romo Forget How To Count To Four?"

That's what Dallas fans are asking after the QB apparently lost track of the downs on Sunday. What they don't know is that Tony Romo was actually just flashing his handicap in celebration of his place atop the latest Golf Digest ranking of athlete-golfers.


“The people who don't like it are generally the non-golfers who are homeowners"

Larry Bohannan checks in with some of the Palm Springs area courses only doing limited overseedings, letting their roughs remain dormant in an effort to save resources. While we hear it's golfers who don't tolerate green, this caught my eye since it possibly speaks to golfers not deserving all of the blame in the chase for costly green:

“Some people like the look, some don't,” said Ben Dobbs, director of golf at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Mission Hills has done the limited overseed on its Pete Dye Course for years and will experiment with the concept on two holes of its Arnold Palmer Course this season. The experiment is as much to see how homeowners feel about the different look as it is about turf conditions.

“On the Pete Dye, I think we have been doing it so long, (the homeowners) are conditioned to it,” Dobbs said. “The homes at the Pete Dye sit a little back. The homes at the Palmer course (are) right up on the course.”

“The people who don't like it are generally the non-golfers who are homeowners,” said Taylor, whose course moved to the tees, greens and fairways concept last winter. “They don't understand why the golf course is dead. The key I think we have learned, is to have clear, precise, defined lines. In other words, if the hole has hills on it, don't have half the hill (green) and half the hill not.”


"please jump out of your own arse and don't insult my intelligence you ignorant, simple, dense little man."

Some people were meant to Tweet, and then there's Ian Poulter. He's been a Twitter trainwreck since starting up this summer, which started promisingly with his rant on the groove rule change, then highlighted by his shrewd decision to post a photo of his famous mates flipping off the camera and his rebuttals to Captain Monty after skipping the Seve Trophy to get drunk with his son's agent. And now he's getting into nasty feuds engaging in spirited interaction with his followers.


Letter From Saugerties, Wally Uihlein Edition

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan emailed this letter in response to Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein's recent interview with John Huggan. I emailed Mr. Uihlein to ask if he wished to respond but have not heard back as of this posting.

What a week of glory it was for Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein!

First, he gives an interview to the always entertaining golf site, "Golf Observer."  What it amounts to is a tribute to himself and his company.  It is longer than "War and Peace."

Then, better yet, the man accused of blackmailing David Letterman wears a Titleist cap in various photos that surfaced. The whole world sees "Titleist" and it doesn't cost Acushnet a dime. (By the way the USGA handicap processing system shows one Joe Halderman, a resident of Connecticut, as bearing a 16.8 at the Longshore Golf Course,  a muni in the posh town of Westport).   

Wally is special.  He would like it thought that he was found in a manger outside the door of the dean of the Harvard Business School.  In fact,  he was a left-handed New England golfer with a modicum of talent who became somebody's assistant pro.  The USGA welcomed him back by granting him reinstatement to amateur status.  He jumped over to Acushnet where he displayed a tremendous ability to sell stuff.

His company owns more than 50% of the golf ball market plus Foot Joy shoes and a couple of lines of clubs.   It is now more than a billion dollar operation.  Wally is not satisfied.  He thinks he should BE golf.  There is nothing he is unwilling to foresee. He predicts there will be no more successful incursions into the golf equipment business by outsiders.  That's an expression of resentment toward the late Karsten Solheim and the late Ely Callaway who came from nowhere to dominate the club business and kick Acushnet's butt in the process. 

I will now present an abbreviated list of items worthy of comment from the interview:

  • On the prospect of rolling back distance,  he says any change is bound to be good for some tour players and bad for others.  How come he didn't weep for the prospective losers when he dramatically changed his ball to the HD line in the early 2000s?
  • Wally says there is no precedent for rolling back performance - not in golf or any other sport.  Excuse me, but in 1931 the USGA changed the minimum diameter of the ball in its rule to 1.68 inches - up from 1.62 inches. Writing in the late 1930s, Bobby Jones reckoned that the 1.68" ball was about 5 yards shorter than the ball he played with during the 1920s.
  • He says the distance explosion is due in part to bigger and stronger people.  Look, distance was stable on the Tour between 1980 and 1995.  It then shot up every year until 2002 when it again became stable - after the horse left the barn with an overall driving distance increase of about 9%.  For the size of people to matter, you'd have to believe that something dramatic happened to the species for an 8 year period only.  Darwin wouldn't buy that.
  • He hints at the possibility of litigation on the heels of any equipment rules change by the USGA. That's odd because a few years ago he told me personally that suing the USGA is very bad for business.  Wally said that both Ping, which did sue, and Callaway, which threatened to sue, were singed.

Is the USGA frightened by threats of an anti trust suit?  Perhaps, even though I make them about a one touchdown favorite in such a clash.

What does scare the USGA is the fear of general non-support, which would render the USGA irrelevant. Just suppose the USGA did muster up the courage to do what it knows is right - roll back distance.   If that were to happen I am sure that Wally and other manufacturers would continue to turn out today's balls.   What would the customer do - buy the ball announced as being shorter?   Sure, the pro shops at Seminole and Cypress Point might only carry the new ball.   How about WalMart?  I can't envision the boys from Arkansas acting on the basis of what the USGA says is good for the game.  There would, for a time at least, be chaos, the exact opposite of the uniformity prized above all by the USGA.

The ongoing tension between equipment makers and the USGA is both sad and unnecessary.  It wasn't always so. I remember the day when an earlier CEO of Acushnet, John Ludes, came into my office at the USGA bearing a $10,000 check as a gift for a USGA building fundraiser.  Mr. Ludes understood that the USGA had created a climate in the sport that put all manufacturers on a level playing field and was doing so without any ax to grind. Naturally, I could not accept the check.    

Equipment gets nearly as much play as instruction in commercial golf media because of ad budgets.  Nothing gets the attention of a publisher quicker than a message saying, "You didn't give us enough space last month.  My money is itching to go elsewhere."

So the consumer is led to believe that his or her search for a driver counts more than the choice of a spouse. The truth of course is that equipment does not determine outcomes in golf on every level of the game. If it were otherwise you would see only one brand of ball in use on the Tour. Hostility is meaningless in that equipment simply doesn't matter.  By that, I mean that the choice of equipment on all levels of golf does not determine who wins or loses.  The performance of today's clubs and balls is remarkably similar with minute variations that are almost impossible to discern.   Why is it you never see blind test results in golf?  Because even the greatest of players can't tell one ball from another if the markings on the balls are wiped out.

For reading this far, I reward you with a tip.  The plastics used in modern golf balls do not decompose.  So if you are in a pro shop that has used balls in a bucket for $1.25 each, don't hesitate to reach down for a few. As for the decay issue,  I do not fear climate change.  My fear is that eventually the surface of the earth will consist of nothing but Pinnacles.

Uihlein says no Tour player will use equipment he does not favor. Right on. Tour players are influenced by how much they can extract in endorsement fees.

Remember when Tiger Woods turned pro in the fall of 1996?  He quickly scored a deal with Acushnet granting him $4 million per year.  In no time at all he was recognized as the best player in the world.  Fast forward a few years.  Nike, which dwarfs Acushnet, snatched Tiger away by doubling or tripling Tiger's fee. Tiger remained the best player in the world.  The same would happen if he developed a yen for Callaway or Taylor Made or whatever.    
It's astonishing how much attention is paid to equipment now.   The truth is if Acushnet was gobbled up tomorrow by Nike or Adidas nobody would care other than the players on the Titleist staff.

We have to put up with manufacturers since the game requires clubs and balls. But we shouldn't pay much attention to them and it surely doesn't matter which of them prosper and which fail.

Frank Hannigan
Saugerties, New York


Orender: A Non-Denial Denial?

Ron Sirak shares this email statement from Donna Orender that does not sound like a full denial that she's out of the LPGA Commissionership running:

"I was flattered by the widespread support of the industry who strongly encouraged me to look at this opportunity and the prospect of working again with so many people who I respect and with whom there is a history of success," Orender told in an email. "The WNBA Is in the midst of it's most successful finals in the leagues history and to continue to work with the dedicated team who is passionately committed to it's future is a good fit for me."


If You Can't Build 'Em, Sign Licensing Agreements

Since the PGA Tour probably won't be in the TPC building business for a while, they're adding some nice courses to the network via licensing deals. I'm not sure what this means beyond new logos and business for signmakers in Miami and La Quinta, but it is nice to see PGA West rejoining the fold after the last licensing agreement end. Maybe this increases the likelihood of the tour moving the match play to PGA West TPC Stadium Course at PGA WEST when they get tired of Tucson's small galleries and goofy greens?

Doral’s Blue Monster, PGA WEST’s Stadium Course Join TPC Fold
Famous courses will become part of TPC Network through licensing deals

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL                                                                    October 5, 2009

Two of America’s most recognized resort golf courses, the Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami and the Stadium Course at PGA WEST in LaQuinta, CA, are joining the PGA TOUR’s TPC Network through licensing agreements that were announced today.

The changeover becomes effective November 1 with the name and logo changes occurring immediately. They will become the TPC Blue Monster at Doral and the TPC Stadium Course at PGA WEST. Other aspects of course re-branding will be integrated over time.

“We are extremely pleased to bring these two outstanding golf courses into the TPC family through new licensing agreements,” said David Pillsbury, President of PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties, which oversees the TPC Network. “This marks the beginning to a licensing strategy to bring select resort and destination facilities into the TPC fold. The relationship provides for preferential access to PGA TOUR business partners, marketing partners and TPC Network membership base, while further benefiting the Network with the addition of such highly respected golf courses. We also believe this sort of partnership will benefit each golf course by affiliating it with the PGA TOUR through the TPC brand, thus allowing the facility to promote itself as part of the most respected network of golf courses in the world.”  

Pillsbury said the strategy is to grow the number of licensed golf courses over the next several years, focusing on high-profile domestic and international facilities that will provide and receive benefits from the TPC affiliation.

The Blue Monster has played host to PGA TOUR tournaments since 1962 and now is the site of the World Golf Championships-CA Championship.

“We’re excited about expanding our affiliation with the PGA TOUR and joining forces with the TPC Network,” said Mark Jeffrey, general manager of Doral Golf Resort & Spa, a Marriott Resort. “The Blue Monster has a longstanding history as a host venue with the TOUR and this new partnership undoubtedly will further elevate the visibility and award-winning reputation of Doral’s marquee golf course.”

The Stadium Course at PGA WEST, designed by Pete Dye and previously a licensed TPC course, has held various PGA TOUR and specialty events over the years. PGA WEST remains the western venue used in alternate years for the finals of the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.

“This new partnership is an extension and enhancement of a former affiliation the Stadium Course had with theTPC Network,” said PGA WEST Executive Director Mike Kelly. “We look forward to working with PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties on creating exciting new packages and playing opportunities for the TPC Stadium Course at PGA WEST.”

For more information about the PGA TOUR’s TPC network of resort, daily fee and private clubs, go to


Why Does NBC Draw Much Higher Ratings For Golf?

Jon Show looks at the PGA Tour's number averaging a 2.0, back to 2007 levels with Tiger's return to regular play. But I find it more interesting that NBC averaged a 2.4 while CBS a 1.9...

NBC benefited the most from the return of Woods, boosting its year-over-year rating for 18 windows from a 2.0 in 2008 to a 2.4 this year, which is flat with 2007. NBC aired the highest-rated non-major of the year, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods’ first win after he returned in February.

NBC and CBS each aired coverage of six non-majors that Woods played. He won four events on CBS and two on NBC.

CBS earned a 1.9 rating for 39 telecasts in 2009, up from a 1.6 in 2008 but down from a 2.0 in 2007. The network posted the four lowest Sunday ratings this season with coverage of the FBR Open, Verizon Heritage, HP Byron Nelson Championship and Zurich Classic. CBS was also hurt by a rainout at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Woods’ absence at the Buick Invitational, an event that normally marks the start of his season.

Why do I suspect this will come up the next time rights fees are discussed?


"That would be nice."

Ron Green Jr. reports on Tiger's latest site visit to The Cliffs, where they're clearing and preparing to break ground.

Woods, in conjunction with his team, is not just designing the par-71 golf course. He's also involved in planning the overall community, which has already sold 30 home sites at an average price of $1 million apiece. Membership at High Carolina will include access to the other Cliffs communities.

"We never anticipated he would be involved to this level," said Jim Anthony, who has developed the six, private Cliffs golf communities in western North and South Carolina.

Asked Saturday if Forbes magazine was correct in reporting he earns more than $10-million per course design, Woods smiled and said, "That would be nice."

The story also features an extensive photo gallery by John Simmons with detailed captions explaining what you are looking at, including the future 18th hole and Dom Furore photographing from atop a ladder.

And Green follows up with his post with more thoughts on his golf blog where he says The Cliff's "still takes some serious vision to see what will be Tiger Woods' first U.S. golf course design."