Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON

 

  

Monday
Nov162009

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

Matty G on the Erin Hills change of ownership:

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

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

This was interesting:

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

103 bunkers in 10 months? Really?

Monday
Nov162009

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

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

For Immediate Publication

AMENDMENTS MADE TO ENTRY CRITERIA AHEAD OF 2010 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

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

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

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

Sunday
Nov152009

Tiger Lexicon Grows...

...or is it jargon?

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

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

Spinning=spraying, no?

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

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

Rehearsals=hitting balls?

Any others you've heard?

Sunday
Nov152009

Bubble Bursts At Disney, PGATour.com Not There To Cover It?

There was much kvetching about the lack of Orlando Sentinel coverage for the Children's Miracle Network event at Disney World, but the real story was in PGATour.com's odd choice not to send someone to the final tour event of the year. Instead they posted AP game stories and a live blog, yet that wasn't enough when there are so many intriguing storylines like finalization of the top 125 and determination of tour cards for the following year.  Inevitably great storylines develop and the web becomes a prime source for family, friends, acquaintances and former pro-am partners to see how their horses are doing.

It's also disconcerting to see such coverage when the event is played in the same state as tour headquarters and where the sponsor is propping up a long time event popular with players.

Thankfully, we got compelling accounts of the final day's play and money list scenarios from Steve Elling (here), Bob Harig (here) and Sean Martin (here).

I know, those three probably did the job better than PGATour.com would when their writers file in fear of little men with a red pen scribbling away edgier details. But with media consolidation the tour's own site often becomes a primary source of news. How can they be trusted when they aren't even giving an important event serious coverage? (Not to mention the decision not to post a story about Doug Barron's lawsuit).

Most of all, what does the lack of coverage say about the home office's view of the Fall Finish and the event at Disney?

Sunday
Nov152009

Michelle Wie Wins In Spite Of Venal, Haunted Little Men

Great to see Michelle Wie overcome all of the folks hoping to see her fail--if you read the Huffington Post--and win an LPGA Tour event.

Ron Sirak reflects on what a "long, strange trip" it's been for Wie.

And Wie saved her deepest thoughts for Twitter:

Sunday
Nov152009

''[The sandbelt courses] bring back shot-making.''

Greg Baum says Tiger loved Kingston Heath, and Melbourne not only loved having Tiger but the week justified his appearance fee.

''All the guys have raved about this course, and I understand why,'' he said. ''[The sandbelt courses] bring back shot-making.''

He twice said he would love to come back, then strengthened his stance by adding: ''I want to come back.''

This would have rung as sweetly in the ears of Premier John Brumby as the sound of any shot Woods hit this week. The State Government risked opprobrium by underwriting the remaking of the moribund Masters and contributing to Woods' $3.3 million appearance fee.

At the 19th, Woods' line and pitch remained faultless. He again praised Melbourne's sandbelt courses for providing a level of technical satisfaction he does not always enjoy in the US.

Prima facie, this was money far better spent than on the atrophied grand prix. Allowing for competing claims and a rubbery factor, the grand prix cost more than $40 million this year; the Woods extravaganza made more than $20 million.

Unlike the grand prix, it was staged in a private park, willingly given over. And unlike at the grand prix, the aggregate crowd of almost 100,000 was authenticated. Evidently, there are drivers and there are drivers.

For once, Mr Brumby could be excused his hyperbole as he said: ''This has been a sensational event for our state.''

The Age features an efficient photo gallery from Tiger's week.

John Huggan makes the point--one that may have resonated after the obvious buzz this week--that more major events need to get out of the United States for the good of the game.

More than that, the JBWere Masters has inadvertently been the model for what will hopefully be a more enlightened future of professional golf. Think about it. Each of the four major championships – the Masters, the US Open, the Open and the USPGA – is run by organisations whose best days have been and gone. Or, at least, should be gone. Even worse, three of the four are played in the same country, a gross distortion of a modern golfing world that has never been smaller in terms of travel or more diverse in terms of those participating. It has long been obvious that established golfing nations such as Australia – long starved of live Tiger sightings – deserve more than they currently get. Indeed, any land where there is a huge and largely untapped appetite for golf should take its turn at the top table. At least one of what would be a newly-configured Grand Slam foursome should move around the world, visiting the likes of Oz, South Africa, Japan, Singapore and, soon enough, China, once every five years or so.

Saturday
Nov142009

No Injuries Reported When Tiger's Two-Handed Tomahawk Driver Fling Lands In Australian Gallery

You can view a golf.com gallery with the embarrassing retrieval.

(I guess it would have been a little tacky to send Stevie after it like last time)

From YouTube:

Angus Morgan explains what happened:

Woods played down an incident on the 13th tee where his driver ended up in the gallery after a wayward drive.

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

"On 13 it was my mistake there, I got hot after a bad tee shot and let go of the club."

I enjoyed this fan shot from the day before more. Notice how as Tiger stops mid-swing the Zapruder drops his camera just in case those eyes on the back of Tiger's head spotted the dude capturing this historic shot. Sheesh, he's not Monty!



Friday
Nov132009

"But it was a process [getting the TUE] that nearly sent me over the edge."

Bob Harig talks to Shaun Micheel about his "TUE" saga with the tour in light of revelations about Doug Barron's positive test and civil suit.

The PGA Tour, other than to acknowledge that Barron requested the TUEs last year and was denied, had no comment.

Micheel has been taking prescribed testosterone for several years and said he went through months of anguish in order to get the exemption he felt necessary to remain healthy and continue his career.

"I was filled with all sorts of questions about what was going to happen to me if I'm not allowed to take this medication," Micheel said. "Will I just feel terrible every day? I was told for me to have a performance gain [by taking testosterone], I'd have to bathe in the stuff every day. I take it for therapeutic reasons -- a little bit I rub onto my shoulder every day.

"But it was a process [getting the TUE] that nearly sent me over the edge."

Friday
Nov132009

"It'll be a change, but it's not like you're going to watch something different next year."

Rex Hoggard is at the Disney event and does some research on the grooves issue. Early conclusion? Too early to tell for the most part since manufacturers have been slow to ship conforming clubs to players.

The new rule applies to all clubs, but most players already play conforming grooves in their irons. The only adjustment for the lion’s share of Tour players will be in their wedges and most agree the impact will be negligible.

From fairway lies, tests indicate a Tour player gets 3 to 4 percent less spin with the conforming grooves, which are smaller than the old grooves and not as sharp along the edges. “You really can’t tell the difference,” said Heath Slocum, who put the new wedges in play at the Frys.com Open. “Maybe a foot of extra roll on the greens. I couldn’t tell any difference.”

From the rough, however, there is a tendency for the ball to roll up the clubface, creating a shot with less spin that comes out higher than players are used to.

“You’re going to see players go to wedges with less loft,” said Todd Anderson, the swing coach for Charles Howell III and Charles Warren. “A guy will go from 60 (degrees) to 56 (degrees) to control shots better.”
Touch shots from the first cut of rough are also a concern for some players.

“From 80 yards out of the rough it’s going to be tough to control,” said Warren, who is 144th in earnings and did not switch to the new grooves at Disney as he attempts to break into the top 125 and secure his ’10 Tour card.

David Dusek offers this analogy from Davis Love:

But anyway, it'll be a change, but it's not like you're going to watch something different next year. It's like watching Talladega with a tiny bit smaller restrictor plate. To us fans it looked like the same race. It was just a little bit slower, but it looked like the same race. 
It's going to look like the same race next year. You just might see one ball roll a little bit farther on a chip and it'll just be because a guy played a different shot.

Friday
Nov132009

"That is a great record but the point is it could have been much better."

A couple of interesting takes on Rory McIlroy's decision to join the PGA Tour, even though he's essentially still going to play a worldwide schedule.

Brian Keough at the Irish Golf Desk on how the decision came down:

There is no doubt, as Lawrence points out, that spending lengthy periods of time in the US means you simply don't get home to see your coach as often as you might like. Just look at Harrington's disastrous DIY swing tweak this year. Then there's the travel, as McIlroy's World Cup partner Graeme McDowell can attest after a nefarious PGA Tour foray cost him a Ryder Cup place at the K Club in 2006. McDowell's manager at the time was Chubby Chandler.

Maybe that's why Chandler was trying to persuade McIlroy to stay put in Europe and his Oct 21 email to the SportsBusiness Journal telling them that "Rory has decided not to join the PGA Tour in 2010" appears to have backfired on him spectacularly.

When I asked McIlroy about it before the Volvo World Match Play in Spain, he said: "I saw that. That's not accurate." And he said it in a hurt tone that hinted that he was not totally happy that a decision had been taken on his behalf or that he was being railroaded into doing something he was not quite sure he really wanted to do.

Lawrence Donegan thinks young Rory will regret a worldwide schedule and compares his decision to Ernie Els in the late 90s.

And why shouldn't his plan work exactly as he hopes it will (which is to say, help him fulfill his talent and win majors)?

The answer is because it has never worked for any player, not over the long run. Ask Lee Westwood, who tried the two-tour thing a few years ago and quickly wised up, or Padraig Harrington, whose punishing trans-Atlantic schedule is, I'd bet, part of the reason why his game has gone backwards this year. Better still ask Ernie Els, who is managed by the same company as McIlroy and whose career, terrific though it has been, might serve as a cautionary tale.

For years, Els has been the only golfer in the world who truly has played a "worldwide schedule". It has made him a popular figure and a very wealthy man, but has it allowed him to make the most of his talent? Well, you might say, he has won 60 times around the world, and three of those wins have been major championships.

That is a great record but the point is it could have been much better.

Friday
Nov132009

"I think if I were a professional golfer, I'd be interested in the outcome because what happens to the next guy that takes an over-the-counter drug that is on the list of banned substances?"

Lawrence Buser and Dan Wolken in the Memphis Commercial Appeal offer some tantalizing bits on the Doug Barron v. PGA Tour case.

Barron's attorney, Arthur Horne III, said the PGA Tour refused to acknowledge in the initial press release that the substances Barron tested positive for were medications prescribed by his doctor.

Barron has been taking the beta blocker propranol since 1987 for a condition known as mitral valve prolapse and the PGA knew that when it tested Barron in June of this year, the suit says.

Without the medication, the suit continues, Barron experiences a racing heartbeat, pains and jolts in his chest, although his doctors have been weaning him off the medication as mandated by the PGA last October. Under the direction of his cardiologist, Barron said, he had reduced his intake from 160 mg per day to 40 mg at the time of the test.

"They wanted him off the drug completely, and his physician was weaning him off at the pace he saw fit," Horne said.

And add this to the inevitable players-union chatter...

Barron said he sued because there is no players union in golf to help him through an appeals process.

"One of the reasons Doug wanted to pursue this was on the principle for all the other guys that come behind him that find themselves in this situation because this is a trail run," Horne said. "I think if I were a professional golfer, I'd be interested in the outcome because what happens to the next guy that takes an over-the-counter drug that is on the list of banned substances?"

Friday
Nov132009

"The Golf Channel is a stronger brand, but it could benefit from a link to NBC and its on-air talent."

The New York Times' Richard Sandomir contemplates the role Dick Ebersol might play in the new GE-Universal-NBC-Comcast (GUNC?) entity, and suggests that Comcast properties like Golf Channel can only benefit from Ebersol's touch (assuming he stays on past 2012, and assuming they can lock in the Big Break for the next fifty years).

Sandomir also notes a possible Olympic-Golf Channel tie in--assuming ESPN doesn't outbid for the 2016 games. Left unsaid is the possibility of more USGA Championship content going to The Golf Channel someday.

Thursday
Nov122009

Barron Sues; PGA Tour Returns To Scene Of Past Triumph: The Courtroom

Cameron Morfit reports that Doug Barron has filed a civil suit and injunction request over his positive drug test.

The lawsuit also clarifies what Barron tested positive for: testosterone and beta-blockers.

"This was never a case of a guy in a back room taking creams or using needles," said Art Horne, his agent. "This was a guy taking what was prescribed to him by medical doctors for conditions that others have been given exemptions for. We feel Doug has been treated unfairly."

Barron is going to have to explain why, if this was a mistake and an unfair situation, why he issued this quote in a PGA Tour release?

Thursday
Nov122009

"Hopefully Harry Colt is up there somewhere and looking down on us with a nod of approval"

Martyn Herman reports that a remodeled Wentworth is ready for the 2010 European PGA Championship. Unfortunately, Ernie Els violated the cardinal sin of restoration work: making major changes and declaring that the original architect would be pleased. He's just entered the Rees and Fazio division.

A new water hazard extending 90 yards down the 18th fairway and alongside a reshaped green will stiffen the challenge for competitors at the European Tour's flagship event won this year by Britain's Paul Casey.

First ugh. Second one:

New bunkers have also been added to "future proof" the course against the game's big hitters.

"Next year will be particularly exciting as it will be the first European Tour event on the Remodeled West Course," said European Tour championship director Jamie Birkmyre in a statement.

"The changes to the landscapes and the different challenges the greens will pose the players will surely make for a fantastic event."

And the killer:

The West Course, designed in 1926 by Harry Colt, has remained virtually untouched apart from alterations in 2005 and again this year which were overseen by South African triple major winner and local resident Ernie Els.

"Hopefully Harry Colt is up there somewhere and looking down on us with a nod of approval," added the record seven-times winner of the World Match Play at Wentworth.

First, the changes in 2005 were reviled by players and they usually don't notice much.

Second, adding a water hazard does not constitute "virtually untouched," so just maybe Harry Colt is not up there celebrating this. But that's just a guess.

Thursday
Nov122009

"I confess to finding the fact that Larry baptised Loren Roberts in the swimming pool of the Polynesian resort at Disneyworld almost beyond satire"

The Guardian's Marina Hyde isn't too wild about news of another golf movie and has a suggestion for someone wanting to give golf it's next Caddyshack.

And while there are many satirical ways in to the right-wing religious conservatism that has dominated American culture in recent years, you'd have to say that the PGA tour is right up there. It was that fabled man of God Tom Lehman who described Bill Clinton as a "draft-dodging baby-killer", yet he is but one of many players on the tour who sport those wristbands inquiring "what would Jesus do?" – a question to which the answer is "pay less tax, if any".

Then there are the well-attended tour Bible studies on Wednesday nights, taken by the PGA's official chaplain Larry Moody. I confess to finding the fact that Larry baptised Loren Roberts in the swimming pool of the Polynesian resort at Disneyworld almost beyond satire, but doubtless in the right hands it could be made to sing.

As for our mandatory Cinderella, that wouldn't be hard. Roberts himself described the European tour as "really a tough market to crack" for the born-again recruiters, so it has to be a cynical European who declines to be drawn into the Bible studies / Republican rallies / impromptu water-hole baptisms that characterise this bizarre subculture. I'm begging you, Hollywood, consider it – or at the very least, a moratorium on those tame club tie jokes.

On a more serious note, thanks to reader Scott for this nice bit of charity work by Loren Roberts.

Thursday
Nov122009

GCA's Clear Creek Review

With Kingston Heath on our minds, there's a nice reminder--in the form of Ran Morrissett's review of Coore and Crenshaw's Clear Creek--that we have architects and superintendents in the States who are building rustic golf courses. Yes, it is very green, but remember it's a mountain course. Instead, savor the bunkering and areas just off the maintained turf.

Wednesday
Nov112009

Australian Masters Opening Day Telecast Thoughts

What a delight watching Kingston Heath during round one of the JB Were Australian MastersTiger Woods posted a 66 in front of huge crowds and we were treated to several hours on Golf Channel here in the U.S.  Not only is the golf course so lovely to look at, but the flow of the telecast was far different than what we're used to hear in the States.

A few things about the broadcast stood out:

- Camera angles. Perhaps they were forced to have some alternatives, but a few holes featured a nice side view look at a green instead of the standard rear tower. It added variety and gave us a better sense of the architecture.

- No promos. It's amazing how much better the telecast flowed without the relentless plugs for NCIS and reality shows and...

- Made the announcing so much more enjoyable. Particularly the Ian Baker-Finch/Brett Ogle portions. Not having to read so many plugs allowed them to engage in some informative discussions about how holes had changed thanks to technology, what a great job Mike Clayton did adding the 11th hole (and why), and overall the better flow lent a relaxed, welcoming tone that made the telecast feel like we were merely listening in on a conversation among knowledgeable fans. IBF also ably explained the strategy behind some of the holes as we were treated to graphic flyovers.

- Focusing on two groups. What a joy to really study one group primarily (Badds, Appleby, Coltart) with select shots from others like Adam Scott and Matthew Goggin. This allowed us to take a tour of the course (aided by those great hole graphics) and to see a nice variety of shots, not just an onslaught of putts. Baddelay was all over the place, but his swing looks sensational and you get the sense he's making progress. Getting to see so much of his round made for more interesting viewing, even though he wasn't playing that well.

Not surprisingly, the golf course also came off beautifully. The sparse and dry roughs, the lay of the land feel of the holes and those wondrous bunkers jutting into greens with so little rough between the two: perfection!

For those who watched, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday
Nov112009

"I'm tired of Tiger Woods. Just totally fed up with him."

John Huggan is tired of Tiger Woods. Off the course.

For a man who has never been known to give up with a club in his hands -- one of his most admirable qualities -- the world's best golfer appears to do little more than go through the motions when it comes to his obligations elsewhere. And yes, obligations is the correct word; Tiger earns a lot of money from playing golf in public. One would think he'd try to give a bit more of himself to the people who ultimately fund his opulent jet-set lifestyle.

Take his pre-tournament press conference at this week's JBWere Masters in Melbourne. OK, so the whole thing was a bit of a farce, from the tedious and self-serving seven-and-a-half-minute monologue from John Brumby, the Premier of Victoria -- your typically vacuous and preening politician -- to the totally un-cool rounds of applause that both preceded and ended the proceedings. But, as per usual, Tiger (who more than once appeared to be on the point of nodding off during Brumby's bletherings) batted back questions, good, bad, tough and softball, with responses that at best could be described as predictable.

While I see Mr. Huggan's point, he forgets that America loves the non-answer, non-controversial, safe, middle of the road star. Frankly, I admire Tiger for detecting this and milking it to his financial advantage. It takes a lot of will power to pull it off!

Wednesday
Nov112009

“What I’m most proud of in my career is that I’ve built brands; I’ve built them globally, and I’ve left them significantly larger than when I joined them"

Beth Ann Baldry files this profile of new LPGA Commish Mike Whan (family man, Midwest values, looks you in the eye, yada, yada, yada). 

You know, I've read four or five stories on the hockey stick dude and I still couldn't tell you the name of this glorious brand he built. NCIS Hockey or some such thing.

Whan champions his ability to build brands. When he joined Mission Hockey in 2002, he says, it was an unstable roller-hockey business that was unprofitable. During his tenure, the company’s annual sales grew from $20 million to nearly $80 million.

“What I’m most proud of in my career is that I’ve built brands; I’ve built them globally, and I’ve left them significantly larger than when I joined them,” Whan said.

Yeah, but we can't remember their names! What kind of branding is that?

And I must apologize to the Brand Lady right now. Even you never dropped the B word this much, but when you touted your branding experience, we could at least remember the brand you last worked on (USA Today).

Wednesday
Nov112009

Where's Marty Hackel When You Need Him Files: Golf Bras For The Discerning Japanese Woman

Harriet Alexander introduces us to the best sign yet that we have hit rock bottom and that there are fashion designers doing their best to really make people hate golf. That would be after reading about the "new bra to appeal to Japan's busy golfing women."

The green corset-style garment can be removed and unrolled to create a 1.5m-long putting mat.
When the user sinks a putt into one of the cups, a built-in speaker pumps out a congratulatory "Nice shot!".

You know I could chime in here with a thought, but my mother reads this site.

The bra also features pockets for extra golf balls and tees, and a detachable flag pin that serves as a score pencil.

The bra set comes with a skirt with the words "Be Quiet" printed on the rear, which doubles up as a flag for use on the course.

Quite how the user is supposed to do cover herself when she removes the underwear is unclear.
Twice a year, Triumph unveils a new novelty bra in Japan to highlight social trends.

Japanese women needing to practice their putting is a social trend? Heaven help us.