Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • 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
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • 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
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

Golf is the one game in which the player’s ball is not subject to the interference of the opponent. It is a question of supremacy of accurate strokes without human interference, but there exists interference, nevertheless, and its name is "hazard," which is golfese for trouble.   A.W. TILLINGHAST




Finchem To Squawk On The Street

Going to Mark Steinberg's choice for revealing news, Commissioner Tim Finchem makes an interesting, uh, platform selection to break his silence.



PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will give his first interview since recent developments in the life of Tiger Woods became national headlines. CNBC's Darren Rovell will speak with Finchem on Thursday, December 17th at 10:10AM ET on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."  Finchem will discuss his reaction to Woods' announcement that the world's top golfer would take of an "indefinite break" from the sport and its potential ramifications on the game's television ratings and future investment from corporate America.

Finchem is also scheduled for a teleconference with scribblers at 11 EST.


"She told authorities she knew her employer wasn't licensed in the United States and that it would be illegal for him to administer inside the country."

Mike Fish at looks into the allegations against Dr. Anthony Galea and the evidence gleaned from cooperating witness Mary Anne Catalano.

Catalano, who waived her rights before agreeing to speak with border agents, admitted she knew the items she was attempting to bring into the U.S. were "illegal" and that she was doing this for her employer, who is not identified in her case documents. She also told agents that her employer asked her to attempt to bring the items in because he had been flagged previous times at the border.

She told authorities she knew her employer wasn't licensed in the United States and that it would be illegal for him to administer inside the country. She added that they were to meet up after crossing the border into the U.S.

According to the criminal complaint, Catalano also revealed to agents that she'd been told by her employer that "if she was questioned about the purpose of her trip, she should say that they were coming to the United States for a conference with other medical professionals and that none of the equipment she was bringing into the United States was for treating patients."

Steve Elling reports that the Florida Department of Health is now investigating Galea for his house calls on Tiger. Galea is unlicensed in the sunshine state. He faces a possible third-degree felony if charged, Elling says.


"You know what's really recklessly irresponsible? Dealing with a doctor who has a history of using and prescribing the banned HGH substance, that's what."

That's the LA Times' Bill Plaschke responding to yesterday's Mark Steinberg criticism of the New York Times. There's more:

All the healers in the world, the best money can buy, and Woods chooses an eccentric 50-year-old HGH peddler who not only prescribes it to older patients, but says he injects himself five days a week to keep up with a wife who, he says, is 22 years younger?

"If the body is healthy, then your mind and intellect are free to study, to feed your spirit," Galea told the New York Times in an interview.

Woods has been feeding his spirit quite enough, thank you.

In past cases, from Olympians to major leaguers, nearly anyone involved with a steroid salesman is eventually found to have been using steroids. Yet while the PGA Tour tests for performance-enhancing drugs, no sporting organization has found an acceptable noninvasive test for HGH.

So this story might go nowhere. But its legs have already taken it miles farther than anyone imagined, which marks the true and lasting danger of Woods' dalliances.

The public thinks, if there's even a chance he's guilty of running a harem while married with two young children, there's a chance he could be guilty of anything.

Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel is even more blunt:

Remember the before-and-after pictures of lanky Bonds as a young baseball player and then the bulked-up, hulked-up Bonds after he began using that BALCO-manufactured "flaxseed oil"? Well, look at pictures of Tiger as the skinny young golfer and compare them to the thicker, bigger, sculpted, chiseled Tiger of today.

Doesn't it make you wonder?

Why should we blindly assume the world's top golfer is immune to cheating when top athletes in nearly every other sport (baseball, football, track, swimming, cycling, etc., etc.) have been accused of using performance-enhancers. And, yes, some of these athletes (see Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez, Marion Jones, etc.) were beloved role models just like Tiger.

And, please, you Pollyanna PGA purists, spare us the rhetoric about how your sport is so honorable that competitors would never, ever cheat the game. I've heard such nonsense for years from golfers, golf fans and Finchem, who last year had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the drug-testing era.


Golf Channel, The Donald To Tie The Knot

Gosh, I can't wait to set my DVR for this:

Trump will host "Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf," a half-hour series premiering April 26 on Golf Channel.

In the show, pro golfers, athletes and celebrities will compete head-to-head for their favorite charities on various Trump-owned golf courses around the country.

Trump ("Celebrity Apprentice") will host the show.

"I'm a golfer and I own some of the best courses in the world, and Golf Channel has a great demo," Trump told The Post. "I'm the presenter [on the show]; most of the matches will be shot on weekends so I can do this.

That's right, we wouldn't want you to miss out on any Larry King Live appearances important board meetings.

"In addition to the matches being played on my courses, I'll walk around with the golfers and referee the matches."


AP Names Tiger Woods Athlete Of The Decade

Doug Ferguson writes:

Woods was selected Wednesday as the Athlete of the Decade by members of The Associated Press in a vote that was more about 10 years of performance than nearly three weeks of salacious headlines.

Just like so many of his victories, it wasn't much of a contest.

Woods received 56 of the 142 votes cast by AP member editors since last month. More than half of the ballots were returned after the Nov. 27 car accident outside his Florida home that set off sensational tales of infidelity.


Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, Vol. 5

As Elin Woods was highly visible Tuesday and movers were seen at the Woods home, Tiger remains in seclusion somewhere, even cutting off cell phone contact with buddies Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan. Depending on how you view those two, this could be the smartest thing Tiger has done.

"You should reach out to your celebrity friends when things go bad," Barkley told the Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. "They're the only people who understand what it's like."

Oh do tell us more Charles. And this from Spike Lee:

"He's insulated," Lee said during the taping for the show. "If Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan can't get to him, and those are his boys, then other people are making bad moves."

Barkley said Tuesday he has not spoken to Woods since the Nov. 27 accident, which unleashed a series of events that resulted in him admitting to marital infidelity.

"I've been trying to get to him and can't get to him," he said. "It's very frustrating."

Barkley said he just wants to tell Woods, "Hey, man, we love you. If you need anything, pick up the phone."

Understandably, Tiger's disappearance continues to fuel speculation and the story. Mark Kriegel of and author of two highly regarded biographies, writes this about Tiger's lack of visibility:

Think about it: every piece of property this guy owns, and many he does not, are being staked out around the clock. But there's been no Tiger sighting. Strange, right?

Perhaps the events of early Nov. 27 left him with a dental profile like that of Leon Spinks. But everything I know about the economics of stardom and the craft of damage control leads me to believe he's in rehab. Not for sex, of course. That would do irreparable harm to his cause in commerce. No, I'd bet he's in for Ambien and Vicodin, which, for all I know, he might have begun abusing when his knee came apart.

Maybe it's true. Or maybe it's a device to salvage the remnants of a heroic narrative.

John Feinstein called this "Day 18 of the Tiger Woods Hostage Crisis" and writes:

In the end, though, it comes down to this: Woods is one of the 10 or 12 most important athletes in history. You can sit around and argue about the list for days and Woods is going to be on it somewhere. And no matter who are the other names on your list, none ever went through anything close to this. Some died very young, others suffered injuries and a few were involved in personal scandals or embarrassments.

But none fell off a cliff like this one -- pushed only by themselves. Whether you sympathize with Woods for putting himself in this position, whether you blame the media, whether you think he's a horrible person who deserves all the schadenfreude one can muster, there is no arguing with this: Tiger Woods is falling right now from one of the highest pedestals ever created. No one can possibly know where he will land and how he will land. And it may be a good long while before we even have any clues.

AP's Dave Skretta analyzes the prices for a photo of the reclusive Tiger and quotes Frank Griffin of the Bauer-Griffin Agency, among others:

A picture of Elin without a ring like the ones circulating on the Web might only fetch $20,000, according to people familiar with the industry, while current pictures of Tiger and Elin together could demand six figures. A photograph that shows Tiger with one of his alleged mistresses has the potential to bring hundreds of thousands.

“It would have to be some clever marketing, and it would have to be worldwide,” said Griffin, whose firm is considered one of the more established in the business. “A picture of Tiger Woods with a tooth missing being chased by 12 blonde females wielding golf clubs, name your price.

“Tiger Woods is a sad story,” Griffin added. “It makes people unhappy to see that. The purpose of tabloid journalism has always been to cheer people.”

Doug Ferguson on one of the last people to play golf with Tiger at the Australian Masters:

In Tiger Woods' last tournament before his world was rocked with an infidelity scandal, the Australian golfer who played with him said Woods mentioned how he could stay in touch with his family when he was on the road.

"I remember him talking about how good Skype was for his kids and his wife," Cameron Percy said in a telephone interview during the Australian PGA Championship last week. "It's unreal that no one close to him knew about it. No one knew, I suppose. Up until then, he was the perfect role model for anyone."

Tom English noted this about the New York Times story on Tiger's ties to Dr. Galea:

Something that probably would not have been written a few weeks ago when Woods was deemed all-conquering and squeaky clean, but which appeared in the New York Times and then got flashed right across the world in one form or another.

The New York Daily News reports that it's the Buffalo office of the FBI investigating Dr. Galea.

Amina Khan of the LA Times sheds just a bit more light on Actovegin, the mystery drug tied to Galea.

Eric Carpenter of the Orange County Register notes that Tiger has posted a comment on his foundation page announcing his sabbatical.

Brian Keough tips us off to Tiger's disappearance from a press release promoting a previous commitment prior to the Open Championship.

Steve Elling and Ron Green Jr. debate elements of the Woods saga, starting with the PGA Tour's reaction, what happens to Team Tiger upon his return and the future of golf coverage. Elling:

In essence, the Ponte Vedra crew has seemed paralyzed by the fear that it might antagonize Woods further. Look, it's no stretch to say that scads of folks at the tour are upset with Woods' antics and the position he has put them in. It would do wonders for what credibility the tour has in the marketplace to stand up and say so. Issuing statements supporting him and his family and urging that they be left alone is a move that's as naïve as it is myopic. The tour employees surely are disappointed. They surely are upset. There's nothing wrong with saying it. This might be the first and only time anybody can say it, but Woods might need the tour worse than it needs him at the moment.

The Independent's Dom Jolly says it's not all bad for golf.

I'm just loving how the whole Tigergate affair is giving golf a rebranding. Most people tend to see the game as something that keeps retired businessmen out of the house until they pass on to the great boardroom in the sky. The ludicrous golf garb that people wear is the equivalent of dull people wearing "crazy" socks or ties. It's just not that convincing. posts a Getty Image of The Cliff's Tiger billboard. Another slogan that's not aging well.

Tiger has Ron Artest's support (whew, that's a relief!). And Upper Deck is staying with him.

In writing about the latest (and by far oldest) Tiger mistress to come forward, Deadspin wins the headline of the day contest, if there was one: Tiger Played The Senior Tour, Too.

And finally, the great Chelsea Handler's opening monologue from Monday's show:


"Golf Fans Have Opportunity To Own Part Of History"

The USGA has opened their photo archives, offering framed prints from their vast collection.


Who Says Arnold Palmer Doesn't Like An Arnold Palmer Now And Then?


"It is incomprehensible that a person who manages every aspect of Tiger’s public life had no knowledge of his now-disastrous private life."

Greg Stewart of Steinberg's hometown paper in Peoria notes the following about the Tiger-Steiny relationship:

Steinberg was with Woods last month in Australia, where his alleged affair with Mistress No. 1, Rachel Uchitel, was first reported. It is incomprehensible that a person who manages every aspect of Tiger’s public life had no knowledge of his now-disastrous private life.

Yet it is understandable how Steinberg might feel helpless in this situation. Advisors earn their keep before the shot hits the fan, not after. But Steinberg is all-too-aware of how he landed this job in the first place. At the 1998 British Open, Hughes Norton, then Tiger’s agent at IMG, told Woods that it wasn’t a good idea to be photographed with then-girlfriend Joanna Jagoda.

Not long after, Woods fired Norton and replaced him with Steinberg.


Steinberg: "Apparently the Times like so many other news outlets on the Tiger Woods story, has abandoned principle."

An wire story features a new and much improved denial from Mark Steinberg in response to today's New York Times story on Dr. Anthony Galea (the quote above was taken from the broadcast item linked below).

Interesting though that he chooses to prioritize his attention on IMG first, Tiger's knee a distant second.

In a statement to media outlets Tuesday, Steinberg railed against the paper's story.

"The New York Times is flat wrong, no one at IMG has ever met or recommended Dr. Galea, nor were we worried about the progress of Tiger's recovery, as the Times falsely reported," Steinberg said. "The treatment Tiger received is a widely accepted therapy and to suggest some connection with illegality is recklessly irresponsible."

Of course the story never suggested that the platelet work was illegal or that Tiger receiving that therapy was illegal behavior.

It is interesting that Steinberg notes the practice is "widely accepted," and according to the Michael Schmidt interview below, it's fairly common now for orthopoedic surgeons to use it. So why did Dr. Galea, pioneer or not, fly all the way from Toronto to Orlando to administer the treatment? I know it's Tiger Woods, but still, the story clearly states that most athletes were taking red-eyes and going out of their way to get to Canada to see Dr. Galea.

Oh and the tour also chimed in:

"We have read nothing with respect to the published reports regarding Tiger Woods and Dr. Galea that would suggest a violation of our anti doping policy."

As mentioned above, ESPN is featuring an interview with one of the NY Times writers of the story. It's worth listening to, particularly when he refutes Steinberg's claims that IMG was not involved in linking athletes with Dr. Galea.


Perspective: Tiger's Stance On Drug Testing

For those wondering about Tiger Woods' drug testing stance, check out this post which refers to his initial position after yours truly asked him about it at Sherwood in 2005, and his shift in August, 2006.

I don't think it's a stretch to say it was those remarks in 2006 that forced Tim Finchem's hand. Remember, the Commissioner long resisted drug testing due to its cost and his belief that players were clean even though he himself talked up improved athleticism to explain distance gains. Then couple Tiger's pressure and the Olympics in mind, by 2008 Finchem himself was submitting his urine for testing.

Something to keep in mind after today's New York Times story.


NY Times: FBI Investigates Tiger's Doctor For Supplying Performance Enhancing Drugs To Athletes

Back in October, Bob Weeks of noted that Tiger Woods might face scrutiny for his association with Dr. Anthony Galea. Now the New York Times's Don Van Natta Jr., Michael Schmidt and Ian Austin report the FBI is investigating Galea for possibly supplying illegal performance enhancing drugs to athletes.

As for his ties to Tiger, he is known for working on rehab and employing his cutting edge and legal platelet therapy:

Dr. Galea said Mr. Woods was referred to him by the golfer’s agents at Cleveland-based International Management Group, who were alarmed at the slow pace of Mr. Woods’s rehabilitation after knee surgery in June 2008. The doctor said he flew to Orlando, Fla., at least four times to give Mr. Woods the platelet therapy at his home in Windemere, Fla., in February and March of this year. When asked for comment about Mr. Woods’s involvement with Dr. Galea, Mark Steinberg, of I.M.G., responded in an e-mail message: “I would really ask that you guys don’t write this? If Tiger is NOT implicated, and won’t be, let’s please give the kid a break.”

I know it's been a long few weeks for Steinberg, but I think he could have done better than, "I would really ask that you guys don't write this?" and "give the kid a break?"

The kid?

Dr. Galea’s legal problems began in late September when his assistant was stopped entering the United States from Canada. Her car was searched by border-crossing guards and authorities found Dr. Galea’s medical bag, which contained four drugs, including human growth hormone, Dr. Galea said. “It was for my own use,” he said.

The authorities also seized his laptop computer and a sonogram machine, he said. His assistant, he said, often drove him around and that was why his belongings were in her car. The assistant, whom Dr. Galea declined to identify, has stopped working at his clinic and, he said, is now cooperating with the authorities.

Cooperating witness and a seized laptop?


Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, Vol. 4

I thought the Tiger story had "bottomed out" as some were hoping when Dennis Rodman and Donald Trump appeared on Larry King Live to defend, uh, their man. But the combination of a children's services visit to the Woods home and a New York Times front page story detailing an FBI investigation into Tiger's doctor has me not so sure we've seen the bottom yet.

More on the doctor in a forthcoming post, first a roundup of coverage, starting with USA Today conducting a Tiger Gallup poll and finding a record drop off in popularity. Michael McCarthy writes:

Woods admitted to "infidelity" Friday. His "favorable" rating dropped to 33% in the latest poll conducted this week vs. 85% from his last poll in June 2005. His "unfavorable" rating, meanwhile, surged to 57% from only 8% four years ago.

Woods posted the highest popularity rating in poll history — 88% — when Gallup first measured him in 2000. The 52-point swing is the largest drop between consecutive measurements since Gallup began tracking it in 1992, says Jeffrey Jones, managing editor of the Gallup Poll. The 55-point falloff from his high to low point matches that of President George W. Bush from 2001-2008.

Gerald Posner has stepped up his reporting since his stunning revelation that caddies often take 10% of player winnings, this time focusing on how Team Tiger has worked behind the scenes, particuarly as the National Enquirer stepped in and agent Mark Steinberg handed matters off to Tiger's legal team:

Within a day of calling Uchitel, The Daily Beast has learned, the Enquirer called Steinberg, who directed them immediately to Lavely. “It’s his way of creating distance between himself and the story,” says a person familiar with the calls between the Enquirer, Steinberg, and Lavely. “It gives Steinberg the ability to say he didn’t know about it later.”

The Enquirer considered Lavely to be Tiger’s “damage-control attorneys” and weren’t surprised Steinberg dropped out and directed them there. Jay Lavely informed the tabloid that he’d get in touch with Woods. A day later, Lavely told Barry Levine that the story was not true, and that Tiger had possibly met Uchitel only one time at a nightclub. It echoed what she had told the paper only a couple of days earlier, leading executives at the Enquirer to believe she had tipped Woods about the tabloid’s interest.

Posner also implicates Bryon Bell, head of Tiger's design firm and one of three board members of ETW. Posner writes:

The other key person in Tiger’s secret life, multiple sources explain, was his childhood and occasional caddie Bell. Tiger was supposed to be Bell’s best man at the latter’s wedding this past weekend, but he was a no-show. Bell’s official roles have been with the Tiger Woods Foundation and later as president of Tiger Woods Design, which earned Woods a reported $25 million to $45 million when Dubai outbid China to land the first Tiger Woods-designed golf course and a luxury housing community dubbed “The Tiger Woods Dubai.” Bell also incorporated ETW Corp. in 1996, created to receive and distribute Tiger’s then-growing income (the initials stand for Earl and Tiger Woods). Among ETW’s current officers are Bell, Tiger, and Tiger’s mother. Attempts to reach Bell this weekend were unsuccessful.

In another post, Posner writes about the infighting over how to handle these matters. Note that IMG is never mentioned by name as being part of the process, even though they employ Steinberg who has reportedly been working "furiously" to get some of Tiger's sponsors to issue public statements demonstrating faith in Tiger. And there was this:

Additionally, The Daily Beast has learned from an executive familiar with Gillette’s relationship with Woods that Procter & Gamble, Gillette’s parent company, doesn’t think Tiger is worth the estimated $20 million Gillette agreed to when it signed the deal in 2007. It is considering sending a formal notice to Steinberg that it wants to reduce its payout schedule starting in 2010.

And Australian AP report says it asked CBS's Ian Baker Finch about the Woods situation:

"Mate, if I say one word about Tiger I will get fired," Baker-Finch told AAP before playing in Australia's richest one-day pro-am at Wynnum Golf Club on Monday.

Neal Gabler in a Newsweek cover story featuring Tiger's image contemplates the thirst for celebrity scandal. 

Yet it is not only that celebrity has triumphed over more traditional forms; it has, like cultural kudzu, subordinated the media generally. Since celebrity is a narrative in the medium of life, it requires magazines, newspapers, television shows, and perhaps most especially the Internet to promote it—a service these media happily perform and from which they get great residual benefits. As a result, the media are filled with celebrity narratives, constantly hawking them so that celebrity is to America today what the movies and television were to earlier generations, only more so. It is almost as if celebrity hangs ever-present in the ether where no previous entertainment has ever existed. We practically breathe it.

And so today we are gripped by Tiger Woods's story, and when his disappears, as it eventually will, another narrative will arrive and then another and then another, ad infinitum. That is how celebrity works—as a kind of endless daisy chain that amuses us, unifies us, and even occasionally educates us.

A former People Magazine editor and now SI/ contributor Dick Friedman also ponders what this story has meant for media coverage and celebrity.

I have never seen a story cut across demographic lines the way this one has. Men, women, young, old, golfers, non-golfers. Everyone's talking about it. Everybody's e-mailing me about it. In restaurants, trains, in lines waiting for coffee, you hear Tiger talk. Obviously, it's right in the wheelhouse of late-night talk-show hosts. But did I expect to turn on MSNBC's "Hardball," a political show, and find Chris Mathews and his guests hashing out Elin's options?

There are many reasons that everything is all Tiger, all the time. One is that this story has so many of the elements that make for sensationalism: the world's most famous athlete, sex, secrets, wealth, youth, plus the beautiful and mysterious wife — topped off by amazingly specific and titillating detail. But the biggest reason is technology: the Internet.

Golfweek's Martin Kaufman notes this about Tiger's relationship with the media:

Remember how Woods went ballistic at the 2006 Ryder Cup when The Dubliner published photos of a topless model purported, falsely, to be Elin Woods? The same publication also belittled the wives of David Toms, Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell, but no one gave them any mind. We were too busy defending the honor of Elin and Tiger. Fair enough. It was a sophomoric satire that had gone terribly wrong, and The Dubliner had to acknowledge as much and pay the Woodses $183,250.

Aside from The Dubliner’s poor taste, I suspect what really bothered Tiger was that he wasn’t used to being challenged by the media. That wasn’t part of his bargain with the press: I play great golf, and you cretins in the media tent stick to covering the birdies and bogeys. That was the deal.

Mike Walker reports on Hugh Hefner clarifying his views on Tiger, because I know you were all dying to know.

Hefner took issue with reports that said he approved of the married Woods's alleged liaisons with women around the country. Hefner said he meant that he wasn't surprised by the allegations; he didn't mean it was OK for Woods to lie to his wife.

"But I don't approve of it. I just was not surprised by it," Hefner said. "The reason that I wasn't surprised is that he’s traveling the world. He's a handsome, young guy and beautiful ladies are throwing themselves at him. You never know the circumstances of a personal relationship or a marriage and how well it worked and I think that the immorality of infidelity is the lie. It isn't really the sex. It's the cheating."

Radar says Tiger has now matched his major total as a 14th woman emerges and hires Gloria Allred.

That list includes one woman who really wants her privacy, so she appeared on the Today Show and told several embarrassing stories.

TMZ among others featured this photo of Elin looking like a happy woman and minus a wedding ring. And pumping her own gas. 

Regarding the child services visit and possible investigation into a domestic violence case, Radar interprets the police code:

The document  - police dispatch notes - details that the investigation centers on possible domestic violence between Tiger and his wife taking place in front of their young children. Using police code, it also spells out that a unknown weapon may have been involved. A source close to the situation told that the weapon is a golf club.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the call to investigate was prompted by a call to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

On a lighter note, it's great to see former National columnist Norman Chad back to his old self in the Washington Post: "It's every man's nightmare: Pulling out of your own driveway, you hit a fire hydrant and 37 mistresses drop out of the sky."

He goes on to layout a day in the life of Tiger, post accident. Starting with:  6:10 a.m.: Wakes up, gets dressed and goes home.

Another song has appeared, this time eliminating any chance the PGA Tour will ever use the Eye of the Tiger spot again (well, I think it was probably in the vaults already after the last two weeks):

In reenactment video news, we have two new items. The first involves news of Elin's home purchase in Sweden and recreation of Tiger spending the night with his mistress when Earl passed away.

And this video goes to the archives to show us Tiger's high school girlfriend days. These people don't miss a thing.


Golf Channel Going Full HD, Debuting New Studio; No Word On Whether Michael Breed Will Stop Yelling

The acoustics cause him to yell, right? Anyway, the "understated" look of the past Golf Channel sets along with the corny copyright-free music is out, to be replaced by new sets, music and a simulator:

ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2009) – With the year’s first telecast of Golf Central on Jan. 4, GOLF CHANNEL not only will reveal the network’s first major studio makeover since 2003, it will launch its high-definition production capabilities for all its studio programming.

The new-look GOLF CHANNEL studios in Orlando, Fla., will be a departure from its understated look of the past, with a complete overhaul featuring high-tech elements and contemporary stylings.  The new sets will live in the same 4,700-square-foot space but now will include four, separate “environments,” from which various studio shows will originate.

“This spectacular new studio – as well as new graphics and music for Golf Central – show our continued commitment to updating and improving our channel,” said GOLF CHANNEL President Page Thompson.  Commenting on the show’s reach into 82 million homes in the United States and 40 million elsewhere around the world, Thompson continued, “Golf Central is the leading news program for the sport, and now we have a new studio that truly reflects the passion and dedication we have to this great game.”

It's also the only news program of the sport!

Anchoring the studio will be the set of Golf Central, which is situated in the very center to provide greater depth of field for the viewer and a desk that pivots 180 degrees to showcase different backgrounds.

A dedicated analyst area will feature a desk with integrated telestrators that will allow each analyst to “telestrate” on demand. Adjacent, a large, multi-touch screen allows them to interact with video and graphics for demonstrations.  The desk also is fronted by two, scrolling tickers at the base of the desk that will offer tournament leaderboard information and other golf news as it happens.  The appearance of a new interview set will be consistent with the rest of the studio’s high-tech feel, but also will incorporate materials and colors traditional to the game of golf.

Additionally, the studio will feature a myriad of monitors of all sizes that will be used for graphic treatments, as well as stand-up stations for the network talent.  And, demonstration areas – including a putting green, a sand trap and a tee box with an added two cuts of rough – will be used for a variety of purposes.

Wow, tiered rough has even made it to the Golf Channel studio.

“In addition to providing a contemporary and visually stunning set for our studio programming, this design utilizes technology to provide Golf Channel anchors, analysts and instructors with an advanced state-of-the-art tool set,” said Dan Overleese, GOLF CHANNEL vice president of operations.  “From swing breakdowns and statistical analysis to simulated reenactments and instruction, our studio shows will be visually more compelling and entertaining.”
New Simulator Makes Instruction, Shot Re-Creation Come to Life
Dominating the back studio wall and facing the tee box area is a 23 feet by 13 feet video screen.  In addition to showcasing logos and graphics, the screen also will function as the display for a high-tech golf simulator.

GOLF CHANNEL has partnered with Ohio-based aboutGolf, which has installed a highly customized PGA TOUR Simulator that will be utilized by GOLF CHANNEL analysts for real-to-life demonstrations – like shot re-creation – and for shows like The Golf Fix, the popular, high-energy instructional show hosted by Michael Breed.

Just, make him stop yelling. Please?


Diamonds In The Rough Podcast

I enjoyed talking to Jon Moore on this week's Diamonds in the Rough podcast. We open with a little Tiger talk and move on to the state of the game, course design, new v. old media and other fun stuff. Check it out.


The Anatomy Of A Corporate Divorce, Tag Heuer Edition

So I see Tag Heuer is spending the next few weeks "assessing" its deal with Tiger. My question to the one of thousands of corporate crisis counselors out there: is this first step designed to soften the blow when the inevitable Tag-Tiger divorce happens, or is it to generate two publicity cycles instead of just one in the clean break scenario?


Stevie: "He has never not committed himself to the media. He’s been great and he makes one mistake and they run all over the guy. I think he will be very cautious with the media when he comes back, and rightfully so."

Grumpy Stevie Williams can't stop talking to microphones about how awful the people pens and pads have been for reporting on his friends' "problem."

Brian Keough reports on the latest Stevie briefing with Sky Sports:

Williams said: “I feel deeply sorry for the guy. In the 10 years I have caddied for this guy, he has been thoroughly gracious with the media.  He has never not committed himself to the media. He’s been great and he makes one mistake and they run all over the guy. I think he will be very cautious with the media when he comes back, and rightfully so."

Branded an "enabler" by elements of the American media, Williams denied all knowledge of Woods' extra curricular activities.

He also unwittingly revealed Tiger's strategy from now on: Be seen to make an effort to patch things up with Elin and then get back out on tour.

Williams said: "When he gets back to the tour and people have seen that has made an honest attempt to get back with his family, I think that’s important, I think they will heal a lot people’s...or change a lot of people’s perspective of it. Tiger is human. We all make mistakes in life."


Phil Knight On Everything: "It’s part of the game."

Will this be the next great MBAism? Talking so SBJ about Tiger's scandal and endorsement deals:

You look at someone like Tiger Woods and this episode of infidelity. Does this change the concept of building brands around athletes?

Knight: Not for us. It’s part of the game.

With Tiger, a person who was believed to be of more upstanding character beforehand, is it possible to check for everything?

Knight: Obviously, he was one we checked out and he came out clean, and I think he’s been really great. When his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now.

Minor blip eh? There's hope for you the negotiations yet, Mark Steinberg.

How has the business really changed with the arrival of a new competitor like Under Armour?

Knight: That’s always been part of the game.


Tiger Indefinite Leave Clippings, Vol. 3

Just another quiet weekend in Tigerland with Accenture dropping the golfing great and widespread reports of a child services visit to the Woods home. Most media coverage continued to focus on his Friday statement and the ensuing corporate response, along with (finally) some thoughts about long term ramifications for the PGA Tour.

Doug Ferguson talks to the "bewildered" golf world that's been reading its own press releases too long and is now faced with reality. Though Brad Faxon did offer this prediction along with an interesting insight from a former TV exec:

"I don't think Tiger is going to come back earlier because we need him to come back. He's going to come back when he fixes his problems," Brad Faxon said. "It's a bit of a worry, but like Greg (Norman) said the other night, nobody's bigger than the game. You could put, 'comma, except for Tiger' in a lot of situations. But we will survive this."

Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson said the networks' loss in revenue will be much less severe than the drop in ratings. He said companies that advertise around golf are attracted by the demographics of the sport's core fans. Most of those fans watch golf whether Woods is involved or not. The casual fans who tune in only when Woods is in contention aren't the viewers these advertisers are targeting. "While you may have a 50 per cent increase in viewership, a lot of that 50 per cent is just bonus," he added.

Cameron Morfit makes a case that this isn't the end of the world for golf. In fact, it may just help.

Even Tiger's embarrassing missteps have helped, in their own sad, bizarre way.

Maybe they've helped most of all.

Separatists will insist the game is still different, better, cleaner, more like life itself, and so on. They will roll out calcified old chestnuts like, "Yes, but golf is the only sport where the players call penalties on themselves." Let's see: Roberto De Vicenzo signed an incorrect card, fans rolled a boulder out of Tiger's line, Ernie Els was gifted a ruling at the U.S. Open — nope, not one of golf's most memorable rulings involved a golfer calling a penalty on himself.

Golf is not different. Tennis players sometimes call their own service faults. And why pretend self-sacrifice is limited to the country club sports? The assist (basketball, soccer, etc.) and the pancake block (football) are made of the same stuff.

For that matter why pretend that anything is limited to golf, or excluded from it? We've got sex, drugs and the Olympics. We've got video games, tell-all memoirs and US Weekly. For better or worse golf is now part of every wonderful, fascinating and cringe-worthy facet of the human experience, and if that seems like a tough pill to swallow, hold your nose and try to remember: It's good for us.

In a front page LA Times story, Robin Abcarian asks: what did golf writers not know and when did they not know Tiger was a busy guy off the course? She talks to Golfweek's Jeff Babineau and AP's Doug Ferguson among others:

Even the access that Ferguson has had to Woods, he said, never amounted to much in the way of news. "I keep reading that the press had to be nice to him or they would lose the interview, which is funny, because what interview? There was nothing to lose there. I have built up a comfort zone with him, but most of it was clubhouse, locker room, meaningless BS stuff."

By arrangement with the PGA Tour, said Ferguson, Woods does not even enter the press room at a tournament unless he is a defending champion or close to the top of the leader board. "And it's nutty," said Ferguson. "The reason a lot of the press goes to tournaments is because Tiger is there." Even when Woods does agree to answer questions, said Ferguson, he generally doesn't offer much more than bland answers.

AP's Rachel Cohen looks at the television negotiation angle of Tiger's downfall:

During the last round of negotiations, NBC focused on securing rights to tournaments that Woods was likely to play, said former MAGNA research chief Steve Sternberg.

But even before a stream of sordid allegations led Woods to step away from the game, the networks had received a harsh reminder that the lofty ratings they receive when he's in contention aren't assured.
"The television business is about guaranteeing ratings to advertisers," said analyst Larry Gerbrandt, a principal of Media Valuation Partners.

The networks sell ads based on a promise of a certain rating. They can't afford to be frequently caught in the position of needing to make up for ratings that fall short, Gerbrandt said. Networks know how high ratings would be if Woods is in contention, but they can't base their rates on the assumption that he will be.

"You can't run a business that way," Gerbrandt said.

The networks must decide how much money they're willing to pay the PGA Tour based on how much money they believe they can make from advertisers.

"The negotiation to some extent is based on a worst-case scenario," Gerbrandt said.

Larry Dorman puts it more bluntly:

Although Woods is not solely responsible for the economic growth of the tour, he is given much of the credit for the quadrupling of prize money since he joined it — from $70 million in 1996 to $278 million in 2009. Most of the larger purses directly result from higher revenue from title sponsors, and the PGA Tour is in the midst of negotiating new deals with the sponsors of a dozen events that will expire by the end of 2010. Therefore, uncertainty about his availability will have a negative impact on the negotiations.

Also in the New York Times, Tim Arango considers Tiger's likely earnings potential down the road.

“Tiger is the best example of a walking, individual corporation,” said Ben Porritt, a public relations executive who advised Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman, last spring after his onetime steroid use was disclosed.

“Tiger is going to come out of this as somewhat of a bankrupt brand,” said Mr. Porritt. “He will have to restructure and go forward.” But, he said, “It’s going to be an ugly few months.”

Several companies that measure consumer reaction believe the ugliness has already started. Zeta Interactive, a digital ad agency that monitors message boards, blogs and social media posts, said that positive sentiment toward Mr. Woods had already plummeted. Before the accident, buzz about the golfer was 91 percent positive; by Friday, that figure had sunk to 43 percent.

The turnabout “is the quickest fall from positive to negative we’ve ever seen,” said Al DiGuido, chief executive at Zeta Interactive.

The great Marvin Collins reports that punters expect Tiger back soon.

Bookmakers William Hill, meanwhile, fully expect Woods to take part in the first major of the year, in early April, offering 4/6 he starts and 11/10 he does not. Indeed Hills do not think that his personal troubles will be transferred to his game, offering 5/2 that he wins his comeback tournament and 33/1 that he wins all four Majors in 2010.

Tiger is 1/6 to play in the Ryder Cup against Monty's European team and 7/1 to be the USA's top point scorer. "We expect Tiger back soon and the odds suggest that he is a certainty to play in the Ryder Cup as a solid performance could repair some of the damage for American golf fans" said Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams.

"However, we do not expect his absence to effect turnover as Tiger actually puts off many of our smaller stake golf punters and despite his absence we saw record turnover during the 2008 Open."

Jason Sobel and Bob Harig speculate on Tiger's return and how he'll be received. Harig:

We are unlikely to see a personality makeover, but perhaps a few changes are in order. And it won't be easy, because it's simply not Tiger to smile and wave to the crowd or engage well-wishers.

But he can hang to sign a few more autographs, look a few young fans in the eye, try a little harder. I am not suggesting we view him as a sympathetic figure these days, but it is hard to imagine the embarrassment he is enduring right now. And whether it is deserved is not the point here. He'll have a lot to overcome when he returns, and it's not just a rusty golf game.

It was Radar that first reported a Children Services visit to the Woods home on Friday to check on the kids, confirming once again that everyone on the planet but a state attorney in central Florida thinks something potentially criminal took place Thanksgiving night. 

Playgirl has passed on purported Tiger self portraits, deciding they'd be best left to the National Gallery. Love the back-patting quote from their rep Daniel Nardicio:

"This is a prime example of the direction Playgirl does not want to take," Nardicio said. "I prefer subjects who are willing."

Spurned lover Jamie Jungers keeps sharing embarrassing revelations, this time telling News of the World about Tiger's frugal ways (shock!) and an encounter the night Earl passed.

The Telegraph's Nick Allen has tracked down Tiger's first girlfriend living in God's Country and quite happy it all didn't work out.

And today's final word is from the Wall Street Journal's John Paul Newport:

Mr. Woods had established a foundation with a noble but non-controversial cause (helping under-advantaged children learn to bootstrap themselves to success). His approval and recognition ratings were consistently among the highest, if not the highest, in the world. And, above all, he was living a scandal-free life.

And so, without my quite realizing it, this vision of a future President Woods colored how I thought about him. I projected. I half-convinced myself, I guess, than in that private universe that Mr. Woods so adamantly roped off for himself, he and his wife sat around on their yacht, named Privacy, reading biographies of Abraham Lincoln.

Apparently not. But at least I wasn't the only fool to be fooled. If Mr. Woods wants us back, he has a lot of work to do.


Gil Hanse, Architect Of The Year

Nice write-up by Joe Passov of on Golf Magazine naming Gil Hanse its Architect of the Year after the opening of Castle Stuart. The piece accompanies Golf's best new public courses of 2009.