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

There are so-called water holes which are little more than frog ponds, covered with slime and stagnant, where the larvae of the mosquito thrive. These represent faulty construction, and usually reveal outlets badly clogged with vegetation…They are discussed now wholly as outstanding features which go so far to make the course beautiful. They offer a distinct change from the holes over meadowlands, which so frequently are monotonous and featureless, and entirely without reason - for there is absolutely no excuse for a featureless hole anywhere on any course.
A.W. TILLINGHAST


    

Thursday
Jan222009

"The Hope has a '100 percent' chance of surviving but that a move to the Champions Tour is a possibility, which may or may not meet your definition of survival."

John Hawkins considers the future of the Bob Hope Classic and reports a couple of intriguing items:

Word on the street is that singer/actor Justin Timberlake, whose hands-on involvement with the Las Vegas tour stop transformed it into a Fall Series success, wants a bigger piece of the action and would love moving to the third week of the regular season if the spot became available.

Interestingly enough, Timberlake ditched the 72-hole pro-am format as soon as he slapped his name on the Vegas event, the first of several moves that indicate he means business. After swearing he'd never do another hit-and-giggle at Pebble, JT will return to the AT&T next month, trudge through a few six-hour rounds and sign lots of autographs for the ladies. It never hurts to help the tour if you want the tour to help you.

That said, the same source told me yesterday that the Hope has a "100 percent" chance of surviving but that a move to the Champions Tour is a possibility, which may or may not meet your definition of survival. The right thing to do is to fix it and leave it on the big tour, which prospered immensely from the Hope's popularity before becoming the big business it is today.

He's right about that. Of course the people who need to do the fixing are the ones who put the event in this position, despite what Hawkins writes:

By bringing the Classic Club into the rota in 2006, the competitive dynamic was altered, the product compromised by what was, more or less, an honest mistake.

No, it was a mistake. Let's refresh memories!

Thomas Bonk, writing about the impending demise of Indian Wells and the concerns about low scoring, January, 2004:

Indian Wells Country Club has ranked as the easiest course on the PGA Tour for the last three years and nine times since they began keeping that statistic in 1983. And at 6,478 yards, it’s also the shortest course on the PGA Tour. Tournament officials might be looking for a replacement course.

“Obviously, there is an issue out here,” said John Foster, a member of the tournament’s five-person board of directors as well as a past president. “But we don’t have a better option.

“As technology evolves, we have to look at the issue. We will have to make some tough decisions.”

A year later it was gone, and Bonk reported on the new NorthStar development, which became The Classic Club.

NorthStar, which occupies 220 acres at Cook Road and Interstate 10, will measure about 7,600 yards and can accommodate a crowd of 10,000 at its amphitheater setting at the 18th green.

“After 45 years, we had to review and we’re making changes that are substantial,” Foster said. “I think they’re going to be well received. We want to step up in the world of golf, and what we’re doing will take us to another level.”

Yes, another level alright.

Someone panicked because of low scores and the impact of technology on an event that was never meant to be an early season U.S. Open. The PGA Tour signed off on The Classic Club, SilverRock and the overall desire to change the rotation for reasons only they can explain.

Wednesday
Jan212009

"World Ranking points, which are based on the strength of each field, have started to skew toward Europe at certain events."

Rex Hoggard drops this item in writing about the impact of the European Tour's Race To Dubai. Not a new trend, but it's just always interesting to read:

Some fallout can already be felt on the PGA Tour. World Ranking points, which are based on the strength of each field, have started to skew toward Europe at certain events. The number of ranking points awarded to Zach Johnson for winning last week’s Sony Open (44) were less than those given to Paul Casey (48), who won the European Tour stop in Abu Dhabi.

Expect a similar scenario this week when the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which features five of the top 40 players in the world, is played opposite the Qatar Masters, which includes 13 of the top 40.

Wednesday
Jan212009

"I just had a double-double with Arnie."

The In-N-Out files, courtesy of GolfChannel.com's blog and Jerry Foltz:

The place? The driving range at PGA West Palmer Private course -- probably not what you imagined with that preamble. The stories? Great reminiscence of the old days from the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic -- starting with year one. The food? In-N-Out Burgers supplied by their mobile unit, complimentary to all tournament folk. And if all of that isn't enough to make you want to come to the desert for the 50th Hope, then consider who I sat with: the King, Arnold Palmer. I won't soon forget it, if ever.

It was surreal for me, but I think Rich Lerner (also at the table) summed it up best in a brief conversation in passing with Scott Walker. "I just had a double-double with Arnie."

Meanwhile, Rich Lerner shares this little nugget from what is apparently THE place to be.

Tim Herron dropped by to enjoy lunch with the King. Lumpy, a former Bay Hill winner, settled for the double-double burger, backing off In-N-Out's mammoth four- by-four. I told him I was disappointed, that it was like laying up at 15 at Augusta with 190 yards to the hole. “Chip Beck did it,” Lumpy replied. He thought about it for a second and then added, “But then I guess I’m not built like Chip Beck am I?”

An In-N-Out truck at Riviera for the Northern Trust Open would be a bigger draw than Rory McIlroy, that I know!

Wednesday
Jan212009

"Someone please tell him that Indian Wells is no longer in the rota..."

Jim McCabe tells us about veterans who have become professional letter writers in search of sponsor invites, focusing on Billy Andrade and Olin Browne. Naturally, I found this disturbing:

What helps is if you have an impeccable record so far as tournament attendance goes and you have been there through the years to help out in some small way. Certainly, that worked in Andrade’s favor at Wachovia last year (“Billy has done everything we’ve ever asked of him,” Hougham said) and at this week’s Hope, where he’s played each of the last nine years and 13 times in all. Ditto Browne, who has played the Hope 13 times in all, missing just twice since 1996.

(Then there’s the spot awarded to Bobby Clampett, who has played it just nine times, but not since 1991. Someone please tell him that Indian Wells is no longer in the rota and chalk it up to one of those exemptions that still-active PGA Tour members have to live with.)

Bobby Clampett? I think I'm feeling a little less sympathetic about the Hope's demise.

Wednesday
Jan212009

Weir and Andrew

Great to read from Lorne Rubenstein that Mike Weir has joined design forces with Ian Andrew. And I loved this question from Lorne:

But what might happen should a city or town looking to do a public course, perhaps for kids, and unable to pay anywhere near that amount, approach Weir Design? Would Weir, Andrew and IMG entertain the idea?

"Absolutely," Pelletier said. "We talked about sending out an RFP [request for proposals] to municipalities saying, 'Here's an opportunity.' Mike wants to grow the game of golf in Canada."

Such a course could be Weir's and Andrew's first.

"There's the possibility of a public course," Weir said. "That's an idea Ian had, and I liked it. We'll see."

Wednesday
Jan212009

"Get some goodwill in the bank while you can."

Okay, I know Rory McIlroy is the second coming and all, but I think Derek Lawrenson is getting a bit carried away here:

The Los Angeles Open must have some field next month if they cannot find a spot for Rory McIlroy (right).

As of last week, the Ulsterman was still waiting on a reply to a request for a sponsor's invitation.

Memo to the organisers: in a couple of years, you'll be begging him to turn up. Get some goodwill in the bank while you can.

First, there probably aren't more than 100 people in the greater Los Angeles area who could pick young Rory out of a lineup. He's not exactly going to put people on the grassy hill above 18.

Second, let's say he becomes the golfing God that the British and Irish press is predicting. Do we really think that based on the behavior of the modern day professional, there is any longer a connection between favors down for a player when they become successful?

Wednesday
Jan212009

Taking Turf Out Of Play

One of the points raised in my Obama-WPA piece for Golf World revolved the idea of taking turf out of play and in general, irrigating less (perhaps with government incentives, as pointed out in this example). I close the piece wondering if golfers can actually accept less green in the name of Green.

I asked Tom Naccarato, who does digital photo work for architects and clubs looking to simulate what something will look like, to work on a couple of Torrey Pines photos I took last year. Because I can't think of a course with more acreage that needs to be converted to non-irrigated native. (There was one choice spot right of the 7th fairway where irrigation has been turned off and Tom used that for the rough look you'll see in the photo below).

While I was walking around Torrey prior to the Open I met consultant Andy Slack, the irrigation guru brought in to try and right the troubled irrigation system at Torrey. When asked how many acres on the property could be converted to non-irrigated without impacting play, Slack said he felt that 50 acres was an easy target. I would agree. And the ensuing cost savings in irrigation, energy and man power of reducing 50 acres would be incredible.

Furthermore, does this really look so bad? I know the PGA Tour would have a coronary because there isn't full turf coverage and many golfers would wonder what's wrong, but this would seem to me where golf is going to have to if it wants to survive and reclaim some of its "native golf" roots. Click to enlarge Tom Naccarato's digital enhancement of No. 14 at Torrey Pines:

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Every different treatment we could think of."

Dave Shedloski, talking to Bob Vokey about the groove rule change:

The rule change, which applies to clubs manufactured after January 2010, has forced Vokey and his design team to rethink grooves on wedges. His fertile mind has been working overtime.

"We have 25-30 different patterns we have already mocked up -- different patterns, different angles, different spacing, different radiuses, different face treatments, different punch marks ... every different treatment we could think of," Vokey said. "Even some of my old dreams from years ago. We want to see what we can come up with that gives us the proper feel and trajectory and level of reliability and performance.

"We've taken all of that, and now we're in the process of narrowing down to about three, and after that we'll submit them to the USGA. They will fall within the specifications; they will conform. We're going to try to get that done before the summer to get them in the players' hands to work with in their off-time. This way, they will be ready to go in 2010."

Not exactly sitting idly by!

Tuesday
Jan202009

PGA Tour Announces List Of Golfers Reported To Have Thoughts...On Occasion

This really has no relevance to your lives, I am just posting it so that I can easily find the list of usually interview-worthy players making up the the PAC and Policy Board.

PGA TOUR Announces 2009 Player Advisory Council
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL- The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2009.

The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and the Commissioner on issues affecting the TOUR.

2009 Player Advisory Council (PAC)

Stuart Appleby (Orlando, FL) George McNeill (Fort Myers, FL)* Steve Flesch (Union, KY) Joe Ogilvie (Austin, TX)* Harrison Frazar (Dallas, TX)* Tom Pernice, Jr. (Murrieta, CA) Jim Furyk (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)* D.A. Points (Ocoee, FL)* Paul Goydos (Dove Canyon, CA) Ted Purdy (Phoenix, AZ)* Ryuji Imada (Tampa, FL)* Brett Quigley (Jupiter, FL) Jerry Kelly (Madison, WI) Vijay Singh (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)*
Davis Love III (Sea Island, GA)* Mark Wilson (Elmhurst, IL)

* indicates new PAC member for 2009

Zach Johnson served as Chairman of the PAC in 2008, and joins past PAC Chairmen Stewart Cink, Brad Faxon and David Toms as a Player Director on the 2009 PGA TOUR Policy Board.

2009 Player Directors
Stewart Cink (Duluth, GA) Zach Johnson (St. Simons, GA) Brad Faxon (Barrington, RI) David Toms (Shreveport, LA)

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Out of nowhere, golf's very own snapping turtle has slipped into pole position to be named Europe's next Ryder Cup captain."

Vincent Hogan with a beautiful summation of the Monty-Ryder Cup captaincy ordeal:

As news stories go, this is a bit like Worzel Gummidge getting the chief MC gig for Milan Fashion Week.

'Monty', by the way, is one of this column's favourite people. He goes through life like someone with endless bone spurs in his neck, perpetually sore feet, looming migraine and the love-sick devotion of a fan whose camera shutter is louder than John Daly on a binge. No man cherishes a grudge more deeply, no one gives the impression of liking people less.

And yet I cannot think of anyone I'd prefer to see win a Major in 2009, outside -- of course -- of an Irishman.

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train."

Mike Freeman at CBSSports.com makes some solid points but ultimately goes a little far in blasting Tiger Woods' political appearance Sunday when he compares Tiger to Don King.

His words of support for the military were fine -- I'm ex-Army and appreciate that -- but he still said little of substance.

I'd have more respect for Woods if he stuck to his noncommittal persona and turned down the offer. It's true. I would.

Woods' meek appearance had the smell of bandwagon jumping. Too late, Tiger. Some of us know what you're doing, which is being overtly opportunistic.

Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train.

Monday
Jan192009

"I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year."

In this week's (somewhat entertaining) novella, the SI/Golf.com/Golf Magazine gang kicks around the Sony Open and predicts this week's Bob Hope Classic will be the last. They kick off with a debate about Rich Lerner asking Tadd Fujikawa about his father's indictment and Jim Herre chalks it up to new GC head guy Tom Stathakes.

Had a beer with Stathakes not long ago, and I was impressed with his energy and professed journalistic aggressiveness. I think he'll press the Golf Channel talent to ask the tough question, which should be quite the balancing act considering that the network is in bed with the Tour. I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year.

Monday
Jan192009

"There better not be any females in his Secret Service detail. They won't let 'em in."

Leonard Shapiro considers Barack Obama's golf options in the D.C. area. He won't get to play the hole pictured to the right and accompanying the story (gonzo!). And somehow I doubt Burning Tree will have an Obama sighting.

"We'd love to have him," said Charles Briggs, the head pro and general manager at Burning Tree. "The policy is that anyone who plays here has to be invited by a member to play as his guest. President Clinton was invited, but he never came out with the member who invited him. I have no idea why."

Burning Tree has a national and local membership, including broadcasters Bryant Gumbel and Jim Nantz as well as members of Congress, past cabinet secretaries and K Street lobbyists. Clearly Obama will be asked to play the course; whether he accepts or not remains to be seen, and as one local professional said, "there better not be any females in his Secret Service detail. They won't let 'em in."

Monday
Jan192009

"The company representative insisted on charging them a cancellation fee."

You may recall the story of the Kolodjay clan heading to Myrtle Beach for golf, only to have their Spirit Air flight cancelled and a new booking on the doomed U.S. Airways flight 1549.

In an apparent attempt to ensurethat no one ever flies Spirit again, the airline initially insisted on charging Jeff Kolodjay a cancellation fee for the return flight tickets on Spirit that are going on unused. Even though his credit card was still a tad soggy, Spirit didn't budge until word got out. They've since changed their minds...assuming they have them (minds, that is).

Monday
Jan192009

USGA Cuts Green Section Research Budget

A few weeks ago Michael Bamberger reported that there would be cuts in the USGA's generous grants program, however specifics were not known. Marisa Palmieri reports for Golf Course Industry on some of the cuts:

The USGA’s Green Section Research department suspended $300,000 in new research initiatives to lower its budget to $1 million. The USGA is delaying the projects slated to begin this year until 2010. Because of the suspension, the USGA likely won’t issue a call for proposals this year like it typically would, says Mike Kenna, director of Green Section Research.

And...

Kenna says the USGA’s budget has fluctuated a lot over the last two decades, but this year’s cuts were the biggest decline in recent years.

“But if you look at the stock market, what’s happening with corporate sponsorships and the economy as a whole, the fact the USGA is funding a $1 million in research is impressive,” he says. “There isn’t any other organization in the game of golf that funds that much research for turfgrass.”

Monday
Jan192009

"When you play golf in Palm Springs they say that everything breaks toward Indio — you know, the Mexican neighborhood. Not this time."

David Feherty on the ouster of George Lopez as host of this week's Bob Hope Classic:

This year's event will be hosted by Arnold Palmer, who may be the most important person ever to play golf. I love everything about Arnold, and I'm not upset at all that he is involved, but I am seriously disturbed at the way George Lopez was treated. After all the effort he put in, he was told in a two-minute phone call that his services were no longer needed. That was it.

Now, maybe they just didn't like George's sense of humor, and that's their right. Of course, Palm Springs is, to say the very least, a Republican refuge, and most of George's cronies are (and I'm looking for a politically correct way to say this, but it's not coming to me) uh... not exactly white, and Democratically inclined. In fact, I might be George's token white friend, I'm not sure. But wasn't Sammy Davis Jr. a friend of Bob's? He used to play, and I think he was both black and Jewish!

I think there's a perception problem here. Most white people in this country have no idea how huge George Lopez is in the Latino community. Just like the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Germans, Scandinavians, and other immigrants of old who started new lives in the New World, Latinos are doing the same, but with less representation and lower self-esteem. These people look up to George Lopez, who at two years old was abandoned by his parents, left to fend for himself, and eventually taken in by his authoritarian grandmother and raised with no love. From almost nothing, George became a huge star, only the third Latino (after Desi Arnaz and Freddie Prinze) to have his own TV show, and he now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Okay Feherty, you had me until the bit about the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Where, after all, even John Tesh has a star.

Monday
Jan192009

"Charlie Sifford Exemption"

I'm not sure this is what I had in mind in pleading to save full field events, but nonetheless, it's an interesting concept.

Sunday
Jan182009

"Fujikawa was feted at every turn"

From Doug Ferguson's Sony Open game story, reporting on Zach Johnson's win and Tadd Fujikawa's Sunday struggles:

Fujikawa was feted at every turn, but his hopes faded quickly.

Fans lined the length of the 486-yard opening hole, and a handmade sign hanging from a palm tree behind the green said, “Go Tadd. Bring it Home.” It was signed by the grounds crew at Waialae, who stood and cheered.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to remind field size complainers that we saw a stellar leaderboard, a close competition with 20 or so players having a shot at winning Sunday, and a classic local qualifier-makes-good story (Tadd's redux).

It's not a coincidence that this is an open event with Monday qualifying and a full field of hungry golfers.

So next time we hear how field size is the primary reason for slow play (the next slow play disaster) and that all fields should be reduced in size, perhaps we can consider that the lethargic pace on the PGA Tour is rarely blamed on ridiculous pre-shot routines, confining course setup or long waits on holes where there used to never be waits thanks to recent distance advances.

Open events and large fields are vital to the health of the "product."

 

Sunday
Jan182009

Euro Tour To Ensure Future Captains Can Pronounce All Player Names, Be Nice To Sponsors

Lawrence Donegan's story on the new Euro Tour captain's specs adds to the fun of a wild week in the desert.

Last week, a meeting of the tour's tournament players' committee, notable mostly for what one member yesterday described as an "extremely argumentative" discussion over the choice of ­captain for 2010, also reached a ­tentative agreement on a set of ­"captain's ­obligations".

The move comes after Nick Faldo was widely criticised for his captaincy of the European team at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky last year, although George O'Grady, the tour's chief executive, said last night the Englishman had been a "complete professional" who had been excellent when it came to the business aspects of the job. "The Ryder Cup is of critical financial importance to the European Tour and we all need to do whatever we can to support the commercial side of the event, the captain included," he said.

"There has been an informal agreement in the past, but it has been a 'fly by the seat of your pants' thing. In the current climate we feel we need something more formal."

That means being contractually obliged to glad-hand with sponsors, turn up for television interviews and seek the approval of tour officials before signing book deals and agreements to write for magazines. O'Grady said any future ­captain's would also receive wide-­ranging advice on public ­speaking.

Gee, I wonder what prompted that?

Some candidates will need such advice more than others. One of those who does not is Colin Montgomerie, who now appears to be the ­overwhelming ­favourite to get the job for 2010.

No speaking lessons for Monty. We want him as is!

Sunday
Jan182009

Tiger Takes A Stand...For The U.S. Naval Glee Club

I don't know about you, but it sure seemed odd to be at an inaugural event and to not have said a single word about the reason for the event (initials B.O.). Here's the text of Tiger's introductory speech for the U.S. Naval Glee Club.