Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

As I go back over the years of my golf there are many faces which come before me, and they are not alone of those with whom I have constructed courses, for to learn golf architecture one must know golf itself, its companionships, its joys, its sorrows, its battles--one must play golf and love it.




"None of the greats go a career without having a futile moment with the putter."

There are a couple of worthwhile looks at Tiger Woods' recent putting "woes" of late. Thanks to reader Joey for Thomas Boswell's take in the Washington Post. Boswell says Tiger has "learned how to lose" and makes an interesting but ultimately hard-to-buy comparison with Jack Nicklaus's career arch.

If you spent much of 1976-79 trudging the golf beat behind Nicklaus, all this seems unpleasantly familiar. In '75, Jack was at his trim, fashion-forward crowd-darling apex. His magazine covers, ads and new courses were everywhere. He might not have been as lionized as Woods was after winning the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg, but it was pretty close. It was Jack's world. He barely seemed to play yet led the money list. What could go wrong? Actually, almost everything.

Bill Fields seems to think a bit more like a golfer in understanding that Tiger is, for a change, going through what every golfer has experienced: ball striking good, putter bad. Ball striking bad, putter good.

For Jack Nicklaus one notable glitch was the four-footer on the 71st hole of the 1977 British Open, on which the Duel in the Sun turned. Slocum was on the 18th tee at Liberty National when the groans following Woods' miss were heard. "Usually he makes it, yeah," Slocum said. "I guess you can't make 'em all." Minutes later Slocum holed a Woodsian putt from 20 feet to secure his biggest title.

"Man, to miss as many putts as I did this week, to still have a chance on the last green with a putt, it goes to show you how good I am hitting it," Woods said. On his next pressure putt, he will expect something different, and so should we.


“I just want to commend Marty Evans and her team for their willingness to pursue a livable business model for us”

Beth Ann Baldry reports the great news that interim LPGA Commish Marty Evans and team have signed up Owens Corning and the Jamie Farr Classic for another year. Got to love the not-so-subtle takeway quote aimed at the former Commish:

The LPGA’s good-news train keeps rolling. Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic announced a one-year extension Sept. 2, keeping a much-needed domestic stop on the tour’s summer schedule.

“I just want to commend (LPGA commissioner) Marty Evans and her team for their willingness to pursue a livable business model for us,” said Judd Silverman, executive director of the event.

But don't get too excited just yet, says Gene Yasuda, who analyzes the prospects of other events in trouble.


"It's sort of confusing, but let's try."

Thomas Bonk files an update from San Francisco on the state of Harding Park's singed greens and also tries to explain the confusing rerouting for Presidents Cup play.

This rerouting and the future disappointment for golfers coming to play Harding in the post-Presidents Cup years serves as a nice reminder that no matter how lousy Bethpage's 18th may be, playing the entire Black Course was still the right thing to do.


"It's just way too much."

From John Hawkins' Barclays game story in Golf World:

Liberty National had been ridiculed all week for its various design flaws, most notably the putting surfaces, which are small in size but severe in slope and tilt. "There's just way too much going on with everything here," is how one multiple major champion put it. "[Co-designer] Bob Cupp asked me for my honest opinion, and I told him: You've got wide fairways but hardly any room between the fairways and the fescue. You've got greens with contours that would be much more suitable if they were twice the size, which they aren't. For three or four holes, it feels like a links, then three or four more where it's very much a parkland course. It's just way too much."

I'm sure that went over well.

Multiple major winner? Hmm...Els and Harrington liked the course, that leaves...Lee Janzen?


The PGA Tour Gets It? Volume...

...uh, I'll have to go back in the archives, but we do have a growing list of examples that the PGA Tour continues to move in the direction of downplaying rough, emphasizing the recovery shot, setting a proper example for the game and preparing us for a return to more flyer lie-golf in 2010 when groove rules are changed.

Thanks to reader Al for this Ed Sherman item about Cog Hill, site of next week's BMW Championship:

Received a call from Frank Jemsek the other day. He said he heard us speculating on our radio show ("Chicagoland Golf," WSCR-AM 670, 6-8 a.m. Saturday) about the rough the pros will encounter next week for the BMW Championship.

It turns out the rough might be as rough. Mr. Jemsek, the owner and operator of Cog Hill, said the PGA Tour has asked him to leave the rough at No. 4 at the same level of the facility's other three courses.

"That would be about 2 1/2 inches," Mr. Jemsek said.


"Playoff Perks"

Not that this is a new issue, but there was this item from Doug Ferguson's weekly notes column that is sure to generate some discussion in Augusta, Far Hills, St. Andrews and Palm Beach.

PLAYOFF PERKS: Heath Slocum never had a chance to digest the significance of his victory at The Barclays. One minute he was barely in the playoffs, the next he was at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings and assured a spot in the Tour Championship.

That means he gets in all four majors next year - the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open take the 30 who qualify for the Tour Championship, the PGA Championship by virtue of winning.

He also gets into all the invitationals and two of the World Golf Championships - Doral and Firestone.


"I'm disappointed but not surprised"

Good to see The Donald doing everything on the up and up over in Scotland.


"Guys, I really don't want to talk about that."

Hard to imagine Kenny Perry would drop his longtime caddy in the middle of the playoffs...but he is under a lot of stress with his ailing parents, but he could have handled it a bit more professionally.


"Apart from the general collapse of course development due to economic reasons it may well be time for potential golf developers to reflect on future builds."

It's not a particularly new or timely topic, but caddy Colin Byrne takes on the European Tour's dreadful Ryder Cup venue selection and says "for the good of the suave and sophisticated Gleneagles complex and the integrity of the game"  he hopes "2014 marks the end of the modern era of the Ryder Cup location policy in Europe and integrity takes precedence once again over money."

Thanks to reader Brian for the heads up. Loved this:

There seems to be a trend that has developed in the past decade concerning the European Ryder Cup hosts; influential businessman, limited knowledge about course design, recognises the game as a great commercial vehicle and wants to fulfil a dream of hosting the most accessible match in professional golf to the masses in his back-yard.

Back-yards are very much what these American creations in the British Isles are. What looks good in the swamplands of Florida or the corn fields of Illinois probably would not look quite so appealing in Perthshire. Much like a links course in Georgia would probably look slightly misplaced. Apart from the general collapse of course development due to economic reasons it may well be time for potential golf developers to reflect on future builds.

I was always miffed about how American guests would flock to our shores to embrace the challenge of our type of golf and end up traipsing around a converted farm adorned with bright flowers and pretty grass patterns on finely-trimmed fairways. An experience that could be had back in the US.


"How good would it be to watch Palmer and Nicklaus play a few holes again on the big course during the Masters?"

Not content with getting Jack Nicklaus to the first tee Thursday morning, Scott Michaux is pleading for more:

It would be nice to keep the banter going longer than one brief swing. In the early days of this tradition, the honorary starters didn't just hit walk-off drives.

Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod were the first honorary starters in 1963, in recognition of their victories at Augusta National in the first two Senior PGA Championships. The two didn't stop with one shot, playing either nine or 18 holes depending on how they felt.

When Sarazen, Nelson and eventually Snead took over the task in the 1980s, they too kept playing up to nine holes. Sometimes they skipped around the front nine, letting the patrons get a look at them play all the shots before retiring to the champions locker room. Eventually age got the better of them, and the ritual was reduced to one drive.

How good would it be to watch Palmer and Nicklaus play a few holes again on the big course during the Masters? They could play from any tee box they choose (they are club members, after all) and as many holes as they wanted. Just seeing them playing 1, 9, 10 and 18 would give patrons a fix that will last a lifetime.


Kostis Tweets!

Who knew, right? And after reviewing them, including a buddy bromance with Paul Casey and complaints about having to do four hours of a cable telecast, I think we're finally going to get to know more about the infomercial host and friend of all things Titleist.

However, I had to ask a friend what Peter Kostis meant in his latest Tweet complaining about my work, this time in reference to Sunday's SI roundtable:

Apparently this was an homage to the Edsel, a car I suppose Kostis drove in his first years out of college. Get it, not ShackelFord, ShackelEdsel.

I tell ya, with such witty borscht belt humor, we can only hope that Ron Shelton will ask this modern day Sheckey Greene to touch up his new Q-School script.


"High-profile abuse like this is nothing but a positive for golf."

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's WSJ analysis of the hatred towards golf:

High-profile abuse like this is nothing but a positive for golf. It's a sure sign that the game is healthy, and a good, spewing antigolf rant enriches everyone. Robin Williams's profane riff about the stupidity of the game (check it out on YouTube) is a classic, as is "Caddyshack." That movie was a wicked, all-out send-up of golf at its most boob­ish, yet 29 years later it remains every golfer's favorite golf movie. For young assistant club pros, knowing the key "Caddyshack" passages by heart is practically a job requirement. So golf's got that going for it, which is nice.


As a longtime connoisseur, I've identified three dominant strains of antigolf rhetoric: the athletic, the political and the environmental. The last of these is the least fun because, though often exaggerated, environmental objections to golf have some actual basis in reality. (I intend to write more about this soon.) Cultural attacks, on the other hand, are almost always based on flagrantly unfounded stereotypes and comic personal prejudice. One of my best friends from high school, for example, whose father played football with Davey O'Brien at Texas Christian University and whose grandfather was a mounted Texas Ranger, still cannot suppress a slight snigger at the corner of his mouth when the subject of my golf infatuation comes up. In his eyes, I might as well be skipping after butterflies through meadows with a dainty net on the end of a pole.


“I played my heart out all summer, and thought it was good enough, but in the end those guys didn’t think it was good enough.”

Some of you commented and I heard from several prominent folks privately who were outraged at the final Walker Cup selections. I don't know enough about the politics of it, but like many USGA affairs, I'm sure it's messy.

Sean Martin calls the omission of Dan Woltman a "snub" and writes:

Many thought Woltman was a lock for one of the final two spots on the team regardless of what happened at the U.S. Amateur. Woltman won this year’s Northeast Amateur, made the Sweet 16 at the Western Amateur for the second consecutive year, advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur and had top-10s at the Players Amateur and Sahalee Players Championship.

“I’m very surprised,” Woltman said. “I played my heart out all summer, and thought it was good enough, but in the end those guys didn’t think it was good enough.”

The U.S. Golf Association put a heavy emphasis on team camaraderie when selecting this year’s team, especially after the close-knit 2007 team won at Royal County Down.

This was an interesting point as it relates to the new format:

There’s something to be said for team chemistry. But the fact of the matter is that 18 of the 26 matches will be singles matches. A player’s relationship with his prospective teammates should be weighed, but only if he is a borderline candidate. Woltman was not one of those. He is No. 8 in the Golfweek/ World Amateur Rankings.


"Thoughtful setup equals more fun"

Lance Rigler documents a small but nice example of shifting tees around and how some college golfers are finding it both fun and challenging.

The best examples might have been Nos. 16 and 17. Playing from the tips, the par-5 16th hole featured a back right hole location and gave players all they wanted today. It stretched over 680 yards and played to a 5.13 scoring average.

However, players were immediately rewarded with the par-4 17th, where a good drive could find the putting surface. What a swing of emotions that were produced in that two-hole stretch.

“The kids are saying this is a lot of fun,” said Vanderbilt coach Tom Shaw. “The setup today with some of the tees up and some of the tees back, it really makes them think.”


Jack To Join Arnold On Masters First Tee

Jason Sobel reports (thanks reader Lee):

Nicklaus, who made the last of his 45 career Masters appearances in 2005, said he was previously reluctant to steal the spotlight from Palmer, but accepted the invitation when his longtime friend and rival encouraged such a move.

"I have always had great respect for Arnold and his legacy at the Masters, and I did not, in any way, want to infringe on the opportunity for Arnold to have and enjoy this Masters tradition for himself," Nicklaus said in a statement released Monday by Augusta National Golf Club. "He is so deserving of this honor, and thus I felt it was his time, not mine.

"Recently, I was invited by both Augusta National and Arnold to join him on the first tee, and because he enthusiastically supported the invitation, it became an easy decision for me."


Golf Magazine's Rankings Now Posted

The world list is here, the U.S. list is here.

Good to see the courses dropping off the world list this time: Wentworth, East Lake, Congressional and Shadow Creek.

I think the US and A's world standing just improved a whole bunch! Good going Golf Magazine Panel!


"It looks like 'Potpourri for $100, Alex.'"

That's Gary Van Sickle's line from this week's SI Roundtable, which was joined by yours truly even though I vowed not to do it again until they found an old AOL chat room to make life easier.

I think it's safe to say I won't be offered a job at CBS or Liberty National anytime soon, and my friend Peter Oosterhuis probably won't be wild about my laughing gas comment either (but he is very giggly these days, no?).

In my defense, this is what happens when I sit in a chair and watch all four hours of a CBS telecast of a tournament played on a golf course that epitomizes everything that has gone wrong with the game.


"You got the sense the membership is very pleased that their track is kicking some tail rather than the other way around."

In reading about Byeong-Hun An's win at the U.S. Amateur Sunday, Sean Martin notes:

An beat Ben Martin, 7 and 5, on Sunday, but both players struggled in the final because of pressure, typical USGA conditions and an inconsistent breeze.

In the final, a hole was halved with double bogeys, another was won with bogey, and pars were good enough to win many holes. An played 31 holes Sunday in 9 over par, while Martin was 15 over.

In the time I watched Sunday, it was surprising and frankly disturbing to see the bermuda rough playing such a prominent role in a Mike Davis-controlled setup. Especially compared to the highly successful 2007 PGA Championship, and considering that the GCSAA fact sheet said the planned rough cut was 2.25". 

Earlier in the week, Ryan Herrington addressed the membership euphoria over the brutal conditions and high scoring.

One club member, who preferred to remain nameless to make sure the nameplate on his locker isn't unceremoniously removed, said that the course is playing better--and by better he means tougher--than when it hosted the PGA Championship in 2007. "And don't even think about comparing it to the Open in 2001," said the member. "That was a bit of a joke. The guys then would have begged to play it like this."


My member friend only smiled as the discussion continued on the course's difficulty. You got the sense the membership is very pleased that their track is kicking some tail rather than the other way around. I was talking with someone the other day who noted that Oakmont CC members are probably the most sadistic group when it comes to having their home course playing so hard on a daily basis that will make you want to take up tennis. He went on to say that the folks at Southern Hills could be distant cousins of the Oakmont folks. I'm starting to agree.

Well either way you cut it, I'm sure the Southern Hills folks are giddy that the extreme setup measures produced a worthy champion in Byeong-Hun An.


Heath Slocum Win Means He Can Take Next Two Weeks Off And Still Reach The World Series

There's some nice reporting to check out on Heath Slocum's upset win at The Barclays. The scribblers surely had plenty of time to whip up some fun lines, since twosomes of the world's best took four and a half hours to get around Liberty National. I doubt it was because they were busy sketching out the architectural details. More likely all of the lift, clean and cheat drops to get away from the catch basin divot clusters.

That said, Ernie Els said "it's just a wonderful place to play golf." Remember that next time they go to Wentworth and everyone's wondering how Ernie could mess up such a great place.

Anyway, about Heath. From Doug Ferguson's AP story:

In the third year of these playoffs, the FedEx Cup finally has a winner that resembles a real underdog.

He qualified for these playoffs with two points to spare – he was No. 124 out of 125 players who advance to this postseason bonanza. His victory moves him to No. 3 in the standings, assuring him a spot in the Tour Championship and a shot at the $10 million prize.

Steve Elling writes:

Ladies and gentlemen, your underdog in the FedEx race has arrived, straight from the tiny Panhandle burgh of Milton, Fla., where characters like Boo Weekley and Bubba Watson also hang out.

There's a reason Heath doesn't have a colorful nickname. He's more of the accountant, librarian type, not tobacco-spitting extrovert like Weekley or a ball-vaporizing masher like Watson. If those guys are the strawberry and chocolate in a carton of Neopolitan ice cream, Heath is the vanilla.

And Jason Sobel shares a nice anecodate about Vicky Slocum before putting the win in perspective:

Even so, surging from that number to a victory at The Barclays is the equivalent of a sub-.500 club in a team sport earning a playoff series win. He is golf's version of the 1975-76 Detroit Pistons, who went 36-46 before scoring an opening-round postseason victory, or the 1985-86 Toronto Maple Leafs, who were 25-48-7 in the regular season, but also advanced. Speaking of playoffs, Slocum's final-hole putt avoided a five-man overtime with Woods, Els, Harrington and Stricker -- a quartet that has combined for 97 career PGA Tour titles and 20 major championships.


USGA Makes Final Two Walker Cup Picks...

Anyone who follows this stuff have anything to add about the committee's choices?


Far Hills, N.J. (Aug. 30) – Cameron Tringale, 22, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Peter Uihlein, 20, of Orlando, Fla., have been named to the 2009 USA Walker Cup Team by the International Team Selection Committee of the United States Golf Association.
Tringale and Uihlein are the final two players selected to the USA Team that will compete against 10 amateurs representing Great Britain and Ireland in the 42nd Walker Cup Match, to be played Sept. 12-13 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
Tim Jackson, 50, of Germantown, Tenn., has been named as the first alternate for the team. Ben Martin, 22, of Greenwood, S.C., will be the second alternate.
The eight players previously named to the USA Team on Aug. 9 are Bud Cauley, Rickie Fowler, Brendan Gielow, Brian Harman, Morgan Hoffmann, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Smith and Drew Weaver. The captain of the USA Team is George “Buddy” MarucciJr.
The USA Team has won the last two Matches, posting one-point victories at Chicago (Ill.) Golf Club in 2005 and at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Ireland, in 2007. The USA leads the series overall, 33-7-1.
For the first time, the Walker Cup Match will comprise 18 singlesmatches and eight foursomes (alternate shot) matches in 2009. Ten singles matches will be played on Sunday.
This change marks only the second time in the 87-year history of the Walker Cup that the format has been altered.
From 1963 to 2007, the Match comprised 16 singles matches and eight foursomes matches. From 1922 to 1961, the Match comprised four foursomes matches on the first day of play and eight singles matches on the second day of play.