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
  • 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

I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.



R.I.P John Updike

Nice work by the USGA communications staff for posting the lone golf-driven obituary of the legendary writer, with a quote from David Fay and text of his 1994 address at the USGA Centennial dinner.

At they've posted a list of his contributions to various anthologies and Updike's USGA centennial essay "The Spirit of the Game."


Finally, A Reason To Play L.A.!

The chance to play Riviera before its George Thomas design is completely gone? That's nothing compared with the Northern Trust Open's new player perk for helping with those 90-minute drives back to the hotel room east of the course that you should never have booked.

Mercedes-Benz Named Official Car Sponsor of Northern Trust Open
Two-year agreement includes Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 as hole-in-one car at 14th hole

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., January 27, 2009 – Mercedes-Benz has been named Official Car Sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. Under terms of the two-year agreement, Mercedes-Benz will provide a hole-in-one vehicle at the 14th hole each year and hand over the keys to a new Mercedes-Benz courtesy car for every player to drive during the tournament. For 2009 the all-new Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 will be the hole-in-one vehicle and the players will be driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles consisting of a variety of BlueTEC clean diesels, S-Class sedans, and GLK SUV’s.

“We are delighted to establish this partnership with Mercedes-Benz,” said Northern Trust Open Tournament Director Tom Pulchinski. “Mercedes-Benz has a wonderful reputation for building outstanding motor vehicles and its brand is a perfect fit with the rich history of the Northern Trust Open.”


Golf House Blues

I hate to overshadow the release of the USGA's annual report (kind of amazing to see those total liabilities and net assets down $101 million from last year). But after much contemplation and legal consultation (well, not really), I've decided to share the satirical newsletter that's been circulating around the USGA's cheery Golf House. Apparently the satire, sent to me anonymously, has not been appreciated by some in upper management (shock!) even though it could have been so much worse.

While much of the material is of the inside baseball variety, it speaks to the toxic environment created by the Walter Driver era. I doubt similar newsletters are floating around the PGA Tour, PGA of America or R&A. Then again, they probably don't have lifted-from-the-Goldman Sachs playbook initiatives named PAR...Proactive, Accessible, and Relevant.

Because it's a large document in small type, it's presented here in two windows. Click to enlarge:



U.S. Bank Is Out...

A shame for any number of reasons, but especially since it sounds like the bank had tried some innovative things to increase interest.


"Until the final 15 minutes on Sunday, Pat's record was more Bobby Wadkins."

The SI/ Magazine/all-other-Time-Inc.-people-involved-with-golf's weekly roundtable is entertaining again, though the danger of these weekly novelettes has become clear: each week's winner is the next Nicklaus. Still, I enjoyed this exchange:

Bamberger: Perez has a Lanny Wadkins look, in his face and in his game. I could see this guy getting really, really good.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Perez is nothing like Lanny Wadkins. And winning a birdie-fest doesn't mean he's ready for anything except winning the Bob Hope Classic.

Van Sickle: Bamberger's Lanny Wadkins comparison is the smartest thing anyone has said so far. He's very Lanny — quick tempo, aggressive, swagger, emotional and always in a rush. Perez's game is more based on power, but he's got the energy of a young Lanny, who also wasn't averse to a party. I hope this means we're going to see more of him.

Bamberger: Lanny was super feisty, fast with the hands, often annoyed, a jock's jock, a good talker, an emotional player and superb with the irons.

Morfit: Until the final 15 minutes on Sunday, Pat's record was more Bobby Wadkins.



Rules App For The iphone

It's $9.99 and looks pretty slick. Anyone used it yet?

It would be super if the USGA developed an application with the Decisions book, but there are only so megaybytes on an iphone.


"This was the way it was at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic because Chrysler did it right."

Bill Dwyre writes that Chrysler is to be praised for minimizing their presence at last week's Hope Classic.

Who would notice, or know, that there were no Chrysler executives around, that the 30 Chrysler dealers who won a contest to play as amateurs in the tournament came and played, but paid their own way?

Who would notice, or even pay attention, when the final ceremony on No. 18 for winner Pat Perez did not include the usual executive from the title sponsor making a speech? No reason to question that when Palmer himself was there to handle things.

Only a few might have noticed that there were no Chryslers displayed in prominent places around the course; especially none in that traditional middle-of-the-lake spot for maximum TV exposure.

This was the way it was at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic because Chrysler did it right.

Yes, read that again. Praise for one of those big, arrogant corporations that we now perceive to be a leading reason for our country's current economic mess, as well as for our neighbors' move to Trailer Park, Texas, and for our 401(k)s becoming 201(k)s. 

Unfortunately I think he has this one wrong. Furthermore, such an attitude toward corporate America will absolutely sink the PGA Tour and just about every other industry that relies on marketing dollars.

There is a major difference between the greed of say, a Citigroup still taking their $50 million French made jet order, and a car company putting its money into an event that produces significant charity money, community goodwill, an opportunity for potential customers to look at their product in a relaxed setting, and a pro-am format that allows the company to reward dealers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with PGA Tour pros.

I'm no fan of corporate America's often repulsive displays of greed, but even a struggling car company must not be stifled from showcasing their new products and rewarding the people doing the dirty work. Otherwise, how are they supposed to recover?

Your thoughts?


"But good clubs realise that their best asset is the course."

In Peter Dixon's look at the struggles of clubs in the UK, he that much of a club's standing still comes down to the quality of the course:

While there are still some high-end developments being planned, the future probably lies much farther down the scale. Williamson points to a development near Edinburgh where a farmer is adding a nine-hole course to an existing driving range and is encouraging families.

In 1997, the Henley Centre identified an emerging demand for what it called “fast golf, friendly golf, family golf”. This is just such a development. “I think traditional golf clubs have to move as far in that direction as they possibly can,” Williamson suggested. “Particularly in terms of relaxing dress code, welcoming families and so on.”

And as for the Royal Troons, Muirfields and Royal Birkdales of this world? They seem immune from the downturn, earning good income from visitors without having very many of them. The one thing missing from all their websites is an invitation to join the club. Now there's a surprise.


Pat Perez Wins Hope: Somewhere George Lopez Is Crying

Ken Peters reports on the surprising turn of events Sunday that surely would have yielded some material for former "Hopez" host George Lopez.


"Golf Channel is a news organization, not a public relations firm."

As Jim Herre predicted recently, we're seeing a more discerning Golf Channel when it comes to covering their PGA Tour "partner." Besides the front page item, "Tim Finchem's Nightmare" (pictured left), check out Brian Hewitt's defense of the recent Rich Lerner interview with Tadd Fujikawa.

Of course we can celebrate the good in golf and nobody celebrates that good better than Golf Channel. What some people don’t seem to get, however, is that Golf Channel is a news organization, not a public relations firm. 


On Vote Eve, Monty Scores Lee Westwood's Superfluous Endorsement

And he's laying it on kind of thick, no?

“Colin is known for the way he has played in Ryder Cup. He would stand on the first tee – and seeing he is there with his fantastic cup record . . . it would feel like being one up to start with,” Westwood said.


Norman Refining His Outback Analogies In Preparing For Masters Appearance

Tom Ramsey shares some if the Shark's imagery, which I must say, is better than the usual MBASpeak.

"The world's financial climate has changed dramatically. It's a big change for my business ... I am putting every extra ounce into looking after my business. You build it up, and then something like this happens which is beyond your control - you just have to put the saddle on the horse even tighter and ride it a bit harder.

And somehow I doubt Greg Norman has ever been chased by men with spears, but...

"When you're at the tip of the spear, everybody behind you is throwing other spears at you,'' Norman said during the week."


Torrance Praises Committee's Selection Of...Uh, Sam, You Might Want To Wait

The former Captain heaped praise on the committee in this John Huggan column. Only problem is, the same committee may very well just choose to go with someone other than Monty in 2010.

"I like this move by the (European Tour Tournament] committee," declares Torrance. "It shows real forward thinking. They haven't bowed down to any kind of outside pressure. And Monty is the right man for the job. The Ryder Cup is so important to our tour, we just have to get the right man. It raises the profile of the tour and all the players. Nobody would know who the hell I am if it wasn't for the Ryder Cup.

"I think we – and by we I mean Europe – made a mistake when the job was recently given to people who probably deserved it on their records but who weren't the right kind of person. Not this time though. Monty will give it everything."

If he gets the chance.

About this whole age thing. John Hopkins notes as others have that both candidates "are comfortably within the correct age range and both would be in touch with current players, which was felt to be a weakness of Nick Faldo, the last captain of Europe, at Valhalla, Louisville, last September."

Jeff Rude correctly points out that this notion may be overrated.

Nick Faldo (Louisville 2008) has been submitted as Exhibit A of an old guy being out of touch. But as Europe was racking up Ryder Cup victories in the 1980s and ’90s, I don’t recall anyone calling Tony Jacklin or Bernhard Gallagher too old and out of touch. Or Ian Woosnam in ’06, for that matter.

Short losing streak. Short memories.


"One can only imagine what his thoughts were when the news came through yesterday of Olazábal's latest change of heart." **

Lawrence Donegan analyzes the dynamics of Jose Maria Olazábal's apparent interest in the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy.

Montgomerie has not been offered the job – certainly not formally – but he has clearly been given the impression that next week's meeting in Dubai of the European Tour's tournament players' committee, where a final decision on the captaincy is due to be made, was a forgone conclusion. It may have been, but not any more. Such is Olazábal's stature within the game, and such is the respect with which he is held by his peers, that his newly-announced availability demands to be taken seriously.

Alas poor Monty, who now finds himself reduced from a red-hot certainty to a lukewarm favourite on the whim of a contemporary who has consistently bested him as they have progressed through their careers. One can only imagine what his thoughts were when the news came through yesterday of Olazábal's latest change of heart.

And here's the real crux of the matter for Monty, whose comments to Mark Reason last week could come back to haunt him should he decide to refute the notion that he'll be too old at 51 in 2014:

Olazábal has been far less decisive, or at least he was until Gómez's statement yesterday. There is also apparent agreement of the tournament players' committee that henceforth only players who are competing regularly on the tour will be offered the captaincy. In that case, 2010 represents the Scot's last chance. He may still be on tour in 2012, when the event will be held in Chicago, but his history in the United States, where he has long been the target of the "Hey Monty, eat a salad" brigade, rules him out, surely. Under the new policy, he will be too old by the time Gleneagles comes around in 2014.


See If You Can Spot The Malaprop...

Here's a fun golf course email received by a reader who wishes to remain on the image to enlarge:


"Old courses aren't always the best, Fazio says"

I'm shocked no one emailed to point out Tom Fazio's latest wisdom on why his generation (well, and really, him personally) is the best. I suppose you can only hear the same old broken record skip around so much. Nonetheless... 

Lorne Rubenstein writes:

There's a tendency in course architecture circles to sanctify the past while discrediting the present. The top 10 courses in Golf Digest's most recent ranking of the top 100 U.S. courses were built before 1935. Can this be an accurate reflection of the truly "great" courses?

No, says Tom Fazio, probably golf's most successful architect in the past 30 years.

"That is fact," Fazio, 63, said the other day of modern rankings, "not that they are the best, but that that's the way people automatically think. Golf is a traditional game, and people like to go to Scotland and Ireland. They want to visit the home of golf. But imagine if somebody designed a course like St. Andrews today with blind shots. Golfers would wonder what's going on."

I know, can you imagine, blind shots? All that strategy too, minus framing and aiming bunkers? Frankly, it's just so wrong that they don't update the Old Course for today's discerning golfer.

Fazio was speaking in his headquarters here, in a house backing onto the Intracoastal Waterway. He'd flown in from Spain the night before, and had watched the film Casablanca on the plane. The famous film was made in 1942 and starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Many people think of it as the best film ever made. Fazio loves the movie.

"It's wonderful," he said. "But I was watching it and wondering what people would say today. You accept that it's the best. That's what people say. It's like when golfers talk about a Donald Ross course. But they never say just that they played a Donald Ross course. They played a 'great old' Donald Ross course."

And the point of this brilliant analogy, besides the fact that we shoud be grateful Tom Fazio isn't a film editor charged with restoring Casablanca?

None of Fazio's impressive body of work is in the Golf Digest's top 10 in the United States, of course.

Of course! Why would it be? Oh sorry, continue...

He breaks into the top 100 with Wade Hampton (1987) in Cashiers, N.C. at No. 15, and next is No. 22, his Victoria National (1998) in Newburgh, Ind. But he didn't seem concerned.

"I'm always telling clients that it's very hard to break into the Golf Digest list," Fazio said. "I hammer the people who run the magazines about the rankings, because it's such a controversial subject. I would have a top 100 for every decade. What's wrong with that? I happen to think the nineties were the best decade. Others say the twenties.

"The decade of the twenties was great," Fazio continued. "There was money around then, before the Depression."

Because after all, money=great design.

"Golf changes," Fazio said. "You wouldn't want to go back to the equipment that my uncle used, or to the way they built courses."

Nor will anyone want to go back and build courses the way Tom Fazio does!

Imagine today, the travesty of producing the graceful lines and gentle character like the old guys did. Or those green complexes that rest so nicely in the landscape and have all those cute little bumps and things that are lost with modern USGA green construction.

Here's a reminder that there is one architect who loves the equipment revolution. After all, it creates more chances to bulldoze the work of those pesky old and overrated guys!

"I've been listening to these discussions forever," Fazio said, "whether they're about equipment and how far the ball goes or about courses. I think the modern equipment is great for golf. It's kept us in the game longer. People in their sixties and seventies are hitting the ball as far as they ever did. They love that."

Not all players love it. Jack Nicklaus, for one, is adamant that the powers-that-be should roll back the distance a ball can go.

Fazio doesn't agree. He also pointed out that the best classic courses are always changing. Pine Valley, No. 1 on Golf Digest's most recent list, had seven new back tees and three rebuilt greens. Then there's Augusta National, No. 3, where Fazio is the design consultant.

"You go to Augusta National, and you might not notice the changes," Fazio said because the club works in alterations seamlessly. "But they're making changes all the time."

Nope, it is so hard to detect those changes at Augusta. Because they've been so discreetly carried out. And  yet, so well received.


Ishikawa Collecting Exemptions By The Day **

Doug Ferguson reports on the third (and biggest-The Masters) exemption this week for 17-year-old Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa. In reading over his bio, I couldn't help but wonder if he really was the right person to kick off the Northern Trust Open's Sifford exemption.

First his bio:

Ishikawa, the youngest player to crack the top 100 in the world ranking, already is at No. 60 and might have been able to qualify on his own depending on he played over the next two months. He is the highest-ranked player to receive the foreign invitation since Shingo Katayama was No. 58 in 2005.

Known as the “Shy Prince” in Japan for his unassuming demeanor, Ishikawa made history two years ago when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour, becoming the youngest player to win on one of the six major tours around the world.

He turned pro last year and won the mynavi ABC Championship to go along with six top 10s and ranking No. 5 on Japan’s money list.

According to the AP story, Sifford had this to say about the new annual exemption in his name:

"It's something that should have been done a long time ago," Sifford said in a telephone interview. "This is a wonderful thing. It will give someone a chance."

And the story notes this about the exemption:

While the PGA TOUR this year features players from 19 countries, it has taken a step backward with U.S. minorities, particularly blacks. Tiger Woods is the only member with African-American heritage, but he joined the TOUR years after the success of black players such as Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, Jim Dent and Jim Thorpe.

Tim O'Neal has made it as far as the Nationwide Tour, while Kevin Hall, who is deaf also, has played the PGA TOUR on an occasional sponsor's exemption. Hall won a Hooters Tour event last year.

Sifford attributed to the lack of black PGA TOUR members in part on the high cost to play, and the need for corporate support. Even so, he said the exemption for the Northern Trust Open can only help.

I'm guessing it won't be long before Sifford (and rightfully so) questions how Ishikawa fits into the concept he is lending his name to.


Olly's Agent: He's Still Here!

From an unbylined Guardian report:

"He is available. If he is offered the job he will say yes," the Spaniard's manager, Sergio Gómez, said today. "We know it is a matter of two and there are factors favouring José María and factors favouring Monty."

For what year?


The double Masters champion pulled out of this week's event in Qatar but does plan to play the Dubai Desert Classic starting next Thursday. "He had a small problem with his wrists and forearms and it was painful when gripping the club, but not too severe, and he told me yesterday to confirm the flights," added Gómez. "But the chances of him making the team are not what he wanted or expected, so he made up his mind that he would accept the captaincy if it was offered."

Yes, for 2012, when it's offered.


"The Hope has a '100 percent' chance of surviving but that a move to the Champions Tour is a possibility, which may or may not meet your definition of survival."

John Hawkins considers the future of the Bob Hope Classic and reports a couple of intriguing items:

Word on the street is that singer/actor Justin Timberlake, whose hands-on involvement with the Las Vegas tour stop transformed it into a Fall Series success, wants a bigger piece of the action and would love moving to the third week of the regular season if the spot became available.

Interestingly enough, Timberlake ditched the 72-hole pro-am format as soon as he slapped his name on the Vegas event, the first of several moves that indicate he means business. After swearing he'd never do another hit-and-giggle at Pebble, JT will return to the AT&T next month, trudge through a few six-hour rounds and sign lots of autographs for the ladies. It never hurts to help the tour if you want the tour to help you.

That said, the same source told me yesterday that the Hope has a "100 percent" chance of surviving but that a move to the Champions Tour is a possibility, which may or may not meet your definition of survival. The right thing to do is to fix it and leave it on the big tour, which prospered immensely from the Hope's popularity before becoming the big business it is today.

He's right about that. Of course the people who need to do the fixing are the ones who put the event in this position, despite what Hawkins writes:

By bringing the Classic Club into the rota in 2006, the competitive dynamic was altered, the product compromised by what was, more or less, an honest mistake.

No, it was a mistake. Let's refresh memories!

Thomas Bonk, writing about the impending demise of Indian Wells and the concerns about low scoring, January, 2004:

Indian Wells Country Club has ranked as the easiest course on the PGA Tour for the last three years and nine times since they began keeping that statistic in 1983. And at 6,478 yards, it’s also the shortest course on the PGA Tour. Tournament officials might be looking for a replacement course.

“Obviously, there is an issue out here,” said John Foster, a member of the tournament’s five-person board of directors as well as a past president. “But we don’t have a better option.

“As technology evolves, we have to look at the issue. We will have to make some tough decisions.”

A year later it was gone, and Bonk reported on the new NorthStar development, which became The Classic Club.

NorthStar, which occupies 220 acres at Cook Road and Interstate 10, will measure about 7,600 yards and can accommodate a crowd of 10,000 at its amphitheater setting at the 18th green.

“After 45 years, we had to review and we’re making changes that are substantial,” Foster said. “I think they’re going to be well received. We want to step up in the world of golf, and what we’re doing will take us to another level.”

Yes, another level alright.

Someone panicked because of low scores and the impact of technology on an event that was never meant to be an early season U.S. Open. The PGA Tour signed off on The Classic Club, SilverRock and the overall desire to change the rotation for reasons only they can explain.


"World Ranking points, which are based on the strength of each field, have started to skew toward Europe at certain events."

Rex Hoggard drops this item in writing about the impact of the European Tour's Race To Dubai. Not a new trend, but it's just always interesting to read:

Some fallout can already be felt on the PGA Tour. World Ranking points, which are based on the strength of each field, have started to skew toward Europe at certain events. The number of ranking points awarded to Zach Johnson for winning last week’s Sony Open (44) were less than those given to Paul Casey (48), who won the European Tour stop in Abu Dhabi.

Expect a similar scenario this week when the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which features five of the top 40 players in the world, is played opposite the Qatar Masters, which includes 13 of the top 40.