Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

Pebble Beach is a pirate which lies in wait for merchantmen in the most treacherous landfall this side of the Dry Tortugas.
JIM MURRAY

    

Friday
Jun272008

"What she missed while looking at her toes..."

lpga_a_wie_200.jpgRon Sirak takes an interesting look at Michelle Wie's first round 9 and ESPN.com dresses it up with video.

Wie made a series of mistakes on No. 9, the first being that she elected to hit driver off the elevated tee instead of 3-wood. Wie has struggled with the driver for nearly two years now -- missing shots low and left as well as high and right -- and she blocked this one into the right rough.

She compounded the mistake off the tee by being too aggressive with her second shot, trying to advance it too close to the green instead of opting to pitch out sideways. The second shot ran through the fairway and into the rough at the base of the steep hill leading up to the ninth green.

Playing from the rough, she hit a shot that came out low, skidded across the green and ended up in the rough about two yards over the green. That's not a good place to be. It's virtually impossible to keep the ball on the green from there, without some luck or trickiness.

Trying to barely nudge the ball onto the fringe, Wie moved it only about 30 inches and left it still in the rough right on the edge of the fringe, now laying 4. At this point it was Julieta Granada's turn to play from the rough also behind the green. It was also at this point that Wie's brain shut down and she stared at her feet waiting for her turn to hit again.

What she missed while looking at her toes was that Granada played her shot sideways and it trickled down onto the safe shelf. Wie then took her putter and played her fifth shot straight down the sliding board, across the shelf and off the false front.

Her first chip from below the false front was not hit hard enough and rolled back to her feet. Her second pitch ended five feet from the hole, from where she two-putted for a 9.

Friday
Jun272008

"There's so many different strategies."

I missed Annika's round today in the U.S. Women's Open but caught her post round interview where she explained an apparently not-so-hot decision to use driver on No. 17 despite a tee being moved up. After the round, look what she had to say about the setup of Interlachen:

It's just, it's very, very fair, but you have to hit the ball well and there are a lot of tees out there where it's, there's so many different strategies. I mean, I've hit 4-irons off the tee, I hit 5-irons, I hit 5-woods, 4-wood, driver. I mean that's five different clubs off the tee other than par-3s. I can't think of any other golf course like that. And it's just strategy and it's just there's not a right way to play it, it's just depending how feel and how you want to approach the greens and with which clubs.


 

Friday
Jun272008

"Weeds grow at Greg Norman golf course"

420-Norman_Golf_Course.embedded.prod_affiliate.25.jpgI think this Bakersfield Californian headline and story was trying to nicely say that McAllister Ranch has been let go maintenance wise due to the housing crisis, not because of poor grassing choices!


Thursday
Jun262008

Golf In The Kingdom Trailer

Clocking in at 10 minutes, this looks more like an informercial for Bandon Dunes than anything else.

Thursday
Jun262008

"The officials can only do so much"

Gerry Dulac files a slow play rant after watching some high level amateur slugs play in the West Penn Amateur. Thanks to reader Kevin for this.
This is what happened to me Friday afternoon at a public course in Western Pennsylvania I won't mention. Was the glacial pace acceptable? Absolutely not. Was it understandable? Of course, because too many players don't understand the first thing about etiquette and pace of play.

But, someone needs to explain to me how a threesome of talented young golfers, none older than 29, can take nearly three hours to play nine holes and five hours to play 18 holes on a perfectly sunny day? And in a tournament staged by an organization whose purpose, among other things, is to enforce the rules?

That, though, is what happened Tuesday in the final round of the West Penn Amateur, the oldest tournament in Western Pennsylvania that was celebrating its 108th year. But, after the final group started at 9:13 a.m. and finished at 2:15 p.m. at the wonderfully restored Bedford Springs Resort, the tournament felt as though it had morphed into year No. 109.

"The officials can only do so much," said Jeff Rivard, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association. "The players need to say, hey, we need to pick it up."
Thursday
Jun262008

"I want to think about it"

Tim Rosaforte recaps Tiger's knee prospects and slips this in at the end of his Golf World story:
So while many hope Woods returns for next year's Buick Invitational, or even the 2009 Masters, he may not be back until daughter Sam is close to her second birthday -- or just in time to defend his U.S. Open title at Bethpage Black. What will it be like for him to miss that much time? "Anybody who's a warrior is going to have trouble taking a [sustained] break from competition," says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. "It is not only the winning they miss, it's the way they feel starting out Thursday, or being in contention on Sunday."

Woods already is restless. After filming a Buick commercial last week, he called Haney requesting a list of areas that he could improve upon during his time away from competition. The instructor tried to tell Woods that he hadn't even had surgery yet, but Tiger pressed. "I want to think about it," he said.
Thursday
Jun262008

John Daly, Kid Rock, What More Can You Ask For?

I'm not sure what Tim Finchem will find more alarming in this YouTube video ID'd as John Daly at the Buick Open pro-am: Daly hitting a tee shot off of a beer can or Kid Rock dressed in a denim "bib" overall.

 

Thursday
Jun262008

The Spririt Of The Hamptons: Scantily Clad Women For Charity!

hampton_hills_final.jpgMatty G spares us an "ambush" video in his write-up on a Make-A-Wish fundraiser, but instead shares with us in spellbinding detail an event that should never be documented: a Monday charity outing.
We didn't play by all the rules, at times we weren't complete gentlemen, and we didn't always hit great shots, but this group had a blast. It never ceases to amaze me how the game of golf can be the common denominator. Regardless of the fact that we didn't know each other and came from different backgrounds, professions and generations, for a little more than six hours, with an assortment of alcohol, hot dogs and a $100-per-man side-bet between two foursomes, we had the game of golf.
Really Darwinesque, don't you think?
It seemed like on every tee box we were greeted by a new form of alcohol, served by a young, scantily clad representative of the liquor company. The Hawaiian Tropic Zone Girls attended this function, also scantily clad, and we had an occasional visit on the course by a rogue cart full of marinated members of the gallery. Was THIS what they meant by "the spirit of the Hamptons?" Other than that, we had razor-sharp focus on the side-bet.

I'll condense the day of competitive golf down to the fact that my team won. I use "competitive" loosely here, and it's always a relative term. Each group and each player had good shots, clutch putts, lucky breaks and cold-tops that made you want to bury your head in the bottom of your bag. We had an above-average amount of smack-talk, change-shaking, chest-bumping and fist-pumping, but a portion of that has to be attributed to the "swing-oil" and an unusual number of pit stops.
And for those of you counting at home, that's 3 "scantily clad" mentions in 1200 words.
Thursday
Jun262008

"You need to come up with something else"

AP's Larry Lage follows Rocco Mediate around Warwick Hills and shares some fun anecdotes about his return to the tour following the U.S. Open showdown with Tiger.

Mediate's approach from 115 yards at No. 6 sailed to the right and landed in rough thick enough it almost hid the ball, an errant shot just 46 fans standing along the ropes saw at the sparsely attended event.

Instead of cursing at himself, Mediate conversed with fans and joked about how many of them say "That's a gimme,'' any time a ball is remotely close to the cup.

"You need to come up with something else,'' Mediate joked.

Wednesday
Jun252008

"The fact that you've not heard anything should not be construed as meaning there's a problem."

Several interesting items in the USGA press conference at Interlachen where David Fay, Roberta Bolduc and Mike Davis faced the inkslingers who miraculously asked some great questions (offsetting the point missers lobbing stuff about a U.S. Senior Women's Open). After Davis talked at length about Interlachen's design attributes and Brian Silva's restoration work there, he shared this about the bunkers at Torrey Pines:

The bunkers like we have been doing the last few years, we did stir up the bottoms to try to make the bunkers a little bit softer so that the player can't get as much spin. And I was telling somebody the other day, one of the best things I heard at Torrey Pines, it just -- I almost wanted to do a cartwheel is when a player actually said, we were trying to avoid bunkers at Torrey Pines. Because we haven't heard that in who knows how long.

Davis, on driveable par-4s this week at Interlachen and in future USGA course setups:

 You have to have enough risk but you've got to have the reward with it. They have to match. And in fact David and I talked about it before Sunday of Torrey Pines, that I thought it was going to work well for the reasons I kept going through in my mind, but you don't really know. And if only ten players out of the 80 went for it I would call it a failure but I think there was 57 or 56 or whatever that went for it. And it's, you know, there was a blend of scoring.

But when we did it at Oakmont it worked. Because those holes were architecturally set up for it. We did it the one hole at Winged Foot. But, no, we will not force it. So it won't necessarily be a trademark. But I think when you get that opportunity, it's really neat because you do make the players think. And we want -- we don't want this to be gimmicky, but at the same time we want it to be the hardest championship of the year, whether it's the U.S. Girls Junior, the Women's Open, the U.S. Open or the Senior Men's Amateur, but at the same time there's nothing wrong with introducing more risk, reward and making the players think, giving them opportunities, and taking a hole and really saying if you play it great you can make birdie, eagle, but if you don't play it so great, if you try something and don't pull it off you're going to pay the price.

And look at this troublemaker with the killer follow up about those R&A lollygaggers.

Q. David, could we get an update on the groove situation? Wasn't that due for some sort of roll out in January, I think, in theory? Has there been any developments on that front or are we going to have to all change irons?

DAVID FAY: The latest update is there's no update. We are still on track, we hope. There are a number of components that we have to get everything resolved. A number of -- and we're moving ahead on that. But to give you a timetable at this time, it would be premature.

Q. R & A still a part of the equation in getting them signed up for the same time?

DAVID FAY: Well the R & A, it's a change in equipment, a change in any rule will not happen unless both sides support it. Fully. The fact that you've not heard anything should not be construed as meaning there's a problem. It's just that we -- anything dealing with equipment, particularly these days, is complex. You deal with the specifications, manufacturing tolerances, I think that one thing I would say that we have never, at least in my experience at the USGA, researched and done the lab testing and the player testing to the degree that we have with this subject of grooves.

Just not enough for the R&A!

Wednesday
Jun252008

Sebonack Lands 2013 Women's U.S. Open; Doak and Nicklaus To Flip Coin Over Open Doctor Duties

Just kidding! I'm sure they'll work closely on any fine tuning.

Hard to believe this will be...

the first U.S. Women’s Open held on Long Island and the first time the championship will be conducted in the state of New York since 1973.

 

Wednesday
Jun252008

"Think of wacky bowls where the sculptor takes the wet clay mold and stretches it in different directions."

The first review is on the Castle Course at St. Andrews, making its debut this week.

Alistair Tait doesn't sound like he'll be invited back after this.

With the Castle Course, I felt as if I’d need a few rounds to get the lay of the land.

I’d certainly need more than a few rounds to get used to the greens. Kidd must have been in a funky mood when he designed these, for they might be the most undulating greens I’ve ever played.

The note I jotted on my course guide regarding the fifth green consists of  one word: “stupid.” The course guide describes this as a “bowl.” I’d agree if it read, “bowl that’s bent out of shape.” Think of wacky bowls where the sculptor takes the wet clay mold and stretches it in different directions.

 

Tuesday
Jun242008

Lost Balls, Double Digit Scores And Unreachable Fairway Add Up To Declaration Of Success By Dawson

The R&A frontman and in house architect, Peter Dawson, declares his redo work at Turnberry a success. And boy doesn't it sound like great work based on this reporting. First, Douglas Lowe writes:

The 17th hole particularly, where Nick Price had an eagle 3 on his way to Open triumph in 1994, was considered too soft for a modern championship, but having lengthened the hole and added three new bunkers there were lost balls galore in the qualifying rounds.

Scores in excess of 10 were recorded as players, into winds in excess of 30mph, failed to make the 230-yard carry to the fairway and so tough was the course altogether that the competition scratch score on day two was up at a mind-boggling nine-over-par 79.

Asked about the severity of the 17th, Dawson, who has been under fire in recent years for allowing distances the ball is hit to increase, quipped: "The players will just have to learn to hit the ball further."

Brilliant answer!

Mike Aitken can't wait for the Open Championship next year after witnessing the same success as Lowe:

Although the Ailsa has been something of a soft touch at past Opens – both Tom Watson and Nick Price won at Turnberry with 72 hole totals of 268, the lowest winning scores for an Open in Scotland – the revised links, albeit in severe weather, produced a standard scratch of 79 during the first round of qualifying for the Amateur last week. Moreover, a number of players from the new tee at the stretched par-5 17th couldn't reach the fairway when the hole played into a strong headwind.

One of the most heartening aspects of the changes was the success of the 16th, where the re-modelled par 4 has become a 458-yard dogleg which brings the burn in front of the green into play and approaches the green from a far trickier angle. "I never thought I'd see the day when people couldn't get up in two at the 16th," admitted Dawson.
Yes that sounds heartening!
Although offering a spectacular view, the new tenth tee, built beyond the halfway house to create a dramatic drive over a rocky promontory, received more mixed reviews. "If we had our time again we might have raised (the tee] a little," said the chief executive. "It's not too late to change, and we'll think about it."

 Print up that change order Peter!

Tuesday
Jun242008

Shocker: Doctors Declare Tiger Surgery A Success

Your basic pre-fab press release from IMG, with a quote from Tiger written by someone else...

Tiger Woods underwent successful reconstructive surgery on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his left knee on Tuesday in Park City, Utah.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas D. Rosenberg and Dr. Vernon J. Cooley who did arthroscopic surgery on Woods’ same knee in April of this year.

“We were confident going in to this surgery and I am pleased with the results,” said Dr. Rosenberg.  “There were no surprises during the procedure, and as we have said, with the proper rehabilitation and training, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Woods will have any long-term effects as it relates to his career.”

A rehabilitation schedule and projected timetable for Woods’ return to competitive golf has yet to be determined, but will be announced at the appropriate time.

“It was important to me to have the surgery as soon as possible so that I could begin the rehabilitation process,” said Woods. “I am very appreciative of Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Cooley and his staff’s guidance and look forward to working with them through the necessary rehabilitation and training.  I also wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes over the past week.  I look forward to working hard at my rehabilitation over the coming months and returning to the PGA TOUR healthy next year.”

Monday
Jun232008

Reflecting On The 2008 U.S. Open: The Setup

2008OpenLogo.gifThere's not too much more I can say about the details of the Torrey Pines setup that were not covered in the GolfDigest.com blog or in the Golf World story on No. 14.

However I would ask you to consider the potential impact of what Mike Davis and friends accomplished at Torrey Pines.

They took a golf course virtually devoid of strategic questions and made it a thinking man's championship that will be remembered for ages. The simple act of moving tees around actually caused players to pause and think. Players could not plan out their club selections in advance (sorry Phil).

The fact that this kind of spontaneity and surprise only happens in links golf speaks to just how far the game has drifted from rewarding thought as much as physical skill. 2008USOpenSetupGear.jpg

Though Davis made it look easy it can be to inject interest, there was a great deal of planning and vision that went into the setup. This doesn't mean anyone should be discouraged from more of this variety in future majors, tour events or local amateur tournaments, just a reminder that a lot of work went into this.

230136-1661189-thumbnail.jpg
Tiger On No. 14 Sunday, Photo courtesy of Rob Matre (click to enlarge)
I'm still fascinated that a few observers are making a fuss about the notion that players had to pause and contemplate options at No. 14. That shortening a "solid" hole like the 14th was a terrible sacrifice. Yes, the current 14th is solid. Solidly dull. You hit the fairway, you hit the green and you putt. There are not questions to answer, no decisions to make. Just an obedience examination.

Ponder this: I saw only one player the entire day come to No. 14 tee and pull a club before he arrived at the tee markers. Everyone else had a discussion with their caddy or at least took in information before selecting a club. That is the kind of "test" that golf needs more of. Not every hole because they'll never finish, just more often during a round.230136-1661192-thumbnail.jpg
Heath Slocum drives the 14th green, courtesy of Rob Matre (click to enlarge)

It also cannot be underestimated how difficult a shot the 267-yard 14th posed and how impressive Rocco's two plays were Sunday and in the playoff.

Now that we have evidence of an exciting event owing much of its success to the setup elements--particularly the vulnerability and scoring differential on the par-5s--Mike Davis has proven that options, variety and strategic thinking can offer difficulty that is far more interesting and revealing than tiny landing areas and high rough.

Monday
Jun232008

Someone Thinks The USGA Has Money...

I'll be in America's prettiest flyover state for a few days and not sure how the Internet conection will be, but in the mean time here's an odd one from USGA.org dug up by reader Rob.

Sunday
Jun222008

Lettter From Saugerties: The U.S. Open and Tiger

Our friend Frank Hannigan, the former USGA Executive Director, wrote after the thrilling U.S. Open to put matters in his unique perspective.

Dear Geoff:

Golf was not invented at Torrey Pines. Nor did it die on Tuesday when Tiger Woods revealed he is badly damaged and can't play for the balance of 2008.

Ben Hogan, hit straight on by a fast moving bus, in the winter of 1948, after winning the US Open,  had to sit our all of 1949.   Golf survived. The four major winners in 1949 were Sam Snead (twice),  Bobby Locke and Cary Middlecoff.   Moreover,  I'm sick of hearing of the huge money game being defined as "golf."  As in "Golf is in dreadful shape with Tiger out.  The British Open might just as well be Quad Cities.

By the way, golf has been stagnant during the era of Tiger Woods in terms of rounds played or golf balls sold. In Hogan's best days,  golf boomed.

I'm not ready to acknowledge that Tiger is the best player ever.   America has produced four incredible golfers: Bobby Jones,  Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Jones was such an anomaly it's impossible to compare him with anyone.  He was an amateur who stopped playing competitive golf at age 28.   While he was the best player in world  -  way in front of Sarazen and Hagen - he picked up degrees from Georgia Tech (engineering),  Harvard (English Lit) and Emory (Law).  

Hogan's total of nine majors  was lessened by away time.  After returning from his bus accident,  Hogan won the 1950, 1951 and 1953 US Opens.  Your readers will recognize the most famous photograph in golf ever taken was of Hogan from behind by Life Magazine 's brilliant Hy Peskin.  He was hitting a 1 iron into the 18th green at Merion.  As was his wont,  Hogan did not miss the fairway or the green and went on to win a 3 man playoff

Two years later, with no special enthusiasm,  Hogan went on to his lone British Open and won at Carnoustie.

(A typical Hogan story:  As he rested in what passed for a locker room at Carnoustie he was approached by a dignified man bearing a card.  The man said he was representing Paul, king of Belgium.  His majesty had read Mr. and Mrs.Hogan were coming to the continent for a week.  Would they like to stay in his castle and perhaps play a round of golf.  Hogan looked and said "I don't play golf when I'm on vacation.")

He took nearly a week to reach Great Britain by ship.  Few Americans played. But let's pose a counter factual: suppose there were jets so that Hogan could play in every British Open from 1946 through 1960. (He had missed 1942 through 1945 because of World War II. )  I do believe he would have won some.

As for Nicklaus, with his 18 majors and 19 runner-ups in majors, I resort to another hypothetical.  It is that Tiger Woods comes along in 1970 rather than in the late 90s.     Nicklaus just might have revved up his game a little.  He was the most competitive man I ever met.  He thought he should win everything.  In his later years, he played with Greg Norman as his partner in one those silly season events.  They were way behind after 3 rounds. Nicklaus peered at the scoreboard in our ABC booth and allowed as how they could get right back in it by shooting about 51 in the last round in a scramble format.  Norman looked at Jack as if he was crazy.

Jack had an approach based on his belief  that only 5 or 6 other players could stand the heat in the final round of  a major whereas "I can always play my game".  In my opinion, that's why he was runner-up so often.   He would be a touch cautious,  get behind after 3 rounds and then come roaring back   Too late.

In a technical sense, Nicklaus was in relative terms  and considering the change in equipment, about the same length as Tiger but infinitely  straighter.   Jack was an astonishing fairway wood player.  Alas, there are no fairway wood (or metal) shots today.  Their iron play was equally terrific.  It is accepted that Tiger is the world's best putter. Nicklaus was not bad.   The late David Marr and others regarded Jack as the best putter in his glory days.

Tiger is miles ahead when it comes to playing from 120  yards on in.  Lee Trevino said "God gave Jack everything except a wedge."  Though I continue to think Jack would have improved his short game if it had been necessary to play against Tiger.

We hope for a complete recovery for Tiger.   When he returns it will be said on ESPN that he has reinvented the game.

What actually happened last week was a young man on the USGA staff,  Mike Davis, just about turned water into wine in preparing Torrrey Pines.  It is a golf course that is not and never will be exceptional.  What I learned is that, given a few million dollars and enough property to expand the course to 7,400 yards,  Mike Davis could make any of hundreds of courses pass as US Open courses.

Considering the justifiable  praise  Mike Davis earned last week, it could be that he will be  tempted other entities with even more money than the USGA has.  I would caution him:  be careful.  It's not so easy out in the real world.

Frank Hannigan

Sunday
Jun222008

Reflecting On The 2008 U.S. Open: The Media Center

2008OpenLogo.gifBecause I know how much you love to hear writers complain about getting free food, a free pass (sometimes inside the ropes), free merchandise (they bribed us with a pair of Maui Jims!), free internet access and a cushy shuttle drive to the course...I'll just stick with one gripe.

Well, two.

- The USGA put the media tent on the second fairway of the North Course and trapped it with a row of corporate tents lining the first fairway. This meant it would take 10-12 minutes of walking just to see any action on the golf course unless you cut through one of the tents like I did most of the week (by the time they realized I was intruding, I was out the front door...).

230136-1654195-thumbnail.jpg
The Media Center lurking like the view from Bates Motel up to mom's house (click to enlarge)
When I mentioned to David Fay that it was a great week except for the location of the media center, he said that as he was walking up the steep hill the tent reminded him of the view from the Bates Motel looking up to mom's haunted house. He was right about that (see photo).

When the Open returns in 2017 or 18, let's put the media center to the right of the range next to the player locker room and leave the cool ocean view (that we never got to see) for the overpaying patrons. 230136-1654222-thumbnail.jpg
Inside the media tent (click to enlarge)

- IBM scoring. Various Open vets declared it a disaster. The round one scores did not make most national newspapers east of the Mississippi and by all accounts, the Unysis system of the past was faster and more efficient. Also, based on the comments in threads here, the website was a step back in terms of function and reliability.

Alright, off I go in my Maui Jims.

 

Sunday
Jun222008

"Scooped it up in a empty beer cup, as not to disrupt the DNA, Ive got lots of witness'...all moneys go to my daughters college fund"

cb8f_2.JPGSome people go to the merchandise tent and buy a hat, others pick up Tiger Woods-discarded apple cores and put them on ebay. And you wonder why he has a boat called Privacy?

The text, in case it disappears...

I was at the US Open this Friday, following Tiger Woods down the 12 th Fairway, after his tee shot, he was eating an apple, 30 yards from his ball he discarded his apple core in the rough, I asked a photothe to kick it over my way, and he did, I never touched the core, Scooped it up in a empty beer cup, as not to disrupt the DNA, Ive got lots of witness'...all moneys go to my daughters college fund 

Sunday
Jun222008

The Sports Guy On Tennis V. Golf

Bill Simmons offers his fixes for tennis and makes plenty of golf references in this ESPN The Magazine column. All I could think was, as many issues as golf faces, at least it's not the mess tennis has become.

Thanks to reader Chris for this.