Twitter: GeoffShac
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The object of inventors is to reduce the skill required for golf. If it were not for the counterskill of architects, the game would be emasculated.



"I'm looking next year to be back playing golf and that's why I cannot give an answer that soon."

Phil Casey reports that the debate over raising the European Tour minimum from 11 to 12 (Tim Finchem sends his thanks) has put the Ryder Cup captaincy debate on hold. However, the delay seems to not bode well for Ian Woosnam. This is from Thomas Bjorn, committee member:

"Because it's such a big thing, we may decide to do it later than January just to make sure that we make what we think is the right decision."

That would appear to increase the chances of Jose Maria Olazabal becoming captain at Celtic Manor in 2010. Olazabal was Faldo's vice-captain at Valhalla and impressed the players with his passion.

Padraig Harrington revealed the Spaniard had the players in tears with a speech in the team room on Saturday evening. Immediately after the defeat in Kentucky, Olazabal said he wanted to get back to full fitness and try to play in two years' time, adding: "If they wanted a decision by the end of this year, I'm not going to be able to give them that.

"The scenario is that my condition is improving and I'm feeling better. I'm not 100 per cent pain-free, but I'm hoping that I might be able to play one or two events at the end of the year to see how the back holds up.

"I'm looking next year to be back playing golf and that's why I cannot give an answer that soon.

Villegas Considering Euro Tour Options

Mark Reason reports on George O'Grady probably saying more than he should. But either way, add Camilo to the growing list mulling more European Tour appearances.

George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, told The Sunday Telegraph, that the Gulf States were about to flex their financial muscles in terms of pulling in the world’s top golfers. The inconceivable prize money that such oil-rich countries can offer has started to arouse the interest of the glitterati of the American Tour.

O’Grady said: “We’ve been talking to Phil Mickelson for some time. I talked personally to him at the Scottish Open and to his management at the Ryder Cup. Villegas is also managed by IMG and they have been making inquiries on his behalf.

“Sergio Garcia has said that he will play more on the European Tour next year and he is close friends with Camilo. Sergio’s and Camilo’s management are keen to get to the Latin-speaking audiences. So will Camilo play in Sergio’s tournament [the Castello Masters] next year?


"I really couldn't believe how well some of the guys played."

John Huggan lets Darren Clarke do the talking, covering a range of topics from Captain Faldo to his personal life. I enjoyed this perspective on the Ryder Cup.

"It was tough sitting there not being able to do anything," he sighs. "But one thing really struck me; I was amazed by the quality of the play. It was extraordinary. When you are involved in the Ryder Cup as I have been you concentrate so much on your own play that a lot of what goes on passes you by. But this time I was able to take it all in. I really couldn't believe how well some of the guys played. Under so much pressure, the shots they were hitting were incredible. As a player myself I never realised how good it is to watch."


"Did they play that this year?"

Worse than Jack Nicklaus' sarcastic sounding FedEd Cup comments to Thomas Bonk...

"Did they play that this year?" Nicklaus told The Times.

"I didn't watch a second of it. Two years in a row, it was basically over before the Tour Championship was even played, and that doesn't make sense." this remark, which may reflect the feelings of other tournament sponsors as well...
Woods had a comfortable lead in the Cup in its debut last year and Vijay Singh had it sewn up weeks before the Tour Championship, leading to speculation that the Tour needs to tinker with the playoffs. "They still have some tweaking to do," Nicklaus said. "It has a tendency to take away from the rest of the tour events. It's always, 'He's got X-amount of FedEx Cup points.' A guy doesn't give a rat about FedEx points, he cares about how he's playing."


Castle Stuart Images Vol. 5

This is the final image sent to me by John Kemp. It's of the 13th hole tee shot. I love the detail work in the bunker and the wind-blown look. Looks like it's been there forever. 


Prairie Club Page Update

I've updated the Prairie Club page to include new articles from the New York Times on Valentine, the Omaha World-Herald on the project status and Gil Hanse's rendering of our Horse Course. Still to come over the fall and winter are two more videos and my treatise on Horse Golf. 


Woosie: In Case You Didn't Hear Me The First Time, I'd Like To Be Captain Again!

Just so there's no gray area here, Ian Woosnam clarified his thoughts to the BBC:

The 1991 Masters champion told BBC Sport: "I have put my name forward at the moment but it all depends if Jose Maria Olazabal wants the job."

"If he doesn't want it, I feel I would like the chance to have another go."

The 2010 showpiece is the first Ryder Cup to be played in Wales and Welsh sporting great Woosnam would be a fitting skipper as Europe bid to regain the trophy after America won this year's event in Valhalla.


Wells Fargo Championship?

Just a wild guess here, but Wells Fargo stepping in to buy Wachovia could bode well since they are seeking an east coast presence, and therefore the need to, uh, platform the brand via events like the Wachovia Championship.


"My name's Samuel, OK!"

This  NZPA story looks at Michael Campbell's inability to get a free drop from a divot laiden catch basin and also offers this about his pro-am partner, Sam Samuel Jackson:

There were a few light-hearted moments, including at the first that Campbell and Jackson were playing as their 10th. One youngster holding a camera asked Jackson if he could have a photograph. Jackson responded: "I'm sorry, I don't have any photos on me."

However, Jackson took exception when one person called him Sam. "My name's Samuel, OK!," he said.

"If things don't improve in the car industry by the end of 2009, there may be further attrition."

Jim McGovern at offers an interesting analysis of the PGA Tour's relationship with auto manufacturers and where it may head.

Companies that are sufficiently capitalized, have a national audience of customers who fit golf's demographics, maintain a multilevel distribution network and can afford to develop a broad array of television ads are few and far between. Throw in a minimum entitlement fee of $3 million or more depending on the purse, a requirement to buy $2.5 million to $4 million in commercials, then add the cost of sponsorship activation (pro-am spots, hotels, food and beverage for customers), and the list begins to shorten rapidly. All in all, you're looking at roughly eight million bucks a year, with a minimum duration of four years, for a total commitment of around $32 million. And that's just for run-of-the-mill tournaments; World Golf Championships and some thoroughbred events are higher yet.


"The partnership with corporate America is mandatory to the survival of his workplace..."

Having read an expanded version of Kenny Perry's whining last week at East Lake in Golf World's Tour Talk (not posted but even worse than this), I was struck by how few writers pounced on this dreadful example of a truly spoiled brat.

Jim McCabe notes Kenny's ruined week and points this out:

The partnership with corporate America is mandatory to the survival of his workplace and perhaps if Perry would come out of his pampered PGA Tour world he would discover that it's not the most solid of landscapes these days. Thus, one can only wonder how his comments went over with officials high up at Coca-Cola and FedEx. Since those folks were largely responsible for Perry getting payments of $120,400 (T-24 in the tournament) and $250,000 (season-long points race), it would be interesting to see if they apologized for having "ruined" his week.


O. Gordon Brewer Wins 2009 Bob Jones Award; Driver and Marucci Begin Clearing Mantles

Great to see the USGA awarding one of its own the Bob Jones Award, with Pine Valley's O. Gordon Brewer getting the nod. Of course they've given the prize to one of their own before (Richard Tufts, Bill Campbell, Carole Semple Thompson, etc...), but Brewer falls more into the Jay Sigel category. Sort of a, oh, okay sure!


Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 4

Another image from John Kemp, who worked on the Castle Stuart project designed by Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen. Click to enlarge this image of the par-3 11th:


"In the shootout scenario..."

Tim Rosaforte analyzes the state of the FedEx Cup and reports that the PGA Tour is looking hard at some sort of format guaranteeing a grand finale on Sunday at East Lake. Why it took them two years to figure this out, I don't know. Here's what he confirms they are considering, first noted by John Hawkins:

As reported last weekend on, one of the alternatives is an 18-hole shootout among the top four to eight players in the standings. "The fundamental is we know it needs to finish this week," Finchem said, meaning not four weeks earlier, when Singh effectively locked up the Cup by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on the heels of The Barclays.

In the shootout scenario, the Tour Championship would begin Wednesday and conclude Saturday, leaving Sunday open for the last men standing to play one round of stroke play for a whole lot of money. "In theory, it's a pretty good concept," said Joe Ogilvie, a member of the tour's policy board. 

Here's the problem: the only way this makes sense is as a way to create a gurantee while not doing something closely resembling the LPGA's ADT Championship. Not surprising, but still pitiful.

For a bunch of free marketeer independent contractors, the players and Tour execs sure want to control and worship those points earners until the very end.  Why? To give us a "deserving" champion.

A free-for-all playoff, with eliminations on Friday and Saturday would be way too bold, interesting and potentially thrilling. But totally unpredictable, which scares these people way too much.

The Tour should use the ADT concept of a true day-to-day playoff, but instead, play 36-holes Sunday for the big prize.


"We remain in the planning processes for the 2009 tournament"

Steve Elling notes this from last week's Tour Championship:

In mid-September, Finchem said he'd issue the 2009 schedule last week in Atlanta, then sort of like the FedEx Cup chase itself, he failed to deliver. Complications, he said.
It's sounding like the Wachovia Championship situation is anything but settled, based on the language in this email that went out today from tournament director Kym Hougham. The underlining is mine:
Subject: Wachovia Championship 2009 Renewal-Update

In an effort to keep our valued patrons, corporate partners and volunteers informed on the day-to-day business of the Wachovia Championship, we wanted to reach out and inform you that we remain in the planning processes for the 2009 tournament, scheduled for April 27-May 3, 2009.

As it stands now some of our timelines in certain areas will need to be adjusted. One of those will be our ticket renewal process which was scheduled to begin October 1. We are going to delay this offering slightly, but please look for your ticket renewal information in the near-future.

We look forward to sharing another great tournament experience with each of you next spring.

Kym Hougham
Executive Director


"She argued that golf is primarily played by white men over the age of 45"

Marisa Lagos posts an item about this week's taskforce meeting to discuss the fate of San Francisco's city courses, and in particular, Sharp Park. Now, I hate to encourage the stereotyping of San Franciscoans. I have to live in the same state as these people, but the item does raise a few questions about the sanity of my neighbors to the north.

There are the locals who want Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park for soccer fields, even though the course is by no means flat. And then there's this:

The high point of the meeting arguably came when parks advocate Isabel Wade went head-to-head with golf advocate Dave Diller; she argued that golf is primarily played by white men over the age of 45, a statement Diller angrily derided as "racist." Diller's response prompted the packed room to erupt in applause -- though to be fair, many of the people clapping appeared to be white men over the age of 45.

Augusta Making Changes?

Steve Elling tries to convince us that there is plenty to look forward to in the way of fall golf, and buries this little head-turner:

Staying on the Augusta riff, we have it on solid authority that Augusta National has made some more revisions to the course, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks when the club, closed for the summer, reopens for play. Did Masters chairman Billy Payne hear the fan and media catcalls calling for more birdies and excitement on Sunday after two lackluster years of final-round theatrics? You bet he did. How he will counter-punch, though, is anybody's guess. 

The rough could easily not be included when they start mowing down the fall overseed, but I still think they'll wait one more year and tie that in with the groove spec change.


Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 3

This is the 9th hole, with the clubhouse going up on the right. Again, anyone involved is more than welcome to tell us what we're looking at here. Click on the image to enlarge:



"But has there ever been such a dud in pro sports as the FedEx Cup?"

That's what Lorne Rubenstein asks as he runs down all of the problems. It makes you wonder about that whole any-press-is-good-press mentality.


OWGR Absurdity File, Vol. 4901

Doug Ferguson shares another reason why the Official World Golf Ranking is a farce (my view, not his).

The Chevron World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts in December no longer will be just an anchor of the silly season. Starting in 2009, it will be part of the Official World Golf Ranking.
According to an official involved in the discussions, the world ranking board has approved Woods’ request that world ranking points be awarded at the Chevron World Challenge after this year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
The ranking board approved the request with one stipulation. To receive ranking points, it must take 16 players off the world ranking with no exemptions. For a larger field, the exemptions must go to players among the top 50 in the world.
The official said Chevron plans to have an 18-man field in 2009 with two exemptions.

It's amazing how folks bellow on about the criminal nature of the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers getting in the Masters, yet silly rich-get-rich pyramid scheme moves like this undermine the World Ranking and make exemptions based on the OWGR just as flimsy.

Due to a coincidence in timing, Ferguson paired this item with news that the R&A will be exempting the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers, up from the Top 20.