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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

A.W. Tillinghast was an individualist, to say the least. American golf was fortunate to have him around in the early stages. His writings about golf give us a glimpse of his vivid imagination, which certainly leaned towards the artistic. He loved golf and the social appeal of the game. And he had a completely unique sense of balance and proportion with respect to fine golf architecture. His exceptional courses bear the stamp of his forceful personality, which was quite strong; a flait for the dramatic, and delicious little devious quirks here and there. BEN CRENSHAW


    

Tuesday
Jan132009

Tadd's Back!

Fujikawa Monday qualifies to spice things up at the Sony Open. I just wonder where he'll be staying. Oh wait, he lives there. 

Tuesday
Jan132009

“A union of uncompromised originals”

...uncompromised? The R&A? Aren't they the ones who change courses instead of the equipment rules? Anyway, score one for the USGA...

The R&A and SABMiller plc today announced that they have enteredinto a long term agreement under which Pilsner Urquell, the iconic beer brand from SABMiller, will become the Official Beer of The Open Championship.

The arrangement is effective from the upcoming 2009 Championshipat Turnberry and will last for five years, taking in confirmed future Championships at St Andrews, Royal St George’s and Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Vinod Giri, International Brand Director of SABMiller plc said, “The heritage, authenticity and premium nature of The Open Championship offer fantastic synergies for Pilsner Urquell. Both brands are the original, uncompromised leaders in their fields and set the gold standard. We are excited by this partnership, and look forward to building a long and successful association with The R&A.”

David Hill, R&A Director of Championships, said, “The R&A is delighted to welcome Pilsner Urquell as the Official Beer of The Open Championship. I’m sure spectators at this year’s Open at Turnberry will be delighted that such an iconic beer is available throughout the Open Championship site.”

Yes, especially since getting to the property will induce migraines.

Monday
Jan122009

"I like watching golf as much as the next sentient being, but four hours of it from the third round of a 32-man event? It's too much, and it leads to bad TV." **

Every member of the SI Golf Plus team--except for Steve the night janitor (who forgot his login name)-- piled onto golf.com's new weekly email roundtable to kick around Geoff Ogilvy's win at Kapalua. Weighing in at a hefty three pages - a novel by online standards - Gary Van Sickle opened up the conversation with concerns about, ironically, the length of Golf Channel's telecast.

While I love the chance to watch live golf in the evening, that doesn't mean I want to watch it the entire evening. What is this, the U.S. Open? I like watching golf as much as the next sentient being, but four hours of it from the third round of a 32-man event? It's too much, and it leads to bad TV.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Is a four-hour telecast too much? Obviously, yes ... every other week of the year. But I love watching the Mercedes because the course makes for thrilling golf, the surfers and spouting whales are a fun diversion, and I'm usually ready to plug back in after months without a meaningful golf tournament. But the mood quickly passes, and then I prefer a shorter telecast to assist my DVR'ing.

I agree that the oversaturation was too much even with those stunning views and much improved production values thanks to Brandt Packer and Jack Graham.

But a greater concern for the PGA Tour should be the burden these excessive telecasts have on the announce teams and the potential created for idiotic commentary. I contended last year that the Kelly Tilghman's back alley lynch remark was largely a product of the announce conditions (too many hours to fill, too many executives wanting ESPN-cutesy humor that is not Tilghman's strongsuit).

This year Rich Lerner was charged with killing time via lengthy interviews and as was pointed out here, Boo Weekley came dangerously close to saying something embarrassing. Readers also noted that Lerner, innocently killing time, may have crossed a line in questioning Davis Love about his return to Hawaii.

As readers pointed out, Golf Channel's sycophantic coverage of Anthony Kim signing autographs and driving off in his courtesy car bordered on the ridiculous. Throw in way too much time for Mark Rolfing to fulfill his obligations to whoever in Hawaii is paying for raves, and the Mercedes Championship was a reminder that more telecast hours do not necessarily translate to a better "product." At four hours with announcers who can only say so much, the pacing is setting the stage for a product liability disaster.

Monday
Jan122009

Euro Ryder Cup Committee Hopes A Few More Months Of Missed Cuts Will Convince Ollie to Reconsider

John Hopkins reports that the committee selecting Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain has postponed their decision, giving the British press until May to dig up every conceivable anonymous quote against Sandy Lyle.

Chief of these is that some of the 15-man committee want José María Olazábal, Nick Faldo’s vice-captain at Valhalla in Louisville last September, to be captain. However, Olazábal, 42, is reluctant to accept the challenge, preferring first to recover from the rheumatism and fatigue that disrupted his season in 2008 and then to assess whether he has a chance of making what would be his eighth appearance in the biennial event.

Meanwhile Lawrence Donegan considers the political situation influencing who might be selected, with this on Olazábal and Lyle.

However, if he plays well enough to be in contention for a place on the team, then the focus will shift back to Lyle, who remains the only member of European golf's "big five" from the 1990s (Seve Ballesteros, Faldo, Woosnam and Bernhard Langer being the others) who has not had the honour and the commercial windfall of the Ryder Cup captaincy. "I think it would be a terrible shame if he wasn't given the job," one well-placed member of the European Tour hierarchy said today. "With the right people around to support him he would be fine as a captain."

Boy, there's a ringing endorsement.

Sunday
Jan112009

"If you're trying to get one or two players, you're going to have to move it to San Diego or Orlando"

I should have known last week that there was more to the probing back-and-forth between Tim Finchem and writers over the future of Kapalua as a PGA Tour venue. Doug Ferguson reports that the tour is looking at other venues for the Mercedes, even though most players love it and it looks absolutely stunning on television. (Though it sure would be nice to see the course play faster in the approaches like it did in the early part of this century).

Lots of interesting stuff in the piece, but a few items jumped out:

Ogilvy is among those who took up joint membership on the European Tour this year, and one reason was a variety of courses that he believes the U.S. tour lacks. He finds it odd that a move from Kapalua is being discussed.

"After Florida, you probably play the same golf course 20 times in a row," Ogilvy said. "But to play such an extremely different setup, it's a cool place to start."

After Florida? How about starting with Florida!

Actually, it was wise of Geoff to put it that way. I think any knock on Florida golf architecture is a fineable offense.

The tour is said to be looking at Wailea, about an hour to the east on Maui, where the weather is more predictable. It might have more options for Mercedes' clients to play golf, but it doesn't have the caliber of course that Kapalua offers. Players often criticize the tour for not playing on the best courses available; this could be one of those example.

"I love coming here," said Stewart Cink, one of four players on the tour's policy board. "I like playing here. I think this is a fun course to play. It's different and a challenge in its own way. I would not want to move it. But it's a business decision, I'm sure."

Those tournament week golfing options for the Mercedes customers should take priority after all. Oy. I'm actually feeling sorry for the tour if they were in fact told by the sponsor that this was a concern at the current venue (and I guess it say the Mercedes people don't really like the Bay Course at Kapalua...but it was designed by Arnold Palmer!).

Here's your early evidence of Justin Leonard winning a future Jim Murray Award for giving scribes user friendly, succinct and wonderfully not-so-subtle quotes:

Some players believe the tour is looking at a move to the mainland to make it easier to travel.

"If you're trying to get one or two players, you're going to have to move it to San Diego or Orlando," said Justin Leonard, referring to Mickelson and Woods. "And even then, I don't think those guys would play. It's nice to start here."

Sunday
Jan112009

Ogilvy Win Upstaged By Mark Rolfing's Declaration Of Undying Love For All Things Hawaii

It only went overboard when the Golf Channel/NBC announcer gave those big props to the 50 spectators braving Sunday morning's rain and those frigid temps in the low 70s.

But at the conclusion of Geoff Ogilvy's impressive six-shot win, Rolfing noted that besides all of the week's great shots and relentless plugs for the great state of Hawaii, other highlights were those witty Boo Weekley interviews. I did catch one Friday where Rich Lerner teed Boo up by asking if he would be eating sushi for dinner (thankfully, for the sake of the poor folks in the PGA Tour Fines and Suspensions-We-Won't-Talk-Publicly-About Department still saddled with John Daly paperwork, Boo didn't touch it).

However, a reader sent in this note regarding Saturday's interview:

So last night I'm watching the Boo interview live from Kapalua and as usual the announcers are baiting him for redneckese. He obliges with hunting humor and the like. Then Lerner goes too far and asks him about his upcoming appearance at Qatar. Something along the lines of, has anybody prepped you about the culture over there. Boo's answer was "All I know is I don't have to wear one of them turbans". Awkward silence, then interview over. They replayed the broadcast and had Boo's interview up until that question (went to commercial before).

Wow, something controversial emanating from a Kapalua broadcast position? Can't be!

Sunday
Jan112009

Annika Weds; Photos Leaked Free Of Charge To Media Email Boxes

I guess with no Golf For Women around to sell to for seven figures, why not send photos of Annika Sorenstam's marriage to Nomar Garciaparra Mike McGee out to unsuspecting golf writers?  That's what happened this weekend and Sal Johnson at GolfObserver posts the images along with a report on the ceremony.

Saturday
Jan102009

"I've had a lot of deflated looks up at 18. That's the way it goes."

Enjoyable post round conversation between the scribblers and Geoff Ogilvy after his third round 65 gave him a six-stroke lead at sunny Kapalua, which looks oh so good on Golf Channel HD.

Q. Justin said he got to 18 and looked at the scoreboard and said it was deflating.

GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, well, I guess it would be. I've never actually been this far in front before, but I've been this far behind a lot of times (laughter). I've had a lot of deflated looks up at 18. That's the way it goes.

And yeah, my pitching has been pretty good. It's probably the only part of my game that I really work on all the time. My golf swing and putting and all that comes and goes, but pitching is something I work on all the time. I think it's one of the most important parts of golf, especially the type of golf we play on TOUR. All the best players in the world are the best pitchers of the ball, so that's a part of my game I work on a lot. I guess this week, it's been pretty good.

Saturday
Jan102009

"Are you doing that old business of forgetting to grip with the third and fourth fingers?"

John Paul Newport's Saturday column covers an underserved topic in golf: the art of gamesmanship. Nice plug for our friend Jon Winokur's misunderstood classic on the subject, too:

The core gamesmanship concepts, in my reading and experience, fall into four categories, all of which prey on a golfer's lonely vulnerability. Implanting irrelevant or otherwise distracting thoughts deep in a player's mind is the most time-honored tactic. "Are those butterflies bothering you? I can try to shoo them away," one may offer. Unwanted instruction is also a perennial: "Are you doing that old business of forgetting to grip with the third and fourth fingers?"

The next category involves deliberately becoming an irritant. Matching your foe's brisk pace of play with a snail's pace of your own is hard to defend against, especially for Type As. Voicing political opinions known to be anathema often produces splendid results. Boldly repeating shopworn expressions -- such as "Never up, never in" when someone leaves a putt short -- is guaranteed to get under anyone's skin.

Next, and less sporting, comes active physical distraction, such as standing just a tad too close, or absent-mindedly jangling change. Mr. Winokur describes The Mangrum, named after former Tour pro Lloyd Mangrum, who was fond of wearing bright white shoes and, while standing just inside his opponent's peripheral vision, crossing his legs at just the right, or wrong, moment.

Saturday
Jan102009

Old Golf Auctions Wrapping Up

Some stellar prices on architecture classics like The Links, and some absurd prices too for things like Tom Doak's Confidential Guide pushing $1200!?). 

It's also sad to see that Tony Jacklin is auctioning off all but his soiled Ryder Cup underwear.

Friday
Jan092009

Lyle Selects His Running Mate!

An unbylined Guardian story reports that Sandy Lyle is signaling his desire to be named 2010 Ryder Cup captain next week by signing up Bernhard Langer as an assistant. And in a depature from the 2008 debacle hierarchical structure, Lyle insists he will have a stable of assistants to help him correctly pronounce all team member names and to talk him out of backloading his singles lineup.

"We had four assistants in 2006 at the K Club, I was part of the four so I know that system works," he said. "You need to be in contact with the team at all times. Having a good back-up team is so important, not just when the tournament starts but in the breakfast room, the locker-room before players tee off. It's vital to have someone who's been there, done that, in the Ryder Cup." 

Thursday
Jan082009

A Man For All Websites

Several readers spotted something I've been wondering about as well: the ubiquitous Frank Thomas. He's currently answering reader mail about equipment on GolfDigest.com, golf.com and GolfChannel.com.

If he can bring those three under his umbrella, I smell a Commissionership or maybe Middle East peace envoy gig in his future.

Thursday
Jan082009

Sergio, IMG, Golf Channel Follow-Up

Earlier this week I cited reader Dan's observation that the 2008 PGA Championship highlight video, as aired on Golf Channel, was missing Sergio Garcia's tournament-changing shot into the 16th hole pond. Well I heard from some folks at IMG who understandably didn't like being accused of trying to put a Band-Aid on a client's boo-boo.

So I contacted Golf Channel spokesman Dan Higgins, who kindly launched an investigation and fessed up that Golf Channel, not IMG, had edited out the dreaded shot due to time constraints. Higgins conceded the omission wasn't the greatest choice but because the structure of the show script mentioned the bogey on 16, it made for an easy cut that would not confuse viewers.

The moral of this story? Well, IMG's still, IMG. But I say nice job by reader Dan for spotting it, good work by IMG leaving in the shot and marks even to Golf Channel for not trying to spin this. And considering the positive direction Golf Channel is headed with some truly exciting breakthrough coverage technology debuting this week, we'll let it slide. Not that we have a choice!

 

Thursday
Jan082009

"Lopez had many fans among the players, including Weir"

Thomas Bonk, writing about the state of the West Coast Swing, notes the moribund state of the Bob Hope Classic and this about the bizarre removal of George Lopez as celebrity host:

Arnold Palmer, who won the first Hope 50 years ago, is coming back this month to serve as honorary host, and that's a nice touch. Palmer replaces, at least in title, comedian George Lopez, who was unceremoniously dumped after tournament officials were somehow shocked to learn that Lopez tends to track toward, well, edgy humor, even though that's been his act his entire career. Lopez had many fans among the players, including Weir, who isn't going to play in the celebrity field to make his feelings known.

Thursday
Jan082009

Jenkins In The February Digest

Great to see Dan Jenkins in fine form in this February Golf Digest column. Though I'm sure how Camilo Villegas is going to feel about his Ellen Lupton sketched depiction that looks more Michael Jackson.

11. When 38-year-old Phil Mickelson said that he had somehow grown an inch through stretching exercises, was it in:
(a) Height?
(b) Width?
(c) Between the ears? 

Thursday
Jan082009

"I think the first and foremost is coming out in good shape in the wide range of scrutinies that we always get during these downturns."

Tim Finchem, sporting a PGA Tour logoed dress shirt (PGA Tour PGA TOUR(C) logoed Hawaiian shirt would have sent the wrong message in these tough times) sat down with golf's last remaining scribblers to drone on about a few things, including negotiations on future Mercedes Championships at Kapalua (Robert Collias reports that the post-2010 future is far from certain.)

Q. You indicated that your major focus was to be better coming out of whatever this is we are in right now, than going in. How do you do that?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, there's a number of things that go into that. I think the first and foremost is coming out in good shape in the wide range of scrutinies that we always get during these downturns.

Scrutinies. New Year, new MBA jargon!

When we start into a downturn and companies are reducing their expenditures in advertising and marketing and sponsorship, they are obviously going through a process that they are deciding what's more valuable to them, where they get most value to the dollar spent.

In prior downturns -- and I would add to that, in my experience, every time we have a downturn, there was even more scrutiny than last time, and there's better scrutiny, because companies have learned how to do it better. They have better analytics and outside consultants, etc., etc.

Oh yeah, America is really feeling the effects of companies' improved scrutinies and those analytics. What did Obama say today? "We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility."

So in prior downturns, we have performed very well in that regard, because our value model, in terms of spending a dollar with the PGA TOUR versus spending a dollar versus X-Sport versus spending a dollar in Y-Sport, we come out very well. The first step is to win that contest and to come out ahead. If we are coming out ahead in those tests and those challenges, that absolutely positions us better for the future.

The second thing is that we just take advantage of the environment to work hard on our cost structure, challenge ourselves, although, we like to think that we do that all the time, but even more intensely, and be more efficient coming out of it.

And on that note, my jet is prepped and waiting, so I'm outta here once we finish up.

And the third thing is, use the period to where we are not winning that contest, where we are in a situation where we are sliding, use the opportunity to fix whatever problem it is that created that slide and structurally make changes that give us more value.

Let's see, how about working on the dreaded WGC's? The Fixed Cup's version three in year three? Competing tournaments during majors and WGC's? Boring product fueled by excessive course setup and demise of shotmaking?

Get your cliche and sports metaphor boards out...

So that's where we are at full-court press to do. We are going to take some hits. Everybody is going to take some hits in this environment. But if it's cyclical, we'll come through it and we want to position it to get back into a solid growth pattern.

This answer about the decline of newspapers seemed to be an improvement over the one I got at Sherwood.

Let's say we have a PGA TOUR event in St. Louis this year, we're there once during the year for four days of competition. The market doesn't view it -- the intensity level of the fans isn't such that they really have to have somebody that covers that sport for them.

So when you are coming to chopping budgets, a dedicated golf writer is going to come on the chopping block before somebody that covers a team sport. That's just the way it is.

I went out to my driveway and picked up my local newspaper and thought I had lost a few sections of it. It got quite thin on some days. But I don't know where it leads.

To be able to live in Pittsburgh or Detroit or anywhere and see a familiar name dedicated to your newspaper writing about a sport is a good thing for our sport. Losing that is a bad thing for our sport. But I can't quantify it in terms of what it really means to the fan base.

Ah the first John Daly question of the new year...

But if a player comments, if a player says, "I was fined $50," and he was fined $10,000, we might correct the record. But that's the extent of our commentary. That's up to the player, whether the player wants to keep it confidential or not.

So that was my response to the John Daly situation. I did say that I am not clarifying or changing his commentary on his suspension, which by definition means that he is generally correct in what he said.

Now, why don't we talk about it or give out the details. One, we don't feel like people really care that much. We don't get emails from fans saying, Why don't you tell us. So we don't think there's this hunger for that information.

No, there's no hunger...just reporters all over the world writing about it!

Two, candidly, we don't have that much of it, and we don't want to remind people about it. I'm just being straightforward. If somebody -- and remember now, in our sport, a bad thing is a bad word; it's not getting indicted usually. It's a bad word. But we don't want to remind people by saying, we fined such-and-such a player $5,000 for saying a bad word. It's just reminding them that he said a bad word.

In most cases, people don't know he said a bad word; somebody was standing at the ropes, a marshal or a fan who brought it to our attention, for a fellow competitor, and the player got fined. So usually it's a very small amount of people that know about the kind of attractions that we get, and we see no reason to publicize it.
If we had a problem of any magnitude, if we had a conduct problem, if we were faced with any significant issues where a player is not showing integrity or respect for the game, we might have a very different attitude.

Thankfully John Daly would never demonstrate anything that, wait, continue digging this hole...

I mean, I can understand in the NBA that if a guy jumps into the stands and gets into a fistfight, if I the Commissioner, I would pretty much feel like I had to tell the public about that, because there's a demand to know. We don't have those kind of situations.

No, our guys just take spectators digital cameras and smash them into trees.

And finally an unusual and unusually succinct answer on Tiger's comeback:

Q. But do you expect him to come back better than he was?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm not going to comment on my expectations.

Thursday
Jan082009

Look At Those Drivers!

Introducing Golf Digest's Hot List homage to the latest equipment, Mike Stachura writes:

The USGA is unequivocal about average golfers: Despite decades of naysayers and experts alike suggesting that the average handicap is not dropping, has not dropped and never will drop, the fact is, it has. Let's say that again: The average handicap of all golfers -- men, women and children -- has decreased consistently for the past 15 years. The average handicap today is two strokes better than it was in the early 1990s, according to research provided to Golf Digest by the USGA's Golf Handicap & Information Network (GHIN). This decrease coincides with a remarkable decade of equipment innovation that has brought us titanium drivers in every shape and size, game-changing hybrids and oversize putters.

It's not the improved athleticism?

Anyway, reader Jordan noted that the most astounding element of the Hot List package was this comparison of drivers in the post-persimmon years. All were made by Taylor-Made and photographed by Jim Herity:

 

Wednesday
Jan072009

Letter From Saugerties--January 8, 2009

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan has penned another of his letters after reading Tuesday's golf.com story on the financial state of the USGA.

Dear Geoff,

Michael Bamberger's piece commiserating with the USGA because the street value of its investments dropped from $300 million to $200 million during 2008 was misleading in the extreme.

What possible difference can it make whether the USGA has $300 or $200 million stashed away so long as verges on the impossible for them not to take in more money than they spend in any given year? So long as the US Open exists the USGA can't avoid being an extremely profitable 501C3 entity.

Only once since the USGA was founded in 1895 has there been a year when the USGA spent more than it took, that happening a few years ago under the hands-on management of the most misguided president in USGA history - one Walter Driver, who moaned about money as he was leasing a corporate jet to shuttle members of the USGA executive committee to places they weren't needed.

If the USGA is cutting back on its contributions to other golf entities, the reason is likely a belated understanding that they have simply blown a lot of money. During the period of the USGA messages to "really, really love golf" and "for the good of the game," precisely nothing has happened. And nothing began happening a long time before the economy went in the tank last year.

As a recreational activity, distinct from playing for unGodly sums of prize money, golf teeters on the edge of obscurity. The game has been no better than flat for at least a decade in terms of rounds played or golf balls sold. Economic downfall or not, more courses are shutting down than closing.

Sure the USGA has been the primary giver to the PGA Tour's First Tee program. So what then has the First Tee accomplished other than the spin that the PGA Tour is a generous operation. At random, of course, there have to be First Tee centers that do good things, like the one nourished in San Francisco by former USGA president Sandy Tatum whose virtues and skills are such that one wishes he had devoted himself to things that matter, such as running the CIA.

Giving a lot of money to the First Tee has also kept the heat off the USGA about US Open prize money, a pittance compared to the money earned by athletes in team sports, about 15% of the gross compared to more than 50% in the National Football League.

What might the USGA have done? For openers it should have been shrieking that golf was being wrecked by the wicked and unnecessary growth of maintaining courses, which have shot up faster than the cost of health care or college tuition. The promotional ads on USGA telecasts, of tremendous value, should have been devoted to ONLY the matter of golf course maintenance. Those two morons we see every year saying they will renew playing when it stops raining should have been dumped into a septic tank.

Meanwhile the USGA spends $16 million to overhaul a museum nobody will ever attend. And it starts charging admission on the grounds that visitors will reject free admission because that leads to "an assumption that there’s nothing of value there.”  That's like saying the Yankees would have serious attendance problems if they let everyone in free.

When I first stumbled on the USGA headquarters in 1972 it never occurred to me that people would wander into the Museum in numbers. Far Hills, New Jersey was and remains remote. And there were not a lot of folks in the neighborhood, what with Far Hills then having the most restrictive zoning ordinance in the United States - 10 acres per new house.

As the then Assistant Director of the USGA I had no stated authority but I could sure sell those executive committees. I put on a dog and pony show with photos of that building, with what many felt was the single best rendering of a hanging staircase in America, to die for.

It's hard for me to even imagine, but it is so, that the USGA, in that setting with 62 acres to die for, is regarded as an unhappy place in which to earn a living. Many people of quality, who thought they were on a mission working for the USGA, realized dumb things were happening (see above). Some quit; others were fired.

Those left should blame me for having to be miserable in Far Hills. I wanted it because the main building was the work of a great American architect and it was remote enough so that some staff members might be able afford to play golf. Above all, though, was the existence of decent public schools for our kids less than 20 minutes away.

Wednesday
Jan072009

“He’s on his third golf course contract"

There really hasn't been a story questioning the direction and concept behind Tiger Woods' entry into the golf course design business until Paul Sullivan filed this in-depth and skeptical take for the February issue of Portfolio.

I'd wager that the tone of this story is a product of a few elements. One, Sullivan does not need further access to Woods and therefore has filed a fair and honest assessment that probably won't be well received by Woods. Two, Porfolio appears dedicated to serious dissection of issues in American business along with only some of the nauseating deep-tissue ego massaging that the business community soaks up (and which as served it so well!). And three, the recent economic crisis has exposed flaws in the early approach by Woods to go after unprecedented fees and big-scale, difficult projects, though you may recall I detected some negative reaction after attending the impressive but over-the-top Punta Brava press conference in October.

A few points from the Sullivan piece. Get ready: big ego collision!

Even Nicklaus, an admirer of Woods’ talent on the course, is skeptical about the new projects’ timing. “He’s on his third golf course contract,” Nicklaus says, emphasizing the last word. “He hasn’t done any yet. I don’t think he’s finished any golf courses.”

But Jack's not paying attention or counting or anything like that. He's just a supportive elder father figure who loves it that this fee looks like a bargain now!

Woods is earning a flat fee to design and promote the courses. That money will be paid regardless of whether the associated real estate deals survive the economic downturn.

This would seem to counter the belief that his inflated design fees are contingent upon real-estate sales. Smart move on Tiger's part, but it's hard to imagine those willing to pay such fees coming along again for a very long time.

The setup is remarkably risky for investors, given that Woods has never completed a course design and that all the projects have built-in knocks—from out-of-the-way locations to high costs. But Woods shows no signs that he’s daunted. “I’ve learned so much in these few months,” he says. “The amount of meetings I’ve been in—you’d be shocked by the number of meetings I’ve been in, but that’s how you gain the knowledge: being in the meetings and participating. You learn and you grow.”

That's great experience, but some of the best knowledge is learned watching another architect deal with this stuff and spending time in the field observing construction. Because it's ultimately about building interesting holes. Pointing at a topo map is just a tiny part of that process. While I detest the global behemoth that Nicklaus Design has become, cranking out too many Paint-By-Numbers designs, you have to hand it to Nicklaus for putting in his time with Pete Dye and Desmond Muirhead before going out on his own. Tiger might have benefited from a similar apprenticeship. But he usually proves pundits wrong, and he may well do the same with his golf architecture practice.

Still, this is encouraging:

Yet the Cliffs and Punta Brava people I spoke to have been surprised by how involved Woods has been. “I don’t think I expected the intensity,” Cliffs V.P. Brazinski says. “When Tiger shows up, he puts on his boots, gets a bottle of water, and says, ‘Let’s go.’ When some of the other designers come, they just want to see it by helicopter.”

Gee now, who has designed courses at The Cliffs? For those of you counting at home,Jack, two Tom Fazio courses and a Gary Player.

Sullivan also reports this next item which doesn't pass a smell test.

Woods has been planning his new courses for the past two years. His managers at IMG began brokering the deal for the project in Dubai in 2006. In December of that year, a month after taking the helm of Tiger Woods Design, Bell was approached by Punta Brava backers about involving Woods in the project. Bell toured the site in January 2007 but took another year to commit. A few months later, in April 2007, Woods was approached by the Cliffs team.

And...

A couple of days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open, with much of the sports world focused on the state of his knee, Woods was in Mexico to vet Punta Brava’s new layout for the 22nd time—more than five times as many site visits as most brand-name golf course architects do.

Now, think about that. He's not signed on the dotted line until January 2008. So between then and June, Tiger got on board Tiger Airship 1, and landed then later took off at beautiful Ensanada International Airport 22 different times? And remember, the prior year he was playing a full schedule and spending a lot of time with his newborn, so even if those 22 "site visits" stretched back into 2007, he would have had to be spending almost no time on any other activities to squeeze so many site visits into his schedule.

Now, 22 days on site may be what was meant, but there's a huge difference between 22 days and 22 site visits, even if you are traveling via private jet.

The story also features a video that shows a lot of the staging and other nonsense that goes into a Woods site visit. Doesn't look like much fun.

Wednesday
Jan072009

Brand Lady Does What She Does Best: Layoffs!

Beth Ann Baldry reports and includes this quote from the LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens on the "realignment":

Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, speaking with Golfweek in response to the tour’s Jan. 7 news release announcing the changes, would only confirm that chief operating officer Chris Higgs was among those who were let go.

“I don’t want to pretend for a second that the economy didn’t impact (the decision); it certainly did,” Bivens said. “(But) it was not the motivating factor for the realignment.”

 For a refresher on some past firings, you can go here and here.