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

 

  

Thursday
Nov052009

Kostis Calls For Purse "Rollback"

Retired Tweeter Peter Kostis has never been a fan of a ball rollback but he believes the PGA Tour should immediately cut all purses 10%, sending five percent of the savings to charity and the other five back to sponsors.

I'm sure the stand-up guy he is, Kostis has offered CBS a similar deal. Cut 10% of his pay and give half to the Les Moonves's bonus fund and the other half back to CBS.

Everyone is down, and spending in golf is seen as a very bad corporate idea when people are being laid off.

We need to have an immediate 10 percent rollback in purse structures. Of that rollback, 5 percent should go to local charities of the event and 5 percent should go back to the sponsor.

The Tour is fond of two words: partners and charity, and both need some help, a lot more than Tiger Woods needs another $10 million. If we can highlight the Tour's good charitable work and make some short-term concessions to the sponsors, then maybe we can change the perception that golf is a rich guy's game isolated from the concerns and problems of regular working people. Because golf is the game of regular working people, as you can see every day at your local muni.

And as a country club member, Peter can attest!

Thursday
Nov052009

"Basically, I got to see Rickie Fowler paraded around like a well-groomed poodle at the Westminster Kennel Club."

It's fun to look at the contrast between the handling of Rickie 2.0 Fowler and Ryan Moore, who both made some news Thursday.

Stephanie Wei files an entertaining account of one of those "only-in-New-York" press junkets that help justify some CMO's overinflated salary. "Let's put him at Chelsea Piers!" "Spectacular idea!"

It was supposed to be “really informal” but after being there for five minutes it was obvious that “really informal” doesn’t exist within the Rickie 2.0 hype machine. Basically, I got to see Rickie Fowler paraded around like a well-groomed poodle at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Last week a PR rep asked me to give the general gist of what I was planning to ask him, so Rickie wouldn’t be caught off guard. Question 1: “Do you have a girlfriend?” PLEASE DO NOT ASK THAT. (But that was conveyed very nicely, of course.) Just “stay away from more personal stuff,” the PR lady explained, unless it “comes up naturally.”

I walked in the top deck of the driving range and I was greeted by the two PR people running the show. Small talk, small talk, nice-to-meet-yous ensued and then came Rickie, who politely introduced himself with a welcoming handshake.

“Hi, I’m Rickie.”

Meanwhile it was announced that the iconoclastic Ryan Moore, who coordinates his own outfits and sponsors himself, has signed a unique deal that will eventually give him a share of Scratch Golf.  Somewhere Jack Nicklaus is screaming to Ryan, "DON'T DO THAT!"

Michael Buteau reports for Bloomberg:

The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based custom clubmaker has an agreement with the 26-year-old Moore, who will use its irons and wedges beginning with this week’s HSBC Champions event in China. Moore, the 2004 U.S. Amateur champion, is tied for second at the World Golf Championship tournament at 6-under-par 66.

With many large club companies, such as Adidas AG’s TaylorMade brand and Callaway Golf Co., cutting back endorsement expenses as consumers reduce spending on leisure activities, Moore’s agreement is unique among professional golfers.

“Ryan is going to end up owning a portion of our company,” Ari Techner, Scratch Golf’s chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview. “This kind of speaks to the type of person he is. He likes to do his own thing.”

Thursday
Nov052009

"The guy in the grandstand basically did a photo sequence. I flinched on it and hit it straight to the right"

I feel like we've done this before...excessive and ill-timed photo taking of Tiger in China. No?

"There's certainly a lot of people out there," said Woods, after shooting a five-under-par 67 to stand three shots behind the early leader, American Nick Watney. "There was a lot of people ... moving and things. We had to stay focused. I think it's a disadvantage because there are so many people with cameras here. The other groups probably don't have to deal with it as much as we do."

Thursday
Nov052009

Taylor Made Appealing USGA Wedge Ruling

Jim Achenbach reports on Taylor Made's struggle to get its "exchangeable face technology" wedges approved by the USGA.

Frankly, I'm just shocked that a wedge where you the owner can easily exchange face plates from conforming to non-conforming grooves would cause a problem. Shocked!

TaylorMade immediately appealed the USGA decision, and chief technical officer Benoit Vincent traveled to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., in October to present his case. Vincent said he would discuss the wedges after Nov. 9, when a ruling on the appeal is expected.

The wedges, from 50 to 64 degrees, are scheduled for release early next year. A face plate can be removed and replaced in a few minutes, using the same torque wrench designed for TaylorMade drivers.

Equipment appeals are heard three times per year by the USGA, during regularly scheduled meetings of the Executive Committee and the Equipment Standards Committee.

TaylorMade’s argument is simple: Golf club manufacturers are allowed to produce wedges with larger, aggressive grooves during 2010, so TaylorMade should be allowed to sell face plates with the same grooves during the same period.

Thursday
Nov052009

"Sharp Park as golf course is best for everyone"

C.W. Nevius provides another high-profile endorsement for saving MacKenzie's Sharp Park as a golf course as a significant Park and Recreation recommendation for going forward is about to be released.

Thursday
Nov052009

L.A. Loses LPGA Event It Never Hosted To San Diego

Oh I know, it's all Southern California in some eyes, but the J Golf event was clearly announced by the Brand Lady as an LA tournament until event operators IMG apparently wised up and realized that their only option at Industry Hills would be a disaster. Obviously, they didn't take my advice about some other nice venue options.

Jon Show reports that the first J Golf Classic will be played at La Costa, and if you can't see behind the pay window like most of us, Tod Leonard shares some of the details.

Wednesday
Nov042009

Tiger Already Looking Forward To Kingston Heath

I know, I know, the HSBC event comes first and we should be celebrating a World Golf Championship event played outside the U.S. (Joel Shuchman shares some sights and sounds in this PGATour.com story). 

But we're also talking about a country that bans my blog and well, doesn't have a course like Kingston Heath. Which, incidentally, Tiger Woods is pining to play.

"As far as next week, I don't know a lot about the golf course other than the guys have generally said it's either one or two on their list of venues in Melbourne," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting down there for the first time and taking a look at it and seeing how it figures -- how to figure out how best to play the golf course."

He said what he liked best about Melbourne's golf courses was the bunkers, having previously played at the Royal Melbourne and the Huntingdale.

"Of all the courses that I've seen down there in Melbourne, I've always loved bunkering, some of the best bunkering in the world," he said. "From what the guys have said to me, Kingston Heath is no different."

Anticipation of Tiger's appearance may actually help pay off the big appearance fee since the Daily Telegraph reports that crowds up to 100,000 are expected to watch Tiger on big screens set up to help fill demand for the legions that can't get a ticket to Kingston Heath.

And for us here in the States, even better news: Golf Channel will be broadcasting the Australian Masters, starting Wednesday at 10 PM EST.

In other Australian golf news, Greg Norman pulled out of the Australian Open due to issues with his surgically-repaired shoulder.

Wednesday
Nov042009

And Then There Were 13 LPGA Events

Beth Ann Baldry reports that in spite of optimistic statements by LPGA brass in recent weeks, a preliminary 2010 schedule featured only 13 events "named specifically," with holes everywhere else you look.

LPGA officials keep assuring everyone that the 2010 schedule will be better than expected. Of course, they know expectations are extremely low, so it won’t take much to satisfy.

Players received a preliminary schedule awhile back that left more questions than answers. Only 13 tournaments are named specifically. The rest are noted as “On” or “Off” weeks, with three “Asia” tournaments sprinkled in next fall.

The schedule starts in Thailand on Feb. 15 and then goes to Singapore for the HSBC. There’s a three-week break, followed by the J Golf event (San Diego or L.A.?) in the last week of March and the Kraft Nabisco in Palm Desert, Calif.

Sounds like the event targeted for LA may be in San Diego now?

Rumored site Industry Hills does have a way of making people rethink their priorities.

Wednesday
Nov042009

Kim Diagnoses Himself With IMG Scheduling Fatigue

From Shanghai, via Doug Ferguson's story, Anthony Kim earns bonus points for only taking a year to recognize what some players took several to figure out--don't turn scheduling over to your agents:

"Next year, I just want to be prepared for our season," he said of the PGA Tour, where he failed to win this year. "The PGA Tour is my home tour, and it's where I need to play well. I've made it my priority to play well in the States. I was all over the place this year. I didn't do a good job of scheduling. Scheduling is half your job as a pro. I learned a lot this year."

And..

"Even if they don't have a Race to Dubai next year, I'm still going to sign up for European Tour membership," Kim said. "There's a different vibe out here, and it's good to experience it. I just need to do a better job with my schedule."

Kim would not be replaced in the Dubai World Championship.

Tuesday
Nov032009

"The country club has to evolve and become like piazzas in Italy, the town square where families—and not just the men who are golfing—meet on weekends"

Dean Foust looks at the demise of the second-tier country club in a Businessweek/Golf Digest collaborative piece.

The number of golfers belonging to clubs now is down to 2.1 million—900,000 below the peak in the early 1990s. Experts such as consultant Jim Koppenhaver, whose Buffalo Grove (Ill.) firm, Pellucid, monitors the industry, believes at least 400—and worst case, 1,000—private clubs will have to close, convert to public play, or be absorbed into healthier clubs before the carnage is over. "The whole country club model is at risk," says Koppenhaver. But "for a lot of golfers, the value proposition of belonging to a club is hard to pencil out."

Now this I'm not so sure about:

In the end, some industry insiders believe the long-term solution is to reinvent the country club, moving beyond golf to a broader array of services that meet the changing needs of younger members. In San Clemente, Calif., the once-bankrupt Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club has sold 120 new memberships in the past six months by adding pilates, karate lessons, and even a vegetable garden (for the restaurant) that members' kids help plant.

On the golf course, Bella Collina now offers a free junior golf program and permits members to take lessons from the club's instructors at no charge. That last move created turnover among the teaching pros, who viewed the cash from paid lessons as a perk of the job. But club officials say the gesture has helped get more mothers and children out on the course with their fathers.

I'm sure the PGA of America will be thrilled with that model.

"The country club has to evolve and become like piazzas in Italy, the town square where families—and not just the men who are golfing—meet on weekends," says John G. Fornaro, one of the investors who bought Bella Collina last year. That's good advice, but it may be coming late to clubs where the wolf is already at the door.

Is this the way to the future? Piazza golf? Don't men still need a place to go to get some alone time?

Tuesday
Nov032009

BCS Breathes Sigh: FedEx Cup To Retain Goofy Point System

Love this quote from Doug Ferguson's story on the PGA Tour retaining the FedEx Cup points system:

"We think the FedEx Cup did a lot of positive things and met the objectives we set for it," George said Tuesday. "We don't anticipate it changing."

Translation: we got Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing on Sunday of the Tour Championship. Objectives met!

Tuesday
Nov032009

"It's all for show."

GolfDigest.com's Matthew Rudy notes that Doug Barron's previous use of beta blockers may have behind his suspension. An as someone who has done quite a bit of reporting on the subjects, Rudy reminds us of several loopholes in drug testing

Say Barron really is the only one to fail a test in the 15 months the tour has been running its program. All that proves is that he didn't find one of the loopholes in the banned drug list. And if he's not the first person to fail, the Tour's drug testing program serves the exact, cynical purpose Yesalis said many sports leagues' programs do.

It's all for show.

Tuesday
Nov032009

"The extravaganza could be much grander."

Seems to me that Jeff Rude is onto something in suggesting the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony move to Players Championship Monday.

Move the Champions Tour’s Legends of Golf tournament back to the King & Bear course at World Golf Village the week before the nearby Players Championship. Then hold the Hall party on the Monday that follows the Legends and kicks off Players week.

The shift would ensure the attendance of many more people from various factions: Hall of Fame members, visiting dignitaries, national media, etc.

Their inclusion would create more buzz for the Hall and for golf. It would move golf closer to baseball’s Cooperstown model. After all, the energy of a bash is measured by who attends.

Tuesday
Nov032009

T&L Golf Back In Digital Form

Thanks to several readers who forwarded this...

Tuesday
Nov032009

PGA Tour's 2010 Schedule

Leaner and including the "Century Club" as a sponsor in San Diego for now, but all in all pretty amazing considering the economic climate. 

Click to enlarge:

Monday
Nov022009

If You Missed The 2009 Hall Of Fame Ceremony...

You missed a dandy. The entire production seemed to be the finest I've seen in terms of Golf Channel production values (great video of Mark Cubbedge and team looting Lanny's office), great speeches, classy hosting by Rich Lerner and mercifully, only bursts of the mildy maudlin music that has plagued previous ceremonies.

You can read the entire transcript here. Jose Maria Olazabal's speech was particularly touching, as was the scene of the tough guy Wadkins brothers crying. I doubt the transcript will do it justice.

Gary Van Sickle sums up the highlights from his perspective.

If anyone sees clips of the speeches online, let me know and we'll post them. Golf Channel did post this nice Golf Central telecast preview.

Monday
Nov022009

"I just wish they had gone to a straight, old, traditional V groove..."

Great stuff from Lanny Wadkins on many topics prior to his Hall of Fame induction, but the final comments about grooves are the most interesting:

I like the idea of trying to get back to V grooves. I just wish they had gone to a straight, old, traditional V groove because what they're doing with going to an area, the amount of area that's in the groove, which is basically going to shallower U grooves if you will, the manufacturers are going to figure out a way around it. They're going to figure out a way to keep as much spin as possible in the ball. I would love to see it back in the V grooves we played in the early '70s. No reason they couldn't do that in my mind and just be very straight forward about it, and I think it would require more imagination in today's game. I think it would involve ball changes for a lot of the guys on TOUR. With the changes they're making today that probably won't happen as readily as we thought it was going to. It would involve driver changes.

I mean, my generation has changed all the way along the line. We've changed from shafts that weren't frequency matched, then we went to frequently matched shafts. Then we went to wooden clubs that were heavy, 14 and a half ounces for a driver, a shaft that weighed 135 grams, which is probably what mine weighed early '70s, mid '80s at that point in time. We've changed to small-headed metal clubs to big-headed metal grooves to U grooves to balls that don't spin. My generation has changed all the way up. This generation like where my boys are, my boys have always played the same stuff. They've never hit a wooden club. They're 21 and 17, all they've known is big-headed metal stuff.

I think it's about time. This generation has to change something. Let's see if they've got some imagination.

And the thing about it is, guess who's been playing V grooves all along? Tiger Woods. All he's got to change is two clubs in his bag. He's got to change his 56 and his 60. He doesn't have to change balls, driver, nothing. Let's just give Tiger a bigger advantage. Just what he needs, right?

Monday
Nov022009

"What has really irked me about the Trump project, however, is the perception that the development has been the only one on the table in Scotland over the past few years. That's not the case."

Martin Dempster is bothered by the hype surrounding The Donald's Aberdeen course.

What has really irked me about the Trump project, however, is the perception that the development has been the only one on the table in Scotland over the past few years. That's not the case. Courses continue to spring up around the country, with each deserving to be judged on its own merits.

Marc Parsinen and Gil Hanse, for example, have created Castle Stuart, a gem of a course on the Moray coast just along from Inverness. That has been earning deserved rave reviews since it opened earlier this year. In my opinion, it is as good, if not better, than Kingsbarns, where Parsinen was also involved with Kyle Phillips.

And what about Machrihanish Dunes? David McLay Kidd, who, incidentally is also working on the gWest project next to Gleneagles, designed this one and, by all accounts, it is going to be popular with those who head down the Mull of Kintyre every year to savour its established neighbour.

Recently, there have been a couple of very enjoyable GolfClubAtlas.com threads on Castle Stuart (here and here).

Monday
Nov022009

"It is what it is; all you need is right there in the statement."

After Doug Barron's positive test and one-year suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, Jason Sobel concludes:

In a twisted way, it's actually a good thing that Barron got caught, as it proves the PGA Tour's ongoing efforts toward wiping out any potential PED use weren't fruitless nor a waste of time and money. It also discredits the theory that Tim Finchem and the folks at the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters would cover up any positive tests to keep suspicions to a minimum.

You know what they say: Once is a coincidence, twice is a pattern. Until there is further proof that other PGA Tour members have been guilty of attempting to subvert the system, consider this a singular issue for one individual rather than a trend throughout the sport.

Steve Elling tracked down the Commissioner at the Hall of Fame ceremony and notes the oddity of releasing the news on induction day, among other elements to the story he covers in a thorough analysis.  Elling also doesn't get much out of the Commissioner, who was never a believer in testing until Tiger Woods said he thought it was needed.

"I don’t have anything to say," Finchem said. "Nothing I can say, no comment. It is what it is; all you need is right there in the statement."

Not exactly. Finchem resisted the implementation of testing for years, claiming he was personally certain that golf didn’t have the same cheating issues as other sports. It has a different culture, he insisted, where honesty rules the day.

And this...

Barron isn't exactly the rippling-muscle type. In fact, he looks like an average schlub.

"One of the funniest things I've heard today is when one of his friends called him to say, 'If you were trying to build more muscles, you did a pretty bad job,'" Horne said.

There was some collateral damage. The Barron news, to a large degree, cut the publicity legs out from under the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday in St. Augustine, which had some staffers at the museum rightly grousing about the timing, since this is the biggest day of the year for the game's shrine.

Monday
Nov022009

"Breaking News": Fewer Has-Beens And Corporate Goons To Clog Up AT&T Pro-Am

Thanks to John Strege at GolfDigest.com for spotting the Monterey County Herald's "Breaking News" story about the AT&T National Pro-Am field going from 180 to 156 in 2010.