Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

In the beginning there was golf, but later there were the rules of golf, and then the trouble started. For it is a regrettable fact that although rules are necessary in organized sport, their introduction tends to mar the careless rapture of pastimes unhampered by rigid conditions.
GEOFFREY COUSINS


    

Friday
Nov212008

Life Images: The Jones Clan

From the Life Magazine collection now on Google, The Jones clan...Rees, Bobby and Trent Sr.

Thursday
Nov202008

Working Around The NFL: A Good Idea?

A couple of items posted today remind us just how determined the PGA and LPGA Tour's are to work around the NFL season. And looking at the FedEx Cup after two years and the latest LPGA plans, it seems that the desire to work around the NFL has led the tours in a negative direction.

Consider this from Steve Elling, writing about the LPGA's disastrous dismantling of the ADT Championship and desire to move the $1 million first prize event to the season opening slot, all because it's running up against the NFL.

If there is a silver lining, a sliver of hope, it's that there are no plans to overhaul the whacky format, Bivens said. She even has a dream time frame in mind, if it can be negotiated with TV and the new title sponsor.

"Ideally, I like that weekend between the (NFL) league championship games and the Super Bowl," Bivens said.

That certain sports gorilla with the oblong ball is one reason she wants the ADT relocated to a less-congested part of the year. Even given its increasing momentum, Bivens felt the tournament was underappreciated and overshadowed. The PGA Tour season is over, and there's no competition for viewing eyeballs on that front, but still.

"The NFL is the property and you cannot compete," Bivens said.

Golf doesn't compete with many major sports in the ratings department anyway, so why dismantle an event that had a quality sponsor, unique season ending format and solid host course with a supportive host in Donald Trump?

Okay, I understand that the LPGA is tired of underwriting television production costs and all that good stuff about equity for the players, but is this really the time to be taking such risks with one of your proven events?

The more nuanced dilemma involves the PGA Tour and the decision to create the FedEx Cup so that the season ended earlier and gets out of the way of football. Nearly every observer now concedes that Tim Finchem's vision was well-intentioned but severely blurred, because golf's "playoffs" run up against season-opening college and NFL games when optimism and interest is highest. Instead of say, now when the mid-season blues are kicking in.

Check out Cameron Morfit's Q&A with Steve Flesch on the FedEx Cup. Morfit clearly isn't buying the direction the tour is headed and neither is Flesch, though as a PAC member he half-heartedly tries to defend the idea of a points system and that all-important, buzz-killing obsession of the tour to "protect" the season points leaders at the expense of a true playoff. But even more interesting was Flesch's stance on the FedEx Cup schedule and the playoff dates failure to deliver audiences.

People are starved for football that time of year, whether it's college or pro. The Tour moved it up to accommodate Tiger and Phil, who wanted the year to end earlier, but now we see that they're taking the chance to go abroad and collect appearance fees in Europe and Asia and wherever. So we're like, did we really achieve what we wanted here? Because now they're just going abroad and playing, so they're really not shutting down their year like they said they were going to. Last year Tiger played six of seven weeks in a row including his tournament right before Christmas, whereas during the year, during the regular Tour, he never plays more than two [straight weeks]. Then we threw the off-week in this year, which I don't think was very popular except with people playing in the Ryder Cup.

And Flesch offers this wise solution, which would seem to counter one of Tim Finchem's main rationale's behind the cup structure (and therefore, makes it dead on arrival).

SF: I think if you don't see Tiger or Phil for a couple weeks after the PGA, you let football start and run its course for a couple weeks. God help me I'm a Bengals fan, living in Cincinnati, and I'm jacked up to watch 'em play the first couple weeks. But when they're 0-3 and 0-4 I'm back to watching golf in October or early November. So August, September, you let the hype of pro and college football die down. That's our big problem and I don't know why we battle that.

Neither do I.

Thursday
Nov202008

Life Images: The King

Check out these John Dominis images of Arnold Palmer from the Life archives now on Google (and available for purchase):



Thursday
Nov202008

Colorado GC Gets "Oldest Senior Major"

And it would seem well positioned for a PGA Championship not too long after. Of course, when they play the Senior PGA in May, thunderstorms aren't the problem they are in August.

Thursday
Nov202008

Google Adds Life Magazine Images

Google has added images from the Life Magazine archives, 97% of which has never been seen according to this article. If you are looking to kill a little time, here's the direct link to all images related to golf where I spotted some classic images, including many of the Hogan-Snead playoff at Riviera in 1950.


Another...only Hogan could make club selection compelling. I do believe that is a very bizarre lay-up on No. 10.




Here's another Hogan at Augusta. Look at that bunker edge...



Speaking of Augusta, here is a shot of the old 12th green much closer to MacKenzie's original boomerang, contoured surface that I've only seen one other good shot of. Look how much it's sloped toward the tee! Surface drainage was a beautiful thing Trent! Nice job taking the character right out of that green.


Here's Pine Valley's 6th hole back when it was really sandy and rugged.


And finally, check out this of Ike practicing golf at the White House:

Thursday
Nov202008

Bivens On Crutches; Writers Revel In The Metaphoric Possibilities

Beth Ann Baldry reports on the standing-room only setup at LPGA Commish Bivens' state of the tour address. Considering how few golf writers are left, that must be one tiny interview room.

Baldry also featured this quote addressing the absurdity of starting the season with a million dollar first place prize event.

“Whoever ends up winning the first event is 99.9 percent guaranteed to be in the top 10 on the money list,” said Christina Kim. “They could play that one event and be like, peace for the entire year, go to Aruba or something.”

Jay Coffin gives Bivens a rave review and pounces on the crutches metaphor.

Larry Dorman shares a few Bivens quotes not in the transcript.

Steve Elling wonders how you can have a pro golf tour not playing in Florida.

Next year, South Florida will be without an event for the first time this decade. At this stage, after the contract for the Ginn Open in Orlando expires in April, the entire state will be without an event in 2010. Eleven events next year are overseas, scattered in nine different countries, many of them in Asia, which remains a strong market.

"In this economy," she said, "it's like having a balanced portfolio."

Yeah, that's what we savvy investors thought our 401(k) mutual-fund accounts assured us, right? Even the Asian markets, which produce one of the tour's top revenue streams, are wobbling. Bivens bemoaned the fact that even abroad, the trickle-down effect of the U.S. economy is already being felt with full force.

Randell Mell reports that The Donald hints at talks resuming with ADT about salvaging the event. But it still would be in the opening season slot...

Some good news for Bivens: no photographer seems to have captured her limping into the session. The brand remains strong!

Wednesday
Nov192008

Brand Lady Goes Entire Gabfest Without Saying Brand; But She Does Drop A Value Proposition

The Value Proposition Lady? How am I supposed to work with that?

Well, there was the rest of the press conference today at the ADT (RIP) Championship...

Equity is the next pillar. We're a member organization, and we will continue to expand the menu and the value of the benefits provided to our members. Moving closer to the equity they deserve and they need.

I wish this economic downturn had waited one more year. I wish we'd had one more year, but I'm grateful that we had the past three.

Oh, why's that?

Our 2009 budget plans for a solidly profitable year. A continued high level of contributions to our member benefits, including a 25% increase in the pension fund contributions.

If we had not undertaken the substantive changes to the business model of the LPGA during the previous three years, our picture would be decidedly less hopeful.

Scribblers in attendance: did she actually just pat herself on the back at this point? The transcriber did not note any form of petting, heavy or otherwise.

On the wacky notion of starting the year with a $1 million first place prize event, instead of ending the season that way:

CAROLYN BIVENS: For several reasons. But it effects the money list as much as having it at the end of the year. Somebody wins a million dollars. And frankly, I hope five to ten years from now, somebody's standing up to you and talking about $9 or $10 million events, and that this event would have a purse of $2 million.

I know that people say you shouldn't compare the LPGA to the PGA. I actually believe these girls really do rock. I believe these girls are great, and I believe this is a great value proposition, and that's where we're growing.

Sigh. I can't stand it when she makes Finchem look good.

Q. Can you just update us on what are your pursuing TV rights fees? And how this economic climate effects that plan?

CAROLYN BIVENS: You can't negotiate television in the media, but I will tell you this, it's a very important part of -- it's an important aspect of women's sports. It's incredibly important to the LPGA.

We can have the very best players in the world, the most dynamic, charismatic players and the people don't see them. You don't increase the value. It's also very difficult for an organization to operate and for -- there's a phrase that's been thrown around a lot this week, a price-value equation. It's very hard to have price-value equation when you're underwriting all of the costs of the television time as well as of the production.

Wait, price-value equation wasn't on my bingo board...that's not fair CB.

Q. If I recall correctly, think there were going to be some serious tweaks to the English proficiency policy. Is there anything can you update on that or when we can expect to hear some something?

CAROLYN BIVENS: Let me go back and reprise a few of my remarks and say performance at the LPGA, and frankly, the survival and ability to succeed here is more than performing on the golf course. The international nature of our tour offers us great opportunities and it also offers us challenges.

As we went to benchmark best practices in this area, there is no other program that exists like this in a sports or an entertainment world. What's come out of all of that is offers in some cases for some pro bone owe work from some pretty impressive groups and organizations, and we're taking them up on it.

So we're actually going to make this more extensive than we'd ever intended to in the very first place. And our goal is to come out of this a year to 18 months from now and have a model program.

See, wankers. The horrible PR disaster turned into a positive. Pro-bono (Pro bone owe) English training!

Wednesday
Nov192008

Faldo's Fired Up And Ready To Go, Too!

Just like Captain Azinger (who is now hinting that he might be interested in this Bob Harig story), Nick Faldo is putting out feelers that will be swatted down in the name of one-off captaincies.

However, intriguing was this line in Lawrence Donegan's story:

Yet if there was much grumbling in some circles, members of his defeated European team have remained steadfastly loyal to him in the months since Valhalla. This may weigh in his favour if he should actively campaign for the job in future, although it might not be enough to secure him the position.

In other words, the press has not been able to wrangle any really good back-stabbing stories out of the losing lugs! Don't worry, there's time...

Wednesday
Nov192008

Callaway v. Titleist Wars, Vol. 93

David Dawsey reports on his blog that Callaway and Titleist have settled a patent infringement suit related to drivers. It's great to see that these two are finally working out their differences and this should pave the way for that messy Pro V-1 entanglement to...wait, I'm sorry, what was that?

Oh...I spoke too soon. This went out to select scribblers today from Callaway:

Attached is a copy of an advertisement that will appear in select media outlets starting on Thursday, November 20, 2008.

The ad highlights our position regarding Callaway Golf’s heritage of technological innovation and our rigorous defense of our patents and technologies.

Thank you.

Michèle Szynal
Vice President, Public Relations
Callaway Golf

Well, Spalding's patents and technologies!

The ad, followed by the a close-up of the text.

 

If only they'd put all of this creative energy into original ideas like a classic course ball...now that would be good for golfers!

 

Wednesday
Nov192008

"Given what could have been the potential negative economic impact on our schedule, we view this as a barometer of stability, appeal and value for our players and our property"

That's what the LPGA Commish said in describing the new schedule, which is missing three events and has the players making some pretty long treks from week-to-week. Tim Reynolds, writing for AP:

Next year's LPGA schedule begins in Hawaii, then heads to Thailand, Singapore and Mexico, not returning to the U.S. until the Phoenix event from March 26-29, details of which have yet to be released.

Some events shifted slots from the 2008 schedule, others changed sponsors and details are still being finalized about the Samsung World Championship, which was in Cleveland this year.

One quirk to the 2009 schedule: The U.S. Women's Open starts July 9, followed by the Evian Masters, the British Open and the Solheim Cup. So it's possible that a player who isn't qualified for those events wouldn't play between the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (which ends July 5) and the Safeway Classic (which starts Aug. 28).

"Given what could have been the potential negative economic impact on our schedule, we view this as a barometer of stability, appeal and value for our players and our property," Bivens said.

Wednesday
Nov192008

"It's not the end of the world. It will be fine. It is fine."

Let's hope when tournament sponsors pondering their next exemption decision look at John Daly's name and take a pass in favor of J.P. Hayes. That's assuming they have seen Gary D’Amato's story on the journeyman's incredible show of integrity at Q-school second stage. (Thanks to readers Gene and Lee for the heads up.)

After the second round, as Hayes relaxed in his hotel room, it suddenly occurred to him that the wrong ball he had played in the first round might not have been on the USGA's approved list.

"It was a Titleist prototype, and somehow it had gotten into my bag," he said. "It had been four weeks since Titleist gave me some prototype balls and I tested them. I have no idea how or why it was still in there."

He could have said nothing and kept playing. But he couldn't have lived with himself knowing he had possibly broken the rules.

"I called an official in Houston that night and said, 'I think I may have a problem,' " Hayes said. "He said they'd call Titleist the next day. I pretty much knew at that point I was going to be disqualified."

Hayes refused to blame his caddie.

"He kind of wanted to take some of the blame, but he knows I'm anal about my equipment," he said. "I go through my bag every night. I want to know what's in there. It's almost therapeutic for me."

This time, Hayes missed one non-conforming ball. The prototype should have been easy to spot because while it bore the Titleist brand name, there was no label on the "seam" to identify the model.

Hayes said if he'd teed up the ball on a par-4 or par-5, he would have immediately known he had the wrong ball because he uses the label as an alignment aide with his driver. It's a habit he picked up several years ago, when it was rumored Titleist balls flew a few more yards when struck on the label.

"But it was a par-3 and I don't use the label to line up on par-3s," he said. "It was my mistake. I had no choice but to take my medicine."

Wednesday
Nov192008

Safe To Say: "Value Proposition" A Must On Any MBA-Speak Bingo Board

Here I was just getting comfortable with value modulations when I come to learn it all comes down to value propositions.

Randell Mell reports that ADT actually might have liked to have stayed on as the sponsor of a year-end, must see, ultra cool event on the LPGA Tour. But the LPGA's increased asking price is the real culprit.

I think the countdown clock just started ticking for the Brand Lady.

Tour pros were informed by the LPGA one month ago that ADT chose not to renew because the company was pursuing different marketing objectives.

"The explanation ADT gave us for not renewing was that its marketing objectives and means of going about attracting customers was changing and the ADT Championship didn't fit into its future plans," said Mike Nichols, LPGA vice president of tournament business affairs.

ADT President John Koch said there was more to the decision.

"Basically, the change in the renewal pricing caused us to re-evaluate the value proposition of the overall program," Koch said. "You will hear various takes on that, but it is inaccurate for anyone to state that our decision was based on any form of cost cutting by our company. In fact, we have increased our marketing budget."

The LPGA made various proposals to ADT, including making ADT the umbrella sponsor of a series of LPGA events. The proposal the LPGA favored most was moving the event to the start of the 2010 season, where it would no longer compete against football and would be more appealing to TV as part of a potential package that the LPGA could sell to networks.

While ADT officials expressed concern about altering the nature of the event with a big payoff at season's start, Koch said it wasn't an overriding factor in his company's decision not to renew.

Koch would not reveal what ADT paid for its title sponsorship in the latest two-year contract extension that ends this year, but industry insiders estimate the company paid $3 million per year. While Koch also would not divulge the LPGA's asking prices, an industry expert said the tour was asking a substantial increase, prices beyond what adding weekend network TV coverage would require.

Koch said his company enjoyed a "great relationship" with the LPGA, a "good dialogue" and carefully considered all the LPGA's proposals, but ultimately decided not to accept.

"At the end of the day, there wasn't any reason other than value proposition," Koch said. "They have the right to think what the value of their tournament is. We respect them for that."

But just think, they won't have to compete with football now! Oh wait, there's no sponsor. Or course. Or date set.

Why take an established attention-getter--albeit one in November running up against the NFL--and exchange that with a year-starting $1 million event (?!?) that might happen?

And even the master negotiator himself isn't expressing much admiration for the Commissioner's work.

Donald Trump, who has been an unofficial host of the event for its entire eight-year run as owner of Trump International, was disappointed the LPGA didn't make ADT a better offer.

"Outside the U.S. Open, this has been the most important event on the ladies' tour," Trump said. "It is sad it has to end, and perhaps the tour should have made some concessions."

Perhaps? Who said The Donald isn't a kind soul?

And this from Juli Inkster:

"ADT and their people have been nothing but very supportive of the LPGA Tour and its players," said Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, a member of the LPGA's Board of Directors once sponsored by ADT. "They've done so much for us, and I was just very disappointed to hear we were losing them.

"But I don't want to point fingers. I don't know the ins and outs of what happened or what went wrong, but something went wrong. If it didn't, we would still have ADT as a sponsor. Hopefully the tour knows what it's doing and this will work out for the best."

And if they don't?

But back to value propositions. Larry Dorman takes a look at all sectors of the golf industry and frankly, I came away less bummed out than I thought I might based on his talks with various retailers. Of course, the PGA Tour's $5 million man stayed on message...nearly verbatim to previous statements. Though this value proposition business has thrown me for a loop.

Finchem runs the organization of players that many golfers aspire to become, or at least to emulate. As such, he knows the importance of sustaining what he calls the PGA Tour’s “value proposition.” That, he said, is the formula for success that includes “the demographic of decision makers that we reach, the quality of the branding we deliver, the quality of our TV platform, the business-to-business opportunities, and our long-term relationships with our customers.”

 

Tuesday
Nov182008

Azinger Fired Up and Ready To Go!

After considering his offers (not too many) and touring the White House where 43 convinced him the job was as meaningful as the Presidency, Paul Azinger appears to have thrown his hat in the ring for the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy. At least, judging by this comment reported by Tim Rosaforte.

"It would mean something to carry the flag [into Wales]," Azinger said, excited by the challenge.

Meanwhile, Jeff Rude says "PGA of America" has not popped up on Zinger's caller I.D. in some time and the job will likely be going to Corey Pavin.

Tuesday
Nov182008

Hunter Mahan Will Cross California State Line To Play In Chevron World Challenge

It's touching to witness Hunter Mahan's bravery in deciding to enter a golf tournament here in California, that offensive state he made the mistake of acknowledging to President Bush as his birthplace!

More importantly, Stephen Ames is in the same field. Hopefully he'll be coming off his ninth straight Skins Game win!

COME JOIN TIGER WOODS AS HE PLAYS HOST TO 16 PGA TOUR PROFESSIONALS AT THE CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE DEC. 17-21

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (November 17, 2008)— It’s Tiger Wood’s tournament and you are invited! Don’t miss your chance to join Tiger as he plays host to 16 elite PGA TOUR professionals for the Chevron World Challenge presented by Bank of America. On December 17-21 at Sherwood Country Club, Woods will return to Southern California in his official role as host of the prestigious co-sponsored PGA TOUR event. Woods will be on hand to kick off the tournament starting with the annual Pro-Am on Wednesday. The tournaments 10th year of professional play begins Thursday and ends with Woods’ award ceremony on Sunday.

“Even though I can’t play, I’m looking forward to joining the fans for another exciting Chevron World Challenge while raising money for my Foundation,” Woods said. “I will be there to support the players, watch an incredible week of golf, and participate in the award ceremony.”

The Chevron World Challenge field is comprised of 16 players, the top 12 players from the Official World Golf Ranking who accept the invitation to complete and four players who are awarded special exemption. This year’s field includes Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis, Fred Couples, Paul Casey, Boo Weekley, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, Luke Donald and Stephen Ames. 

Tuesday
Nov182008

Sirak Prepares To Cover The First Of Annika's Farewells

Reporting from the ADT Championship, where Annika's first farewell commences, Ron Sirak:

Even Sorenstam has backed off using the "R" word, changing the phrasing from "retiring from competitive golf" to a more qualified and significantly more open-ended "stepping away from competition." What is likely is that after the ADT Championship this week and the Dubai Ladies Masters next month, a Ladies European Tour event, we will not see Sorenstam in a full-field tournament for at least a year.

But is this really the end? All I know is that I covered Arnold Palmer's last British Open and last Masters twice each. Muhammad Ali retired at least three times. And six years after Richard Nixon told the media "you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore," he was elected President of the United States -- and six years after that kicked out of office. But I digress.

Tuesday
Nov182008

"He's common folk just like we are"

PGA.com's Kathy Orton talks to the Ryder Cup players who visited the White House Monday.

Boo, on the outgoing President who attended Yale and Harvard Business School.

"He's common folk just like we are," added Boo Weekley. "He's just like his daddy, I think. I met his daddy before, a couple times. Like his daddy told me at the Ryder Cup, he said, 'Son, you act just like my son.' I said, 'Yes, sir, I probably do. I don't know that for a fact, but I probably do.'"

There you go. 41 says 43 acts like Boo Weekley.

This is lovely...

Hunter Mahan was worried that he upset the President because he told him he was from California, even though he now lives in Texas.

"He asked if I was from Texas, and I'm not originally, but I do live there," Mahan said. "I consider myself a Texan more than a Californian, which is where I'm from. I hope I didn't offend him."

I can see where he might be offended. I've never understood why the President should have to deal with a state that does not give him the electoral votes he desires. So offensive. 

Maybe Hunter should just not play in California?

Tuesday
Nov182008

Ben and Bill To Get...A Senior Major?

Last week Greg Henry reported at Examiner.com that Colorado Golf Club was going to get a PGA Championship. That report has since been taken down (come on guys, that's now how the web works!) and replaced with a new post that Thursday's announcement will reveal a 2010 Senior PGA for the Coore-Crenshaw design. That was based on a Rocky Mountain news report suggesting that the announcement could still include a PGA.

Tuesday
Nov182008

"I'm Tiger Woods right now. You're not getting anything out of me but plain vanilla."

From Mike Bresnahan's LA Times Laker notes, covering the latest in the Kobe-Shaq saga after O'Neal's comments to the Sacramento Bee's Scott Howard-Cooper:

Predictably, Bryant didn't want anything to do with the topic on Monday, even though he and O'Neal appeared to have sewn up their differences, at least publicly.

"Why are you asking me that?" he said. "No, really. You've got to be kidding me. I've been talking about it for so long, I don't want to talk about it anymore. It's silly to me. I'm Tiger Woods right now. You're not getting anything out of me but plain vanilla. I'm not saying anything. My mouth is locked."

So much for Tiger's street cred with the NBA crowd.

 

Monday
Nov172008

IM'ing With The Commissioners, Vol. X

Now that my friends at the NSA are downsizing in the wake of the election results, they found time to send along an instant message exchange between Commissioners Tim Finchem and Carolyn Bivens.

Click on the image to enlarge:


Monday
Nov172008

J.B. Holmes Spotted At White House Wearing Shoes

Only seven Republicans players make it to the White House for an Oval Office visit? Wow...

"I was really proud of what the players were able to accomplish on a stage of this size, one of the biggest stages in the world when you consider there were some 600 million viewers."

Azinger was accompanied by his assistant captain Raymond Floyd and players Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis, Jim Furyk, J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan and Boo Weekley.