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 – 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

The best courses will have a powerful, clear, passionate unity that taxes the mind and embraces the senses like a serious symphony or opera. The structure and detail can then form a lasting recognizable identity.  DESMOND MUIRHEAD




"Many establishments have deliberately gone out of their way to make it hard for children to play."

I read Alistair Tait's look at the struggles of British golf clubs and couldn't help thinking that they make American clubs look downright junior golf crazy!

Here’s an anecdote that perfectly sums up the attitude of some British golf clubs: I once had a chat with a club professional who wanted to help his assistant professionals make a little extra money by giving lessons to local people. When he suggested this to the club’s members, they told him they didn’t welcome the initiative. The reason? The club was worried about throwing its doors open to what it termed as “undesirables.”

More damningly, for years many British clubs have had a dreadful attitude toward children. Many establishments have deliberately gone out of their way to make it hard for children to play.

That oh-so-British attitude that children should be seen and not heard was changed to children shouldn’t even be seen, let alone heard.

So clubs said children couldn’t play before a certain time, and couldn’t enter certain rooms. Stringent dress rules applied by old men whose fashion sense was 50 years old also did nothing to make the game sexy to generations of young golfers.


Ah The Synergy Of It All...

Nice work by John Strege following the IMG trail to note that the soon-to-be HSBC event in Shanghai is run by Cleveland's classiest pimps fee brokers. Even better, it's just a week before the Australian Masters where Tiger Woods has committed to play.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking Tiger has a mole inside PGA Tour headquarters. I know, I know. Big time conspiracy theorist here. Gulity.


Forbes: Who Knew Babysitting/Luggage Toting Could Be So Lucrative

Matt Woolsey of Forbes files a story on caddy life, pay, and how far they've come, now parking on-site at most events and even treated with respect now and then.

Accompanying is a top 10 photo gallery of the world's best paid caddies based on this probably-not-that-accurate-but-probably-close-enough system:

We determined our figures by tracking June 2006 to June 2007 tournament purses and player finishes, as reported by the PGA. Caddies are paid on the basis of how well their player performs: a base salary of $1,000 a week plus 5% of the tournament purse, 7% of a top 10 and 10% for a victory, according to Cone. 



PGA Tour Is Not Very Good At Keeping Secrets

Jon Show reports that China's HSBC event is going to join the WGC family. Not exactly a state secret, especially when you take this into account:

The tour would not confirm the new HSBC event, but commercials for the U.K.-based financial institution ran during the recent telecast of the CA Championship on NBC. World Golf Championship title sponsors receive ad units during one another’s telecasts.


Suit Thrown Out After Court Says There Is No Disputing That John Daly Is A Mess

He had sued the Florida Times Union over a column by Mike Freeman, reports AP's Ron Word:

Daly had sued in 2005, alleging a column by Freeman written during The Player's Championship that year defamed him.

Freeman's column said: "How does Daly not fail the scoundrel sniff test with fans despite possessing definite Thug Life qualifications. Look at the Daly blog. Domestic violence accusations? Yup. Substance abuse issues? Unfortunately, three different kids from three different moms, making him the Shawn Kemp of golf? Yes. A former wife indicted for laundering illegal drug profits? Roger that."

Carithers wrote in his opinion that the alleged defamatory statements were opinions based upon disclosed facts.

"The only possible basis for a defamation action would be if Daly proved that one of the four underlying facts was false, but there is no genuine dispute with respect to any of the underlying facts," Carithers wrote.


LPGA Outlook Brighter Thanks To At Least Three Debacle-Free Weeks

Jon Show says that LPGA operations have stabilized thanks to Michelle Wie, the new Golf Channel deal and the salvation of the all-important Phoenix stop. Though I'm not sure I'd lump in Natalie Gulbis-not-getting-fired-by-The-Donald as a sign of hope.

Other key players such as Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and young newcomers like Stacy Lewis and Vicky Hurst are also making waves, attracting an uptick in interest from magazines like Teen Vogue and Seventeen.

Australian Anna Rawson, a 27-year-old part-time fashion model, will be announced this week as the latest female athlete to endorse GoDaddy. Natalie Gulbis is still an employee of Donald Trump in the latest season of NBC’s reality hit “The Apprentice.”


Butch Still Obsessing Over Tiger In Very Unusual Ways

Rick Reilly talks to former Tiger swing instructor Butch Harmon about his favorite topic and it seems Harmon has been chatting with doctors about Tiger's knee.

"I still think he probably beats Nicklaus' records, but now you say it with a bit of hesitation," says no less than Butch Harmon, Tiger's old swing coach. "You talk to some doctors and they say no chance it's ever the same. Others say it'll be fine. I don't see a lot of change in his swing, except it's a little more inside out. Ask me again in August. Let's see how that knee is holding up after a full summer of golf."


“It was a moment of excitement and just me being me"

There's an enjoyable Q&A between Tom Cunneff of Links and Amy Alcott, who talks about the unusual tradition she started at the Dinah Shore and her enjoyable new book of conversations with a variety of golfers.


"So that’s 201 action shots, which spread out over the 192-minute telecast comes to one stroke every 57 seconds."

I'm not sure I can agree with the Good Doctor Bradley Klein that this note on NBC's Transitions Championship coverage is good news:

The good news is we saw a lot of golf shots: by my count, 210 in all, including nine by way of intro that showed what happened earlier that day and the rest live or close enough to live (“just moments ago’’). So that’s 201 action shots, which spread out over the 192-minute telecast comes to one stroke every 57 seconds. No wonder golf seems glacial in pace.

A shot a minute? No wonder I watched so much basketball.


Sergio Excited To Let Fans Dress Him Morning Of PLAYERS Round Two

Not what you think...much less interesting. Most importantly, Sergio can't wait to see which bib outfit adidas has selected for fans to select for him.

THE PLAYERS launches “Dress Sergio” campaign
Fans vote for outfit defending champion will wear during tournament’s second round

March 23, 2009

Tournament officials today unveiled “Dress Sergio,” a first-of-its-kind promotion for THE PLAYERS Championship featuring defending champion Sergio Garcia. Starting today, fans can vote online at PGATOUR.COM/DressSergio for one of three adidas outfits they would like to see Garcia wear during the second round of THE PLAYERS.
Voting closes on Wednesday of THE PLAYERS, May 6, and Garcia will unveil the winning outfit in the media center following the first round on Thursday, May 7.

Wow, prepare security. There could be a stampede to the interview room for that.

All three outfits will be on display and available for purchase during tournament week in THE PLAYERS Shops, located in THE PLAYERS Stadium Village and at No. 17.

I've always wanted to dress like the staff at Hot Dog On A Stick.

“This is a really fun promotion, and I’m excited that it’s part of THE PLAYERS Championship week when I’m defending my title” said Garcia. “I trust my fans to pick out a great outfit that will provide good luck for me during the second round. I can’t wait to see which outfit wins.”

“Sergio’s win at the 2008 PLAYERS was one of the most exciting and memorable in tournament history, and he’s been a fantastic defending champion and ambassador for THE PLAYERS over the past year,” said Executive Director Jay Monahan. “The ‘Dress Sergio’ promotion is a great new way to not only engage our fans leading up to and during the tournament, but also a chance to celebrate our outstanding champion. I’ll certainly be casting a vote, and I look forward to learning the results after the first round of THE PLAYERS.”

At the time of voting, fans will have the option to register for a sweepstakes, with the chance to win:
Grand Prize (1): $3,000 TaylorMade-adidas Golf package;
Second-place Prize (5): TaylorMade R9 Driver;
Third-place Prize (1,000): Sleeve of TaylorMade Sergio Garcia golf balls.
Fourth-play Prize (100,000): Lifetime of junk email from PGA TOUR and adidas

Oops, sorry I had to add that fourth place prize to spice things up.


"I had no interest in buying a golf course. But when I saw the property, I realized that it is a jewel."

Ed Sherman reports on the rather incredible salvation of Ravisloe Country Club and the course with Ross genes opening to public play April 1.


And Then There Was One Golf Newsman In Florida...

I believe news that Randall Mell is joining leaves just Garry Smits covering golf for a newspaper in Florida.

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 23, 2009) – GOLF CHANNEL announced today the addition of veteran sports writer Randall Mell as senior writer for Mell will serve as a beat writer for golf’s professional tours, handling breaking news, features and opinion stories for the Web site, and will contribute to the network’s news reporting team on-site at PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour events, as assigned.

Mell brings 28 years of journalism experience to GOLF CHANNEL. An award winning senior writer/columnist/reporter with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) since 1985, he also has served as a co-host for Golf World On-Air – a Saturday morning radio show airing on The Sporting News Radio Network in more than 100 markets.

“We are excited to have Randall join our editorial team as we continue to build into the leading destination for golf fans,” said Jay Coffin, editorial director for “He is a well-respected journalist and his veteran leadership will be a valuable asset.”

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1981, Mell began his career at the Marinette Eagle Star (Marinette, Wis.), then became sports editor at the Lake Geneva Regional News (Lake Geneva, Wis.).


"In Tampa, he topped the field average by nearly 37 yards"

Jason Sobel notes in his weekly roundup this astounding driving distance stat on Alvaro Quiros at last week's Transitions Championship:

The rumor going around is that the lanky Spaniard in a wide-brimmed hat and pencil-thin sideburns is longer off the tee than J.B., Bubba or anyone else in the world -- and he's starting to prove it on U.S. soil.

In Tampa, he topped the field average by nearly 37 yards; that's likely a three-club differential in any conditions.

Quiros' long-bombing nature hasn't come out of nowhere, of course. He currently leads the Euro Tour in driving distance at 314.2 -- almost six yards longer than the next closest competitor. And he's finished atop this category in each of the last two seasons by a similar margin.


"The only way to get this guy to play is to buy him."

Someone won a golf tournament this week (Retief Goosen), so he must be the new Masters favorite if you are following SI's Golf Plus/ Magazine/AOL/Time Warner Cable dissertation, which stretches to a new record four pages.

But they make up for the expected love for the latest winner by defecating all over the Tavistock Cup and offering this spirited exchange on Tiger's $3 million appearance fee for the Australian Masters.

Gorant: If things get worse over there, it would be interesting if Tiger showed up and got booed or picketed by protestors.

Herre: Not all the dough is from taxpayers, about half is. And Tiger will be leaving a chunk in Australia as he will be taxed there on the $3 million. The reality is that he isn't making that much off the trip. I think it's one of those "expanding the brand" things. Also, heaven knows the Australian tour could use a lift. It's been hurting for years.

Gorant: It's 48% in taxes. Interesting side note on Tiger's motivation: the event is run by IMG.

Shipnuck: My favorite part of the blowback was Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, saying that his famous client was basically going because he really, really wanted to play Kingston Heath. I've been there, and it is indeed a great course, but I don't think that's why Tiger is getting on the plane.

Van Sickle: Tiger's trip Down Under should be a lesson to those trying to recruit Tiger for their own tournaments. The only way to get this guy to play is to buy him. Either a $3 million appearance fee overseas, or an endorsement deal (like AmEx and Buick) or have a tournament run by IMG (Deutsche Bank, AT&T). Judging by his last-minute entry even into the WGC event at Doral, he's not going to be pro-active on Finchem's request for the tour's stars to play more. Pay him and he'll play.

Maybe the folks running the Skins Game will...oh right, they already did that too!


Skins Game Finger Pointing Proves More Entertaining Than The Event Itself

Larry Bohannan looks at the demise of the Skins Game and even though the event has been dead for years, the blame game floodgates are just now opening.

ESPN's Tony Renaud does most of the pointing and it's directed at the PGA Tour, which, last I checked, does not sign Andy North's paycheck.

The small purse plus competition from international events allowed to pay appearance fees forbidden by the PGA Tour have hurt the Skins Game field, Renaud said.

“So you are competing in that atmosphere, plus the fact that you have the PGA Tour handcuffing you and saying here are the eligibility factors,” he said.

Unlike the earliest days of the event, where organizers merely invited the most appealing players, today's Skins Game field is governed by specific rules from the PGA Tour's competition committee. The defending champion is invited and the event gets one sponsor's exemption. The other two spots must be offered to the previous year's PGA Tour money leader and the winner of the current year's Players Championship. If those players decline their invitation, officials must invite players from the previous year's money list in descending order.

And from the City of Indian Wells perspective, where they spent too much money to pay for the event on courses where they spent too much money renovating, city manager Greg Johnson:

“I would say that IMG, ESPN and the PGA Tour have not delivered on the television ratings for the amount of money they are asking to be a host sponsor,” Johnson said. “Unless they are able to change that and show they are able to deliver a product that is worthy of the host sponsor fees they are requiring, I don't believe it would be appropriate to continue. The ball is in their court. I think they need to understand that they need to make changes.”

Sadly, they can point fingers all they want but unless they start going to dynamic courses, come up with an eye-opening amount of money to lure big names and do about five other things, the event has no chance. Unless...

I'm thinking a foursome of Tim Finchem, Renaud, an official from the City of Indian Wells and maybe Tom Watson to accuse someone of cheating on day two when things start to get redundant. We mike them and it's two days of bitching, finger pointing, catfights and excuses.

Couldn't be any less interesting than what they have now, which is a bastardization of a once great event.


"In my view it's going to do a lot of damage to our national Open which comes two weeks after this one in Melbourne"

Count Peter Thomson among those not so wild about Tiger's $3 million appearance fee for the IMG Masters (Australian edition). James Corrigan reporting:

 "In my view it's going to do a lot of damage to our national Open which comes two weeks after this one in Melbourne," he said. "The Australian Open is our national championship, it is the most important event that we have. He won't be playing in that but that [Masters appearance] sucks up all the potential sponsorship."


"Moving forward, the city of Phoenix has got something incredible here."

John Davis highlights what looks like a great salvation job by the LPGA in Phoenix, not to mention a potential eye opener for them if Papago's public access nature draws more energetic galleries.

That means the event will draw added interest from fans, and that should be a plus for Papago, a course once regarded as one of the better municipal layouts in the country but one that had deteriorated over the past two decades.

"This has always been a great LPGA market, and they really wanted to keep a tournament going here. That's what's most important," tour official Allison Akin said of the event that starts Thursday.

"The design (of Papago) is just great. Moving forward, the city of Phoenix has got something incredible here. I think it's going to be great for residents and visitors alike."


"I tried to explain that my situation was a little different, but the USGA was having none of it."

John Huggan catches up with Catriona Matthew and while I hadn't paid much attention to her denied request for a pregnancy-related extension of her U.S. Women's Open this year, the USGA's justification for turning her down would be humorous if it wasn't so short-sighted and nonsensical.

As for her own on-course ambitions, Matthew suffered a set-back recently when the apparently myopic United States Golf Association turned down her request to extend by 12 months her exemption into this year's US Women's Open. Coming as it does only five weeks after she is due to give birth, Matthew won't be able to play.

"They turned me down, saying it would set a precedent they don't want to set," she shrugs. "Their thinking was that, if they gave it to me, they would have to give the same thing to men whose wives were having babies. I tried to explain that my situation was a little different, but the USGA was having none of it."

Still, despite America's oh-so stuffy (and male-dominated) ruling body being unable to tell the difference between men and women, Matthew is still hopeful of making a fifth Solheim Cup side come September. It's unlikely she will qualify as of right, but European skipper Alison Nicholas will surely recognise her need for Matthew's undoubted experience.


Norman Calls Changes To Augusta "Phenomenal," And He Didn't Mean It In A Nice Way!

I think by the time Greg Norman will have played his first Masters in seven years, Chrissy Evert is going to be begging Billy Payne to restore the course just so she doesn't have to hear Greg talk about the good old days.

But I think of all the criticism we've seen of Hootie Johnson and Tom Fazio's Augusta National butchery, none has been as illuminating to read as Norman's because he was away for several years. Well, sort of. There was that birthday trip for ex-buddy and Chrissy-ex Andy Mill, but thankfully no one asked about how the course played in 2006!).

Anyway, the Shark had a lot to say worth parsing thanks to the scribblers asking some nice follow ups:

GREG NORMAN: Well, I can tell you the golf course is 7,700 yards since I last played it, and that's adding about 420 yards on to the golf course. So there is a dramatic difference to the golf course. I was absolutely shocked to tell you the truth.

You hear about the changes. You don't really see them on television. These younger players have nothing to relate to what happened 20 years ago. So right now, they just sit back and play it, okay, this is the way it's always been.

But there's phenomenal changes, right from the very first hole. The tee now is back where the old putting green was when I last played there. So the thought of driving it over the bunker on the first hole is gone. I had a 176 yards into the green on Wednesday, and given there's no roll here; and back in the other days, it was 120 yards. So there's 50 yards just on the first tee shot alone.

Of course, in Augusta they like hearing things like that. Which is precisely why the design is in shambles.

7th hole, dramatic change. 11th hole, dramatic change. So it's going to be different. It's going to be a lot harder to play for someone who doesn't hit the ball 320 than a player who does hit the ball a long way.

Lost roars have been touched upon by many but never quite like this:

Q. You've referenced the course changes a number of times, and your absence actually covers a span of the old Augusta, a new Augusta. Tell me as an architect and as a fan of the game and as a player some of the things you might do to get the buzz back on Sunday afternoon.

GREG NORMAN: Well, just going on what I saw, I mean, I remember in my days in playing, if somebody came into the back nine at Augusta probably six or seven or eight shots behind the lead and feel like they could win it. That was a great feeling. If you're a player at the top of your game and someone else is running away from the field, a la what Jack Nicklaus did.

I think it's going to be a lot more difficult the way the golf course is now for those type of low numbers, the 30s and the 29s to be thrown out there. And again, this depends on how they set up the golf course.

And the roars, I think would be the significant thing that would be missing. When I used to play the 6th hole, for example and somebody was shooting a great round coming down 15, you would hear this enormous roar and you're only on the 6th hole and that would resonate all the way through until you got around to the 14th hole, 15th hole.

So I would be interested to see whether the decibel level is as loud as what it was back in those days.

And asked how he'd fix the mess, Norman started with the short holes lost. Might as well start as the most glaringly obvious change...well, obvious to almost everyone except the people in charge.

Q. Is there anything architecturally you might do? I know it's sacred ground in the golf universe, but they have messed with it in the last seven years. I'm wondering if there's anything you would do to try to maybe generate a little more fireworks.

GREG NORMAN: Well, I was just surprised to what they did to some of the great short holes. I can understand the par 5s. But some of the great short holes, for example the 7th hole, was one of the great classic risk/reward short holes. If you were a long hitter, like I used to try to drive the golf ball way up in front of the green and pitch it up, and that's gone now. And same with 14. I remember trying to whip a driver around there and get as close to the green with a sand wedge as I could. You can't do that stuff now.

The short holes have dramatically changed and I think that's the thing that stands out to me. I get it, the 11th hole probably needs to have some adjustment. It's an intimidating hole at 505. But you need those holes, I understand you need long par 4s. But I love the challenges in the old days of the short holes of Augusta, they can either bite you in the rear end or not.

And some of the excitement of the par 5s, 15, for example, just you would stand up there and think about it and now most of the field lays it up.

But other than that, he loved what he saw.


So Nice To See Transitions Employing D-Lister Erik Estrada

Many, many thanks to reader Rob for this nails-on-chalkboard local TV interview with "CHIP's" star Erik Estrada giving out "sightations" for people not wearing protective eye gear at Transitions Championship and telling us his entire life story and innumerable plugs before the reporter mercifully cuts him off.

I would embed the video but it automatically plays anytime you arrive on my homepage, and there are just some cruel things I won't do to you.