Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

Building golf holes seems to have a strange fascination for many golfers. While they would not think of taking over the job of their architect, or their physician or their lawyer, or their plumber, yet they would not hesitate to take over the duties of a golf architect, with full confidence in their ability to build quite the finest course that had ever been conceived. CHARLES BANKS


   

Monday
May042009

A Good Time Had By All LPGAers Who Attended Summit

So disappointing that with all of these LPGA'ers clogging my Twitter account with messages about how their feet hurt, not one reported anything of substance about last weekend's LPGA summit. Hank Kurz Jr. tries to shed a little more light on the event.

Imagine PGA Tour players doing this:

An example of the community involvement exercises that can only help, vice president of tournament marketing and sales Eric Albrecht said, is the planned building of a Habitat for Humanity home by several players this week in advance of the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill.

Monday
May042009

Misc. Players Clippings

I really enjoyed some of the preview coverage for this year's Players. On top of the previously noted Goydos features, check out Phil Richards's interview with Pete Dye who says TPC Sawgrass is the worst ground he's ever worked with. And look at that photo of Pete almost naked out in the dirt. Guess all the rattlers had been rounded up by that point.

There is this entertaining grilling about his renowned car rental usage.

PARTNERS MAGAZINE: Do you still rent your cars?

DYE: Sure do.

PARTNERS MAGAZINE: Why not buy or lease?

DYE: Never have. I got to thinking, if I bought a new car, how much would it cost me to own a new car and pay the insurance and upkeep and this and that, and then everywhere I go, I'd have to rent a car. So if I go down to Indianapolis Airport and take off for four or five days, I'd have to pay a premium just to park the car, and then wherever I went, Jacksonville or Timbuktu, I'd have to rent a car. So finally it dawned on me to quit worrying about it, and wherever I was I'd walk into National Car Rental and rent a car, even if I stayed here in Indianapolis for four or five days. I finally figured out in the long run it costs less.And wherever I am I have a car. I just take the first car in line. I get the car and then I park it and I never remember what it is. Nowadays, with keyless entry that honks the horn, I finally can find my car. I'm always honking the horn all over the parking lot.

Bob Goalby remembers first commissioner Joe Dey's influence on the PGA Tour despite never using words like conterminous.

Garry Smits reports on the NBC conference call, where it's hard to argue with the point Johnny Miller raises about Tiger and TPC Sawgrass.

Miller stopped just short of suggesting that Woods not even carry a driver next week.

"He should hit a lot of stinger 3-woods and long irons to give himself the best chance to win," Miller said.

"Forget the driver."

Maltbie said the Stadium Course is "very constricting" on Woods.

"It doesn't seem to be the course he likes to play," Maltbie said. "It's not a knock on the course."

Cody Barden, Jeff Klauk's instructor, reminds us that it hasn't been an easy road to the Players for young Klauk, who grew up playing and mowing the course.

Rich Lerner was at TPC Sawgrass on Monday and asked five players the same questions. It makes for a fun read, especially the answers about No. 17.

Thanks to reader Tim for Robert Beck's dawn to dusk image stitching of the scene at No. 17. Let's hope they didn't pay for the accompanying music. And make sure you go the full five minutes! Great stuff at the end.

Michael Bamberger tells us about Jacksonville and the PGA Tour's influence there:

It would be hard to estimate, or overstate, what the PGA Tour has done to promote local growth. The town's golf vibe helped spark the building of Panther Creek and Deercreek and other golf-and-housing developments that avoid the word Olde. Fancy doesn't sell in Jacksonville.

Monday
May042009

"It just needs to be unpredictable"

I had to brace myself for all of the Quail Hollow swooning in this week's SI Golf Group treatise. And this where I had to call it a read.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Kym Hougham, the Quail Hollow tourney director, said the membership agreed to cut the rough, in part, because of the recession and to bring some excitement to the gallery. "We think that, especially in this year's environment, this needs to be entertaining," he said. "People are spending hard-earned dollars to come out here, and we want to reward them with birdies and eagles and roars and smiles."

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Cutting the rough because of the recession? That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Only a country club meeting could produce such a goofy decision.

Van Sickle: I agree with Rick. Again? Yes. Cutting the rough means more mowing, more gasoline and more expense. That's total club-meeting gibberish.

Or more rough means more water, more seed, more fertilizer...

Thankfully I could cleanse my pallette on Ron Green's blog post chat with Geoff Ogilvy about Quail Hollow and its setup. Naturally, he delivered a nuanced and spot-on analysis.

“It’s much better. It’s more interesting to play and I’m sure it’s much more interesting to watch. It’s not about the length of the (two-inch) rough. It just needs to be unpredictable," Ogilvy said.

“When it’s always a good lie it’s not good and when it’s always a bad lie it’s not good. It makes a guy have to make smart decisions. Anything that makes us think is good. Less rough and firm greens makes us think more.

“It’s got to be better for golf to try to get pros to use their brains a little bit.

“Normally, it’s just pull out whatever club and wail it straight at the pin. Golf is better when you have to think about where you miss it. That knocks back to the tee shot. You have to put your tee shot in the right spot to make the second shot easier to get under the hole. It just makes it a more interesting game.”

He goes on to deliver his verdict on Quail Hollow as a major venue...it's funny.

Monday
May042009

Kenny Is Big In Kentucky!

Well, not with a big television station website in Louisville. Nice catch by reader Steve.

Monday
May042009

I Don't Know About You, But...

...Seve looks incredible for a guy who has had his head opened four times and is in round four of chemotherapy. The Telegraph reports on his first public appearance.

Monday
May042009

Muirfield To Host 2013 Open Championship As Of Tomorrow

Seems someone didn't pay attention to the R&A's Tuesday May 5th embargo request. I, of course, am simply linking to the violator.

Monday
May042009

“That’s to hide them from the ding-a-lings who don’t belong there"

Bill Pennington manages to spin a fresh take on the subject of golfers playing the wrong tees. Love the accompanying art by Bob Eckstein and this from Pete Dye:

Pete Dye, the mad scientist of golf architecture, was showing me around one of his new layouts last year when I noticed that the most challenging tees, the ones farthest from the holes, were often obscured by landscaping, trees or other natural terrain elements.

“That’s to hide them from the ding-a-lings who don’t belong there,” Dye said, smiling mischievously. He was standing at the public Pound Ridge Golf Club, 35 miles northeast of New York City, a course so difficult it certainly doesn’t need added length.

“We love our pro tees, but too many nonpros march back there,” Dye said. “Then they wonder why they’re not having fun.”

And I've never heard this one before, but I like it.

One formula has a golfer estimate the average distance that his or her 5-iron shot will travel — an honest average, not the ultimate 5-iron — and then multiply that number by 36. If golfers were realistic, that would put most in the 5,300 to 6,300-yard range. Beginners, younger players, some seniors and some women would play from tees more forward, and be challenged. And the rare golfer, usually with a handicap in the low single digits, would be venturing back.

Sunday
May032009

Coming This Week: Live From The PLAYERS

The last time I was at TPC Sawgrass...note the Lehman-esque left leg action. Photo by Lynn Shackelford. (Click to enlarge)You know I'm concerned for my well-being when passing up the traditional Fifth of Four Majors jab. Shoot I'm even typing PLAYERS in all caps. Sometimes.

Get this, I haven't even attended the Commissioner's Southern Style Pig Roast yet. Imagine how much I'll be swooning after that?

Yes, it's true, starting Wednesday I'll be coming to you live from The Players Championship. Therefore the art department, a.k.a Tom Naccarato, crafted a special banner for this week. replete with assorted imagery closely associated with the fifth of...the PLAYERS.

This will be my first time in Jacksonville since Mr. Reagan was in office, so I'm looking forward to revisiting golf's wildest arena.

I'm not entirely sure what the week will bring coverage-wise. I do know I'll be sharing a few photos taken by my dad Lynn when we played the course in 1988, with modern day comparisons taken this week.  I'm sure there will be a few caption contests, full reports from the Stadium Players Village, lunchroom menus from the Sheik's palace clubhouse, insights into the weekend course setup and whatever else I can find time to blog about. 

If there's anything you've been dying to know about or see from TPC Sawgrass, email me and I'll see if I can help.

Sunday
May032009

IM'ing With The Commissioners, PLAYERS Edition

My friends at the NSA didn't waste much time passing along the latest chat between PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens on the eve of the Players Championship.

Click on the image to enlarge:

 

 

Sunday
May032009

"The message I've passed along to our staff and committee is that if you want to go to Cog Hill for an Open, it is easily good enough as a test of golf"

A couple of interesting Cog Hill related stories have been posted on the eve of its reopening post-Reestoration (and boy does it look like a restored Dick Wilson Rees Jones course now.)

An unbylined Ed Sherman feature on Frank Jemsek and his quest for a Cog Hill hosted U.S. Open features some photos of the course (hmmm...sure those aren't Bethpage photos?). Also buried was this hurdle:

Mike Davis, the New Jersey-based USGA's senior director of rules and competition, came away impressed after a visit last summer. Previously, he was concerned whether drainage issues would allow the course to play fast enough for an Open. He now believes Cog Hill is up to speed.

"The message I've passed along to our staff and committee is that if you want to go to Cog Hill for an Open, it is easily good enough as a test of golf," Mr. Davis says.

His assessment is significant, but Cog Hill faces a long process to land an Open. Mr. Davis says the USGA usually shies away from placing an Open on a course that hosts a regular PGA Tour event.

The USGA also had an unpleasant experience dealing with Cook County during the Open at Olympia Fields; the association said it didn't receive financial concessions that it typically gets from other municipalities. He says issues with the county would need to be resolved before another Open is awarded here.

While most seem to think Erin Hills is already signed for 2017, Phil Kosin raises these points in Cog's favor:

There has been plenty of hypeabout Wisconsin’s Erin Hills GC being the next U.S. Open host in the region, but insiders say the USGA is waiting to see how Dubs holds up to Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the PGA Tour’s best in September. Both are terrific golf courses. But Cog Hill has an built-in advantage over Erin Hills because it has better infrastructure for a major, has more hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity, and would attract more corporate hospitality dollars than Erin Hills, which is 35 miles and almost a one-hour drive from Downtown Milwaukee.

Sunday
May032009

Brand Lady On Overseas Events: "It's sort of like having a balanced portfolio."

On the eve of the Michelob Ultra Open, Dave Fairbank talks to Commissioner Carolyn Bivens about the state of the LPGA Tour, who says "The general health of the LPGA has never been in better shape."

Hey, I just copy and paste this stuff.

"The LPGA, and that's my point, for a very long time has been a global organization, in terms of the membership as well as the events that they play. As part of our strategic plan, the organization will continue to play somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 percent of our events internationally. We view that as an advantage, especially as you go through cyclical downturns in economies. Some of those will be leading recessions and recoveries. It's sort of like having a balanced portfolio. The other part of that is as you count up the number of tournaments that we have outside of the United States, four of those are in Canada and Mexico, again reflecting the membership and the interest."

It will be interesting to see how many of those international events are televised. If not, the LPGA will be off the radar screen for half the year.

Saturday
May022009

"In America it is the other way round, they don't care how it plays as long as it looks good. As a country, we need to get back to playing golf the way it is supposed to be played."

Two must reads on the eve of The Players: Paul Goydos, who nearly held off Sergio Garcia in the 2008 edition, is profiled by John Feinstein in Golf Digest and John Huggan in his Sunday column. Feinstein's piece focuses on the tragic passing of Goydos's ex-wife, Wendy, while Huggan explores the more opionated side of the native Californian who tells a story about squaring off with Tom Watson over gangs and this about the state of American golf:

"It would do wonders for American golf in general to go to Australia to take a look at the courses," he says. "The greens there are the best in the world. So are the fairways. But they don't spend a lot of money on the rough. At my home course in California, they spend thousands of dollars over-seeding the rough. All that does is make the fairways too wet. It's completely backwards. Golf in America looks like a park. But it shouldn't. Courses are places where people go to play a sport and have fun; they are not places that should look good on a postcard.

"I didn't see many courses in Australia worrying too much about what they look like from above. But they really care about how they play; in America it is the other way round, they don't care how it plays as long as it looks good. As a country, we need to get back to playing golf the way it is supposed to be played."

Saturday
May022009

Thank God Brokaw's Not Announcing: Digest/NBC Selects Larry Giebelhausen

The police officer won the contest to be named the whitest man in America the final contestant in the break 100 confab.

Saturday
May022009

Phil Keeps White Belt Streak Going

With a third round 75 at Quail Hollow he keeps his lousy white belt streak going and certainly pads that +1.8 white belt index. I suspect the dreaded piece of leather will be retired soon or else we'll know Pelz isn't as thorough as advertised.

Friday
May012009

"I mean, it's just not fun. I love the game of golf, and I think it should be in three hours."

Seems Quail Hollow 36-hole leader Bubba Watson isn't a fan of slow play and he's not afraid to say something about it, reports Steve Elling.

Watson shot a 7-under 65 on Friday to move into a share of first place with Retief Goosen halfway through the Quail Hollow Championship, so he will surely face a long, distracting walk in Saturday's third round.

Watson, who has never won on the Nationwide or PGA Tour level, said the reason for his meandering mind is simple. The 30-year-old, the tour's reigning driving-distance champion from 2008, talks fast and prefers to play even faster.

"Five hours of PGA Tour golf," he said. "I mean, it's just not fun. I love the game of golf, and I think it should be in three hours. When I'm at home, I don't know the last time I shot in the 70s playing with my buddies or playing at home.

"I've shot in the 60s all the time because I'm in a cart, playing as fast as I want and moving around the golf course. I don't have time to think about which way the wind is blowing, I just hit the ball.

"That's what my caddie wants me to do. The mental part is just hard. It's hard for me because I didn't listen in school ... Just for me to focus for that long is just hard."

Friday
May012009

Lehman Defends Really White Chest Bump Gone Awry

Finally, some much needed Champions Tour controversy as Tom Lehman defends last weekend's chest-bump-gone-awry with Bernhard Langer, the whitest thing anyone has seen since Golf Digest unveiled their final four candidates for the Bethpage Break 100 deal.

(Incidentally, they name the whitest man in American on NBC Saturday, during coverage of the whitest sporting event in America, the Kentucky Derby.)

Lehman, with no choice but to speak out:

One thing that many people have not forgotten yet from my win is the chest bump that Langer and I attempted. I got all kinds teasing about that and probably can't repeat a lot of it. People have asked "What was that?" or "You'll have to work on that one" or "Chest bumps been outlawed forever in all future Champions Tour events". I've gotten a number of comments. But stuff like that is good for golf. Whether you think it looks stupid or cool, whether its semi appropriate or not, it gives flair and emotion to a game that can be lacking in that. When people that I know are all talking about it, it's interesting and gives them something to talk about. That puts golfers in a new light, where at least it's not just tipping your cap, nodding, saying thank you.

Can't argue with that.

Friday
May012009

No Truth To Rumor That Bob Hope Classic Talking To George Lopez About Sponsorship Bailout

After all, he's in better financial shape than Chrysler.

Looks like they aren't touching the C-word after yesterday's news. For immediate release:

Bob Hope Classic on Solid Ground

(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL/La Quinta, CA) — The PGA TOUR and Desert Classic Charities, Inc. reaffirmed in a joint statement Friday that the Bob Hope Classic would be played in 2010 and beyond.

“The foundation that has been built over the last 50 years provides solid financial footing for the Desert Classic Charities group to continue the strong traditions of the Bob Hope Classic,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “The TOUR and Desert Classic Charities are proud of the more than $50 million that has been raised for Coachella Valley charities, of which the Eisenhower Medical Center has been the largest recipient.”

“We continue to appreciate the long-standing support provided by 2000 volunteers, the local corporate sponsors and our 384 pro-am contestants from across the country,” said John Foster, president of Desert Classic Charities. “We look forward to welcoming the best of the PGA TOUR back to the city of La Quinta next year as we continue our mission of serving human needs in the Valley.”

Friday
May012009

U.S. Open Entry Record, Again

The game may be suffering but there appears to be no shortage of players with a 1.4 or better. This USGA.org story notes 93% of the entries were filed online, over 600 came in the last day, the ages range from 13-78 and lists the exemptees for Bethpage. I was relieved to find out that Azumo Yano is in.

Friday
May012009

The Sixth Major Really, Really Wants To Move Up Two Slots

For all of the joking about Quail Hollow's sixth major status, it sure sounds like the player raves for those Mercedes courtesy cars the wonderfully narrow course, it seems the talk has gone to the club's head, as Erik Spanberg reports in the Charlotte Business Journal (thanks reader Bill for this):

Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris, in an interview at the course this week with the Charlotte Business Journal, confirmed the club will likely end the tournament in 2014 when the title sponsorship contract with Wells Fargo & Co. expires. Quail Hollow’s deal with the PGA Tour ends the same year.

“Our intent right now would be to do the best job possible until 2014 and then, after that, I would say we’re not predisposed to continue to have a PGA Tour event after that,” Harris said.

Ahh...with majors in their eyes...

Bringing a major to Quail Hollow has been mentioned by players and others around the game since Harris and then-Wachovia chief executive Ken Thompson created the tournament in 2003.

“If they wanted to, they could host a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship or a Ryder Cup, no question,” says CBS golf broadcaster Jim Nantz. “As far as the quality of the course, they’ve got the system in place — they operate the tournament right now as a five-star operation.”

Generally, the USGA and PGA of America don't like it when you publicly lobby for a major, though there are exceptions if you have a luxury hotel, an irresistibly compelling course or financial possibilities that are just too good to pass up.

But there's also the logistical issue, which could be cleared up by 2014 if corporate hospitality is still verboten. Otherwise, Davis Love noted the limitations of Quail Hollow as nicely as he could in a press gathering recently:

Q. With so much influx on the Tour, one of the things that's been suggested for us in Charlotte is that perhaps some day 10 years, 15 years, Quail Hollow might host a Major championship. How would that course fit the Major Championship profile? And how tough would it be if they narrowed down the fairways with more rough?

DAVIS LOVE III: There's a lot of courses that can handle a Major championship, certainly Quail Hollow as a golf course can, it's the infrastructure that goes around. If Johnny Harris said you all come look at Quail Hollow for a U.S. Open or a PGA, they wouldn't look much at the golf course to start with. They'd say wait a minute, is there room for parking? And is there room for corporate hospitality? Is there room for buses? All the things they do well there with a medium-large tournament. But if you get an extra large tournament, can you handle it? That's the argument at Marion, that's an argument at so many places, can you get people in and out? Is the infrastructure big enough?

The golf course is great. It's certainly hard enough. Our argument is it doesn't have to be hard, it's still a great golf course, no matter what score you shoot. Like last week, 11-under is a great score to win The Masters. That's what your score should be. If it's 5-over, somebody has made the course too hard. And if we don't shoot under par something is wrong, the course is too hard. Just like if you went to an NBA game and nobody dunked it and nobody made a three-pointer, you'd say wait a minute, somebody made the bucket too small or the basket too high. Quail Hollow, sure, they've got deep rough and fast greens. It would certainly handle a Major championship. But I don't think there's enough room for everything else that goes with it.

Thursday
Apr302009

"We’re letting them get excited about birdies instead of just watching people make a bunch of pars.”

I didn't get to see any of the Quail Hollow Championship's opening round, but looking at the leaderboard and reading a couple of accounts about the course setup, it should be interesting to see how the rank and file PGA Tour player views the lower-rough, faster green approach.

Here's what AP's Mike Cranston wrote, quoting tournament director Kym Hougham:

Hougham said they started thinking of tweaking the course after hearing golfers complain of high rough at a number of tournaments in Florida a couple of years ago.

“When the club became comfortable with them shooting 16-under par or 18-under par, that gave us the green light to go out and try this,” Hougham said.

The recession accelerated the move.

“In these economic times, we want this to be entertainment,” Hougham said. “When the people who play their discretionary dollar to come out here, we’re giving them roars and we’re giving them smiles. We’re letting them get excited about birdies instead of just watching people make a bunch of pars.”

See. There are benefits to "these economic times."

But here's what concerns me. Steve Elling posting at CBSSports.com:

Woods hit 5 of 14 fairways in his opening round and shot a 7-under 65, his best round ever at Quail Hollow, to claim the first-round lead while playing alongside Furyk, no less. Mickelson hit 7 of 14 fairways, missing 7 of his last 9, but still shot 67 and is tied for second, two shots back.

Mickelson applauded the firm greens, which required a deft short game, and the short rough, which meant players could attack the greens at their own risk.

"By always having a shot,I think the fans are enjoying seeing the recovery shot, which is the most exciting shot in golf," he said. "But because the greens are firm, those shots are difficult."

I'm guessing it won't be long before we hear some grumbling from short, straight, grinder types that this the low-rough concept is the Commissioner's conspiracy to get Tiger and Phil in contention and to drive up ratings.

Though if you look closely, for every Woods and Mickelson, there were several shorter-knocking grinder types on page one (Maggert, O'Hern and Flesch).

Hopefully it will be remembered that the tour brass and field staff initially resisted the move to setups downplaying the role of rough. (I don't sense they are entirely sold on the idea yet either.) However, let's say it is a grand conspiracy. What is the downside? The PGA Tour is in the entertainment business. Isn't it their job to set up courses in a way that promotes excitement and heroics?