Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.  ROBERT BROWNING

 

  

Monday
Jul132009

Shark: Finchem Must Be Using Smoke And Mirrors

Derek Lawrenson scores an exclusive interview with Greg Norman, who talks about how losing the Open last year was nothing compared with laying off his staff.

In a sidebar he also is quoted about the PGA Tour:

United States Tour: Commissioner Tim Finchem must be using smoke and mirrors to keep it buoyant, that's all I can say. Either that or he's working his way through a huge war chest. We run one tournament and I know how hard it is getting sponsorship. Multiply that by how many tournaments he runs. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, to tell you the truth.

And this on the U.S. economy:

It's dead and it's a long time before it's coming back. Run what's considered a small to medium business like mine, in the $200million to $500m turnover range and there's no incentives to grow. It's going to take a long time for business to recover and the rest of the world is going to recover quicker than America.

Monday
Jul132009

Sandy: My Tacky WD Was Nothing Compared To Monty's Cheating!

Nothing like calling a truce on the eve of the Open. James Corrigan reports that Sandy Lyle, former 2010 Ryder Cup captain hopeful, thinks his embarrassing WD last year was minor compared to Monty's Jakarta incident.

When asked whether he believed his decision to sacrifice a precious Open berth so early into the first round at Birkdale last year had affected his own captaincy chances, Lyle replied: "You would have to ask the committee that. But you've got Monty with his situation where he was dropping the ball badly overseas. And that is far worse than someone pulling out because he has got sore knuckles. It's a form of what [could be called] 'cheating'. If that was going to go against Monty you would think: 'Yeah, that's a case where he is breaking the rules'. There have been a few times where he has been called in to see the videos."

And this couldn't have helped matters:

Little wonder, therefore, that Lyle felt so baffled when his efforts to contact his one-time campaign leader went unanswered. "I rang him a few times straight after the decision but didn't get a reply," he said. "Eventually I got a letter, but I had the impression that was written by [his manager] Guy Kinnings."

And this won't help matters!

"You never see him!" Lyle said. "He disappears. Playing on the regular tour he isn't around much. You might see him half an hour before a round. He is a bit aloof. And this age factor thing is a load of crap. You have got [Paul] Azinger, at the last Ryder Cup his two vice-captains were Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton who are both in their late sixties. They got on great with the team because they were respected. It is all about respect in the end and how good a character you are to control and to be a leader."

Meanwhile Monty confesses to Derek Lawrenson that he fears he may never win again.

Monday
Jul132009

"The two tours can even do co-ed events. Golf needs to think outside the box on things like this, find new ways to market itself."

A few stories on the official resignation of Carolyn Bivens and the naming of Marsha Evans as interim LPGA chief, starting with Ron Sirak who writes about Evans and the search for a Bivens replacement:

In 2005 she stepped down as CEO of the American Red Cross after a battle with the board of governors over what it called her "command-and-control" management style, according to the Washington Post. A search committee comprised of board members Leslie Gries, Juli Inkster, Helen Alfredsson and Bill Morton will work with the search firm Spencer Stuart to find a full-time replacement.

This little buried item was interesting:

Among the ideas being kicked around by some players is taking on a business partner with deep pockets to manage the LPGA, such as the PGA Tour. The two tours could coordinate schedules and have LPGA events end at 3 p.m. on Sunday, for example, before the PGA Tour television coverage begins. Or the LPGA could end on Saturday -- marketing it as Championship Saturday.

"It's a no-brainer," one agent said. "The two tours can even do co-ed events. Golf needs to think outside the box on things like this, find new ways to market itself."

Michael Buteau also looks at Evans and her past while Gene Yasuda notes that LPGA board member Dawn Hudson spent most of the announcement praising Carolyn Bivens and explains where the tour goes from here. There was also this item lost in much of the day's coverage:

It appointed Annika Sorenstam as advisor to the LPGA Board of Directors, and promoted Zayra Calderon, the tour’s senior vice president of worldwide sales, to executive vice president, tournament development and worldwide sales. Known as an engaging relationship-builder, Calderon will oversee all tournament business affairs and is charged with, arguably, the tour’s top priority: Working with tournament owners and title sponsors to secure renewals, and landing new business partners.

And finally, an unbylined AP story features this quote from Juli Inkster:

"Carolyn did a lot of great things. She tried to stand up for the LPGA, which no one has done in a long time,'' said Juli Inkster, a tour veteran and member of the board. "I just think her delivery on the whole thing was not the best.''

Monday
Jul132009

Rear Admiral's Reign Off To A Rip-Roaring Start

Let's review.

- The LPGA sends out an announcement and then amends it to remind everyone that it is embargoed. The announcement release says that a 1 p.m. EST press conference will be held on the Golf Channel. But since it's embargoed, no one can write even a Tweet or blog post suggesting LPGA fans could tune in to The Golf Channel to find out what the event is about.

- The LPGA allows no media (other than Golf Channel) present at this "announcement" to ask questions. We did have Christina Kim present and Annika Sorenstam on a phone line that died almost as soon as she started talking.

- Carolyn Bivens is present at the announcement of her resignation and is shown on television, but she does not speak. Cynics will presume that her presence indicates she received a substantial buyout. And why will cynics presume this?

- Marsha Evans is named the interim commissioner. A Bivens selected board member, Evans is a specialist in bouncing around boards and other executive jobs. She was on the Lehman Brothers board and we know how that turned out. She received a $780,000 buyout after resigning as head of the Red Cross just days before a likely humiliating Hurricane Katrina congressional hearing.

- She's got a husband and he likes golf! Marty DeVine in an extensive profile detailing her career, her campaigning for McCain/Palin and other information, includes this: "Nonprofits have tapped her talents as well and she serves on the boards of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, which raises money to support education of midshipmen beyond what the federal budget provides, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association. An avid golfer, her husband Jerry particularly enjoys the LPGA board meetings in prime golfing sites."

- The in-studio analysis job from Kelly Tilghman, Laura Baugh and Charlie Rymer with most of the conversation sounding like an LPGA infomercial and Baugh seeming to imply that the non-English speaking players were part of the Bivens downfall. Oy.

- But hey, Bivens is gone and that's a start. But with all but one Board member not appointed during her tenure, it's hard to imagine this amounting to a sea change for the organization.

Monday
Jul132009

Marsha: They want you as a new recruit!

Anne Szeker reports that retired Navy rear admiral Marsha Evans has been named interim LPGA Commissioner after Carolyn Bivens officially resigned.

Sunday
Jul122009

Will The Golf Gods Punish The R&A?

Just a question heading into Open Championship week. I ask for a simple reason: Turnberry has hosted three Opens and produced three Hall of Fame winners who were arguably the best or second best player in the game at the time they won. Bill Fields did a nice job reviewing those three wins, as did Larry Dorman who also mentioned the epic Nicklaus's v. Watson's 1994 pitch and putt battle he witnessed (Jaime Diaz wrote about in Golf Digest).

Yet the poor dame couldn't be allowed to face today's players without underoing a reconstructive surgery with input from Peter Dawson. Then it had its 9th hole trashed by Peter Alliss and was attacked by folks because the past winners posted low scores. Even in complimenting the course, Ron Whitten addressed its lack of resistance to scoring.

Oh and the plan is to redo it again after the Open, this time by Greg Norman. Assuming Leisurecorp still has the desire to spend.

Tim Rosaforte wondered if the combination of the setup and the Open's recent track record adds up to an unpredictable winner. And I'm wondering if the Golf Gods have had enough with all of the recent Open Championship setup boondoggles and in particular the Turnberry tinkering. Just enough to give us a singular champion that helps commemorate the fifth anniversary of Todd Hamilton's win?

Sunday
Jul122009

"We don't doctor rough."

Lawrence Donegan reports on Tiger's first practice round at Turnberry and files this observation about the setup:

That is exactly how it should be at the Open, and exactly what many expected of Turnberry, a terrific golf course whose absence from the championship rota for 15 years seems bizarre. The weather off the Irish Sea has the potential to wreak havoc but on the evidence of a blustery, occasionally sunny Sunday afternoon, the R&A appears to have produced to stern but sensible test. The fairways are broad, the greens fast (ish) and the rough – which has been talked up by many, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington among them, as the closest thing to penury this side of San Quentin– is not as ridiculous as had perhaps been feared.

Make no mistake, it is wrist-breaking in places, but those places are a distance from the centre of the fairway – in part because the organisers took the decision three weeks ago to widen the semi-rough. If conditions are hard and bouncy, as they almost certainly will be, that will stop some balls disappearing off into the jungle.
"We have widened the cut sections of rough a little bit on each side. Six yards rather than the usual four and a half yards, which is what we had a little while ago," said Dawson. "It is very nasty off the fairway and off the shorter rough but the fairway and shorter rough is, I think, fairly generous. We don't want to get the reputation that the Open is about hacking out of rough because it isn't about that.

"We don't doctor rough. We take what we get naturally and leave the playing arena at a sensible level. If you spray it outside the playing arena here, it is lost ball; hack-out territory."

Sunday
Jul122009

"Some of these guys have no idea what they're going to be in for"

Bill Elliott profiles Greg Norman on the eve of his return to Turnberry and talks about the state of his game. There was also this at the end of the piece:

"The return of V-grooves is the greatest move technologically in golf for years. That's gonna teach today's players a huge lesson on the art of understanding a lie, controlling a ball and flight trajectory. Some of these guys have no idea what they're going to be in for," he grinned.

Sunday
Jul122009

Pebble Beach In 1963

I'm only a few holes into the 1963 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf re-broadcast featuring Jack Nicklaus vs. Sam Snead. Besides the obvious (Snead's swing is amazing, the HD restoration is stunning), I'm curious what you all thought of the crispy, roughless Pebble Beach. Naturally I think it looks sensational. Also love Jack's 7th hole logoed hat!

The back nine in 1963

7th hole from above

Nice logo

Snead in the 2nd hole barranca

 

 

Sunday
Jul122009

"We're looking for someone for four, five months, three or four months, to just right the ship"

This unbylined AP story quoting Juli Inkster would seem to speak to the urgency of salvaging the 2010 schedule, something we speculated about here to explain the otherwise awful timing of the Bivens ouster.

Inkster said it's important for the board to find the right person to lead the tour into the future. In the short term, the need is immediate.

"Right now, we're in the middle of the season,'' Inkster said. "We're looking for someone for four, five months, three or four months, to just right the ship, get us going in the right direction: straight ahead.''
Inkster said the board plans on taking its time to find a new commissioner.

"Right now, we want to take our time and find the right person for the job,'' she said. "And you can't do that on a whim.''

Saturday
Jul112009

"Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries"

AP's Anne M. Peterson analyzes the case of Dusty Schmidt, who is suing the USGA over having his amateur status revoked after his $1 million challenge to someone who would beat him at 72 holes of golf and at poker. Schmidt has filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow him to keep his amateur status, with a hearing slated for Monday.

The USGA informed Schmidt he could apply to have his status reinstated, but he says that the process wasn't timely enough because of the registration fees he'd already paid to compete in events over the summer.

The crux of Schmidt's argument is that no one took him up on the challenge, so it is moot.

A spokesman for the USGA said the organization does not comment on current or pending litigation.

In court documents, the USGA maintains that Schmidt's challenge was violated a rule aimed at actions "detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game," and another related to gambling and the spirit of the rules.

"Having promoted his prize money golf/poker contest for two months and having obtained tremendous publicity for himself, his entrepreneurial Web site and his prize money scheme, Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries," the USGA said in court documents.

Now a few years ago I would have understood the USGA's claims. But when you have college players receiving free clothes, clubs and Lord knows what else, all while retaining their amateur status, do they really have a leg to stand on at this point? I'm sure you'll tell me why Schmidt's case is different.

Saturday
Jul112009

"I get the chills thinking about it"

Gary D'Amato talks to Jerry Kelly about the killer concept he and Steve Stricker are floating to save the Milwaukee stop. He just won't actually reveal what it is, but he's excited and says Tim Finchem "loved it." And it wasn't his idea?

Saturday
Jul112009

"I lost a couple of balls on Monday that weren't far off the fairway."

Tom English tells us about Rory McIlroy's big problem these days: the throttle on his new gun metal grey Ferrari F430. And there's Rory's shock at being the third favorite at 25-1 behind Tiger and Sergio. "Bonkers" he calls it.

But he also offers this Turnberry scouting report:

"I saw the golf course in two completely different winds, which is a really good thing. Some holes were playing a lot longer the second day and some were playing a lot shorter. It was really interesting to see how the course can change like that."

A lot of his time was spent gawping at the rough. Some if it is nightmarish, he says. It's like instant death in places. He left there on both days with a very clear thought in his head: be accurate off the tee or prepare for an early exit.

"You have to really, really drive the ball well. The rough being the way it is, the people who drive it well are going to have a chance and the people who don't hit many fairways are going to struggle. With the spring that we've had, we've had quite a lot of rain, but it's also been quite warm so the very bottom of the rough is very lush and very thick and long and it only becomes more wispy the higher up it gets. It can be very difficult to find your ball. I lost a couple of balls on Monday that weren't far off the fairway. There are certain holes where the rough is a lot worse on one side than the other. The ninth for example. You can miss it left all day at the ninth but if you go five yards right of the fairway you'll be doing well to find your ball."

Friday
Jul102009

"That proves, although the fairways were generous, avoid the rough at all costs."

Monty on the rough at Turnberry:

"About two weeks ago, they allowed the members on and there were 150 starters," he said. "They left 480 golf balls on the golf course. Now, that's over three balls a player, so there's 480 golf balls lying around there somewhere. That proves, although the fairways were generous, avoid the rough at all costs."

Friday
Jul102009

Women's Open Shaping Up Nicely...

Enough of the Brand Lady...until she issues the inevitable goodbye press release.

The weekend is shaping up nicely at Saucon Valley, with those two charmers Kerr and Creamer atop, followed by unknown and unconventional Southern Jean Reynolds and 14-year-old Alexis Thompson in the top 10.

Golfweek offers a handy U.S. Women's Open all-you-need-to know page.

Friday
Jul102009

Padraig Taking Career Inspiration From Howard Hughes **

Absolutely do not miss Karl MacGinty's setup and interview with Padraig Harrington about making swing changes after winning two straight majors.

Q: Are great sportsmen different to the rest of us? Can we only try and imagine what they, or you, do?

PH: It's complicated to explain what's going on. I'm trying to understand the whole process (of playing golf) so that I can control it. I wouldn't be able to accept performing without knowing why. I don't think I'd enjoy winning if I didn't know why I was winning. I think the ultimate satisfaction of winning is understanding how I got there. While I admire sporting achievement, I pay very little respect to somebody who wins without knowing why.

Q: Like the guy who smashes the balls up in pool and some go in?

PH: No. No. Actually it's the opposite. It would be the guy who gets in on the pool table; has the perfect cueing action and clears everything up but has no understanding of what he's doing.

Q: Who, for example?

PH: I'm not going to give you examples but I am all the time trying to figure out, do people understand what they're doing?

Q: Like Maradona?

PH: Yeah. I've very little time for wasted talent and very little time for the talent that has no understanding of why they do what they do. If somebody's best in the world at something and they can't explain in detail why they were there, I wouldn't be interested.

And here I thought most great athletes were successful because they didn't have a clue what made them so good!

Q: Can that be damaging?

PH: Howard Hughes. As a 14-year-old kid, he got his dad to buy him a sports car so he could pull it apart. He spent a month breaking it down bit-by-bit and then putting it all back together. Well, that's me with my golf game.

Howard also spent the last few years of his life locked up in the Desert Inn wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes.

Damaging? Oh you be the judge.

Friday
Jul102009

Turnberry Rough Crop Peaking In Time For Open!

John Huggan confirms Padraig Harrington's recent observation that it was sprouting. Oddly, my Scottish sources say there hasn't been an inordinate amount of rain in that time. Must be those balmy nights!

Huggan on the prospects of finally seeing some links golf after Loch Lomand and other green swampy slogs the last few months:

Any prospect of bouncy, seaside golf will have to wait until next week's Open at Turnberry, even if early reports on the length of the rough and the greenness of the Ayrshire resort's fairways offer little hope of balls spending as much time on the ground as they ideally should.

And...

Watch out for an almost endless stream of hybrids and long irons off too many of Turnberry's tees.

Sadly, all of the above will -- yet again -- reduce the field to playing a bastardized version of links golf, one where hack-out rough replaces the couple of inches of semi that is enough to promote both temptation and doubt in the minds of even the best players. If that is so, we are going to be treated to the depressing sight of a missed fairway being inevitably followed by a big heave-ho back into play then a wedge to the green from 90 yards or so. In other words, the U.S. Open all over again.

Come to think of it, maybe everyone should just have stayed in America after all.

Friday
Jul102009

"If these players today want to go back to being the red-headed step child, and getting kicked around by the PGA Tour, just getting the scraps, and not having a pension, then, yeah, buy out Carolyn."

Don't miss Randell Mell's GolfChannel.com piece featuring Hollis Stacy's vitriolic take on the current players for ousting her pal Carolyn Bivens. Mell reports that Stacy flew to the the Women's Open from Denver to try and talk players out of their decision.

“This is a big, big mistake,” Stacy said. “Unfortunately, these players are naive, and they’re wrong. They need to be called out.”

Stacy believes the new business model Bivens created is smart and valuable and would build the tour a stronger financial future, even with Bivens struggling to renew sponsors and find new ones.

“In the nine hours it took me to fly here, I’ve gone through the whole spectrum of emotions, from being really upset to being bewildered and then sad, and finally to thinking, `Are these kids stupid?’” Stacy said. “It breaks my heart.”

Gee I'm sure they were really receptive to your message with that attitude!

You're stupid! I'm calling you out!

I think I know why Bivens and Stacy are friends.

Still, Stacy, a business consultant and friend to Bivens, says the tour has already gone from barely covering its operational costs to a profitable business, even in these difficult financial times. She blames the sponsorship issues solely on the economy.

“I lived on the tour for 26 years, and we were always struggling,” Stacy said. “Carolyn wasn’t hired to be liked. She was hired to build the brand and make money and she’s doing that. She’s building the brand globally.

“If these players today want to go back to being the red-headed step child, and getting kicked around by the PGA Tour, just getting the scraps, and not having a pension, then, yeah, buy out Carolyn. But it’s a big, big mistake. I don’t think these players understand we’ve had former players die near poverty.

“I’m behind Carolyn. She’s tough. She’s had to be tough. Women have been taken advantage of for years.

“People who work for me, I don’t want them playing nice. I want them representing the best interests of the players.”

Unfortunately, women being taken advantage of is not what this is about.

For all of Bivens' dreams--many of which were quite noble--playing opportunities remain the most important thing for a professional golfer. Not the brand, not the health care, not the Oscars, not the pension and not interacting with fans.

Male or female, old geezer or teenager, they want to play golf. And Bivens' stubbornness was positioning them to play a whole lot less.

In other Bivens news, Paul Rogers filed this thoughtful analysis just before news broke of her resignation yesterday. Well until he quotes me. Alan Shipnuck says it came down to hubris but does think there was "inherent sexism" may have played a role in her downfall.

 

Thursday
Jul092009

"Missed short putt, got a buried lie in bunker face coming in. not bad, almost great."

Guess that's the extent of dad's day one account (caddying is exhausting!).

Mike Van Sickle is right on the bubble after opening -1 at the Deere, should make for some interesting online tracking Friday. Besides being a great story, I'll do anything to not ponder a possible Lee Janzen win.

Thursday
Jul092009

LPGA Already Posts Craigslist Ad

While Alan Bastable finds one candidate already throwing her visor into the mix (Jan Stephenson), I was looking around Craigslist's job ads for the C-level gig I've always deserved and after working through most of the southeast, finally caved and went through the Florida ads.

You have to give the LPGA Tour points for already getting this ad up on Craigslist. For people who didn't want to overshadow the U.S. Open, they sure work fast!

(click on image to enlarge)