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 is no doubt that sand-dune country is the ideal site for a golf course, as it possesses certain natural advantages which are not met with elsewhere. The porous sand provides perfect drainage: and grasses which flourish there are of the finest kinds. The undulations are ideal for the game, as they are numerous but not mountainous.  H.S. COLT


    

Tuesday
Dec092008

"Who would recommend any youngster to go into journalism these days?"

Since we know the only safe jobs in media are on Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, Alistair Tait reports the somber mood in Britain as an admired colleague (Lewine Mair) and respected paper (Daily Telegraph) ominously part ways. And in such dignified fashion.

“It was horrible the way it was handled,” she said. “I was called to a meeting on my return from China (where she was covering the World Cup) but it wasn’t held anywhere near the sports department, presumably in case I caused too much of a fuss. I was taken to an office where someone from human resources told me I was being made redundant in a tone that was completely cold and officious.

“I got no thanks for 20 years of hard work. It was all over in about 15 minutes.”

Mair’s departure has shocked newspaper writers over here. That’s why there was such a somber mood at today’s lunch in London to celebrate Padraig Harrington’s award as European golfer of the year.

If any newspaper was expected to hold onto its golf writer, it was The Telegraph. Arguably no British paper in recent years has given as much in-depth coverage to the game than this broadsheet. The general view is that if it could happen at The Telegraph, no one is safe.

Meanwhile, the street gossip is that The Times is set to ditch 10 percent of its work force. It has two excellent golf writers in John Hopkins and Peter Dixon. However, as Mair’s example shows, quality doesn’t matter when the bean counters start looking at ways to cut back.

These are worrying times. Who would recommend any youngster to go into journalism these days? Not me.

Tuesday
Dec092008

With Edgy Lopez Out Of The Way, D-Listers Return In Droves To Hope Classic

George Lopez opened up his Rolodex to lure some surprising celebrity names in recent years to the moribund Bob Hope Classic, but now that he's been run off for being too edgy and Arnold Palmer is temporarily in his place as host, here return the has beens, lightweights and Classic Club haters.

BO JACKSON, LONGORIA, LEWIS AND BOLTON AMONG EARLY CELEBRITIES AND ATHLETES PLAYING IN THE 50th BOB HOPE CHRYSLER CLASSIC HOSTED BY ARNOLD PALMER, JAN. 19-25

D.J. Trahan returns to defend his second PGA TOUR title

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Former Major League Baseball and National Football League standout Bo Jackson, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman and 2008 American League Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, and famed musicians Huey Lewis and Michael Bolton are among the initial celebrity athletes and entertainers joining golf legend Arnold Palmer for the 50th Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Hosted by Arnold Palmer, Jan. 19-25, 2009.

Other early celebrity participants for the Classic, a desert tradition since 1960, include: musicians Alice Cooper, Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles), Josh Kelley and country singer Clay Walker, actors Kurt Russell, Chris O’Donnell, Thomas Gibson, Oliver Hudson and Jeffrey Donovan, actor/comedian Kevin Nealon, actor/game show host John O’Hurley, timeless New York Yankees baseball legend Yogi Berra, comedian Tom Dreesen, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and sportscaster Dan Fouts, Hall of Fame sportscaster Keith Jackson, television financial host Joe Kernen, Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and NFL analyst Sterling Sharpe, and former Vice President Dan Quayle. The celebrity field’s schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Jan. 21, SilverRock Resort; Thursday, Jan. 22, Bermuda Dunes Country Club; Friday, Jan. 23, Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West; Saturday, Jan. 24, Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA WEST.

Monday
Dec082008

Grading Golf News Websites Week: Golf.com

As I explained yesterday, the holidays allow for reflections on the sport we love. And since we're seeing a major shift toward an online presence for most publications, it seems like an appropriate time to think about where the emerging world of online news coverage is headed. And it beats watching the news.

So to kick off the week, let's start with SI Golf Plus and Golf Magazine-controlled golf.com.

I admire the meticulous look, organized structure, nice use of imagery and prominent-without-being-onoxious placement of ads. The news items are easily found in and ESPN.com/NYTimes.com way and updated rapidly, though I wish they'd leave the wire story author's name on all pieces they post (it's a blogger thing). Their columnists are solid, with Alan Shipnuck's weekly Hot List just the right balance of snark and information, while Gary Van Sickle reliably posts items worth reading. It'd be nice to see more content from Alan Bastable, Paul Mahoney, Michael Walker and Peter Kostis among others.

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, any golf.com readers care to tell us what they like and don't like?

Monday
Dec082008

28 Advance To PGA Tour And Begin Praying For At Least Three West Coast Starts

Sean Martin offers a quick summary of the Q-school graduates broken down into various categories and shares this about media darling Brian Vranesh:

Vranesh was working as a waiter until this time last year. He spent this year on the Gateway Tour, and had only previously made the Q-School finals once since turning pro in 2000; he earned partial Nationwide Tour status after finishing back in the pack. He’s never played in a PGA Tour event.

Vranesh’s cousin, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Jon Garland, was on hand to see Vranesh earn his Tour card.

“I guess I’m like Joe the Plumber,” said Vranesh, 31. “I want people to see that if you work hard you can make it out here.”

John Strege fleshes out Vranesh's decidedly un-Joe The Plumber story (for instance, Vranesh sounds like he'd do anything to not go on welfare like Big Joe!) and also shares some of the other highs and lows from day six.

Helen Ross also focused on Vranesh's story in her PGATour.com story.

Rex Hoggard talks to the brutally honest Gary Woodland and Jay Williamson, a Deere Classic playoff loser earlier this year who retained his card.

Despite a career year that included a playoff loss to Kenny Perry at the John Deere Classic, his first trip to the British Open and a start in the BMW Championship which was played in his home town of St. Louis, Williamson finished 137th in earnings.

"It's not so much a mental thing. It's an emotional thing," said the endearing veteran who was slowed late in the season by a back injury and missed his last six cuts. "I know too much. I need to get dumb for a little bit because the last two days were brutal."

Like Stuard, Bryce Molder dropped out of the top 25 on Monday, but Molder had already secured his status on Tour with his top-25 finish on the 2009 Nationwide Tour money list.

Jason Sobel breaks down and ranks the 28 who earned cards, offering all sorts of little info nuggets.

Mark Williams files notes for PGATour.com, including the players who went through all three stages, and even digs up the list of who started at the pre-qualifier and made it all the way to the finals (none earned cards, but nonetheless one mighty impressive accomplishment).

And if reading isn't your thing but hot blondes are, PGATour.com offers up some young lady named "McMurry" (Ty, could we get a graphic with her name and Facebook profile information) who will take you through the highlights in under 3 minutes.

Monday
Dec082008

“It ain’t gonna be me"

Doug Ferguson reports that Paul Azinger will not be the 2010 Ryder Cup captain.

“It ain’t gonna be me,” Azinger told The Associated Press on Monday. “I am not the captain.”

I love Azinger's passion but this is for the best. He did a super job. He will be remembered as the captain who proved Captains matter and for having pulled off one of the great wins in Ryder Cup history.

Monday
Dec082008

Grading The Golf Websites Week!

Golf Channel has Bay Hill week, I have grading the golf websites week. Hey, as the kids say, it is what it is.

Since this is a slow news time and we appear to be in the developing stage of websites surpassing their print counterparts in importance, I thought it would be fun to analyze a golf news-website-a-day over the next seven days or so.

I'll offer a few quick comments but mostly this is about your insights as a web user. The people involved in these sites may be looking in, so try to keep things constructive, please. Think about what you like, don't like and what you'd like to see more of from the sites.

To kick things off, I'd love to hear you rank your top 5 golf news-related websites. If you'd like to offer up a few comments about why certain sites earn regular visits, that would be even better.

Sunday
Dec072008

"I’ll do my yoga in the morning and get out here and see if I can keep it going.”

To track the final day of PGA Tour Q-School online, you can watch scores here. To prepare us for the finale, Sean Martin leads with Notah Begay's 63 Sunday to jump 74(!) spots.

Begay’s bogey-free round Saturday moved him up 74 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for 21st at 15-under 345. The top 25 and ties after Monday’s final round will earn PGA Tour cards.

“I hit it great the last two days,” Begay said. “(In the fourth round), I had 11 looks inside 15 feet and only made one. I didn’t know if it was going to happen today or tomorrow or next year, but I knew I was going to have a good round at some point.”

Begay will have to tackle PGA West’s tougher Stadium Course in Q-School’s final round while most of the contenders play the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

“I won’t change anything,” Begay said. “I’ll still make dinner for my brother tonight and we’ll still do our same routine. I’ll do my yoga in the morning and get out here and see if I can keep it going.”

Martin's piece also offers easy to read capsules on various players and lists all scores through four rounds.

John Strege profiles another great story, former Ryder Cupper Chris Riley who enters the last day in a tie for 16th. 

Sunday
Dec072008

"It's unfortunate that the very top percentile, which is so minuscule, has really benefited."

The Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins talks to some of the geezers playing in the Father/Neerdowell Challenge about biggest changes to the game. My two favorites:

Raymond Floyd: Technology. Equipment and technology. ... It's unfortunate that the very top percentile, which is so minuscule, has really benefited. The masses have also benefited, but not to the [same] extent, because they've developed the ball and the club for the high swing speed. So that makes the ball go so much farther. However, the lighter club, the perimeter weighting, has benefited the masses as well. So, where do you draw the parallel? It's benefited everybody, but it's almost making old golf courses obsolete because of what happens exponentially with head speed, the distance the ball goes. ... I'm 66 years old, and I hit the ball farther than I did when I was probably 55.

But you workout Ray, don't discount that!

And Fuzzy...

Zoeller: I'd like to see the USGA step in and calm some things down, or some of these golf courses that have been over the years are just going to be obsolete. Personally as a player, I don't think they're doing their job. That's just the way I feel about it. ... [The technology and the equipment] has gotten out of hand. It seems like the manufacturers are light years ahead of the USGA. I think they need to stop it and put a cap on it somewhere. It's like a runaway dog right now.

What, no love for the groove rule change? I'm shocked!

Sunday
Dec072008

"I've kind of had the door shut on me a couple of time. But they can't do it anymore."

Eric Soderstrom talking to David Leadbetter about Michelle Wie qualifying for the LPGA Tour:

“She needs the LPGA; I think the LPGA needs her,” Leadbetter said. “I think you can see by these crowds here. I don’t think that would have been the case if she wasn’t playing.

“So I think it’s wonderful for all concerned.”

Steve Elling on the final day scene:

LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens watched a few holes from her electric cart, no doubt deliriously happy that Wie and fellow American Stacy Lewis, who was the medalist by three strokes at 18 under, were earning their cards. Page Thompson, the head honcho at the Golf Channel, drove up from Orlando to watch Wie's final round. Media on hand included the New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, both weekly golf magazines and a slew of writers from various sports websites.

"You ask whether the LPGA needs Michelle?" Leadbetter said. "Look around here."

Ron Sirak offers this about medalist and all-around amazing story Stacey Lewis:

While not as extensive as Wie's run-ins with the LPGA, Lewis, a scrappy 23-year-old who endured a nearly decade-long battle with scoliosis, has had a couple odd brushes of her own. In 2006, she led an LPGA tournament in Arkansas that was washed out after one round and was erased from the record books. A victory that wasn?t.

Then this year she earned enough money by finishing third in the U.S. Women?s Open to have secured her card for next year off the money list, but the tour has a rule saying U.S. Open money does not count because the purse is so much larger than normal LPGA tournaments. Thus she had to come to Q school.

"I've kind of had the door shut on me a couple of time," Lewis said. "But they can't do it anymore."

In less positive news, Elspeth Burnside reports on Vikki Laing's DQ:

Laing had posted a 76 on day three and was tied for 56th place on one-over par, but she signed for a six instead of a seven at the 14th hole. The error was only discovered after she had left the scorer's hut. Laing, who held non-exempt status for the LPGA Tour in 2004 and 2005, had been hoping to gain one of the fully exempt cards for the 2009 circuit. But she now faces another season on the secondary US Futures Tour. 

Sunday
Dec072008

"Imagine the long-term impact on the kids who would want to pick up golf clubs just because Tiger hit it."

Geoff Ogilvy used his Australian PGA win to mention what a Tiger appearance would mean to Australian golf. From Reuters:

"We could stack some pretty good players against him, it would be a pretty stunning tournament," the former U.S. Open champion told reporters.

"Imagine the long-term impact on the kids who would want to pick up golf clubs just because Tiger hit it.

"Imagine 25,000 people leaving the golf course telling everyone they watched Tiger Woods play and the amazing impact it could have."

We imagine the same thing here in Los Angeles these days, but I don't think anyone coming to Riviera for the Northern Trust Open will get the pleasure again. Sorry Aussies, Tiger doesn't add to his schedule. He only subtracts.

Sunday
Dec072008

"I think we've finally bridged the gap"

John Paul Newport focuses in on two of golf's best landscape photographers and learns this about how Joanne Dost and Larry Lambrecht work.

Ms. Dost, who sells framed photographs as large as 40 inches by 80 inches in her gallery in Monterey, still shoots her most ambitious work on film. "Digital is great. For books, for magazines, for smaller prints, it's perfect. But when you get up into the really big prints, the depth and tonality is just not quite there for me yet," she said. Mr. Lambrecht, by contrast, has gone almost exclusively digital, thanks to an expensive new digital back for his trusty old medium-format film camera. It can record images of 39 megapixels, compared with 10 to 12 megapixels for today's top-line consumer digital cameras. "I think we've finally bridged the gap," he said.

And while we're on the subject of cool golf images, reader Michael noticed this Jaoa Padua shot from MSNBC. It's of Marta Mamani, an Aymara indigenous woman who is on the construction crew at La Paz Golf Club in Bolivia, considered the world's golf facility highest above sea level.

 

Saturday
Dec062008

“I had to force some small talk"

Ron Sirak says that "Pretty much all Michelle Wie is going to have to do Sunday at LPGA Q school is make sure she signs her scorecard," which is why all attention is focused on the epic 59 in La Quinta by Harrison Frazar. The Golf Channel studio gang takes you through the round.

Sean Martin, filing for Golfweek.com:

Frazar’s group had to wait a couple minutes before teeing off on No. 18. Frazar spent part of that time standing alone at the edge of that tee box, talking at times about college football with playing partners Robert Garrigus and James Nitties.

“I had to force some small talk,” Frazar said. “Robert and James were great to play with. They were laid aback. I tried to make some small chatter with folks wherever I could, try to keep my mind off of it.”

Jim Achenbach files an anatomy of a 59 and is pretty much in awe of everything except the cleaning up of the PGA West courses.

PGA West is in the midst of a total renovation. The two golf courses used for this event – the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the infamous Stadium Course by Pete Dye – have been cleaned up, spruced up, prettied up and manicured as carefully as a girl heading to her first high school prom.

Peter Yoon reminds us that this is not the first 59 Q-school, nor does such an incredible round ensure a PGA Tour card.

When Gossett shot 59, it came in the fourth round of Q-school. But Gossett failed to break 70 in any other round that year and did not receive his PGA Tour card. Frazar now has a four-shot lead with two rounds to go and he's 10 shots clear of the top 25 who will earn playing privileges for the 2009 PGA Tour season on Monday. Still, he's not taking anything for granted.

"This isn't the last day and this isn't over," Frazar said. "We've got two days left. On these courses, as you can see, you can get at it, but you can also get bit pretty hard."

John Strege profiles Notah Begay, who is just happy that he'll be playing on an organized tour, even if he doesn't make a comebackt his week.

Saturday
Dec062008

"In terms of the bigger picture, she had little to offer, a state of affairs that will have to change when she ventures out into the wider world."

John Huggan is not very bullish on Annika's ANNIKA's post golf course career:

Showing admirable understatement, McGee acknowledges that his partner's marketing income will "go down slightly" after her public profile plunges. That assessment, however, may turn out to be more than a little optimistic. If the quietly spoken Sorenstam's efforts in the world of commerce are anything like her admirably machine-like but ultimately dull style of play, the credit crunch will before long have another victim. Her qualifications for entry into the esoteric world of course design, for example, remain something of a mystery to me.

And let's not get into the fact that, throughout her distinguished career, the long-time world No.1 only rarely, if ever, said anything remotely interesting (an accusation that can also legitimately be made against Tiger Woods). Anything Sorenstam ever did for the growth of women's golf and the tour she played on resulted from the quality of her golf rather than her rhetoric. In terms of the bigger picture, she had little to offer, a state of affairs that will have to change when she ventures out into the wider world.

Saturday
Dec062008

Sensing Need To Contribute To Masters Par-3's Circus Atmosphere, Greg Wants Chrissie To Caddy

Thanks to reader Andrew for Josh Robbins' story on Greg and Gregory Norman. Dad knows his cheesy Tony Robbins metaphors:

"I've learned from Gregory his tenacity and his desire to be good at whatever he does," the father said. "It resonates out. When you're under pressure, you could see the intensity that comes out of an individual. What do you want to do? "Do you want to fly like an eagle or fly like a buzzard? And Gregory wants to fly like an eagle."

Gregory responded: "I learned how to do those things from him."

Gregory Translation: "Okay dad, that was a bit over the top. I'm going to keep my answer brief."

Now the real news:

It's possible, however, that Evert, not Gregory, may caddie for Norman in the Par 3 event on the eve of the Masters. In fact, it's an idea that Gregory endorses.

"She should definitely caddie," Gregory said when a reporter brought up the possibilityon Friday.

Norman agreed, saying anything is possible.

"[Chris and I] have talked about that actually," Norman acknowledged. "Whether that happens or not, I don't know."

 

Friday
Dec052008

"Tell a British golfer that the 90-degree rule is in effect and you’ll get a blank look."

Alistair Tait files a nice rant about American golf courses and golfers, and just as he was making fun of our propensity to tuck a towel into the waistband he thankfully switched to his British golf rants and addressed the issue of grown men wearing socks to their knees. Wise move Alistair, wise move.

Friday
Dec052008

The End of Newspapermen Covering Golf Near?

With the news that Jim McCabe has left the Boston Globe to replace Rex Hoggard at Golfweek (now at GolfChannel.com), Sal Johnson recaps the dizzying changes in golf newspaper coverage over the last decade. I also understand there has been a shake up at the Daily Telegraph, so it's not just an American issue.

Let's face reality, this isn't an isolated problem to fall on just the Boston market but a total purge on golf writing in not only this country but around the world. Just in the last couple of months we have seen the golf writers of the Los Angeles Times, Thomas Bonk, take a buy out. In Chicago, Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune left after the PGA Championship. Vartan Kupelian is no longer with the Detroit News, the writer of a paper in Washington is waiting to see if his contract will be renewed in '09. Just this week Bill Huffman is writing his last column for the East Valley Tribune and in neighboring Phoenix, the Arizona Republic told it's golf writer John Davis that he would be cut in half on golf, had to focus on just local golf no longer writing about the PGA and LPGA Tours and would be on the copy desk for half of his 40 hour week. Cities like Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Florida, Palm Beach, Florida, Kansas City, Houston, Texas and Hartford, Connecticut no longer have golf writers. Of course many of you may wonder why this is so important, but in the scope of things it's very important and one of the growing problems for the PGA Tour in the months ahead.

Thursday
Dec042008

Golf Digest Reveals Latest Best New Courses List

Ron Whitten reports on places with Dickensian names like Gozzer and Tobiano winning, along with Faz's Saucon Valley work capturing the best renovation, meaning it's nicely positioned for 2014's new category, best renovation of a best renovation.

There's also a photo slide show of the winners.

Thursday
Dec042008

Azinger Now Issuing Non-Denial Denials

Steve Elling is the latest to try and find out where the Ryder Cup captain stands in his desire to head the 2010 U.S. effort.

Azinger was asked a half-dozen variations on the same question, and though the answers never much changed, he all but telegraphed his renewed interest in the position two years hence -- if not that the position is already in the pipeline.

"I'm not going to go there," Azinger said.

Which doesn't mean he won't be going to Wales in 2010, when the U.S. defends the Cup. The host PGA of America ought to lease the jet for his trip, like, yesterday.

Azinger, playing this weekend in the Del Webb Father/Son Challenge, openly gushed about the experience of leading the American team three months ago in Kentucky, but when it came time to discuss whether he might re-up, he was uncharacteristically mum.
"Anything regarding the future Ryder Cup captaincy needs to be directed to them," Azinger said. "I don't want to step on their toes."

Paul, do you dread those Champions Tour pro-ams that much?

Thursday
Dec042008

"Who knows what would have happened then.”

Ron Balicki, who reported last week that the Old Memorial pro shop sales will take a 2009 hit with the cancellation of Walker Cup winter practice sessions, talks to Colt Knost who says he wouldn't be on the Nationwide Tour today wouldn't be a former USGA champion if it weren't for those sessions. Thanks to reader John for this:

“I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now,’’ he said, had he not been named to the U.S. Walker Cup practice squad two years ago.

And...

As a senior at Southern Methodist, he was considered – even by himself – as a longshot to make the 10-man team. He entered his senior season with every intention of turning professional after the spring. However, he was one of the 20-plus players selected for the Walker Cup practice squad and went to Tampa, Fla., for a three-day practice session.

“I knew I wasn’t very high on their (USGA) list, so I felt pretty lucky to be picked,” Knost said this week. “Being able to go there and show what I could do and how I could get along with the other players was huge, especially for a guy like me. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me feel if I played well that next summer, I would have a good chance of making the (Walker Cup) team. That had always been a goal of mine.

“There is no doubt in my mind, if I hadn’t been picked for the practice squad I would have turned pro right after college, played a bunch of the mini-tours and then tried (PGA Tour) Q-School. Who knows what would have happened then.”

This much is certain: If Knost had not been a member of that practice squad, a different name would appear on the trophies of the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur championships. And maybe, the U.S. would not have left Ireland with a 12 1/2-11 1/2 victory in the 41st Walker Cup Match.

Also, the sun might not have continued rising in the east and Barack Obama might still just be a junior senator from Illinois.

Thursday
Dec042008

Nice Get For USGA Museum?

Sarazen's double eagle wood...