Twitter: GeoffShac
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Ever since golf began--Scottish historians have settled on the year 1100 as a reasonable date of birth--the game has been an enigma.



Cargos Redux

Who knew that a Barack Obama thread would lead to over 50 comments with nary a mention of Rick Warren?

I'm glad we could get this cargo pant debate out in the open, even if the peanut gallery has to chime here and there with cliched rants.

Still, no one has answered for me why those side pockets are so offensive to clubs that for two decades sold flammable polyester shirts adorned by cardboard collars and a breast pocket designed for a cigarette pack?

So I called on Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty Hackel to help out here. Marty replies to my question about the long-standing ban on cargos at most country clubs:

I would venture a guess that the clubs that do not allow "Cargo" shorts see them as too casual for the golf course. I do not know how this got started and it's the same clubs who mandate that ladies shorts be 19".

Cargos are often placed in the "Grange Look" category and as I always say "It's not what you wear but how you wear it." Obama looked ok to me in his "Cargo" shorts that he wore on the course on the 22nd. So lets not get out of control here. 

I'd go a step further and say he wore them very well, which is not easy when you are talking about cargo shorts and anyone over 25. But I'll defer to Sir Hackel.


Woods Camp Not Excited about Chevron Tourney Date It Was Once Excited About

Doug Ferguson reports that Tiger and friends want to go back to the old date even though tournament director Greg McLaughlin said just a few months ago that they it would be great:

We are excited about the field and we are excited about a week of December 15th to the 21st, which we think will be great. 

This is a little like the Classic Club debacle. It was obvious this would be a bad idea as far back as last year when it was announced. Everyone in the press tent had the same reaction: why the week before Christmas?

So why does it have to take the actual experiencing of the clearly bad idea before the overpaid handsomely compensated people in charge figure these things out?


Merry Christmas Mr. Pro-V1 Attorney: Acushnet To Continue Appeals

From Fairhaven:

Titleist Continues to Manufacture, Distribute and Sell Pro V1 Golf Balls Outside of Scope of Disputed Patents

Fairhaven, MA (December 23, 2008) - Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO), announced that it will move forward with the appeals process following denial of its request for a stay of an injunction regarding certain Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. The company announced that it does not expect today’s ruling or the injunction, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2009, to have a material adverse impact on its results and reaffirmed its confidence that it will ultimately win its appeal of the verdict in the underlying patent dispute.

"This decision will not interfere with Titleist’s ability to continue to manufacture, distribute and sell Pro V1 golf balls,” said Joe Nauman, executive vice president, corporate and legal of Acushnet. "While the stay was not granted, we understand that it was a request for extraordinary relief based upon a limited review.”

In September, well in advance of the District Court’s injunction decision, the production of existing Pro V1 model golf balls was converted to be outside the patents in question. As of January 1, 2009, there will be limited amounts of non-converted Pro V1 golf balls in retail inventory.

“Acushnet does not believe that the injunction order requires Acushnet to recall any Pro V1 golf balls from retailers, or that retailers are required to return any golf balls to Acushnet,” continued Nauman. “However, Acushnet is prepared to accept returns of non-converted retail inventory if requested by retailers.”

That's a bummer. I've been stocking up on non-converted retail inventory for fear that the converted retail inventory isn't as good. 


Castle Stuart Web Site Goes Live

You can check it out here and take a course tour here.





"Gandhi would have had a hard time winning one of these things."

Thanks to reader Bob for Gene Wojciechowski's wonderful look at the grueling Evans Scholarship awarding process. I really had no idea what they put them through.

Think about it: You're what, 17, and you're summoned to a room full of adults, many of them wearing the green blazers of the Western Golf Association, which oversees the largest privately funded college scholarship program in the country? There's a waiting area and then, when it's your turn, a WGA rep leads you through a pair of glass doors, to the front of the ballroom, where you shake hands with the WGA big hitters. Then you're directed to the podium, where 100 committee members -- all allowed to ask pointed questions about your academic record, caddying experiences, life aspirations, etc. -- are assembled in front of you. These are the people who will vote yes or no on your scholarship after you leave the room.

Nerve-wracking? One finalist's face turned a splotchy red by the end of the interview. Another finalist kept wringing her hands every eight seconds. Another finalist could have used a beach towel to soak up the forehead flop sweat.

Nearly 600 caddies nationwide applied to the Evans Scholars program this year. It's a breeze: All you need is club sponsorship, a sparkling academic record, a history of community service and/or meaningful extracurricular activities, leadership skills and serious financial need (parents' tax returns are required). Gandhi would have had a hard time winning one of these things.


"The image of a policeman-turned-woman does not sit easily with many participants in a sport driven by power, muscle and speed."

Jim Achenbach tells the Lana Lawless story. (Thanks to reader Ari.)

It's Tootsie meets SWAT in the vein of The Crying Game.



"Either make it a true playoff, or call it something else."

You know the FedEx Cup is a still a mess when Peter Kostis, who has to pretend to like it on the air for CBS, doesn't hold back on

Two years ago we were told that the FedEx Cup Playoffs were going to ensure exciting, meaningful events at the end of the season and culminate in a riveting conclusion at the Tour Championship. And for the second time since, the PGA Tour was forced to go back to the drawing board and modify the points system after the Tour Championship was made meaningless. For 2009, the point totals for each player who makes it to the Tour Championship will be reshuffled on the eve of the event.

They just don't get it. You can't call something a "playoff" if you are trying to protect the players who had a strong season while simultaneously giving everyone in the field a chance to win. Either make it a true playoff, or call it something else.


Obama Would Be Turned Away From Most Country Clubs... **

...for wearing cargos.

One of those arcane rules that I believe is reason #459 why the game's in need of a coolness intervention.

After all, those side pockets are so offensive.

More importantly, what ball is that he's playing?



"It is what it is."

Immediately after Tim Finchem's Sherwood media chat Saturday, I asked the Commish about layoffs in the media world and whether the PGA Tour is concerned about how the situation might impact coverage.

Yes, we have. It's a changing communication world. The bad news is that, I guess, you don't have as many different heads evaluating the sport or reporting back, which is not good. On the other hand, it's a more global reach with anything that happens in the Internet environment and that's a good thing. So I'm not so sure you can reverse the trend. It is what it is.

You can just feel the empathy, eh?

Now, I would never presume to tell someone making $4.8 million a year how to do his job, however, if I were Commish and standing on enemy turf (in thise case, a nicely heated and fully furnished cart barn with excellent food), I might have said something like:

Of course we're monitoring the situation and naturally we are sad anytime anyone loses a job. From a more selfish perspective, we know that newspaper and print coverage is where our fans and broadcast partners learn more about our players. All of those great little anecdotes and insights humanize them and make out tour better. So anytime you see less coverage in print it is one less opportunity for our fans to experience a unique perspective and that's a concern.

I can dream, no?


"You'll probably will see more of that type of presentation moving forward because we are trying to find more risk/reward..."

Commissioner Tim Finchem sat down Saturday with the assembled scribes at Sherwood (here, here to Doug Ferguson for suggesting we pull up was a long 30 minutes). For a summary of the conversation, you can read Ferguson's focus on the PGA Tour cutting costs and not jobs, while Steve DiMeglio shares some of Finchem's most detailed remarks on the economic crisis's impact. posted this short interview with Finchem that also serves as a healthier, more cost effective alternative to your daily Valium consumption.

The Commish talked about the demise of the Hope Classic and I used the opportunity to ask about a rumored shift in over course setup philosophy that we might see in 2009.

Q. You mentioned talking about the Hope, that one of the things that has possibly impacted the tournament was the shift in the way the golf courses played and presented, and now it's going back in the other direction. Do you see that as something that's a shift for that tournament or a shift in general for tour golf courses?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: To some extent I would say that it's really two different things, because the Hope, we are talking about a straight configuration of history and culture of the tournament, the atmosphere, what you want to try to accomplish in an environment where you play lots of golf courses during the week, and it's very difficult for a competitor to properly prepare, learning their way around one golf course let alone several.

Having said that, we are looking at ways to have a broader range and variety and set of conditions. We have, you have probably noticed in the last year, we have experimented a fair amount at certain tournaments.

For example, at Boston this year, we set up the 18th hole to where it's very conducive for players to reach the green and be in positions for eagle and birdie, just to see what reaction there was from players and the fans and television viewers.

You'll probably will see more of that type of presentation moving forward because we are trying to find more risk/reward and trying to find more things that create interest for the fans but still maintain the integrity of the competition.

Q. Was that a reaction at all to television ratings or player feedback?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think it's a reaction to television ratings, but it is the recognition that we should be on the weekend making the competition and the play of these golf courses more interesting to fans generally.

Sometimes you miss things and you realize you should be concentrating more -- not that we have necessarily missed anything, but we are putting out more interesting -- those kind of issues as we look at golf courses.

Uh, that's a yes, they are going to try and generate a little more excitement via setup in 2009. That should reassure Peter Kostis, who has expressed concern about some of the oddball setups of 2008 possibly carrying over into next year.

Finchem was also asked to confirm John Marvel's report that the Commish is entered in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The chairman and CEO of AT&T asked me to play, and I do believe I said, "Yes, sir."

Q. Who is your partner?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Davis Love. It has not been announced yet.

Q. What is your handicap?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think my index right now is 6.3.

Q. So if you have to play a few tournaments in the schedule, you're trying to lead by example?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm going from zero to one.

Q. So who is in your foursome?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Hunter Mahan and Randal Stephenson and myself. That's the plan, anyway.


Masters Field at 88

...after the World's Top 50 for 2008 is finalized. Doug Ferguson reports. Some of the names in and not yet in might surprise you:

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tied for third at the South African Open and will move up to No. 39, while Lin Wen-Tang of Taiwan tied for sixth in the Volvo Masters on the Asian Tour and will be No. 49.

Augusta National since 2000 has invited the top 50 in the rankings at the end of the calendar year. With no more official tournaments remaining, the final 2008 rankings were determined Sunday.

The 15 players not otherwise eligible except for their top-50 ranking were Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher, Luke Donald, Shingo Kayatama, Graeme McDowell, Rory Sabbatini, Jeev Milkha Singh, Aaron Baddeley, McIlroy, Oliver Wilson, Sterne, Soren Hansen, Tang and Soren Kjeldsen.

Along with other criteria, that puts the Masters field at 88 players who are expected to compete April 10-13. Among those still not eligible are Woody Austin, Scott Verplank, Davis Love III and J.B. Holmes, the only Ryder Cup player who could miss the first major of the year.

Augusta National has the smallest field of the four majors, and it most likely will get larger.

Players still can qualify by winning one of 13 PGA Tour events leading to the Masters, or by getting into the top 50 in the rankings published a week before the Masters. The Masters has not had more than 100 competitors since 1966. 


Donald On Lawsuit: "I’ve been looking forward for a long time to do this."

Victoria Kim reports that The Donald is suing Rancho Palos Verdes, home to Trump Trails National L.A., for $100 million.

“I’ve been looking forward for a long time to do this. The town does everything possible to stymie everything I do.”

So said Donald Trump in an interview Friday regarding the latest dispute with Rancho Palos Verdes, where his golf course is located.

In the latest chapter of Donald Trump vs. City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the real estate mogul has upped the ante -- by $100 million. In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Trump accused the city of requiring unnecessarily tough standards for developments on his 580-acre oceanside golf course on the scenic coastline.

Ready for the reason?

The city is holding improvements that are “in keeping with the Trump image” hostage to extract large fees from him, Trump alleges in the suit, which accuses city officials of fraud and violation of federal equal protection rights, among other things. When the developer first purchased the property in 2002, residents and city leaders welcomed the injection of funds into a city pulling out of a recession.

But since then, Trump has been engaged in battle after battle with the city, over a street name, a row of ficus trees, then a 70-foot flagpole.

That seems like it's worth $100 million, no?

I can't wait for The Donald to land a Trump Bedminster-U.S. Open so he can sue the USGA for not "keeping with the Trump image"!


Finchem Issues Video Plea To Players

Looking like he'd been kidnapped, Tim Finchem issued a plea to PGA Tour players for upbeat messaging and overall call to not act like entitled brats in '09. Lit by an Ikea fluorescant bulb lamp tilted sideways by an unnamed PGA Tour VP who made the cost-cutting suggestion, it was reported by SBJ's Jon Show that Finchem suggested the slugs add an event here or there, you know, for the effort.

"We’re asking every player to add a tournament or two to their historical schedule to assist the tournaments that historically have weak fields,” Finchem said. "We have a lot of title sponsors this year that are up for renewal. We have to put our best foot forward in terms of presenting our competitions." On the subject of showing appreciation to sponsors, whose payments range from thousands of dollars to millions, Finchem asked players to spend more time visiting corporate hospitality areas and “make your feelings known about the role of the sponsors, both publicly and in private communication to leadership of our sponsor companies."

I guess Tiger didn't pass along the video link to Stevie Williams:

He also requested that players avoid making negative public comments about the Tour. "We want players to be, No. 1, upbeat and positive about what the PGA Tour is doing and where we’re going,” Finchem said. "We want you to be excited about the competitive opportunities that you have. And third, we want you to talk about PGA Tour properties when you describe what this year, 2009, is all about. Particularly the FedEx Cup." He also asks players to be more involved in charity functions during tournament weeks. Before closing by wishing the players happy holidays, Finchem said, “I want to thank you in advance for the additional commitment that I know you’ll be making in 2009.”

Is that thanking them in advance part like a Corleone saying "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse"?

Oh and Freddie Couples must feel good that the Commish has a painting of him on the office wall.


Stevie and Phil, Photoshopped

Don't miss HookedOnGolf's Stevie-Phil make up photos.


“Thankfully not"

Some good news for the USGA from a post by Alan Bastable at on the Madoff financial scandal's ties to golf:

There’s also the matter of golf-oriented non-profits that might have had money tied up with Madoff. David Fay, the USGA’s executive director, told me the first thing he did when the scandal broke was to check if the USGA had entrusted any of its sizable portfolio to Madoff. “Thankfully not,” he says.


"Probably the most difficult name I ever had to tackle was Mark Calcavecchia at Troon. I made sure I checked that out a few times!"

Marvin Collins on Alex Harvey, long-time Claret Jug engraver Alex Harvey, who passed away at 83.

After bowing out at St Andrews in 2005, Alex recalled: "Probably the most difficult name I ever had to tackle was Mark Calcavecchia at Troon. I made sure I checked that out a few times!"

Harvey relished the day he engraved Paul Lawrie's name on the trophy at Carnoustie. "It was nice to see his name going on the trophy and not just because he's a Scot. I'd known him for years," he said. "My son Garry knew him and they'd played together on Tour."

Harvey recalled his swansong, with Tiger Woods triumphant at the home of golf. "It was a wonderful tournament, with Jack Nicklaus and I both retiring! In a way I was glad he bowed out on the Friday, otherwise he might have stolen my thunder."


"And whether it is stroke play or whether it is match play or some combination of both is what we are discussing with the top players."

During Thursday's teleconference to announce that Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam are supporting the Olympic golf push, someone asked about the format possibilites:

TY VOTAW: Jack and Annika, for your benefit and for the benefit of those on the line, we are in the process of talking to the top players in both the men's and women's game to get their feedback as to what format they feel would be the best test for an Olympic golf competition. That will actually be memorialized in the detailed questionnaire that we will be providing to the IOC by the end of March. We are in the process of getting that feedback.

Memorialized? Ty? I think someone's been taking too many meetings with a certain Commissioner?

The one thing that we have said in terms of some parameters that we presented in November, Peter and I, in our presentation to the Program Commission was: We do see this as an individual competition, not a team competition; country-by-country, but individual, and approximately 60 players for the men's and 60 players for the women. And whether it is stroke play or whether it is match play or some combination of both is what we are discussing with the top players.

Given the fact that the IOC has said that the top players have to support and want to play in the Olympics if golf were part of it, we think it's critical that we get that feedback from the top players so that we maximize the potential for that sport, and the format is certainly something that we are going to be going to the top players and talking about before we submit the bid.

I'm not sure if I think it's a good idea that they are talking to the players. Of course, since many of the folks involved are infatuated with 72-hole stroke play events, perhaps the players are the best hope the cause has of creating an innovative, must-see format.


"It's like worrying about the weather to some extent, but you've certainly got to have your raincoat on."

Chris Millard summarizes the economic crisis' impact on golf and shares this from Commissioner Finchem:

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem strikes a veteran tone when asked about challenges facing the tour in 2009.

"You just have to react to it," he says. "It's like worrying about the weather to some extent, but you've certainly got to have your raincoat on. You've got to work harder to deal with it. You've got to make sure that you're doing what has made you successful before, because we've been through these before, and we've come through them quite well."

Nothing like a good raincoat metaphor to start your day, eh? At least he wasn't using it in the other raincoat vein.

This next item could be why there has been no 2009 schedule release. The Commish is coming into the Sherwood cart barn to answer press questions Saturday, so perhaps this has been resolved:

The biggest question mark on the 2009 PGA Tour is the Wachovia Championship. With the impending purchase of Wachovia by Wells Fargo, the sponsorship and the championship remain in limbo. According to Ty Votaw, the tour's executive vice president of communications and international affairs, Wells Fargo can still be expected to stage the event. "They assume the contract of Wachovia," he says. "They're the successor organization."

Wells Fargo isn't so sure. Company spokeswoman Heather Schow told Golf Digest on Oct. 30, "We are still separate companies, and no decisions have been made as to how Wells Fargo and Wachovia will combine their sponsorship activities."

And about those ironclad contracts...

Broader concerns lie in the tour's overall sponsor mix. In 2008, the PGA Tour calendar had six tournaments title-sponsored by automobile manufacturers and 14 tournaments titled by financial-services/insurance companies.

"Fact of the matter is that if somebody comes up and says, 'Look, we can't pay—sue us,' that's not in the best interest of the tour," says Alexander, who foresees some negative pressure on the tour in 2009 but expresses confidence in the tour's ability to withstand it. It's the organization's lesser tours—the Champions and Nationwide tours—where he believes the greatest impact could be felt.


Daly Camera Fetches $1075

What economic crisis? of all places reports.


"Average golfers are going to say 'to hell with the rules.' That would be bad for golf."

Steve Pike talks to Tom Wishon and Terry Koehler about news of the USGA's high-lofted wedge study and they aren't too wild about many of the same things that bugged me and many of you.

"The USGA is grasping at straws here," Koehler said. "The existence of high lofted wedges is mandatory for golfers to have a chance to deal with modern golf course architecture, with deep faced bunkers, thicker greenside rough and faster and firmer greens.

"What are we doing to help grow the game if we take away the golfers' tools they need to contend with these hazards and conditions? If the USGA isn't careful, it's going to lose respect as the authority. Average golfers are going to say 'to hell with the rules.' That would be bad for golf."

And this from Wishon:

"This club requires more skill to hit consistently than any other wedge in the bag because when you have that much loft, there is a less friction between the ball and the face, and less compression of the ball against the face than any other wedge," Wishon said. "Thus, most golfers have a real problem finding that fine line between how hard to swing at the ball and how steep to hit down on the ball to be able to hit a 60-degree wedge solid enough to get the ball on the green and not leave it short in the hazard they were trying to finesse the ball over in the first place."