Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

I may be wrong, but I believe that the golfers of today want originality. Even those who are not particularly analytical sense the difference between a purely natural hole and one which suggests the artificial.  A.W. TILLINGHAST


Dec242008 Interview Parts 1-3 **'s Richard Simon interviewed me today and has broken it up into three parts. Because I know that the entire collection of my spellbinding comments to a variety of intelligent questions could keep you from the family Christmas gift opening, I'm only going to post part 1 of 3 today.

Merry Christmas!


Obama Goes With The Raynor

Granted, Seth Raynor's touch there is probably limited to the routing at this point, but the President-elect played his second vacation round at the spunky Mid-Pacific Country Club. Also the course having the dubious honor of hosting my collegiate golf debut (I'm still haunted by having to start on the treacherous 15th hole).

More importantly, he hasn't been shy about showing the world he's a golfer. So we've got that going for us.

Later in the morning, Obama's motorcade left the Kailua rental home at 11:50 a.m. and arrived at Mid-Pacific Country Club about 10 minutes later.

Pool media were allowed to watch for about 12 minutes as Obama took practice swings with an iron before switching to a driver. He was dressed in a black polo shirt, khaki Bermuda shorts and a beige cap.

His golfing group included close friends Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker and Eugene Kang, among others.

Obama also played a round of golf on Sunday at Olomana Golf Links in nearby Waimanalo.

The president-elect is a frequent visitor to the greens when he visits Hawaii. During his last vacation here, in August, he played two rounds of golf at Olomana and at Luana Hills Country Club.


"Some players get it, and some don't."

Lorne Rubenstein talks to Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul about Tim Finchem's recent plea to players. Lots of interesting stuff, including this:

The PGA Tour and the players have steadily resisted calls from sponsors to accept, for instance, a one-in-four rule. By that rule, every player would be forced to play each tournament at least once every four years.

But Paul said that every time this is suggested, players use the "independent contractor" definition for proof that they play where they want to play, not where they're told to play. Paul also pointed out that tournaments that always get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, to cite the two players most in demand, object to an imposition of any such rule.

"They say, 'If I can get Tiger every year, why should I settle for one or two [appearances every four years]?' "

So it goes for co-operation among sponsors. It's survival of the fittest and fattest.

But what about when players who do show up refuse to schmooze with sponsors and fans? Where does it say players shouldn't be more sociable? No wonder, as Paul said, tournament sponsors are cutting back on hospitality events. It's no fun to give a party when few players, if any, show up.

"You have to give the tour credit for at least trying to get players to show up on a volunteer basis to the hospitality tents," Paul said of what the tour's done in the past. "Some players get it, and some don't."


"Walking and bringing your dog with you? Now that is quite something!”

First cargo shorts, now dogs on the course. It must, gulp, pet peeves week.

Alistair Tait, training his new pup how to be a golf dog, rubs his joy in our American faces.

Alright, so tell me why courses should not allow man's best friend to tag along.


Cargos Redux

Who knew that a Barack Obama thread would lead to over 50 comments with nary a mention of Rick Warren?

I'm glad we could get this cargo pant debate out in the open, even if the peanut gallery has to chime here and there with cliched rants.

Still, no one has answered for me why those side pockets are so offensive to clubs that for two decades sold flammable polyester shirts adorned by cardboard collars and a breast pocket designed for a cigarette pack?

So I called on Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty Hackel to help out here. Marty replies to my question about the long-standing ban on cargos at most country clubs:

I would venture a guess that the clubs that do not allow "Cargo" shorts see them as too casual for the golf course. I do not know how this got started and it's the same clubs who mandate that ladies shorts be 19".

Cargos are often placed in the "Grange Look" category and as I always say "It's not what you wear but how you wear it." Obama looked ok to me in his "Cargo" shorts that he wore on the course on the 22nd. So lets not get out of control here. 

I'd go a step further and say he wore them very well, which is not easy when you are talking about cargo shorts and anyone over 25. But I'll defer to Sir Hackel.


Woods Camp Not Excited about Chevron Tourney Date It Was Once Excited About

Doug Ferguson reports that Tiger and friends want to go back to the old date even though tournament director Greg McLaughlin said just a few months ago that they it would be great:

We are excited about the field and we are excited about a week of December 15th to the 21st, which we think will be great. 

This is a little like the Classic Club debacle. It was obvious this would be a bad idea as far back as last year when it was announced. Everyone in the press tent had the same reaction: why the week before Christmas?

So why does it have to take the actual experiencing of the clearly bad idea before the overpaid handsomely compensated people in charge figure these things out?


Merry Christmas Mr. Pro-V1 Attorney: Acushnet To Continue Appeals

From Fairhaven:

Titleist Continues to Manufacture, Distribute and Sell Pro V1 Golf Balls Outside of Scope of Disputed Patents

Fairhaven, MA (December 23, 2008) - Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO), announced that it will move forward with the appeals process following denial of its request for a stay of an injunction regarding certain Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. The company announced that it does not expect today’s ruling or the injunction, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2009, to have a material adverse impact on its results and reaffirmed its confidence that it will ultimately win its appeal of the verdict in the underlying patent dispute.

"This decision will not interfere with Titleist’s ability to continue to manufacture, distribute and sell Pro V1 golf balls,” said Joe Nauman, executive vice president, corporate and legal of Acushnet. "While the stay was not granted, we understand that it was a request for extraordinary relief based upon a limited review.”

In September, well in advance of the District Court’s injunction decision, the production of existing Pro V1 model golf balls was converted to be outside the patents in question. As of January 1, 2009, there will be limited amounts of non-converted Pro V1 golf balls in retail inventory.

“Acushnet does not believe that the injunction order requires Acushnet to recall any Pro V1 golf balls from retailers, or that retailers are required to return any golf balls to Acushnet,” continued Nauman. “However, Acushnet is prepared to accept returns of non-converted retail inventory if requested by retailers.”

That's a bummer. I've been stocking up on non-converted retail inventory for fear that the converted retail inventory isn't as good. 


Castle Stuart Web Site Goes Live

You can check it out here and take a course tour here.





"Gandhi would have had a hard time winning one of these things."

Thanks to reader Bob for Gene Wojciechowski's wonderful look at the grueling Evans Scholarship awarding process. I really had no idea what they put them through.

Think about it: You're what, 17, and you're summoned to a room full of adults, many of them wearing the green blazers of the Western Golf Association, which oversees the largest privately funded college scholarship program in the country? There's a waiting area and then, when it's your turn, a WGA rep leads you through a pair of glass doors, to the front of the ballroom, where you shake hands with the WGA big hitters. Then you're directed to the podium, where 100 committee members -- all allowed to ask pointed questions about your academic record, caddying experiences, life aspirations, etc. -- are assembled in front of you. These are the people who will vote yes or no on your scholarship after you leave the room.

Nerve-wracking? One finalist's face turned a splotchy red by the end of the interview. Another finalist kept wringing her hands every eight seconds. Another finalist could have used a beach towel to soak up the forehead flop sweat.

Nearly 600 caddies nationwide applied to the Evans Scholars program this year. It's a breeze: All you need is club sponsorship, a sparkling academic record, a history of community service and/or meaningful extracurricular activities, leadership skills and serious financial need (parents' tax returns are required). Gandhi would have had a hard time winning one of these things.


"The image of a policeman-turned-woman does not sit easily with many participants in a sport driven by power, muscle and speed."

Jim Achenbach tells the Lana Lawless story. (Thanks to reader Ari.)

It's Tootsie meets SWAT in the vein of The Crying Game.



"Either make it a true playoff, or call it something else."

You know the FedEx Cup is a still a mess when Peter Kostis, who has to pretend to like it on the air for CBS, doesn't hold back on

Two years ago we were told that the FedEx Cup Playoffs were going to ensure exciting, meaningful events at the end of the season and culminate in a riveting conclusion at the Tour Championship. And for the second time since, the PGA Tour was forced to go back to the drawing board and modify the points system after the Tour Championship was made meaningless. For 2009, the point totals for each player who makes it to the Tour Championship will be reshuffled on the eve of the event.

They just don't get it. You can't call something a "playoff" if you are trying to protect the players who had a strong season while simultaneously giving everyone in the field a chance to win. Either make it a true playoff, or call it something else.


Obama Would Be Turned Away From Most Country Clubs... **

...for wearing cargos.

One of those arcane rules that I believe is reason #459 why the game's in need of a coolness intervention.

After all, those side pockets are so offensive.

More importantly, what ball is that he's playing?



"It is what it is."

Immediately after Tim Finchem's Sherwood media chat Saturday, I asked the Commish about layoffs in the media world and whether the PGA Tour is concerned about how the situation might impact coverage.

Yes, we have. It's a changing communication world. The bad news is that, I guess, you don't have as many different heads evaluating the sport or reporting back, which is not good. On the other hand, it's a more global reach with anything that happens in the Internet environment and that's a good thing. So I'm not so sure you can reverse the trend. It is what it is.

You can just feel the empathy, eh?

Now, I would never presume to tell someone making $4.8 million a year how to do his job, however, if I were Commish and standing on enemy turf (in thise case, a nicely heated and fully furnished cart barn with excellent food), I might have said something like:

Of course we're monitoring the situation and naturally we are sad anytime anyone loses a job. From a more selfish perspective, we know that newspaper and print coverage is where our fans and broadcast partners learn more about our players. All of those great little anecdotes and insights humanize them and make out tour better. So anytime you see less coverage in print it is one less opportunity for our fans to experience a unique perspective and that's a concern.

I can dream, no?


"You'll probably will see more of that type of presentation moving forward because we are trying to find more risk/reward..."

Commissioner Tim Finchem sat down Saturday with the assembled scribes at Sherwood (here, here to Doug Ferguson for suggesting we pull up was a long 30 minutes). For a summary of the conversation, you can read Ferguson's focus on the PGA Tour cutting costs and not jobs, while Steve DiMeglio shares some of Finchem's most detailed remarks on the economic crisis's impact. posted this short interview with Finchem that also serves as a healthier, more cost effective alternative to your daily Valium consumption.

The Commish talked about the demise of the Hope Classic and I used the opportunity to ask about a rumored shift in over course setup philosophy that we might see in 2009.

Q. You mentioned talking about the Hope, that one of the things that has possibly impacted the tournament was the shift in the way the golf courses played and presented, and now it's going back in the other direction. Do you see that as something that's a shift for that tournament or a shift in general for tour golf courses?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: To some extent I would say that it's really two different things, because the Hope, we are talking about a straight configuration of history and culture of the tournament, the atmosphere, what you want to try to accomplish in an environment where you play lots of golf courses during the week, and it's very difficult for a competitor to properly prepare, learning their way around one golf course let alone several.

Having said that, we are looking at ways to have a broader range and variety and set of conditions. We have, you have probably noticed in the last year, we have experimented a fair amount at certain tournaments.

For example, at Boston this year, we set up the 18th hole to where it's very conducive for players to reach the green and be in positions for eagle and birdie, just to see what reaction there was from players and the fans and television viewers.

You'll probably will see more of that type of presentation moving forward because we are trying to find more risk/reward and trying to find more things that create interest for the fans but still maintain the integrity of the competition.

Q. Was that a reaction at all to television ratings or player feedback?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think it's a reaction to television ratings, but it is the recognition that we should be on the weekend making the competition and the play of these golf courses more interesting to fans generally.

Sometimes you miss things and you realize you should be concentrating more -- not that we have necessarily missed anything, but we are putting out more interesting -- those kind of issues as we look at golf courses.

Uh, that's a yes, they are going to try and generate a little more excitement via setup in 2009. That should reassure Peter Kostis, who has expressed concern about some of the oddball setups of 2008 possibly carrying over into next year.

Finchem was also asked to confirm John Marvel's report that the Commish is entered in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The chairman and CEO of AT&T asked me to play, and I do believe I said, "Yes, sir."

Q. Who is your partner?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Davis Love. It has not been announced yet.

Q. What is your handicap?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think my index right now is 6.3.

Q. So if you have to play a few tournaments in the schedule, you're trying to lead by example?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm going from zero to one.

Q. So who is in your foursome?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Hunter Mahan and Randal Stephenson and myself. That's the plan, anyway.


Masters Field at 88

...after the World's Top 50 for 2008 is finalized. Doug Ferguson reports. Some of the names in and not yet in might surprise you:

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tied for third at the South African Open and will move up to No. 39, while Lin Wen-Tang of Taiwan tied for sixth in the Volvo Masters on the Asian Tour and will be No. 49.

Augusta National since 2000 has invited the top 50 in the rankings at the end of the calendar year. With no more official tournaments remaining, the final 2008 rankings were determined Sunday.

The 15 players not otherwise eligible except for their top-50 ranking were Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher, Luke Donald, Shingo Kayatama, Graeme McDowell, Rory Sabbatini, Jeev Milkha Singh, Aaron Baddeley, McIlroy, Oliver Wilson, Sterne, Soren Hansen, Tang and Soren Kjeldsen.

Along with other criteria, that puts the Masters field at 88 players who are expected to compete April 10-13. Among those still not eligible are Woody Austin, Scott Verplank, Davis Love III and J.B. Holmes, the only Ryder Cup player who could miss the first major of the year.

Augusta National has the smallest field of the four majors, and it most likely will get larger.

Players still can qualify by winning one of 13 PGA Tour events leading to the Masters, or by getting into the top 50 in the rankings published a week before the Masters. The Masters has not had more than 100 competitors since 1966. 


Donald On Lawsuit: "I’ve been looking forward for a long time to do this."

Victoria Kim reports that The Donald is suing Rancho Palos Verdes, home to Trump Trails National L.A., for $100 million.

“I’ve been looking forward for a long time to do this. The town does everything possible to stymie everything I do.”

So said Donald Trump in an interview Friday regarding the latest dispute with Rancho Palos Verdes, where his golf course is located.

In the latest chapter of Donald Trump vs. City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the real estate mogul has upped the ante -- by $100 million. In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Trump accused the city of requiring unnecessarily tough standards for developments on his 580-acre oceanside golf course on the scenic coastline.

Ready for the reason?

The city is holding improvements that are “in keeping with the Trump image” hostage to extract large fees from him, Trump alleges in the suit, which accuses city officials of fraud and violation of federal equal protection rights, among other things. When the developer first purchased the property in 2002, residents and city leaders welcomed the injection of funds into a city pulling out of a recession.

But since then, Trump has been engaged in battle after battle with the city, over a street name, a row of ficus trees, then a 70-foot flagpole.

That seems like it's worth $100 million, no?

I can't wait for The Donald to land a Trump Bedminster-U.S. Open so he can sue the USGA for not "keeping with the Trump image"!


Finchem Issues Video Plea To Players

Looking like he'd been kidnapped, Tim Finchem issued a plea to PGA Tour players for upbeat messaging and overall call to not act like entitled brats in '09. Lit by an Ikea fluorescant bulb lamp tilted sideways by an unnamed PGA Tour VP who made the cost-cutting suggestion, it was reported by SBJ's Jon Show that Finchem suggested the slugs add an event here or there, you know, for the effort.

"We’re asking every player to add a tournament or two to their historical schedule to assist the tournaments that historically have weak fields,” Finchem said. "We have a lot of title sponsors this year that are up for renewal. We have to put our best foot forward in terms of presenting our competitions." On the subject of showing appreciation to sponsors, whose payments range from thousands of dollars to millions, Finchem asked players to spend more time visiting corporate hospitality areas and “make your feelings known about the role of the sponsors, both publicly and in private communication to leadership of our sponsor companies."

I guess Tiger didn't pass along the video link to Stevie Williams:

He also requested that players avoid making negative public comments about the Tour. "We want players to be, No. 1, upbeat and positive about what the PGA Tour is doing and where we’re going,” Finchem said. "We want you to be excited about the competitive opportunities that you have. And third, we want you to talk about PGA Tour properties when you describe what this year, 2009, is all about. Particularly the FedEx Cup." He also asks players to be more involved in charity functions during tournament weeks. Before closing by wishing the players happy holidays, Finchem said, “I want to thank you in advance for the additional commitment that I know you’ll be making in 2009.”

Is that thanking them in advance part like a Corleone saying "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse"?

Oh and Freddie Couples must feel good that the Commish has a painting of him on the office wall.


Stevie and Phil, Photoshopped

Don't miss HookedOnGolf's Stevie-Phil make up photos.


“Thankfully not"

Some good news for the USGA from a post by Alan Bastable at on the Madoff financial scandal's ties to golf:

There’s also the matter of golf-oriented non-profits that might have had money tied up with Madoff. David Fay, the USGA’s executive director, told me the first thing he did when the scandal broke was to check if the USGA had entrusted any of its sizable portfolio to Madoff. “Thankfully not,” he says.


"Probably the most difficult name I ever had to tackle was Mark Calcavecchia at Troon. I made sure I checked that out a few times!"

Marvin Collins on Alex Harvey, long-time Claret Jug engraver Alex Harvey, who passed away at 83.

After bowing out at St Andrews in 2005, Alex recalled: "Probably the most difficult name I ever had to tackle was Mark Calcavecchia at Troon. I made sure I checked that out a few times!"

Harvey relished the day he engraved Paul Lawrie's name on the trophy at Carnoustie. "It was nice to see his name going on the trophy and not just because he's a Scot. I'd known him for years," he said. "My son Garry knew him and they'd played together on Tour."

Harvey recalled his swansong, with Tiger Woods triumphant at the home of golf. "It was a wonderful tournament, with Jack Nicklaus and I both retiring! In a way I was glad he bowed out on the Friday, otherwise he might have stolen my thunder."