Twitter: GeoffShac
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Ah, Pebble! Murder in your heart, dagger in your teeth. Refugee from a King's noose. Heartless wretch. Scourge of the coasts of golf.  Robert Louis Stevenson would love you. You should wear a cocked hat, a peg leg, a parrot on your shoulder and be wanted by every captain of a golf club in the world. You are 7,000 yards of malice. I love every tuft of unnavigable rough, sand trap, par-three with the ocean on the left and rear. I love every rotten ocean carry you put up.
JIM MURRAY

 

    

Monday
Aug042008

"Those volunteers ended up making the nonprofits about $7 an hour."

Thanks to reader Mike for Eleanor Yang Su and Brent Schrotenboer's story about the controversy brewing over some San Diego nonprofits providing volunteers to run concession stands at the U.S. Open and receiving far less for their services than they expected.

All I could think when reading this is what a great scam the concession operator (Prom) has here! Get non-profits to staff your operation and make a lowball contribution to charity.

The nonprofits say they hustled for months to line up thousands of volunteers, some of whom took days off work to sell hot dogs, brownies and beer at the tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Those volunteers ended up making the nonprofits about $7 an hour.
That's less than the state minimum wage, and far less than what some nonprofits expected, based on figures they said were provided by the caterer, Minnesota-based Prom Management Group.
Prom, which has contracted with the U.S. Golf Association to run concessions at the past nine U.S. Opens, collected about $3.8 million at the event before expenses. The nonprofits got about $257,400, which Prom called a record payout.
Buried but definitely bizarre...
Some nonprofits said they were further confused when the checks they received bore the name of the Century Club, a nonprofit that puts on the annual Buick Invitational golf tournament at Torrey Pines.
Tom Wilson, Century Club's executive director, said his organization received no benefit from distributing the money, and simply did so because it was asked.
Johnson, Prom's controller, said the company hopes to be awarded a Buick contract in the future, and allowed the Century Club to disperse the money with a letter soliciting fundraising volunteers.
The idea, she said, was “to show (the community and the Century Club that) Prom gave $257,000 back to the San Diego community. Look what they did for the U.S Open, look what they could do for the Buick and San Diego community.”
Sunday
Aug032008

Vijay Wins On Eve Of PGA; Can't Wait To Try Out His Yips On Oakland Hills Greens

I did eventually fast forward through the final round at Firestone to watch poor Vijay (yep, it was that painful to watch him putt) stab it around the back nine. But only after I had watched, rewound, watched, rewound and watched yet again Commissioner Finchem and Jim Nantz's state-of-the-WGC's interview. I noticed Faldo wasn't included in on that one?

Anyway, Steve Elling on Vijay's win:

It's no stretch to assert that Singh essentially won the $1.35 million prize with 13 clubs, and despite the bane of his existence, which he holds cross-handed and anchored in his abdomen. At times, in that pose, he looks like a guy who is considering committing hari-kari.
Meanwhile this note from Doug Ferguson ought to have the numbers crunchers filing multiple reports on the 2.5 inch rough cut experiment:

A year after only one person (winner Tiger Woods) finished under par, there were 26 subpar scores.



Sunday
Aug032008

Tiger Feels Well Enough To Fly To Washington To Lobby Congressional Membership

Now that's what I call devotion! Or something else, depending on what you think of Congressional.

What I love about this note from Doug Ferguson is that we learn Tiger and Tim Finchem were at the D.C. area club to lobby the members on the eve of their vote for an extension to the AT&T National, even though Finchem green-lit the $24 million (or more?) redo of nearby TPC Avenel.

Anyway, as you can imagine the Commish provided some numbers-rich details on his Tiger sighting.

"He lost 12 or 13 pounds after surgery, gained a few back," Finchem said. "He looks kind of thin."
Finchem knows it was 12 or 13 because he actually picked Tiger up and carried him over his shoulders into the meeting.
Maybe that's why the Commish was asked to be the first to take the drug test.
Sunday
Aug032008

Euros Will Do Anything To Not Play Bellerive: Eyeing BMW Week For Valhalla Practice Rounds

David Dusek at golf.com reports on comments made by Sergio Garcia about the European team's possible pre-Ryder Cup preparations.

Saturday
Aug022008

Fourth Of Four Majors Watch

John Huggan weighs in on the PGA's current standing in the major rotation.

"There really is nothing unique about the US PGA," sighs former Ryder Cup player and now BBC commentator, Ken Brown. "Maybe if it had a permanent rota of three or four courses, it would have more cache.

"Then again, just being the fourth biggest championship in the game makes it a pretty big deal. Compared with every other tournament played around the world, fourth is still pretty impressive. But it is definitely number four if you have to choose."

Let's face it; the US PGA is lucky to be a major in the 21st century. Were the four quarters of what was once called the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" chosen again tomorrow, surely only two of today's constituent parts would make the cut. Joining the two Opens, the PGA Tour's flagship Players Championship and a travelling World Match Play Championship would better reflect the modern golfing world. A brace of majors in the United States, one in Great Britain and the fourth moving between the likes of Australia, South Africa and, the way things are going, China, is at least less biased than the status quo, three of the four majors played in the same country.
Larry Dorman says that Oakland Hills will be the year's toughest major and talks to several players about it.
“I played Augusta this year for the first time and Torrey Pines and the U.S. Open, but those don’t even come close to how hard Oakland Hills will play,” said Daniel Chopra, the winner of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Championship. “I played it last year for the British Open qualifier and, in my mind, it was the toughest golf course I had ever played, and I still believe that."
Peter Lonard also played Oakland Hills in the British Open qualifier last year.
“I thought it was the hardest golf course on earth,” he said, acknowledging that he arrived at the qualifier on a low, feeling burned out by too much golf. “But I’ve matured since then,” he added, laughing. “I think it’ll be very good. I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure the rough is going to be thick, the course is really long, a lot of undulations, cantered fairways. It’s going to be a hard track.”

Of particular concern to Chopra are the fairway bunkers, some of them new, all of them deep and penal. “The rough is a nonissue because they’ve got bunkers on both sides of the fairways and they’re deep,” he said. “These bunkers are all designed small so you roll in, you literally just have to trickle into the bunker and get down to the bottom of the flat to have a chance to reach the green.”
Saturday
Aug022008

Phil and Vijay Survive 18 Holes Together Without Incident

Mark Lamport-Stokes reports on the lovebirds getting through the round without incident, while Steve Elling shares Phil's answer to the post-round question, "How does it feel to be the best player never to have won a WGC?"

"It would be nice to win a WGC, it really would," Mickelson said. "I haven't really thought about it too much. I think maybe 20 years from now or 30 years from now they'll have prestige, much like I think the guys who first won the Masters had no idea what this tournament was going to become.

"I have no idea where the WGCs will be 30 years from now. They started midway through my career, so I haven't given them the priority like I do a major or care about like a major.

"But they are always the best fields in the game, they're always on great golf courses, they're always on tough tests of golf, so I think there's a lot of merit to whoever wins those, yeah."

In 20 to 30 they'll have prestige? Ouch!

Friday
Aug012008

Women's British Definitely Worth Watching

Great leaderboard, and hopefully they'll show more than the last three holes this weekend. Still, what I caught of Sunningdale on TNT looked fantastic. Love the short grass areas almost everywhere there isn't heather and native grass. What a contrast to Firestone.

From golf.com:

Friday
Aug012008

He's After Dottie!

From PGATour.com during round 2 of the U.S. Senior Open. Note Watson casually leaning on his club. Sure looks to me like a message from last year's Solheim Cup team...

Friday
Aug012008

Wie Doesn't Beat Too Many Men...

A nine never helps. But worse for her, by the sounds of this Steve Elling blog post, it sounds like her parents are becoming more irrational by the day. What a shame.

Friday
Aug012008

“To be honest, I don’t think to this day I will ever in my life do an interview with her"

And you think the men are overly-sensitive when it comes to Johnny Miller's comments, check out the Laura Diaz-Dottie Pepper spat over the "chokin freakin dogs" comment from nearly a year ago. Beth Ann Baldry reports:

The row between Pepper, Diaz and the rest of Team USA started during last year’s Solheim Cup when Pepper referred to U.S. players as “chokin’ freakin’ dogs” on air Saturday afternoon when she thought the broadcast had gone to commercial break.
“To be honest, I don’t think to this day I will ever in my life do an interview with her,” said Diaz, who sits two shots off the lead midway through the second round. “It really affected me, and Solheim wasn’t a time to talk about it.”
Oy...
“The way Laura has chosen to handle the situation publicly is really disappointing,” Pepper said via e-mail Aug. 1. “I hope her heart will at some point recognize the comment was not personal, highly emotional and certainly never meant to be heard over the air. I have made myself available to her, but she has chosen not to talk, scream at me or whatever else she feels she needs to do for her peace of mind.”
Diaz said Pepper bruised her heart more than anything else. Pepper dated Diaz’s older brother, Ron, for two years in college. This was personal.
“Dottie was a family member to me,” Diaz said, “and I don’t even see her as a friend anymore.”
Double oy...get over it Laura.
Friday
Aug012008

Classic Club, R.I.P.

Larry Bohannan reports The Classic Club's role as a now-former Bob Hope Classic venue. About that name...oh, sorry:

The change in courses was necessary given PGA Tour pros' increasing and sometimes vocal criticism that Classic Club could be too windy during the event's January dates.
“For the good of the tournament, to protect the field, we felt like we ought to react,” said John Foster, longtime board member of the Hope tournament.
The course changes help to centralize the Hope as a La Quinta tournament. In addition to the Nicklaus course, the Palmer Private Course at PGA West will again be used and will serve as the site of the Sunday-only pros round.
The Nicklaus Private will be a real player favorite too! Wait until they bounce a shot off the rocks Jack put in front of the greens.

Love this doublespeak:

“The Berger Foundation understands the rotation adjustment for the 50th anniversary tournament and is anticipating added events for the Classic Club that will add financial support for valley charities along with the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic event,” said Ron Auen of the Berger Foundation in a statement announcing the course changes.
For a good chuckle, you might want to go back and relive some of the finer moments in Classic Club lore.

There was Bohannan's claim that the wind there wasn't any different than at Harbour Town and that everyone was just nutty not to love the place.

Tim Finchem praised the place for providing the facilities to "effectively market the tournament." Yep that was some marketing centerpiece. Good call Tim!

And there was Tod Leonard quoting Hope Tournament Director Mike Milthorpe at length about how wind was no different at the Classic Club than the other courses

Then there was the $500,000 they sunk into this ship and the PGA-qualified course debate.

And finally, there was this today from Bohannan which belongs on The Classic Club's tombstone:
Know this about Classic Club. It's a very good golf course. From tee to green, the course flows well, challenges golfers with hills and lakes and bunkers and has features like pine straw that aren't duplicated on any course in the desert.


Thursday
Jul312008

"You fall in love with a golf course when you have a setup that's as wonderful as this"

Doug Ferguson reporting on the first round at Firestone, where the PGA Tour staff made sure to lower the rough after last year's antics, prompting this interesting quote from Stewart Cink:

 "Last year, the rough here was almost out of control. This year, the rough is very average and it's part of an experiment they're doing," PGA Tour policy board member Stewart Cink said. "They're trying to see if the rough height has any effect on scoring."
Based on Thursday's scoring, there's no need to send the data to MIT.
Of course, if the scores are lower, will this be an aberration?

Shouldn't they be comparing to last year's boondoggle to determine whether the play is more interesting to watch, not inducing injury and allowing the players to get around in less time?

Anyway, Phil Mickelson likes it and is saying all the right things. Well, right things to those who want to see skill and interesting golf:
Phil Mickelson, cryptic in his criticism of the high rough at the Memorial two months ago, finished with a birdie on the 18th after scrambling out of the trees and shot 68. He said Firestone has become one of his favorite courses this year.
"You fall in love with a golf course when you have a setup that's as wonderful as this," Mickelson said. "The greens are fast, the pin placements are great, the rough is challenging but fair and it lets you hit some recovery shots. This year, Firestone is one of my favorite golf courses that we have on tour."
Thursday
Jul312008

Stunner: Monty Complains About Having To Take Drug Test!

If you want to answer SI's anonymous PGA Tour pro's claim that drug testing has slowed then who better to hand one of those little pieces of paper to than Monty!

John Hopkins reports:

“Can you believe it?” he said, sounding almost like Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave. “I have just bogeyed the last hole and now they want me for a drugs test. I’ve got to pee into a cup. That’s all I need at the end of a round like that. If it’s positive, I want my money back.” As Montgomerie’s moments go - and often they go a very long way indeed - this was more humorous than angry.
Monty probably would not have been in the joke cracking mood had he read Hopkins' piece earlier in the day suggesting that the rotund one does not belong on the European Ryder Cup team.
Thursday
Jul312008

Wie Beats Plenty Of Men

A +1 with five bogies and four birdies and beating some pretty good players.


Thursday
Jul312008

"You haven't heard much lately because as far as I can tell, there hasn't been any testing since."

The PGA Tour's drug testing program will inevitably be one of those forgotten stories like driver testing, but I just didn't think it would happen so soon or because they have apparently stopped testing!

From SI's anonymous PGA Tour pro in this week's issue:

There sure were a lot of stories about drug testing on Tour when the policy went into effect at last month's AT&T National. You haven't heard much lately because as far as I can tell, there hasn't been any testing since. Is that all there is? What with even commissioner Tim Finchem filling a cup, I guess the testing at Congressional was simply a big dog-and-pony show.
You've got to figure the WADA and Olympics folks will take note of that.


Wednesday
Jul302008

"They're all long. There's no cool short one."

A few interesting bits from Phil Mickelson's pre-Firebore press conference:

Q. You had a couple pretty well-chronicled issues this year where you went with five wedges in one and you went with no driver and it didn't turn out so well. I wonder, when you're going through your setup for a week, how do these ideas germinate and who all is in on the discussion as to whether it's a green light or whether it actually happens? How do the ebb and flow of clubs in and out of the bag sort of transpire?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's kind of a variety of different ways. Sometimes when we just play a course we realize we haven't used a certain club. Other times it'll be a computer program that we'll use to identify what element of the game is more important. If you improve one area by 10 percent, it lowers your score the most. I mean, this is an interesting statistic, I think, that I'll share with you, that I've found is that if you increase any statistical category 10 percent across the board, it lowers scores. Okay, 10 percent fewer putts, obviously lower scores, 10 percent more greens, 10 percent closer to the hole, 10 percent more fairways, every one lowers scores except longer driving distance. Longer drives does not equate to lower scores on any course in America except one. There's one golf course in America where 10 percent longer driving equates to lower scores, and what would you think it would be? Augusta National.
So we'll do stuff like that. That will be fun and interesting and a different perspective.
Q. That's Pelz' program, software?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
And this is really encouraging to read that players are noticing these kinds of course setup details, and better yet, sharing them. Not that it'll change what Rees does! On Oakland Hills:
Q. It plays long?
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't say it played long, no. I thought it played a good distance. It has a good mixture of holes. There's some short par-4s you can hit short clubs in and there's some long ones. The par 3s are a little monotonous. They're all long. There's no cool short one. 13 used to be a cool short one and they moved the tee back so it's 190. But they're just tough 3s. You just want to make a 3 on those holes.
Wednesday
Jul302008

Progress At Ponky?

Jay Turner in the Canton Citizen reports that there is some hope for a possible renovation and improvement of Ponkapoag Golf Course, though I'm not sure about the "currently in need of an estimated $35 million in repairs" thinking.

Officially signed into law on July 13 as part of the state’s $28.1 billion budget package, the “Ponkapoag Golf Course Long-Term Leasing Authority” will allow the Department of Conservation and Recreation to enter into a lease agreement with either the town of Canton  —  if it wants it  —  or a private company for a period of 25 years.
Similar to the legislation that saw the Metropolis Skating Rink first leased out to the town in 1980, this latest move is being billed by lawmakers, including Senator Brian Joyce, as an effort to cut down on spending while also reviving what was once a regional treasure, designed by the legendary golf course architect Donald Ross in 1936.
 

Wednesday
Jul302008

Rosie On Rocco

Tim Rosaforte files a very enjoyable profile of Rocco Mediate's whirlwind run and finally, someone catches up on the incredible trevails he's gone through in the midst of a couple of other great runs that you likely forgot about.

I did wonder about this:His legs rested on a chair, exposing bare ankles and clean-shaven legs. (That's right—Mediate shaves his legs. "A lot of women are jealous," he says.) On the wall a flat-screen TV replayed the afternoon action, Rocco's name still on the first page of the leader board.

Two hours after his second round ended with a birdie, he was relaxing in black drawstring sweatpants, a black Callaway sweater and black Nike Frees.
Uh, what brand were those drawstring sweats Tim? Sloppy, sloppy! Please, we need to know.

This, borders on TMI...

His legs rested on a chair, exposing bare ankles and clean-shaven legs. (That's right—Mediate shaves his legs. "A lot of women are jealous," he says.)

Wednesday
Jul302008

"Bivens’ decision effectively terminated the tournament sponsored by the grocery chain"

In following up on the news broken by Ron Sirak this week that Ginn is likely out as a sponsor of at least one of its LPGA events, Golfweek's Adam Schupak refreshed my memory on how one of those Ginn events found its way on the schedule (thanks to reader Steven T. for the link):

By opting for Ginn’s richer purses, Bivens gave the Ginn Tribute the highly-coveted Memorial Day weekend date, which had been held by the Shoprite LPGA Classic in New Jersey. Bivens’ decision effectively terminated the tournament sponsored by the grocery chain, which had been an LPGA supporter for 21 years and had an agreement to serve as title sponsor through 2014.

If you want to relive the Shop Rite debacle, I've set up a convenient search link so you can be reminded how a longtime event that was secure through 2014 was shafted by the Brand Lady.

Wednesday
Jul302008

"I don't know why we keep going back there."

From SI's anonymous PGA Tour pro on returning to Oakland Hills for next week's PGA:

I know this much about Oakland Hills. It's brutal, and it's pretty high up there in the course rankings [18th by Golf Magazine], but I don't know any players who say, "God, I love Oakland Hills." It's a ballbuster.
The greens are over the top. They're straight from Putt-Putt, minus the swinging logs and clowns' mouths. Plus, you're hitting three-irons into most of them. I have no idea why Oakland Hills is rated so high. What's the mystique? Because Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open there a million years ago and bragged that he finally tamed the Monster? That's prehistoric. The last Open there, in 1996, was uneventful. On the 72nd hole Davis Love III three-putted and Tom Lehman hooked his drive into a fairway bunker to allow Steve Jones, a qualifier who scrambled his tail off, to win. I don't know why we keep going back there.
Considering the state of the U.S. auto industry and the likelihood of tepid corporate sales, I'm guess the PGA is wondering the same thing.