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
  • 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

The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.  ROBERT BROWNING

 

  

Sunday
Aug022009

Funk Shoots 20-Under To Win Senior Open; Laura Norman Probably To Blame

Clearly Greg Norman's ex, who cost her man majors compared to the trophies Chris Evert has helped him bring home, haunts the Shark and forbids him from making a final day run at majors. It happened again at Crooked Stick, thus allowing Fred Funk to bludgeon Pete Dye's Indiana masterpiece.

But at least Norman handled it well, reports Keith Robinson:

Still, he said his round “just wasn’t good.”

During an interview session, he was asked to briefly review his round.

“I don’t really want to review my round, no,” he said.

That exchange is part of the official Norman interview transcript.

Sunday
Aug022009

Matthew Win Provides Much Needed Lift For Downtrodden Heterosexual White People

As Mark Reason noted in his round three game Women's Open Championship story, these are tough times for long-discrimated-against, fair-skinned folks of the world who've been pushed aside by ambitious, predatory young Asian women of great golfing skill.

Yet eleven weeks removed from giving birth, Scotland's Catriona Matthew held off the same Kurosawa-film extras killing LPGA Tour golf that Reason warned about, capturing the Ricoh Women's Open Championship. No mention in today's story about non-King's-English speaking menaces who have "taken over" the LPGA.

On a serious note, Susan Smith and Elpseth Burnside tell her amazing story, including a reminder that her husband/caddie was injured just last week in the Evian Masters hotel fire.

The Scot had her husband, who is also her caddie, at her side as she picked up her the tournament trophy and a first prize of £197,000 last night.

"I really can't believe it," she said. "I had a tear in my eye there coming up the last and I'm overcome by it all.

"It was always an aim to win a major and the British Open was the one for me. You wonder if your chances are running out but I'm just absolutely delighted."

Sunday
Aug022009

Tiger Woods Finally Captures Elusive Nationwide Tour Win

Geeze, did the big boys think Buick couldn't pay out the purse? I know some people pointed out the quality of field for the final Buick Open, but this stat from CBS was scary.

Tiger broke from his tradition of guarding his top secret Nike balls by tossing a few to the 17th and 18th hole crowds.

Larry Gage reports:

“I’ve played all around the world, and I’ve never seen a day like this,” said Woods, also the 2002 and 2006 winner at Warwick Hills. “This event has always been special, but today was something else.”

He acknowledged thinking about his walk up 18 at Warwick Hills being his last, leading to him throwing his ball with a lot of velocity back down the fairway to fans. He also tossed a ball into the gallery at 17.

“I never do that, but today was different,” Woods said. “We aren’t coming back here, and I wanted to thank all these people.”

It also seems there was a moment of gastrointestinal humor for those watching the CBS feed. Bob Weeks would bet his house that it was course reporter and well known flatulence conoisseur David Feherty. You be the judge:

Saturday
Aug012009

"Matthew is almost the lone westerner left on the walls as the women from the Orient line up for the final attack like warriors in some film by Kurosawa."

Mark Reason's third round Women's Open Championship game story takes a shot at the emergence of Asian players in women's golf and features some quotes from Marsha Evans about how to deal with this uh, matter.

Heaven knows the women’s game in these parts needs a boost because it is in danger of being inundated by an Asian Tsunami. Matthew is almost the lone westerner left on the walls as the women from the Orient line up for the final attack like warriors in some film by Kurosawa. Ten of the top 13 players after the third round are from Asia or have Korean dads.

In recent years they have taken over the LPGA Tour. Asians have won five of the last seven tournaments on the LPGA and four of the previous seven majors. How many of you out there can name the current holders of the women’s majors. Indeed how many can even name the four majors.

None of this would matter a jot, of course, if the game was amateur. But it is not and the thing that distinguishes professional golf from the amateur game is the need to entertain people. If no one in the west is identifying with a lot of these players, then the women’s game is heading for a massive commercial crash in America and Europe.

Why is it that in these racially divisive rants--this one the edgiest I can recall--never question why non-Asians are doing such a lousy job developing great female players?

I guess that would require a look inward and well, we know that's not a favorite pastime of the race in question.

Saturday
Aug012009

Colorado GC Lands 2013 Solheim Cup

This, after getting the 2010 Senior PGA. You have to admire how they are doing what it takes to build up to what seems like an inevitable major. Perhaps a PGA/Ryder Cup package down the road?

Saturday
Aug012009

"They hit a huge drive, they hit a short iron -- it's a different game."

While Bob Kravitz's column on technology does not contain any breaking news, in the context of the technology debate it's interesting to see a newspaper columnist do such a nice job considering the topic and ramifications. He also considers how rollbacks have played out in other sports, and I was particularly intrigued by the insinuation that the Indy 500 attendance has been hurt by slowing the cars down.

Either way, he comes down on the side of rolling things back. No doubt after spending some time with Pete Dye talking about the death of the long iron.

"For years, one of the great things about golf was, on a par 4, you'd have to hit a good drive, then hit a good 3- or 4-iron into the green," Dye said. "Years ago, Byron Nelson and the other great players, they were great long-iron players. But that doesn't happen with these top players. I'm sure the kids now could be excellent long-iron players, but they're not required to do it. So they're practicing with a 9-iron or wedge.

"They hit a huge drive, they hit a short iron -- it's a different game."

And also nice he touched on the impact on maintenance costs:

In an effort to offset increased length of the tees, courses have resorted to making fairways and greens more slippery. That means more cutting, more sophisticated growing techniques, more agronomic issues that concern only Dye and certain Purdue graduates.

"You go to Scotland and Ireland, their courses are more like ours used to be," Dye said. "And they can maintain them for half the cost."

When John Daly brought Crooked Stick to its knees in the 1991 PGA Championship, his season driving average was 288.9 yards. On today's PGA Tour, that 288.9 mark would rank 76th in driving distance.

The current PGA Tour average is 286.2 yards per drive. In 1991, that number would have ranked second behind Daly.

An even bigger victory: not even a hint of suggestion that improved athleticism has driven the increase!

Saturday
Aug012009

Now Daly Is Starving Himself?

Doug Ferguson talks to Rick Smith after JD's second round 88 at the Buick. It seems the lack of trying is part of the latest attempt to kill himself: starvation and sleep deprivation. Worked well for Michael Jackson.

Smith said he followed him along Warwick Hills and almost didn’t recognize him.

“I saw a guy I didn’t know existed,” Smith said. “What I saw today was scary. It was a literal disconnect. He hasn’t eaten or slept in a week. His body needs food, and it’s going to the muscle, and the muscle is breaking down to the point he’s in a toxic state.”

Daly says he has lost more than 80 pounds in the last four months after having Lap-Band surgery, in which a tube place around the top of the stomach helps control the appetite. He was eating only 1,200 calories a day, but now says his intake is about 600 calories daily.

Daly said he weighed himself this week at 205 pounds.

“He’s gone through it so quickly, faster than most,” Smith said. “He hasn’t felt well, he hasn’t slept. He’s starving himself. His doctors say if he doesn’t have 80 to 90 grams a day of protein, he’ll be in trouble. He needs to eat the right food and get himself back so he can even play golf. Looking at his swing today, it was irrelevant.”

On Twitter Daly did note that he's going to visit the doctor next week. The eye doctor.

Friday
Jul312009

"No greens keepers here — just do-it-yourselfers."

Eric Olson files an enjoyable look at sand greens in the U.S. and in particular, Nebraska. Pictures would have been fun. I'm not so sure about this...

Irwin said he would like to see sand greens make a comeback.

"There are a number of places that sand greens might make a resurgence because of our water issues and challenges facing many of today's golf courses in trying to keep them up," he said. "Sand greens are unique, but they aren't impossible to play."

Sand greens of yesteryear were an environmentalist's nightmare. To create a faster putting surface and keep the sand from blowing away, motor oil was dumped on the greens once or twice a year.

PastureGolf.com has more including a listing of courses.

Friday
Jul312009

"That's Pete's magic I guess you might say."

I'm guessing that after some links and heathlands golf, Crooked Stick and it's old style USGA setup is just not evoking the same rush of excitement for Tom Watson. You be the judge based on his post round 1 comments:

I had to relearn the golf course. I didn't remember much about it. A very complicated golf course for me. Just you can't hit it here, you can't hit it here, you can't hit it here, you got to hit it here, you can't hit it here, you can't hit it here. A lot of can't's out there rather than cans the way I look at the golf course. That's Pete's magic I guess you might say.

 

Thursday
Jul302009

"I wasted a lot of years not taking things serious."

The GolfChannel.com team probably flipped coins and Rex Hoggard lost, so he had to interview John Daly about his new Golf Channel reality show.

GolfChannel.com: What prompted you to do another reality series?

John Daly: I’m a different person now. I’m more serious about what I’m doing now. I’ve learned that talent can’t do it all. I wasted a lot of years not taking things serious.

Funny, but I only watched about 15 minutes of the telecast and was struck by Rich Lerner and Peter Oosterhuis talking about how Daly did not appear to be trying.

Thursday
Jul302009

"It's the equipment"

That was Andy North on today's U.S. Senior Open telecast to explain why Crooked Stick's maximum yardage for the Senior Open is longer than it was for the 1991 PGA. The context of a USGA event telecast made the graphic (below) and comments quite the eye opener and I'm sure it was greatly appreciated in USGA Hospitality.

As the graphic was posted North pointed out that the Champions Tour driving distance average in 1991 was 261 yards; 274 yards in 2009. But no love for all the time the guys have spent in the fitness trailer getting massages lifting weights.

Thursday
Jul302009

"The author expects to be mocked, belittled, and made the object of unrelenting scorn, and really that’s part of the appeal in doing this."

Alan Shipnuck retires his Hot List column in favor of a "mailbag" format.

Refresh my memory: didn't he do this once before in the early days of the Internet? It got a bit ugly at times, no?

Thursday
Jul302009

Kohler In On Milwaukee Rescue?

We've heard mumblings about a "chill" inducing pitch to save the Milwaukee stop and Tim Rosaforte sheds a little more light on what that may mean:

There's also a chance in this shuffling that the RBC Canadian Open would get a better date than just after the British Open. And Herb Kohler's name has been thrown into the group joining Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker in an attempt to save the Milwaukee event.

Thursday
Jul302009

Is That GUR?

Did anyone else think that was a white ground under repair line around the telephone poles at Crooked Stick's 9th hole for the U.S. Senior Open?

Thursday
Jul302009

Rear Admiral Speaks: "Fight the battle you’re in, not the battle you wish you were in."

Beth Ann Baldry and Alistair Tait sit down with Rear Admiral Marsha Evans about her efforts as interim LPGA Commissioner. I never thought I'd find comfort in militaryspeak, but after five years of MBAspeak...

GW: How do you think your military background will help your role with the LPGA?

ME: In the military, you learn as a very junior officer to focus on the mission. 2010 and beyond, that’s the mission. . . . In the military, we used to say there’s no prize for second place in war. There really is no prize for second place in meeting the needs of the players.I think a second aspect is what we call situational awareness. You’ve got to be aware of what’s happening in your environment. . . . People say, ‘Oh, the economy,’ and wring (their) hands about how bad it is. Well, OK; what are you going to do to overcome the challenges? It is what it is. All the time worrying about it and wringing your hands over it, you’re not moving the ball forward. I think that’s another piece of it. I think there are opportunities for us in this lousy economy. Opportunities to build relationships with prospective sponsors.Today they may not be our sponsor, but now is the time to start talking with that key list of partners we would like to have so that when the economy changes, we will be well-positioned coming out of it. Fight the battle you’re in, not the battle you wish you were in. The battle we’re in is pretty straightforward.

And this is refreshing...

GW: Is that an avenue for you to pursue, now that we’re in this economic climate?

ME: We have the opportunity to have tournaments that aren’t on the big-world scale – like this tournament, for example. . . . (Smaller markets) are an opportunity for us. This is what grows a fabulous fan base. . . .I want it to stay accessible. Not everybody lives in a megalopolis. Some live in the medium and smaller communities. For me, I think it’s critical that we have the opportunity for wide-ranging geographies.

Wednesday
Jul292009

Swimming Is Rolling Back, Why Not Golf?

I finally read up on swimming's governing body realizing their sport was hurt by the hi-tech body suits that led to world records.  Karen Crouse's NY Times story should give you a nice background on the issue, while this Amy Shipley story explains coach Bob Bowman's outrage at the time it will take to implement the ban.

But in light of the groove rule change saga and the desire to do anything but roll back the ball, reader Ryan offers this:

With what could be called swimsuit-gate at the current World Championships, where the EQUIPMENT (ie/ the suits themselves) are being credited with increased performance and world records shattered, and thus the history of the sport being changed, governing bodies have decided to BAN these ultra-buoyant new suits for next year (2010). They are apparently reverting back to standardized suit construction from 1996, and the predicted result is that Phelp will be just THAT much better than everyone else who was falsely lifted (pardon the pun) by these suits (due to sponsorships, Phelps of course, can't wear the newest of the new technology).

The crossover point, of course, is the golf ball, and perhaps adds more fuel to the battle here. If swimming can do it at the drop of a hat, why can't golf? Imagine a world with the 1996 Titleist Professional!

It is fascinating that Michael Phelps will probably be even more dominant with this rollback, just as many of us believe that Tiger Woods (and probably Phil Mickelson) would benefit from a golf ball rollback more than your average professional.

Also interesting is the notion that breaking world records finally made some say enough.

Perhaps a similar boiling point would have been reached in golf were it not for all of the fairway narrowing, hole tucking and rough harvesting of the last ten years?

 

Wednesday
Jul292009

Say It Ain't So: Valhalla Getting Another PGA Championship

Sheldon S. Shafer and Jody Demling report the wonderful, sweat-inducing news. Maybe by 2014 they'll have figured out a way to take advantage of those power lines?

On a positive note, Elpseth Burnside tells us about Carnoustie and St. Andrews landing Women's Open Championships in 2011 and 2013.

Wednesday
Jul292009

"It won't have the hustle and bustle as the last show."

With a teaser like that I'm sure you can't wait to set your DVR's.

Seems John Daly and Golf Channel are getting together on another reality show, this time to demonstrate what a bore Daly has become. I got sleepy just reading the AP story detailing this spellbinding television concept.

Daly said Wednesday an upcoming reality show on the Golf Channel, featuring him, will provide a glimpse of his new-and-improved boring life.

"I'm more laid back," he said in an interview with The Associated Press between puffs of a cigarette in the parking lot of Warwick Hills, the site of this week's Buick Open. "It won't have the hustle and bustle as the last show."

Wednesday
Jul292009

"Bob Seger is bigger than Tiger."

David Grant offers an entertaining account of Tiger's pro-am round with Bob Seger, who drew bigger ovations and just as many fans as the world No. 1.  Jo-Ann Barnas in the Detroit Free Press also reported on the round and posted other Buick blog items.

If you're a Seger fan like me, you'll enjoy his post round press conference. Nice move by the tour to bring him in, especially since he's not a fan of interviews.

Some highlights of the sloppy script:

Q. Did Tiger have a good sense of your career and who you are?

BOB SEGER: I gotta tell you this. This is funny. About five years ago I met Tiger -- he won't remember, but [H]Al Sutton took me to the Ryder Cup room. So I met everybody. Phil wasn't there. He was off doing something. But I met everybody on the team except for Phil, and Tiger goes up and I'm taking pictures with all the golfers' wives, all Furyk and [F]axon. Tiger is right here. And I see Tiger off in the corner he's talking to Chris, young Chris, and he says, "who's he?" He had no idea who I was. (Laughs). He was 25 at the time, 25, 26.

And...

Q. Can you talk about teeing off on the first tee?

BOB SEGER: Oh, my God.

Q. Can you talk about that?

BOB SEGER: I actually did -- that's right. I had a good swing on that tee, but yeah, nerves.
Oh, my gosh, through the first six holes I was a wreck. I don't know how I made those putts, but I did.

Q. You got a bigger cheer than Tiger there.

BOB SEGER: Oh, I've been here 40 years, you know. I got a few fans around here.
Yeah, but he's really special. To stand that close is so -- such a privilege, to someone that great.

And this is fun:

Q. Bob, two questions. Can you talk about just how the opportunity developed to play in the Pro-Am with Tiger?

BOB SEGER: My wife's -- one of my wife's best friends, her brother knows Larry Peck at GM, and they're old friends. And so last year, you know, I was set to do this, play with Tiger. And I was up watching the Open with my wife, and I said, oh, there's no way he's going to make it, with the knee. And of course, that was the story, him winning the Open.

I knew there was no way he was coming. I said, well, I had my chance, and I was practicing, too.

I was practicing like six days a week. Short game, short game, short game.

Wednesday
Jul292009

"My perception was that finally, unfortunately, the monumental factor of what he was about to accomplish penetrated that isolation he was in, that now he's thinking that he's got to get the ball down in two to win the Open."

There are a couple of stellar Tom Watson-almost-wins-the-Open follow ups to read, starting with Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times. You know I'd rather see a Cher concert than read another golf-is-a-metaphor for life column, but Friedman put a fresh spin on a familiar topic after watching the final round on Armed Forces television in Afghanistan.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with. Also, pro golfers, unlike baseball, football or basketball players, have no fixed salaries. They eat what they kill. If they score well, they make money. If they don’t, they don’t make money. I wonder what the average N.B.A. player’s free-throw shooting percentage would be if he had to make free throws to get paid the way golfers have to make three-foot putts?

This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.”

So Tom Watson got a brutal lesson in golf that he’ll never forget, but he gave us all an incredible lesson in possibilities — one we’ll never forget.

And John Strege catches up with Sandy Tatum, who uttered the quote at the top of this post. Here's just part of what Watson's pal and the former USGA President had to say.

Tatum did not stay to watch the playoff. "It was going to be too painful," he said.

In the midst of his improbable run at the Claret Jug, Watson was asked how he thought Tatum was handling it. "I think Sandy will have a heart attack," Watson replied.

Tatum sent Watson an email on Tuesday. He wrote in part: "While I cannot begin to express how what I saw affected me, a heart attack would have been much easier to handle...Thanks for giving me four days, absent two plays with the putter, on Cloud Nine."