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

I know well two great champions of earlier years who cannot now always carry a hazard one hundred yards from the tee, but who still play the game and have shots in their bag which Hagen and Jones would view with envy. On my ideal course these shall not be denied nor yet humiliated.  ROBERT HUNTER

 

    

Thursday
Apr162009

Get Your U.S. Open Tickets!

Michael Buteau reports that corporate hospitality sales for the U.S. Open at Bethpage are down, but there may be a silver lining for those hoping to buy tickets.

Typically, the USGA withholds between 8,000 and 10,000 weekly tickets for purchase by corporations, Jerris said. As the current allotment of 1,000 tickets is bought by the public, the USGA will likely release more tickets if corporations don’t buy them.

“We’re reserving tickets in anticipation of more corporate sales,” Jerris said. “It’s an ongoing sales effort. We expect by the week of the Open, we’ll be sold out.”

In other words, there should be plenty of tickets available.

But if not, apparently you'll be able to play along with the players during the event in a virtual sense. I'll leave it up to you all to deliver a verdict on this.

Thursday
Apr162009

Augusta's Day-to-Day Yardages

Since the club does not release the daily course yardages, Bill Fields breaks down the Augusta National yardages each day and while the overall change might not sound like much, remember that the disparity in yardage between back and member tees is so great that this is probably about short as they can play it without doing something pretty radical (like playing a member tee).

With the tee positions used each day, the course measured 7,342, 7,275, 7,266 and 7,335 yards from first through fourth rounds. (The biggest reason the yardage dipped much lower for rounds two and three is because the forward tees at the demanding par-3 fourth were used.) This averages to a 7,304-yard tournament course, 131 yards less than the scorecard says.

For 72 holes, 58 played shorter than the scorecard figure, 11 at the number and only three longer than the number (No. 2 Saturday, No. 6, Friday and Sunday).

The field got its biggest breaks at the following holes: No. 1, listed at 445 yards but played 10, 12 and 10 yards shorter the first three rounds and at its yardage for round four; No. 7, 450 yards, played 15, 17, five and 12 yards shorter; No. 15, 530 yards, played 15, 15, 13 and 17 yards shorter; No. 18, 465 yards, played 13, five, 10 and 17 yards shorter.

Wednesday
Apr152009

Final Masters Question: Is 60 Minutes That Important?

Other than providing a strong lead-in to CBS's Sunday night magazine show, I cannot comprehend any rational reason for continuing to decide Masters playoffs in sudden death.

Sunday's frenzied playoff was the latest example of the awkward, anti-climactic feel that has tainted past sudden deathers.

Just think: all of that work and all of that great play, yet the coveted first major often comes down to a missed putt or bounce when a three or four hole playoff could eliminate such concerns (as evidenced by widespread praise for the Open and PGA's aggregate playoff formats).

As a wise observer pointed out to me today, never has a Masters sudden death playoff gone more than two holes. In recent years, those holes have been played with the sun about to set. The observer couldn't help but wonder if the pressure of not finishing in the daylight adds to the chaotic nature of things.

Now, with the improved course setup this year, pace of play was significantly faster. Simply moving tee times up 30-40 minutes would open up enough of a window for three holes to be played while still providing that strong lead-in to 60 Minutes (Except on the West Coast).

So is it something about the late light looking a certain way that encourages the club to stick with the current "tradition," even though it would seem like an odd way to culminate a major championship?

Or is 60 Minutes and the lure of a big prime time rating just that important?

Or is it something else? Help!

 

Wednesday
Apr152009

Flash: Cart Users Play Extra Holes Without Paying

Michael Buteau filed a comprehensive Bloomberg story on the struggles of the golf car industry. Meanwhile Golfweek.com posted the results of a Club Car funded "white paper" titled "Golf Car Vandalism: No Joyride," which estimates that operators are losing $8-10 million a year due to...

• 72 percent of courses reported vandalism or golfers playing extra holes without paying a green fee.

• 27 percent said they had retrieved a vandalized golf car from a lake or creek.

• 48 percent reported unauthorized use of golf cars.

• 42 percent reported golf cars being driven in restricted areas.

• 21 percent reported theft of golf cars.

The only solution to all of this bad cart news? Just ban the carts. Yep, I know, shocking. But it's the only way can eliminate this wasteful behavior.

Wednesday
Apr152009

How To Kick Them Out

What with the exclusive board meeting video and all of this talk about clubs, I suggested in Golfdom that clubs need to start locker room or bulletin board postings to fund the buyouts of less desireables. What do you think?

 

Wednesday
Apr152009

"Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?"

Jaime Diaz's engaging, must-read look at Tiger Woods' Masters week raises all sorts of fascinating questions.

So the speculation will begin again. For all the great wins since he began working with Haney in 2004, have the swing changes been the right ones? Is the relationship with Haney in jeopardy? Is there lasting damage in the left knee? Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?

Diaz goes on to detail all of the key moments from the week, highlighted by Friday's driving range session:

Steaming, he marched to the range and immediately—and uncharacterically—began pounding drivers. Williams, reading the moment, got away. Haney, who stayed to face the heat, got an earful. Woods eventually cooled off, had a long exchange with Haney and gave the fans who applauded his longer than usual hour-long session a grateful, if clearly discouraged, wave.

Ultimately, it still sounds like for all of the analysis and swing struggles, some perspective is in order. Tiger was off for eight months and simply hasn't played enough tournament golf to be sharp. Diaz doesn't quite go so far as to say it, but based on this next bit, you have to wonder if Haney has pointed out to Tiger that as miraculous as Torrey Pines was, even Tiger needs to play more competitive rounds to work off the rust and to give majors a little less high-pressure urgency.

Though they are words sure to make Haney wince, he took a bullet for his player. "Tiger worked as hard as humanly possible to come back for the Masters," said the swing instructor after the dust had settled Monday morning. "Maybe a little more tournament play would have helped, but he did everything he could. There were a lot of things that you can point to in his not winning, but all it does is point out how hard it is to win major championships."

Especially when they've become all that really matter.

Wednesday
Apr152009

"As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby"

Nice catch by reader Stan in this Rory McIlroy story by Bernie McGuire, with Darren Clarke commenting on the Masters Friday rules incident:

"Darren Clarke yesterday revealed he attempted to contact McIlroy’s agent after the teenager’s controversial incident in a bunker at the 18th on Friday.

The 19-year-old was called before the Masters Tournament competition committee, and told they were reviewing whether McIlroy kicked the sand — a rules violation.

Clarke revealed: "As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby (Chandler). I was hoping I could catch him before he handed in his card."

Tuesday
Apr142009

Second Masters Question: It was more than just the weather, no?

I was going to start this post asking why course setup was such a major topic (again) going into this Masters and yet, how few actual details we learned about what went into the committee's efforts to finally make Augusta National resemble its old self.

Sure, the committee will never be the chatty types, but how about some basic observations on tee and hole locations based on observation (you know, by leaving the press center). Or true player/caddy insights into what they actually saw? (And not just that the greens were clearly soft. We at home could see that.)

But then I saw this USA Today headline on a Jerry Potter story:

Players say scoring at majors often dictated by course setup

Rumor has it that tomorrow they've got a grabber titled, "Players say lowest score at majors often wins."

From what I've seen so far of the post Masters issues, the weeklies offer little in the way of details. However, a few reviews are in and, as warranted, they are quite positive.

Doug Ferguson rightly praises the overall change in tone. "The magic of the Masters, however, is not so much about the score as it is the opportunity."

Ron Sirak noted this detail, which seemed to have been overlooked but which was apparent on television (and almost noted on-air by Feherty at No. 15 before he realized the club has snipers trained on him in case he reverts to his true self):

Also, grass was allowed to grow ever-so-slightly longer, preventing balls that in the past may have rolled into water to hang up just short.

Steve Elling had a different take, not convinced just yet that the course is all the way back.

Even with abnormally idyllic weather, softer greens, easier pin locations and front tees that were used liberally throughout the week in a notable departure from the norm, the low score was 12 under par, marking the third time in eight years that the Masters winner finished at that exact number. Thus, it was hardly a sub-sonic total, yet it required perfect conditions and plenty of course tinkering to pull it off.

That represents a flashing yellow light.

Regular readers here know that after Shinnecock, Oakland Hills and way too many other recent rounds, I am fascinated with the idea of courses becoming silly when it's 75 and the wind is clocked at a whopping 15 mph.

So last week for me that "flashing yellow light" came in the form of intentionally soft greens. We should applaud whoever made the call to make the greens slower and softer, because it helped mask the deficiencies in the architecture and gave us a memorable week.

In recent days I've polled folks in the know, asking who deserves the most praise for making this call. They unanimously say Billy Payne deserves it for setting a new tone and essentially overruling the committee charged with setup. Still, let's nod our caps to Fred Ridley, course super Marsh Benson and the committees who found a few new hole locations and did the dirty work.

Of course they should not have to work so hard if the architecture was in better condition. Yes, it was clear the second cut has been negated in many key areas by a discreet widening out of holes.  And the frontal additions to several tees clearly helped based on comments by Crenshaw and Weir. But still, is this quote from an AP notes column (nice spot reader David) really what the club wants to read:

"We played the ladies' tees two days in a row." – Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods, on the course setup.

There were a few times I was worried about player safety on No. 11 when it looked like a Palmer follow-through might lead to a plunge off the front. Then again, wasn't it wonderful Sunday to see the 15th play so short that players were able to bomb it past the abhorred Fazio/Hootie tree farm?

Which is the issue at hand. The committee had to work their tails off to offset the glaring deficiencies: the decrease in width, the second cut, the still-missing ebb and flow of the back nine, and the lack of genuine tee "elasticity." (Oh and we'll give a shout out to Brandel Chamblee who rightly questions the deepening of key fairway bunkers to the point that they eliminate the temptation factor.)

Minus the rough, minus the Christmas trees that are turning into monsters (shrewd planting work there!) but with a few old tees and corridors widened out to their old selves, firmness could be restored. Remember, Bobby Jones HATED soft greens, even writing an essay about it that originally appeared in the USGA Green Section Bulletin and subsequently in Masters of the Links

Wider and firmer does not necessarily mean players would be put back on the defensive. On the contrary, it should lull them into a false sense of security, a primary tenet of great risk-reward design.  And best of all, the committee wouldn't have to work so hard covering up the mistakes made in changing the course.

But can we all agree, the overall change in tone the last few years was not merely a product of the weather?

Tuesday
Apr142009

"Cabrera's appetites are like his drives โ€” prodigious."

SI's Alan Shipnuck files his typically rich-in-detail-no-one-else-has Masters game story. So rich, I'm running for the Pepto tablets just thinking about Angel Cabrera's diet:

Earlier in the evening a quaint Masters tradition had compelled him to eat a champion's dinner with the Augusta National members. Eschewing the lobster macaroni and cheese and other delicacies from the buffet, Cabrera settled on an irresistible item called the Tiger Woods Cheeseburger. The burgers were smaller than expected, so a famished Cabrera ate nine of them, washed down by gulps of red wine. Back at the house, as it neared 2 a.m., he took lusty sips of his favorite drink: Coke mixed with Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit brewed from grapes and more than 40 herbs and spices.

Tuesday
Apr142009

"In 1968, I was watching with my mother when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified."

I'm not going to sleep as well tonight knowing that Condi Rice is angling not for a job with the PGA Tour, but instead, as a golf writer.

Writing--if you could call it that--for The Daily Beast.

Long before I picked up a golf club four years ago, I watched the Masters every year. In 1968, I was watching with my mother when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified. Mother was outraged because she thought that the mistake might have been a result of the language barrier.

Still spelling his name wrong, after all these years. Though I doubt he's had much trouble with folks messing up the Roberto part.

Look at the lyrical quality of this passage.

I know Tiger from our Stanford connection. I once sat with him at a Stanford-Duke basketball game. Stanford won on a buzzer-beater, and we stormed the court together. With that kind of bonding, whom else would I pull for? I had decided that if Tiger did not win, I would champion the cause of Phil Mickelson (met him at the White House and he’s a really nice guy); Stewart Cink (met him in Atlanta and he’s a really nice guy); or Anthony Kim (haven’t met him but I like his swagger).

Tuesday
Apr142009

"'Back to the clubhouse. I'm not going to live long enough to figure out that backswing.'"

John Garrity catches up with some of the older former Masters Champions, including '68 winner Bob Goalby and Jackie Burke, making his first visit to Augusta in seven years.

Goalby, for example, shares one about Jackie and another old pro, Miller Barber. "You know Miller?" Goalby arches an eyebrow. "He's got about 14 curlicues in his backswing, and then he sticks the club straight up in the air with no wrist cock. Anyway, he asked Jackie for a lesson. They went out on the range, dumped the balls out. Miller said, 'I'm mixed up on my backswing. Watch me hit some.' So he hit about a dozen balls before Jackie turned and started walking away. Miller's got this squeaky voice. He shouted, 'Jackie! Jackie! Where are you going?' And Jackie said, 'Back to the clubhouse. I'm not going to live long enough to figure out that backswing.'"

Tuesday
Apr142009

"Straub describes the 115,000-square-foot clubhouse as 'a new Breakers.'"

Thanks to Steven T. for Eve Samples story on the proud new owner of Tesoro, the former Ginn property.

Last month, the court approved the sale of Tesoro's assets to Straub's West Coast Investors LLC. He paid $10.99 million for 353 lots, a golf course and another golf course lease, 11 acres of commercial property, a racquet club and a clubhouse.

Straub describes the 115,000-square-foot clubhouse as "a new Breakers."

115,000 square feet? I can't imagine why this place didn't work.

Tuesday
Apr142009

Golf With Comedian Lewis Black At Westchester CC...

Tuesday
Apr142009

"He's kidlike. He likes cartoons."

Wright Thompson files an excellent ESPN.com profile of Gary Player and Danny Lee's IMG-coordinated bond contrasted experiences at last week's Masters. (Shockingly, Lee announced his signing with Cleveland's finest today.) Besides some priceless stuff about the Player "brand," Thompson shares this anecdote about Lee's back nine 47 Friday.

When we left Danny, he was cruising on the eighth hole. On the next hole, the wheels began to fall off, a double-bogey, a little taste of his what's to come. Friday, he starts strong, eagling No. 8, birdieing 9 and then coming to the hole that would be his undoing: 10. He six-putts from about 10 feet. Twice more coming home to an 81, he double-bogeys, unraveling on national TV. "Now he's just spooked," IMG's Kevin Lynch says after the second double-bogey.

A 6-putt?

More disturbing is the IMG presence all week in Lee's life talking about "Danny Lee Inc." and this...

For now, in the last days of one life, it's hard to get him to focus on serious business discussions; he's more likely to slip out of the room to play video games.

"He's kidlike," Yim says. "He likes cartoons."

Tuesday
Apr142009

"Golf journalism creates a rich historical record about this game we love. May the craft long outlive these troubling times."

Paul Rogers in the latest SI Golf Plus pens this My Shot farewell to Travel and Leisure Golf.

As story lengths were shrinking and features were being replaced by cheaper, easier-to-produce Q&A's throughout the industry, the magazine remained a haven for the artful writer. Readers so inclined could savor the well-crafted sentence and the lengthy narratives on offbeat subjects (gimme putts, America's fiercest club championship, the enduring mystery of Young Tom Morris's death). The contributors ranged from the established to the aspiring, from a best-selling novelist like Chang-rae Lee to freelancers whose bylines appeared mainly in local papers or regional monthlies.

Tuesday
Apr142009

Behind The Scenes At Sikeston CC's Board Meeting

Thanks to Dave who forwarded this insider's view of a board meeting at Missouri's Sikeston Country Club. The sensitive subject of tree removal is in play. I think it is safe to say that anyone who has spent time on a club committee will relate to this. The video is also a fine introduction to Overstream.com.

Monday
Apr132009

First Masters Question: Is Augusta Live Undermining CBS's Credibility?

In reading reviews of the CBS coverage, most focus seems to be on the announcing and how they followed the Tiger-Phil drama. Bradley Klein charted these numbers:

The first commercial break didn’t come until 66 minutes into the telecast, and all told, by my count, we saw only 20 minutes of ads. That left time for golf, 378 shots in all shown live or “a moment ago.” Those shots comprised 57 drives; 96 full approaches into greens; six pitch-outs; 35 chips, recoveries or sand shots; 52 long putts, 83 short putts and 49 tap-ins. As for the common argument that we see too much putting, the evidence shows that 49 percent of all shots shown took place on the green.

Michael Hiestand in the USA Today really doesn't say much at all, but I thought I'd link it anyway. Kind of following in that Rudy Martzke tradition, isn't he? 

Chris Zelkovich picks on some of the sappier CBS comments in entertaining fashion. Don't worry, PK, he doesn't mention you!

Unmentioned in these reviews is the impact of Augusta Live, the amazing online bonus coverage that DirectTV subscribers also had access too.

On the live blogs here, we were consistently astonished just how few live shots CBS shows in comparison to what we were seeing in the online coverage of Amen Corner and the 15th/16h holes. Our friends watching BBC reported comments from post round interviews we never would have gotten and several other observations based on seeing actual golf shots instead of pre-packaged material.

For instance, we live blog participants knew all about Anthony Kim's historic round Friday as well as Rory McIlroy's disastrous finish and his ruling controversy, all thanks to Augusta Live or tips from viewers overseas. Yet for CBS, it was if they had a set script and no golf was going to get in the way.

Also disastrous was the 12th hole sequence Sunday. Every year the 12th tee caddy-player discussions provide us with the ultimate pressure moment. When Phil and Tiger arrived there, Ian Baker Finch and Nick Faldo talked over way too much of the club selection discussions. Now, I admire both as announcers and Faldo was particularly strong last week. So part of me wonders if they are told to talk viewers through things because there are so many non-golfers watching.

But I couldn't help noticing that Ian Eagle and Matt Gogel, announcing on Amen Corner Live coverage, went silent as Tiger-Stevie/Phil-Bones made the all-important 12th tee decision. (In hindsight, I should have muted my CBS feed.)

So my question: Is Augusta Live undermining CBS's credibility by exposing just how few live shots we see and golf shots period? Or is this merely the future of the broadcasting the Masters, where a network feed is an excessively-produced, almost documentary-style telecast for the masses while we viewers at home select feeds we want to watch, ala Augusta Live?

Monday
Apr132009

"Does Mickelson's reaction in the wake of Sunday's disappointment indicate nothing other than a sense of perspective and sportsmanship?"

Lawrence Donegan raises several interesting points about Tiger and Phil's post-round behavior Sunday, noting Phil's amazing (borderline shocking) disposition after having such a great chance of winning. But he mostly focuses on Tiger's crankiness. The entire piece is worth your time, it just so happens this caught my eye:

The contrast between Mickelson's ­apparent insouciance and Woods' evident anger was open to multiple interpretations. It was ever thus and this latest episode left those who believe the world No 1 is infallible to argue that he was angry only because he cares so much.

By extension all conduct is seemingly acceptable, be it the constant cursing and club throwing – in which Woods has become the world-leader since his return from injury – or the childish behaviour he adopted before Sunday's final round, cold-shouldering Mickelson in an apparent ­attempt to make him feel uncomfortable.

Monday
Apr132009

"I will no longer criticize the World Golf Rankings because Japan's Shingo Katayama mysteriously stays in the top 50 while seeming to do very little."

I'm not sure if I can fully vindicate the Official World Golf Ranking the way Gary Van Sickle is prepared to, but he does have a point here...

I will no longer criticize the World Golf Rankings because Japan's Shingo Katayama mysteriously stays in the top 50 while seeming to do very little. At the Masters, he finished ahead of Tiger, Phil and Padraig. He finished in front of everyone, in fact, except the Titanic Three. I was impressed with his gutty back nine, and I liked his theatrics. Just one thing — the Village People called, and they want their hat back.

Monday
Apr132009

2009 Masters Ratings Take Expected Easter Sunday Hit

But 42 million people tuned in at some point over the weekend, which isn't bad.