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

Obviously the objection to the stymie originated in the conception that each player must be permitted to play his own game free of any interference of his opponent. Why this should be an essential when the contest is man-to-man and head-to-head, I have never been able to see.   BOBBY JONES

 

  

Wednesday
Nov182009

“This is a watershed.”

Tod Leonard talks to the folks in San Diego about the inability to land a sponsor for the old Buick event, even though it's an almost guaranteed great rating and field. Apparently the inability to find sponsorship money has the tour's attention.

“I've seen it in the last 90 days. The PGA Tour is completely aware the world has changed,” said Tom Wornham, the chairman of the Century Club, who along with tournament director Tom Wilson has been entrusted with finding a new sponsor.

“This is a watershed.”

And now, the words every tour player dreads.

Over the next two years, the tour has around a dozen events that need to re-up with sponsors. If one of its premier events in San Diego is having so much trouble, what does that mean for everyone else?

It means the model will have to change. In a setup unique to major American sports, the golfers are their own bosses, and they're going to have to decide to take a pay cut, because the only way deals are going to get done is if the sponsors are paying less.

Wait Tod, the commissioner is talking growth. At least in September he was: "The increases have been slight, but we wanted to continue to grow. And our plan is to continue to grow. And that means purses and charity dollars."

Wednesday
Nov182009

Bethpage Losing Its Two Best Talking Points

The likeable and uber-talented Craig Currier is leaving this year's U.S. Open site and as Brad Klein reports, Rees Jones is renovating the much-talked about 15th green.

So what are we going to talk about when the U.S. Open returns in 2022? Oh right, the weather. I can't wait.

Wednesday
Nov182009

Greg Norman Says The Player He Talked To Really, Really Liked The Earth

The Race to Dubai ends on the "Earth" Course at Unfinished Dunes, Beach And Outta Money Club, where Greg Norman designed the first course (the subsequent Fire and Rain courses, or whatever they were to be called, are on hold).

Alistair Tait reports that Norman says he's getting a lot of positive feedback from players, even if he'd only spoken to one. And that same player thought Liberty National could host a major.

Course designer Greg Norman said he’d had good feedback from players on the 7,675-yard, par-72 layout. Turned out Padraig Harrington was the only player he’d spoken to. Had he talked to others, he might have had some evasive answers from players too polite to tell the truth.

“Awful.”

“Not worthy of the season ending event.”

“Boring.”

These are among the comments I’ve received from just a perfunctory walk along the driving range. All off the record, of course, since under Euro Tour rules players aren’t allowed to criticize courses.

James Corrigan in the Independent writes about the lovely sixth hole:

Even if it is possible to blank out the windowless and roofless, then the stench from the pond on the sixth hole is unavoidable. Augusta National famously uses blue dye to enhance their water features; Jumeirah should have resorted to Blue Toilet Block. There is also a quilt-work patch of fairway on the seventh which will have to be Ground Under Repair should any ball fall that short.

Derek Lawrenson writing for the Daily Mail:

But walk round this inordinately long course, and you can’t tear your eyes from the fact that hardly a single piece of property lining the fairways has been finished. Work on the clubhouse stopped in May, and it remains an empty shell. No wealthy Brits will be proudly showing off their new vacation home this week. No champagne will be flowing on any balconies here, as the players move into view.

And...

As one ex-pro, surveying the view, dryly put it: ‘Magnolia Lane it ain’t.’

Wednesday
Nov182009

Tiger Won The Australian Masters With New Grooves

Not to make the other Australian Masters contestants feel bad, but you lost to Tiger Woods playing with inferior equipment.

Steve Elling confirms, saying that Tiger's wedges featured next year's conforming grooves. That makes two Nike wins over the weekend with less spin-grooves. The other Nike winner--Michelle Wie--hasn't made the move yet.

Wednesday
Nov182009

LPGA Schedule Released

23 24 events, just 13 in the U.S. and only two during a key stretch in April-May-June.  And Los Angeles doesn't get the stop it was promised.

Golfweek has the list.

Tuesday
Nov172009

Book Review: The Sports Illustrated Golf Book

For the next few weeks I'm going to review one of the many attractive books released in time for Christmas.

Obviously, I get a small cut when you buy these books through the Amazon link and some of you rightfully guessed that I use those royalties to furnish my yacht and my beach house in the Virgin Islands (but NOT the Malibu chateu, where I'm keeping it free of all consumer electronics in my quest to find inner peace through transcendental meditation along with a diet of seeds and spring water).

No, the real motivation here is to bring some attention to several new golf books. The golf magazines have relegated book reviews to thumbnail comments once or twice a year, and as someone who has put a few books together, it's disappointing not to see a more thorough inspection of these efforts.

The first tome I'll highlight was published by one of those very magazines and to be brutally honest, I dreaded its arrival even though I was provided a review copy by the good folks at Brener-Zwikel.

Due to some of the pre-release coverage--namely an absurd attempt to rank the top 20 golfers of all time for the purpose of an online and in-print publicity push--the Sports Illustrated's The Golf Book looked like another over-branded, over-packaged, under-nourished attempt to sucker unsuspecting wives and daughters into buying dad a book he'll inevitably donate to the Salvation Army.

Boy was I wrong.

Once you get past the pre-packaged cover and the unfortunate Sports Illustrated logo-strewn end sheets, the title page features an image of Bobby Jones' last ball used in winning the Grand Slam. That, combined with the next ten-or-so mind-blowing images let you know this is going to be a stunning collection of golf photography, legendary correspondence and SI-style sidebars.

Working with Designer Steven Hoffman, Editor Kevin Cook and Senior Editor Jim Gorant compiled an eccentric collection of images and musings from a variety of sources. While they could easily have crafted a rich collection strictly from the SI archives, the team scoured the USGA and World Golf Hall of Fame collections for many rarely-seen images and offbeat memorabilia (photographed lovingly by David N. Berkwitz). With an obvious attention to detail and an apparent quest to create something way beyond the typical golf coffee table book, a reader can't go more than a page or two through The Golf Book without letting out a "wow" or "look at that shot!"

Interspersed with the imagery are select and edited writings from the masters of the profession and some of their legendary accounts (Wind, Darwin, Jenkins, Murray, Rice) along with a few quirky choices (Steve Wulf on Mac O'Grady). Only a Michael Bamberger selection on Donald Trump doesn't belong, particularly when links golf gets short shrift and Bamberger has written so beautifully on the subject.

Though the book is broken down into eras, the editors cleverly juxtaposed matching photos of epic reactions from different eras. In the case of a shot showing Nelson, Mangrum and Demaret scoreboard-watching at the Masters, there's a comparison shot of Anthony Kim finishing off a win at Quail Hollow and framed by one of today's full color PGA Tour scoreboards. The comparison offers a perfect summation of startling changes in the game.

The only hiccup is the aforementioned top-20 golfer ranking, or as it's called in the book, "The Immortals Invitational." It's a gimmicky gatefold of player images and their ranking along with a panel listing that immediately dates the book and adds nothing except for the only possible listing of Carolyn Bivens' name in a golf book of substance.

And The Golf Book is a publication of substance, a treasure that will age gracefully and bring joy to any lucky recipient.

The Lowdown

Value: The book is a mere $29.95, a shade under $20 on Amazon. It would be a great value at twice the price. Really.

Writing: Edited essays from SI and other publications from the best of the profession along with plenty of fun sidebar-style material.

Design and Printing: Top-notch. Quality paper, sturdy binding and lively design give the impression of a Taschen-style coffee table publication.

Grade: A-

Tuesday
Nov172009

“We can’t just show up and say, ‘We’re here.'"

Tim Finchem's penciling in South America and China for future Presidents Cup venues, reports Doug Ferguson.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the tour has agreed to look into the possibility of staging the Presidents Cup in China in 2019, which he said might be enough time for China to set a goal of having a player capable of competing in the matches, or worthy enough to be a captain’s pick.

They've agreed to look into it? What, the guards at the airport wouldn't stamp their passport until they said yes to a possible Presidents Cup because they were still reveling in the excitement of the '09 matches?\

Finchem is intrigued by the idea that the Presidents Cup head to South America in 2015, one year before golf returns to the Olympic program in Brazil. Golf is only guaranteed the 2016 and 2020 Olympics before another vote of confirmation. It is important that golf put on a good show in Rio.

“We can’t just show up and say, ‘We’re here,’ ” Finchem said.

Tuesday
Nov172009

"Just what sort of transition awaits tour players remains a matter of opinion."

Last week Michael Phelps went retro in advance of a technology rollback, and as Steve Elling explains, Stephen Ames did the same at the Children's Miracle Network event at Disney. Only Ames won:

[Davis] Love said he doubted the switch would be noticeable and then Stephen Ames basically proved him right. The Canadian star birdied five of the last seven holes at Disney World on Sunday and won, and all of his Nike irons conform to 2010 rules. Ames said he had some flier lies, as expected with the grooves change, but he handled matters well. "We got a couple, and the way the ball was reacting on the greens and everything, it was perfect," he said. Steve Ames is a conformist? There's a sentence I never thought I would read, much less write.

Tuesday
Nov172009

"This just gives the PGA Tour even more power"

Doug Barron is making the rounds and telling his story, and I have to say he's raising more questions about the entire episode. In this story by Cameron Morfit, it's hard to disagree with this:

"This just gives the PGA Tour even more power," Barron said. "I just can't believe that an organization questions the ethics of my doctors, and won't let them treat me in a way so I can live a healthy life."

It would be nice to hear the Tour's side of the story and why the leadership that opposed testing suddenly enjoyed playing doctor. They may have a very legitimate case against Barron, but the longer they don't refute Barron and the more he talks, the worse they start to look.

Tuesday
Nov172009

"What makes Tiger the greatest winner in all of sports is how hot he burns on the inside, and it his ferocious competitiveness that produces such riveting theater."

Two interesting takes on Tiger's club-tossing appeared today, starting with Alan Shipnuck in his SI Mail Bag:

Obviously Tiger screwed up, but he didn't mean to tomahawk his club into the gallery, it just slipped out of his hand during a more conventional bit of pique. I think most of us would like to see Woods stop dropping f-bombs and slamming clubs – it's unbecoming and a little tacky. But you can't have it both ways. What makes Tiger the greatest winner in all of sports is how hot he burns on the inside, and it his ferocious competitiveness that produces such riveting theater. He's got his flaws, but Woods is a class act and we're all lucky to have him in our sport. (Imagine if Allen Iverson was the world's top golfer.) So I can live with Tiger's occasional lapses...

And Steve Elling in this week's Up and Down reminds us of Jonathan Kaye's wonderful antics and suggest that the PGA Tour VP's are probably sitting around trying to figure out how to deal with this.

This is the second time since September that Woods has gone volcanic with his driver. And yes, while the sanctimonious PGA Tour would not remotely offer any comment on Woods' actions in Oz on Saturday, an official did confirm that Woods is subject to penalties because he is a U.S. tour player, regardless of whether he was playing in a sanctioned PGA Tour event or not. Clearly, he's a repeat offender. Heck, he's a recidivist. The club throwing has got to stop. The penalty ought to be a six-figure fine, if not some time on the bench, and if the tour wants to correct his behavior, it ought to be publicly announced. But as far as any of us will ever know, they won't do a thing.

Tuesday
Nov172009

LPGA In 2010: 23

That's how many tournaments are on the schedule, reports Beth Ann Baldry, who got an early look before Wednesday's announcement.

Monday
Nov162009

"We are pleased with the court's decision and have no further comment at this time"

Bob Harig on Doug Barron losing in court:

In his ruling, Pham wrote that Barron's participating in the qualifying round this week "could raise substantial public policy concerns regarding the enforcement of anti-doping policies in professional sports."

According to Barron's attorney and representative Art Thorne, Barron tested positive this summer for two banned substances -- testosterone and a beta-blocker -- both of which Barron said he has been taking for years as prescribed by a doctor.

Barron had sought a therapeutic use exemption for the drugs last year but was denied by the PGA Tour. His lawyers argued that he was not trying to gain an unfair advantage, that he took the drugs under a doctor's supervision and that he made no secret about it.

Barron, who played in just one PGA Tour event this year -- the Memphis St. Jude Classic where the random drug test was administered -- and four on the Nationwide Tour, was in Texas on Monday where he hoped to tee it up in the 72-hole qualifier which begins Wednesday at Deerwood Golf Club in McKinney.

Alex Miceli posts this very interesting timeline on Barron's career, with notes about how far back he has relied on beta-blockers.

Oct. 22, 2008 – Commissioner Tim Finchem denies appeal and instructs Barron to begin weaning himself off the drug.

2008 – Barron earns only $33,446 in 17 events on the Nationwide Tour.

Jan. 20 or 21*, 2009 – Tour denies the TUE for exogenous testosterone and instructs Barron to stop taking the drug. (* The Tour and Barron have different dates for the decision.)

Spring – Barron starts to take Lyrica as a substitute for Propranolol.

Early June – A doctor injects Barron with exogenous testosterone.

June 11 – Barron is drug-tested at the St. Jude Classic.

June 15 – Barron misses the cut at St. Jude.

2009 – Barron’s sample is found to contain Propranolol and testosterone.

July 23, Aug. 12 – Barron provides additional information to the Tour about his use of Propranolol and testosterone.

Oct. 20 – The Tour suspends Barron for one year (until Sept. 20, 2010) for violating the anti-doping ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

A cynic (which I certainly am not) might read that account and think the Commissioner didn't like Barron ignoring his recommendation to start weaning himself off of his prescribed drugs. Hard to imagine how Barron would not have faith in the Commissioner's medical expertise. Shocking, frankly.

Monday
Nov162009

"What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico."

Michelle Wie chatted with some writers about her win in Mexico. From Steve Elling's excellent career account, this makes the win all that more impressive:

Wie started the fall semester in college, had barely practiced or played, and hadn't entered an LPGA event in five weeks. Wie said she was so distracted by the ankle that it probably helped her from getting caught up in the pressure of the moment.

"Walking a golf course is a long walk," she said. "The people at the LPGA have been working on my ankle a lot, icing it, and maybe it's another reason why I was able to keep calm because all I was focusing on was finishing the round. I was just focusing on my steps and not hurting."
Baby steps, if you will.

And her sense of humor came through in this Q&A with Jason Sobel:

Q: After clinching the win, you had beer poured on you by the other players on the 18th green.

A: Yeah, they did.

Q: You're not 21 yet. Are you going to get in trouble with the LPGA?

A: No, what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico. It was just really cool. You see it on TV; whenever somebody wins, players pour beer all over them. It was one of those things where I always wanted that to happen.

Monday
Nov162009

John Daly Goes To The Country Music Awards...

I know, sounds like a bad joke is on the way. Seriously, was Long John nominated for one of those tasteless live renditions of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" that he performs at Make-A-Wish Foundation gatherings?

Either way, he Tweeted: "me and my best friend/gf anyone can ask for off to a great night!"

Great to see him in such spirits considering he and the girlfriend, in one of those total coincidences that only happens to people like Stefan Vanderhoof and Scott Donlan, Long John just happened to pick out the same jacket as the GF's pant pattern.

Don't you hate when this happens?

Monday
Nov162009

"I know that Sabbatini has had run ins with Tiger and has been considered a bit of a wild thing, but this incident showed him in a different light."

I know there is great humor to be found in Tiger's little driver flip. Reader dsl wins the award, in fact: "Stevie would like to announce that he noticed Tiger's grips were worn before the round. In retrospect, he could have put some stick 'um on there."

Nothing like a Caddyshack reference to lighten the mood.

But what baffled me about the Tiger incident was his lack of concern for the gallery, something he typically is quite adept at when one of his drives sails into the gallery. And baseball players routinely offer consolation prizes when a bat slips and most tour pros sign a ball or give a glove to the impacted fans. Shoot, even Rory Sabbatini knows to do that, as reader Patrick noted in this email:

As a contrast to Tiger's lack of concern as to whether his flying driver hurt anyone, I was at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday at the 13th green.  The pin was cut right side tucked in behind a bunker and spectators were fairly close to the edge of the green.  We were waiting for the approach shots of Phadungsil and  Sabbatini when there was a loud thud and a man standing a few feet away went down.  One of the pair had missed right and hit this guy on the fly.  He was shaken but not hurt.  

When the golfers approached the green, it turned out to be Sabbatini who had mishit.  When he realized what had happened, he immediately came over to make sure the man was OK, and then thanked him for helping him, Rory, out because th ball had bounced to the edge of  the green. Rory went back to his bag and got a ball and presented it to the man, thanking him again expressing his relief that the guy was OK. 

I was very impressed, I thought Rory handled it in a classy and genuinely concerned manner, a very distinct contrast to Tiger's unconcern.  I know that Sabbatini has had run ins with Tiger and has been considered a bit of a wild thing, but this incident showed him in a different light.

Monday
Nov162009

USGA/R&A: You Can Keep Your Silly Little Distance Measuring Device

Though I'm not sure about this clarification on GPS-enabled phones/PDA's:

3.     Multi-functional devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, etc (i.e., devices that are primarily communication devices, but which may have other potential uses) may be used as follows:

·         The device may be used for any non-golfing purpose (e.g., as a communication tool to phone, text or email), subject to any club/course regulations and the rules on accessing advice-related matters – see Decision 14-3/16.

·         When the local rule is in effect, a distance-measuring application may be used, provided the specific application is restricted to “distance only” and the device does not have any other “non-conforming” features. This is the case even if these other features are not being used. As above, the rules on advice-related communications (including the use of the internet) still apply.

So this rules out the new iphone GPS app when the local rule is in effect?

Monday
Nov162009

"Why is nobody talking about Tiger Woods throwing his driver into the crowd at the Aussie Masters?"

Mike Walker wants to know and thinks he has the answer.

Monday
Nov162009

"Lang had taken Erin Hills and his dream of an Open as far as he could take it."

Matty G on the Erin Hills change of ownership:

When I was there over two months ago, before Ziegler bought Erin Hills, the course was in bad shape. In several spots the landing areas were a mess. The rough--burned down and reseeded--wasn’t growing back. I’ve played a lot of U.S. Open venues; Erin Hills, even if it was in perfect shape, didn’t strike me as a course of that caliber. But more important former owner, Bob Lang (pictured above), told me that day that he had run out of money. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to find out he sold the course a month later. “It’s not easy for me,” says Lang, “but there’s a sense of relief because I don’t have to keep finding money.”

On Oct. 24, for a reported $10.5 million, Lang put the future of Erin Hills into the hands, and deep pockets, of Ziegler. Lang had taken Erin Hills and his dream of an Open as far as he could take it.

This was interesting:

Ziegler’s doing so by increasing the maintenance budget, building a state-of-the-art maintenance shed, purchasing the proper equipment and increasing the size of the crew. The 10th hole is being converted from a par 5 to a par 4, which will reduce total par from 73 to 72. He’s addressing a drainage issue on the 17th, and architects Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry have begun doing away with some of the 103 bunkers that were added in the last 10 months.

103 bunkers in 10 months? Really?

Monday
Nov162009

R&A Gives Tom Watson Five-Year Open Exemption Without Mentioning His Name

Five years for a top ten finish! Looks like Watson can say farewell in 2015 at St. Andrews unless he grabs a top ten in the next five years, which is very possible.

For Immediate Publication

AMENDMENTS MADE TO ENTRY CRITERIA AHEAD OF 2010 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

16 November 2009, St Andrews, Scotland: The R&A has announced changes to the entry criteria ahead of The Open Championship’s 150th Anniversary, to be played at St Andrews from 11 – 18 July 2010.

A new exemption category has been introduced for the 2010 Open. Condition F(4) exempts from qualifying any past Open Champions who finished in the top 10 and ties in any of the previous five Open Championships, thus effectively providing them with a five year exemption into the Championship.
 
“We have introduced this exemption as a direct response to seeing two of our great Open Champions, both in their fifties, challenging to win our championship these last two years,” explained Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A. “We rightly reduced the age of exemption for past champions from 65 to 60 two years ago and our intention was never to remove players still at the top of their game from competing in The Open.”

Competitors at The Open Championship; International Final Qualifying - Australasia, Asia, America and Europe; and at Local Final Qualifying will be subject to the new clubface groove regulations as per Decision 4-1/1 of Decisions on the Rules of Golf.

Sunday
Nov152009

Tiger Lexicon Grows...

...or is it jargon?

After his wild-off-the-tee third round:

"I was spinning the ball quite a bit with the driver today and I didn't quite have it right," he said.

Spinning=spraying, no?

And after winning, talking to Australian TV about what he did to get things squared away around round three and in preparation for the final round:

"I did some rehearsals last night and felt very comfortable with what I was going to do today."

Rehearsals=hitting balls?

Any others you've heard?