Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis

I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.
ARNOLD PALMER


    

Tuesday
Mar102009

LPGA To Torrey, With Caveats

Just getting around to Tod Leonard's story on Torrey Pines South becoming new host to the LPGA's Samsung and I'm not getting a warm, fuzzy feeling about the atmosphere after reading this:

Tournament week begins Monday, Sept. 14, but practice by the LPGA players will be limited that day because a corporate outing on the South will go on as scheduled. The North Course will host its usual public play during the week, according to City Golf Manager Jon Maddern.

Will the women have to share the driving range with the public too?

Monday
Mar092009

Jack On Tiger: "It will take him seven or eight golf courses before he'll learn enough before he'll really be able to talk about it intelligently."

Considering the sheer volume of mediocrity produced by the Nicklaus design factory, Tiger Woods should be heartened by Jack Nicklaus's woefully condescending, ignorant and frankly embarrassing answer to Matty G's question:

Have you had the chance to talk design with Tiger?

No. I wouldn't think so. Tiger, at this point in time, wouldn't know anything about design.

Nothing at all, eh?  Sorry, continue digging:

He knows how to play golf and he knows what a golf course looks like. But it was no different than when I was his age and starting out -- I wouldn't know anything about design. If he decides to get involved he'll learn. He's a smart kid and it depends on how much he wants to get involved.

Kid?

He won't know how to do it, but he'll learn. It will take him seven or eight golf courses before he'll learn enough before he'll really be able to talk about it intelligently.

And just maybe reach the point he too can produce his own Dismal River!

In the same interview Nicklaus lauds the "great job" done in renovating Augusta National. Which is why it's a miracle I did not tune out prior to Matty G's most probing question: "What's the best way to cook a trout?"

Monday
Mar092009

"It's easy to cheer for a guy like Compton, but there's a reason there's no cheering in the press box."

Life as a blogger was growing stale, what with Blot and Goon going eons not posting something really short-sighted, lame and hilariously hypocritical. Ah to the rescue they come! 

Current target: Steve Elling, penning a column about Erik Compton with Elling expressing his opinion that it was a bit strange Compton had not been signed up by an equipment company looking to be associated with only one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of, dare I say it...dare! dare!...sport.

Of course, we're talking about gents who were happy to let Winged Foot, St. Andrews and Augusta grow  outdated so the game could "move on" and provide unfettered shopping opportunities. Still, this is special. 

Blot, take it away:

OK, Compton's a great guy with a great story. But when it comes to covering a sport, it should end there. Why any journalist is making calls on behalf of a player to try and get him an endorsement deal or some sticks is crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed.

Now last I heard, when you write a column and express an opinion you aren't violating any GWAA conduct code. No?

And by the way, thank God that Blot and Goon never cross any kind of journalistic line by sucking up generously touting the "game improvement" products of manufacturers that they would like us to buy, even if we don't need them. Never!

It's easy to cheer for a guy like Compton, but there's a reason there's no cheering in the press box. Besides, be serious -- although Compton may have had trouble securing an endorsement deal, there is not a single equipment company in the land that would not happily have made him custom-built clubs at his request. And those garage-sale clubs at Q School? They weren't exactly hickory shafts and persimmon. He was playing with Titleist equipment barely removed from the current line -- or about what you can find in the bags of a handful of PGA Tour players on any given week.

Here I was thinking companies signed players to have them wearing visors, toting ugly luggage disguised as a billboard and acting like good clean men all in the name of building the brand. Logic might say it's pretty wise business to sign up a great guy who has been through hell and who is showing that when healthy, he is capable of playing the PGA Tour. Not in Blot and Goon's world!

GOUGE: Given the state of journalism today, I wouldn't be surprised that a sportswriter would need a second job. I wouldn't have picked sports agent of one of your profile subjects, however. If nice guys got endorsement deals, then most equipment companies would be out of money. The whole point is to sign players that are in the mix, hanging out in final groups on a regular basis and, well, for starters, have fully exempt playing privileges on a professional tour. I want Erik Compton to win six times this year on the PGA Tour, but if I'm an equipment company handing out full-year endorsement contracts, I'm making business decisions.

Maybe that's why you're writing a blog under a silly pen name big guy and not paid a six-figure salary to make major business decisions! (P.S. loved the italics!)

Thankfully, I'm going to cross that big journalistic line and say the folks at Acushnet/Titleist demonstrated extraordinary vision in recognizing the wisdom of Steve Elling's column that an association with Erik Compton would be a mutually beneficial no-brainer.

Monday
Mar092009

Traverse City Course Closings

Bill O'Brien in the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Tom Doak's High Pointe joins a growing list of courses to have closed in the Traverse City area.

Monday
Mar092009

"Are you trying to kill the hospitality business? Because that's what you're doing."

Seems there is finally some logic-based backlash in response to John Kerry's proposed legislation preventing any form of hospitality activities for banks receiving TARP funds.

From Richard Johnson in the New York Post:

"At the end of the day, we are an industry of valets, caterers, florists, groomers and the like," said Shawn Sedlacek, whose VOX Group handled technical and marketing aspects of the Northern Trust event. "For every $100,000 that's spent on an event, $90,000 of that goes to human power. This backlash of 'don't do events' is going to hurt a lot of working-class people."

A rep for the National Business Travel Association said, "In this economy, businesses wouldn't be throwing money around if they didn't expect a return. This bill could really hurt a lot of the people the government is trying to help."

Jerry Tarde offers a balanced perspective on golf's place in the economy. He's not defending ill-timed excess, but instead suggests that our politicians not through the baby out with the bathwater. We'll only dock him a half-point for the platform reference.

Corporate sponsorship is successful because of the attractiveness of the golf audience, the global reach of the product (more than 200 countries), the positive image of our sport and players, and the business-building platform golf provides through pro-ams and entertainment opportunities for customers. It's not only good for your business, it has a widespread economic impact in communities where the events are played. As one example, the Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour has been estimated to generate at least $50 million in revenue annually to the region. And by the way, that region happens to be Barney Frank's voting district.

Then there's the charity argument. Last year, PGA Tour sponsors donated a record $124 million to charity, $1.4 billion since it began. The golf model should be copied, not pilloried.

New York Times columnist and Golf Digest Contributing Editor Thomas L. Friedman remarked to me the other day that when he speaks to members of Congress he asks them: " 'Are you trying to kill the hospitality business? Because that's what you're doing. No, I am not for bankers using taxpayer money to buy private jets, but if holding conventions or conferences or customer or employee retreats is part of how they advance their business, you don't want to kill that. It drives the whole hospitality industry in America, and that industry isn't fat cats; it's waiters and dishwashers, maids and cooks, event staff and hotel clerks -- blue-collar workers who belong to unions.' It starts to give some of them pause."

Sunday
Mar082009

"I worry about everything."

Ron Kroichick talks to Chris DiMarco and several PGA Tour officials about the state of Harding Park's green as the President's Cup approaches.

"They've got a lot of work to do," DiMarco said. "Obviously, they're gearing for the Presidents Cup, and I'm sure by that time the course will be in good shape. When we played, it was not in good shape."

A couple of tour agronomists quoted don't sound too worried. But the Commissioner is.

"We have mixed reviews," Finchem said. "Once we get in the spring, we've really got to bear down." Asked if he's worried about the course's condition, Finchem replied, "I worry about everything. I was worried about the course in '05, but the mayor has given us assurances everything will be done."

Sunday
Mar082009

"Objectively, Erin Hills is a nine-plus golf course now."

Thanks to reader John for this story on the fascinating Erin Hills-U.S. Open situation. Gary D’Amato makes clear that it's looking good for the 2017 spot, even though he explains how the course is undergoing a design overhaul and from what I can tell, is not being pursued by any other major organization for a championship. I can't quite understand why the USGA would commit to it seven years out (assuming D'Amato and Golfweek's prediction proves correct), but they did the same with Chambers Bay. However, one could easily see the PGA of America or PGA Tour having been hot on Chambers' case due to its location.

Erin Hills is massive in scale. That's a nice way of saying it's not great for spectating. And there's the remote location. And there's the remote location's state, Wisconsin which would seem to be amply taken care of with the PGA going to Whistling Straits for its championship in 2010, 2015 and the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Still, the architecture should help it overcome those factors, but as we learn in the story and in some critics eyes, it is being worked on to make the course Open-palatable. Sadly some of the quirk is coming out in the form of the blind Dell hole, perhaps the best reason for going there!

Also interesting: the possibility of an Open is normally a prospect that usually turns club presidents and course owners into mutes (well except Mr. Celebrity Apprentice). But in this case it's not stopping owner Bob Lang from singing Erin's praises.

Some people hear the word "renovation" and imagine the entire course has been gutted. In the case of Erin Hills, the changes for the most part were minor. Lang refers to them as "enhancements."

"The course itself is exactly the same," he said. "It has the same routing and the same natural look. We simply improved on what the glaciers did. All courses evolve, including Augusta National.

"Objectively, Erin Hills is a nine-plus golf course now."

 

Sunday
Mar082009

Bear Trap, Yang's Win Overshadowed By Rory's T-13th

Well-placed sources tell me there is a small wager floating around out and hinging on when I would actually admit the error of my ways in daring to highlight the British/Irish/Scottish press obsession with 19-year-old phenom Rory McIlroy, even though young Rory himself has admirably and humbly downplayed his place in the game.

But to put this bet to rest and give the people what they want...I was wrong. He is an immense talent. Soon to rival Tiger Woods and establish himself as the greatest rival yet to the world No. 1.

This conclusion was reached in part by reading John Huggan's excellent profile in the newly redesigned (and I must say much more handsome Golf World), which I leaned on for moral support while suffering through today's Honda Classic final round. This annual must-see on the golfing calendar was embellished by a nauseating Jack and Johnny Mutual Admiration Society session, an NBC feature on Kenny G playing sax to sick kids (like they haven't been through enough?), and an excess of praise for a golf course with one-too-many fountains. Though I was pleased to see the an excellent feature on Erik Compton's brutal journey and fascinated to hear that the economic collapse has even halted Nicklaus Design operations to the point that Jack is out playing member events at Augusta and Seminole.

Sorry, I'm procrastinating. Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

I simply must tip my cap to the scribes for predicting Rory's emergence. I'm sorry for doubting your foresight and wisdom. For young Rory to beat most of the field and only lose to the likes of Y.E. Yang, John Rollins, Ben Crane, Jeff Klauk, Scott Piercy and D.A. Points points to a level of greatness that I simply failed to spot. I was wrong.

Hope that settles the bet!

Sunday
Mar082009

"Golf is an individual sport. But it's about time Woods acts like a team player. Will he?"

Nice spot by John Strege who saw Mark Reason's slightly buried criticism of Tiger Woods that was fleshed out by Hank Gola in the New York Daily News. Both were feeding off of Tiger's comments about helping sponsors out. Gola called the good folks at Doral to see how his last second committal went over:

It was getting late Thursday afternoon at the headquarters of the CA Championship at Doral, and Tournament Director Eddie Carbone and his staff were getting anxious. Every 15 minutes, someone would check Tiger Woods' Web site and scroll down to "Next Event."

The answer was the same into Friday: TBA.

"We figured it out," Carbone said after Woods finally committed, three hours before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. "We personally put 136,000 and change hits on the Tiger Woods Foundation Web site."

I have the fix: 100 extra FedEx Cup points for early Tiger committals? What? Not enough incentive? You are so cynical.

Saturday
Mar072009

Oddsmakers Set NBC Final Round Over/Under On "Bear Trap" Mentions: 448

I missed Saturday's Honda Classic, but I can only imagine based on the emails I received how relentlessly NBC touted PGA National's "Bear Trap" stretch of finishing holes. For those of you counting at home, please let us know the final tally so we can all cash in our "over" tickets. 

Saturday
Mar072009

Barkley Tells Fellow Inmates What They Are Missing By Not Having Golf Channel In Jail

Seems The Haney Project star is serving his sentence at an outdoor "Tent City" jail, working the fields laying track by day while alternating between soulful renditions of I Get A Kick Out Of You and Camptown Lady, followed campfire nights seated next to an Alex Karras lookalike downing too many beans, all the while telling fellow inmates it was the Grey Goose 19th Hole that drove him to drive under the influence.

Mercifully, Charles Barkley is being released Monday at 8 a.m. in time to catch week three of his Golf Channel reality show. But not before he has to put on old fashioned jail pin stripes and pink underwear. Really.

Saturday
Mar072009

Barney Frank: Order Up More Golf Sponsorship, Go Easy On The Excess

Ron Sirak pulls an interesting clarification out of Congressman Barney Frank regarding the Northern Trust/TARP situation.

"No one is saying they shouldn't sponsor golf tournaments and honor existing contracts," Frank, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said in a telephone interview. "It's the spending on luxury hotels and limousines they should not be doing. Now, if they weren't getting federal money it would be up to them to decide if that's how they want to spend their money."

That's an improvement from Frank's original outburst in which he implied running a golf tournament was a waste of corporate money. But it still means the tour has some work to do in getting its message across to the power brokers in Washington.

"It's certainly good news that Congressman Frank understands the title sponsorship partnership component, but we also need to do a better job explaining the charitable aspects, the economic impact and the marketing benefits it creates for the companies involved," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said by telephone when told of Frank's clarified position. "We have to work harder to make sure the business model is being understood."

Suggestion Commish: start by not saying that you have to work harder to make sure the business model is understood. It'll go a long way toward gaining support from people who are tired of hearing jargon-laced corporatespeak as a substitute for straightforward talk.

Friday
Mar062009

"The plot at the Honda Classic, which already features its best field in years, just took a decided turn for the spectacular."

Mostly thanks to Erik Compton and a few other intriguing storylines. Certainly not the golf course.

Amazingly Compton posted two 69s with a double and a triple on his scorecard.

Friday
Mar062009

Northern Trust Hostage Crisis Not Over Yet

John Kerry wrote a Bloomberg column this week and Steve Elling parses it in a CBSSports.com blog post.

Friday
Mar062009

Butch: No Love For My Man

Thomas Bonk talks to Butch Harmon about the state of Phil Mickelson's game and like the swallows returning to Capistrano or Gary Koch uttering "just a moment ago," the talk predictably turns to his former student.

While Harmon is encouraged by Mickelson's progress, he's not so happy with Mickelson's critics, especially after Riviera. It's all about comparisons, Harmon said.

"When Tiger wins and doesn't play as well, or wins with his 'B Game' or 'C Game,' everybody talks about how courageous he is," Harmon said. "Phil wins the same kind of way and everybody says how lucky he is. Different strokes for different folks, I guess."

Obvious Butch does not read this site since I explored the very question of luck vs. courageous play at Riviera, and came down on the courageous side.

Thursday
Mar052009

New Quail Hollow Logo Cleverly Reflects Shedding Of Corporate Sponsor

With a fallen dove feather metaphorically reminiscing about Wells Fargo's decision to shed visible ties to the sixth of golf's four majors, Eric Spanberg writes about the new logo unveiling and buries a lede revealing that we will see no corporate ties for the foreseeable future:

Johnny Harris, Quail Hollow Club president, says 85 percent of the signs, brochures and other materials for the upcoming tournament will feature the new name and logo. Tickets had already been printed with the Wachovia name and could not be changed in time for the 2009 tournament. By next year, everything will be the Quail Hollow Championship. Since Wachovia buyer Wells Fargo is under contract to serve as title sponsor through 2014, the bank remains a key stakeholder in the tournament even without its name on the event.

Oh, and about the logo. Because I know how much brand dynamics mean to you:

The tournament's new logo, a navy blue and copper stylized "Q," now prominently features the feather of the Bobwhite Quail, a popular game bird in the Southeast region.

"We challenged ourselves to create a mark that's reflective of both the unparalleled spectator experience as well as the challenging, classic course design the TOUR's top players have come to love," said General Tournament Chairman Mac Everett.

You know, that's exactly what I thought when I saw it.

Thursday
Mar052009

Kostis: Fire Up The Hybrids, Commissioners!

Wait, does BMW even make a hybrid?

Anyway, Peter Kostis and I agree, golf's leadership needs to get to Washington fast and start fighting back before any more damage is done. He writes:

It is time for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, PGA of America president Jim Remy and executives from the USGA to drive to Washington in hybrid vehicles and let every representative, senator and government official know about the good things that golf—and the companies involved with the game—do for local communities.

The local economies in places like Scottsdale, where I live, are hurting because companies are shying away from corporate entertainment and travel for fear of sending the wrong message. It's a shame that the attack on the elite is costing people like hotel workers, restaurant waiters and golf maintenance workers their jobs. Barney Frank needs to be better informed about the good that golf does, not just the TMZ version of the "elitist game."

Finchem sent a video message to members of the PGA Tour earlier this season, encouraging them to be especially supportive of the Tour's sponsors this season. Golf needs him and the other powerbrokers in the game to step up too.

Thursday
Mar052009

Rocco: "You can show a little class when you shoot 75. People respect that."

Tim Carroll interviews Rocco about the U.S. Open, Augusta, the state of his game and asks what players can do for their tour.

WSJ: With the economy struggling, what do players need to do to soften the economic impact of the recession?

Mr. Mediate: I enjoy what I do. I smile a lot. We all get mad when we play bad and you're not going to smile as much, but you try to. You can be happy when you shoot 65, but you can show a little class when you shoot 75. People respect that. You have a guy watching PGA Tour golf at home making $60,000 a year. If you see guys complaining, well, if that's me watching television, I'm changing the channel. Because we're playing for $1 million a week, first place. A million dollars. If I finish 70th, I'm going to make a quarter of what he makes in a year. 

Thursday
Mar052009

"That's five months after his third heart was brought into an operating room packed in an ice chest, mind you."

Since I can only take one Nicklaus design a month, I was searching for an excuse to record the Honda Classic just so that I could relive PGA National in all its glory. Then Steve Elling reminded me how great a story Erik Compton is and how amazing it is that he's playing the Honda.

Even we hardened, sarcastic, jaded beat writers were amazed the Compton story didn't gain more national traction last fall -- even after he was featured on the ABC evening news. Some of us slogged around Q-school watching him play, shaking our heads at how everybody had made a federal case about Tiger Woods' knee surgery -- he was out for eight months following a fairly routine procedure -- and how Compton was back five months after having his chest ripped open from stem to stern and then stapled back together.

That's five months after his third heart was brought into an operating room packed in an ice chest, mind you. It still gives me a lump in my throat.

Thanks to the help of a new agent -- former IMG player manager Peter Malik, the longtime representative for Mark O'Meara -- Compton has finally secured an endorsement deal, with Titleist. A book deal is being discussed, and it's sure to be one of the best golf tomes in years. You couldn't make up this kid's life story, really, since he received his first transplant at age 12. 

Thursday
Mar052009

Economic Crisis Ushers In A Dreaded Martha Burk Reference

Michael Buteau of Bloomberg talks to Augusta real estate agent Diane Starr about the lackluster rental climate in Augusta as the Masters looms.

Week-long rentals of private homes have dropped to $7,000 from $9,000 for a typical four-bedroom, three-bath property, and to $15,000 from $30,000 for five-bedroom estate homes used for private parties, said Starr, who spent 15 years working for the Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s Masters Housing rental unit before starting her own company two decades ago.

“I’ve been doing this longer than anybody in this town and this is as bad as I’ve seen it,” Starr said during an interview in her office four miles from the club. “We had 9/11 and then Martha Burk. This has hurt us worse than either one of those.”

I don't know about you, but it sure sounds like ticket prices still need to come way down.

Tickets for this year’s tournament, which have a face value of $200 for all four competition rounds, have sold for an average of $3,377 on EBay’s Stubhub, down from $3,930 in 2008.

Sean Pate, a spokesman for Stubhub, said he expects prices to keep falling as the tournament approaches.

The company has sold “hundreds” of one-day passes for an average price of $400, Pate said. Tickets for Monday and Tuesday practice rounds have a face value of $36. Wednesday tickets cost $41. Stubhub has sold just four of the approximately 100 four-day “competition round” passes it has listed.