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

Some of the most interesting holes are those where the best line to the flag is not direct. A.W. TILLINGHAST


    

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.

 

Sunday
Jan182009

"The site allows employees of any company to anonymously post comments about their work environment, share salary information, and even rate the C.E.O."

In the excellent February issue of Portfolio (which includes the Tiger Woods design profile and several other great reads...or maybe I was just in fine spirits because I was reading a magazine at the beach...in January...in North America!), Kevin Maney explores the state of Silicon Valley venture capital and writes about Glassdoor.com.

In a twisted way, when the economy tanks, conditions in Silicon Valley and other tech communities actually become more advantageous for starting and building companies. Look at the fresh-baked startup Glassdoor, a sort of TripAdvisor for job seekers. Launched in June, the site allows employees of any company to anonymously post comments about their work environment, share salary information, and even rate the C.E.O.

Naturally I raced home...well, after the sun set because it was 80 at dusk...oh sorry, back to my point. I raced home to check out some of my favorite organizations at Glassdoor: the USGA and the PGA Tour. Shockingly, the staff has not been doing their due dilligence in posting salaries, work environment or their ratings for the executive ranks.

Let's get on this people. Chop, chop! That's Glassdoor.com in case you forgot.

Saturday
Jan172009

"A victory would make Fujikawa, who turned 18 last week, the youngest winner in PGA Tour history."

Doug Ferguson notes that amazing possibility for Sunday's Sony Open after Monday qualifier Tadd Fujikawa's 62, vaulting him to T6 and two shots behind leader Zach Johnson and a sizeable number of big names who have a shot.

Helen Ross breaks down the round and Tadd's stats in this PGATour.com story. And his post round interview can be read here.

Rich Lerner tells the wonderful story of Fujikawa's main benefactor, Yoshie Yoshikawa, and also shares this anecdote about his decision to bring up the situation with Tadd's father, who was watching coverage inside the clubhouse.

I’m told he was in tears when in an interview I asked his father, Tadd’s grandfather, Daniel, about the drug rap. A member sought me out later and laid into me. I understand the anger. They may not understand the difficult position of a journalist. The information’s already been widely reported. It’s been front page news here in Honolulu. I’m obligated to ask about the impact on Tadd, though I certainly don’t enjoy it. 

Saturday
Jan172009

"Inevitably looming over Monty's Ryder tenure is the spectre of 'Jakartagate' and the Indonesian Open of 2005."

John Huggan says Colin Montgomerie has the necessary qualities to make for a fine Ryder Cup captain but reminds us that most of his peers haven't forgiven him for Jakartagate.

Many of Monty's better qualities could hardly be more suited to his new job. For example, no one in European golf has ever been better at creating publicity, self-serving or otherwise. No doubt Terry Matthews, the Welsh/Canadian billionaire owner of Celtic Manor whose fortune has recently taken a significant hit, is already salivating at the prospect of a stream of banner headlines generated by our tartan hero.

All will not be sweetness and light, however. Inevitably looming over Monty's Ryder tenure is the spectre of 'Jakartagate' and the Indonesian Open of 2005. While the vast majority of the golfing public have made it quite clear they care not a jot whether or not the former world No.2 knowingly or merely carelessly replaced his ball in a disgracefully favourable spot on that fateful bank almost four years ago, the same cannot be said for too many of Monty's fellow tour players.

Even now, this will be an issue within the team room, albeit likely an unspoken one. Only the other evening in Abu Dhabi a veteran member of the European Tour talked privately of how he has "lost all respect" for Monty. And he is far from alone in feeling that way. The 2010 side will likely contain a number of those who cannot forget what happened and view Monty only through narrowed and suspicious eyes.

Mark Reason shares this anecdote about Monday's committee meeting.

A consensus emerged at last week's Ryder Cup selection meeting that Nick Faldo had been too old and too out of touch at the last Ryder Cup – so no more 50-year-old captains. That made Colin Montgomerie too old for Gleneagles in 2014. He was effectively told it was now or never.

Montgomerie accepted the candidacy at a tempestuous team meeting on Tuesday night. Halfway through the meeting he stormed out of the room. At the time we assumed his preferred candidate, Sandy Lyle, had been rejected. We now know that Monty had been pushed into a corner.

Spectators who have seen their young trampled underfoot as the great Montysaurus crashes about the golfing undergrowth, may be surprised to hear that the volcanic Scot has emerged as the favourite to captain the European Ryder Cup team in Wales next year. But away from the anguishes of the golf course, Colin Montgomerie can be funny, charming, self-deprecating and frequently very acute.

The image of Monty storming out is comical but hard to fathom since the committee did have to meet without him at some point (one would hope). However, I much prefer the vision of British writers camping outside the meeting room trying to interpret the mood of committee members exiting to take a whizz!

Saturday
Jan172009

"Their sticks are on the bottom of the Hudson. Very good ones, I might add."

The Boston Globe's Eric Moskowitz and Maria Cramer tell us about the golfers headed to Myrtle Beach on the US Airways jet that landed in the Hudson.

Saturday
Jan172009

Hope!

The La Habra branch of this vast web operation was so inspired by the combination of Barack Obama's inauguration and Colin Montgomerie's assent to the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy that he developed this homage to Shepard Fairey's Obama graphic, which will adorn future posts celebrating the naming of Europe's best man for the job.

Friday
Jan162009

Monty's Rare Great Mood Confirms He Has The Ryder Cup Captaincy Locked Up For 2010

John Hopkins declares that Monty has the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy because, after all, it's just common sense really...

European Tour officials, having made a policy decision to select the best available captain for each future Ryder Cup, are doing everything they can to make sure that Europe regain the trophy that was lost at Valhalla last year and will shortly confirm that the Scot will lead the team in Wales.

It must be difficult to type with that brown stuff blocking one's view of the laptop screen? Wait, what? You say there's more?

Blessedly, Paul Casey lays out where Monty's street cred lies with the 18-49 year olds:

“He was very attentive.” Casey said. “He asked us what we wanted. We said, ‘A ping pong table in the team room.’ He showed good attention to detail. He spoke well at meetings. He got the guys nicely motivated. There was lots of consultation with us. We felt very much a team.”

It does take a younger captain to know which European Tour go-fer will be best at ordering the proper ping pong table. Over 50s only know about things like shuffle board and where to get a really great massage in Madrid.

This wire story reported that Monty has not been offered the role, and he can't imagine why anyone would be betting on him!

"It hasn't changed to that degree. I don't know why there's betting. I don't look at the bets -- I'm not a betting man. I don't know where this has come from. I have no idea," Montgomerie said.

Okay, one denial was enough! One more denial and someone might get the wrong idea. Monty is, however, sure of one thing: over 50-somethings have no business being captain!  Though as Lawrence Donegan reports, Monty feels for Sandy Lyle, even though a decision has not been made yet.

Montgomerie has been a vocal supporter of his fellow Scot but today he seemed to concede his efforts had come to naught. "It would be a great shame if Sandy missed out, but in the end this is not my decision," he said. "I am just one voice on a committee of 15."

Monty does have Europe's most accomplished player on his side, as Mark Reason reports Padraig Harrington's glowing praise for the decision that has not been made yet.

But really, do any of these stories matter compared to the ugly business Donegan first revealed yesterday and writes about in more detail today. The betting! Don't worry, new Dubai resident and Euro Tour head man George O'Grady is on the case.

O'Grady was more forthcoming on Thursday after it appeared the potential candidates learned all they needed to know from the online betting exchanges. In the aftermath of Tuesday's meeting Montgomerie, who was a 50–1 shot last weekend, suddenly appeared on the ­Betfair market as an odds-on chance. "No decision has been taken so far," the tour's chief executive said. "We are aware of the movements in the various odds. We invite any gaming company to contact the European Tour with any evidence of betting irregularity. This will be fully investigated."

For its part, Betfair said last night it would be happy to cooperate with any sporting body which had concerns over gambling. "Uniquely, we have a full record of every market on our exchange. We know the identity of every person who has made a bet and exactly how much money is involved," said a spokesman, Tony Calvin, adding that before Tuesday's meeting the market on the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy suggested a contest between Olazábal, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam. "Clearly, someone has had a whisper that Mr Montgomerie was in the mix."

Let the investigation begin to determine who whispered that no decision has been made yet!

Friday
Jan162009

Woods Making Inaugural Festivities Appearance

From his website:

It was announced today that Tiger Woods has accepted an invitation to speak at the live presentation of We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial Opening Celebration for the 56th Presidential Inaugural, to be presented live by HBO on SUNDAY, JAN. 18 at 2:30 p.m.(ET)/11:30 a.m. (PT).

"I am honored that I was invited to this historic event, and look forward to participating in Sunday's festivities," Woods said. 

Friday
Jan162009

"After stroking a few putts along the bumpy practice chipping green, Monty strolled over to the white picket fence."

In reporting on Monty's sudden emergence as the likely 2010 European Ryder Cup captain, Derek Lawrenson asks:

Did his contemporaries persuade Monty that his time is now and that he will be too old at 51 in five years? Nobody is commenting publicly, but such a thought certainly chimes with the belief of several committee members, who emerged from the meeting to say that, after defeat at Valhalla last time, it is imperative to get the right man.

Funny, just the day before Monty mused about 50-somethings being too old to Captain. Now here I, a cynical blogger, merely thought it was another example of Monty speaking before thinking. But then I went back and read Mark Reason's original story where the Scot planted the over-50 seed.

After stroking a few putts along the bumpy practice chipping green, Monty strolled over to the white picket fence. Unlike many a pro sportsman he did not park his bum on the fence, but spoke at length, and with great sense, about the Ryder Cup.

Was our Monty using the media to lay the groundwork for his captaincy. My, he's clever!

Thursday
Jan152009

Say It So: Even Money On Monty For 2010! **

Lawrence Donegan reports the stunning shift in online wagering that has overnight lifted Monty from 10-1 longshot to an even-money second favorite to captain the 2010 European Ryder Cup team.

My sources say that Monty, after ragging on the over-50 set and doing some math to realize he'll be 51 in 2014, started a Gordon Gekko-esque operation to drive up his online betting stock and at the same time, bring joy to bloggers on the westside of Los Angeles desperate for the great-Scot-in-his-own-mind to remain in the spotlight.

Donegan says it's something else. Sort of:

Like Olazábal, Montgomerie has been intent on playing his way on to the team but the fact is he is now 127th in the world rankings and showing no signs of recapturing the form that once made him an automatic choice for any Ryder Cup side. But if he is not the player he once was, he still the remains a significant figure on tour — popular with fans and, more important in these straighten financial times, popular with sponsors.

It has long been assumed the Scot would take on the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2014, when the event will be played in Scotland, but there is a mood within the players' committee after Nick Faldo's captaincy that the team needs a captain who competes regularly against, and is in touch with, potential team members.

Thursday
Jan152009

Chad Campbell Lays Foundation For Next PGA Tour Spot Touting The Power Of A Quiet Mind

Thursday
Jan152009

"It could be a blessing. They pulled him over 50 yards [outside the nightclub]."

John Hawkins talks to Hank Haney about the state of Charles Barkley's Golf Channel reality show after the NBA great's DUI.  Thankfully, it's still on despite the arrest report that has sponsors and other network execs fleeing.

Haney and Barkley had taped five of the eight episodes before the DUI. While production was on hiatus anyway, it's unclear when the final three episodes will be produced as Barkley deals with legal issues and an alcohol problem as big as the man struggling with it. Haney, who quit drinking in 1986, could see the situation getting more serious and had hinted to his friend that things weren't OK.

Still, grown men don't tell each other how to behave. Haney was with Barkley earlier on the night he got pulled over, which doesn't exactly lighten the load of regret, but, he says, "It could be a blessing. They pulled him over 50 yards [outside the nightclub]. They were waiting for him, and nobody got hurt."