Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

Just as one can see and appreciate beautiful paintings without being able himself to paint, so can one play and appreciate hundreds of golf courses without being able to develop that natural aptitude and artistic sense which, to my mind, contribute so largely to the successful and outstanding accomplishments of a golf architect. CHARLES BANKS


    

Monday
Sep152008

"Where's the rest of the team?"

Hard to imagine there was much to say about the Euros boarding a chartered jet to Louisville, but Giles Smith managed to file and entertaining look at the festivities and questions about the rather light load Captain Faldo had with him.

Sky Sports News had Peter Staunton on the ground at Heathrow and when Ian Payne, in the studio, with a slight yelp in his voice, asked, 'Where's the rest of the team?', Staunton was able to point out that some of the players were based in the United States and would be joining up later. It wouldn't have been worth a golfer's while, Staunton said, to fly over to London in order to fly straight back out again.

Monday
Sep152008

"We're not putting hair spray on."

Jenni Rees profiles Valhalla superintendent Mark Wilson who I've had the pleasure of dealing with a few times (most recently for this Golf World story). He's not only one of the very best in the profession, he's a damn good quote too. Far better than probably anyone you'll hear from this week.

On Valhalla:

"She's a little rough, because we have so many wide-open areas, native areas," Wilson said last week on a tour of the course. "She's not one you'd put a lot of makeup on, not real frizzle. It's a golf club, not a swimming pool, not a tennis court. I try to do some aesthetics. But we really try not to have flowers out here (on the actual course). We're not putting hair spray on."

Monday
Sep152008

“I’m sure we could probably sell as many as we brought in, but we’re not really looking to capitalize on it at this point"

Jon Show reports that those ugly shirts the Americans will inevitably wear for Sunday's singles matches will be sold in limited quantities at the merchandise pavilion. I pity the poor folks who have to witness doughy, cigar-smoking men change into their ($94!) purchase so they too can walk around Valhalla while experiencing what it's like to wear a Nike Dri-Fit while getting smacked around by Europeans.

But at least the PGA of America is humble about it...

Officials would not disclose how many are in stock but said quantities are extremely limited.

“I’m sure we could probably sell as many as we brought in, but we’re not really looking to capitalize on it at this point,” said Kevin Carter, senior director of business development for the PGA of America.

The PGA of America declined to speculate on how much revenue the apparel could bring in, but it should be less than six figures based on sales of uniforms at the Presidents Cup, a similar team golf competition.
By any definition of capitalize, that quote makes no sense.

Sunday
Sep142008

Valhalla Damaged; Unfortunately Not Enough To Move Ryder Cup Matches

I'm not sure what's more disturbing: that Valhalla was hit by the remnants of Hurricane Ike damaging tournament infrastructure and the 12th green, or that Mark Lamport-Stokes is already in Louisville and able to report on it:

Winds gusting up to 90 kph blew a television tower on to the 12th green at Valhalla Golf Club, causing minor damage, and the on-course media centre was closed as a safety precaution.

"The wind has had an effect on other items on the course but we do not yet have a full account," tournament director Kerry Haigh told Reuters. "We will have to wait for the wind to die down before we can make a full assessment.

"We have kept everyone on the course safe and the media centre is closed for the protection of the few people who are still setting things up there."

Asked about the damage to the 12th green, Haigh replied: "The television tower behind the green was blown over on to the green and caused a couple of small indentations which have already been corrected and repaired."
Golf.com offers an image gallery of the damage.
Sunday
Sep142008

Karlsson Says Monty Will Be Missed; Secures 2014 Assistant Captain Gig

Robert Karlsson had to go and win Sunday, as if Europe wasn't playing well enough. Before he did that, Karlsson told John Huggan that Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie will be missed this week:

"As a newcomer, Colin and Darren were fantastic towards me," says the 6ft 5in Swede, who qualified for this year's side on the back of an enormously consistent season highlighted by top-20 finishes in all four major championships. "Monty sat down with me on the Thursday evening and talked about his experiences. So did Darren. They prepared me for the first few holes on the first day.
"Monty told me I would feel nervousness like I had never felt before. And he was right. The Ryder Cup is great, but it is hard to enjoy the playing part of it. There is so much pressure, especially on the first tee. Everything is just so big and it is so different playing for more than just oneself. I sat and listened rather than asked questions. They made me feel like I belonged. And they helped me enjoy the experience."
Saturday
Sep132008

Faldo: Zinger Regrets His Assistant Captain Selections

Under fire for only having one assistant captain, Nick Faldo is deflecting some of the negative attention by suggesting that Paul Azinger has suggested that he regrets about naming Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton as his assistants. This is going to be an entertaining week!  Tom English reports:

Faldo reveals that Azinger has become uncertain about his key lieutenants. Drawing conclusions from private chats they've had of late, Faldo says that if Azinger had his way again he wouldn't pick the two veterans, both of them controversial Ryder Cup captains of the past.

"I think he (Azinger] already regrets – not sure if regret is the right word – but if he did it again, I don't think those guys have brought to his team what he wanted. He's a bit like me, he feels that you've got to make the decisions yourself. Maybe those captains are from an old era and this is a new era in the Ryder Cup. He thinks he has (gone for the wrong guys]."
Saturday
Sep132008

Jack Offers Irrefutable Proof That He Never Watches Golf: Predicts American Victory

Jack Nicklaus, in a guest column for The Times:

If you ask me why I think America will win, it’s because I believe they have the better players, despite the evidence of the most recent Ryder Cups.

Saturday
Sep132008

"The Highlands Links is attached emotionally and historically to the small community of Ingonish, much as the Old Course is linked to St. Andrews, Scotland."

Lorne Rubenstein reports the exciting news that Ian Andrew has been commissioned to prepare a plan for the "rambunctious" Cape Breton Highlands. Now it seems that Parks Canada just needs a little nudging to let Andrew properly restore this masterpiece.

Thompson, who died in 1953, when he was 59, elevated the game beyond recreation at the Highlands. Because he was an artist and had a powerful canvas at his feet and all around — ocean, forest, and mountains — he made an important contribution to Canadian culture. As historian and local authority Ken Donovan said, "This is the story of small village life in a Canadian context."
The Highlands Links is attached emotionally and historically to the small community of Ingonish, much as the Old Course is linked to St. Andrews, Scotland. It's far more than a golf landscape. It's a cultural landscape, one reason the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated Thompson a person of national historic significance three years ago. A plaque to this effect was supposed to be unveiled here on Thursday, but the ceremony was cancelled when the federal election was called.

Friday
Sep122008

"How much will the rule alter performance?"

Before the Ryder Cup news takes over, let's not forget the grooves. In last week's Golf World, Mike Stachura raised some interesting questions about the validity of the rule change for 2010.

Second, if several popular irons already in use on the PGA Tour are said by their manufacturers to have groove patterns that already conform to the new rule (Titleist, Cobra, Adams and Ping have irons that may meet the new requirements), how much will the rule alter performance? And if the answer turns out to be not all that much, what is the USGA's next move?
It starts with a b and ends with an l and would have been much easier to change.

I do believe that Adam Scott has been playing conforming grooves all year, and suspect many others have. If so, Stachura's point would seem to kill the case that a groove chance would reduce the amount of flogged drives.

Then there is manufacturer research that says the shot that might be affected most is the pinched wedge from the fairway. Does it not seem odd that a rule meant to restore the value for hitting the ball in the fairway might result in less effective shots from the short grass? 

Oh great, another reason to narrow fairways. Just what the game needs.

Thursday
Sep112008

Where's Marty Hackel When You Need Him? Anna Rawson Edition

Magazine editors are praying for Anna Rawson to post three more stellar rounds so they can start plastering her pictures everywhere. Golf.com already pulled together an archive of beauty shots.

Then again if she keeps wearing this woven plant holder and the Yoko shades, I think she's going to need an intervention led by Golf Digest fashion guru Marty Hackel. Photo courtesy of golf.com:




Thursday
Sep112008

"Instead, he showed the lack of social grace that defines him."

Remember that post about cranky coverage comingHere's volume 1. You go Jim McCabe, who calls Vijay "insufferable" before letting the PGA Tour have it for coddling their native Ponte Vedra son:

OK, he blows off print reporters all the time, but to brush off NBC, which pays a hefty fee to televise these affairs and thus is hugely responsible for the exorbitant purses players such as Singh are afforded? Ridiculous.
Double bogeys to anyone who buys Singh's explanation that the FedEx Cup was still up for grabs, because Jim Furyk was on the course with a chance to win the BMW. Singh had the equivalent of a 12-game lead with 13 remaining and no matter what Furyk did, the big Fijian was going to be the FedEx Cup leader after that tournament, so the least he could have done was stop for the NBC cameras and offer thanks to FedEx, the PGA Tour, and even NBC.
Instead, he showed the lack of social grace that defines him.
Does that mean you won't be nominating him for the Jim Murray Award, Jim?
Proving once again that the inmates run the asylum and that the PGA Tour all too often acts as enablers to childish behavior, officials set up a teleconference two days later, spoon-feeding Singh a mulligan so he could finally get around to thanking FedEx and providing him a comfortable forum to do what he does best - blame the media and ignore the character flaws that surround him.
"Let me congratulate Vijay Singh for phenomenal play here during the year," gushed commissioner Tim Finchem, who might want a redo on that one. Singh missed the cut at the Players, the British Open, PGA Championship, and finished T-65 in the US Open - four sub-standard performances in tournaments players of his caliber are judged on. That he prevailed in the FedEx Cup to turn his season around is admirable, but it doesn't change the fact his lack of appreciation is shameless.


Thursday
Sep112008

"A key is that an applicant show the Americans with Disabilities Act covers the disability"

For those who read Jim Moriarty's excellent story on heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, you'll recall that it was suggested he may try Q-School and petition the tour for a cart. Randell Mell confirms both items in this story on Compton's plans.

Compton's hope is that the PGA Tour will recognize his special needs. Like Casey Martin, Compton has formally requested the tour grant him use of a golf cart during his qualifying school bid.

"The biggest problem right now is my stamina," Compton said. "I haven't got all my strength back. If I have to walk four rounds of a tournament and practice rounds, that's going to be difficult."

A review committee made up of three tour executives will rule on the request with the help of Dr. Tom Hospel, a tour medical adviser.

Allison Keller, the PGA Tour's assistant general counsel, said a key is that an applicant show the Americans with Disabilities Act covers the disability, and that means the medical condition "substantially limits one or more major life activities."
Thursday
Sep112008

The Distance Advantage Myth

I've noticed a few stories mentioning the United States Ryder Cup team having a major distance advantage off the tee at Valhalla, but based on the tour averages published for each team in this week's SI Golf Plus, it's actually pretty close:

  • United States: 291.01 yards

  • Europe: 289.85 yards

And remember the U.S has J.B. Holmes helping to skew the numbers a bit with his 310.4 average.

Thursday
Sep112008

"The penalty wasn’t something that was decided overnight. There was lots of feedback and lots of reasons."

You have to give Carolyn Bivens big points for sitting down with Beth Ann Baldry since it was Baldry who broke the LPGA's learn-corporatespeak-or-else provision. And credit Baldry for asking tough questions.

GW: Looking back on the way everything developed, is there anything you would do differently? Is there anything the LPGA has learned from this?

CB: We learn from everything.

GW: Would you care to expand on that?

CB: The only thing I would expand on there is that this was not an announcement and it was not a policy. Unfortunately that is the way that it was portrayed.
In her defense, the media did blow that. Check out this L.A. Times front page story.  But isn't this kind of overblown reporting typically a consequence when word gets out about a boneheaded, insensitive policy?
GW: But it was a rule. There was a very strict penalty.

CB: I said it wasn’t a policy. It was a small part of a program. There was feedback from lots of different groups, just as Rae Evans told you. . . . On Sunday I was in Albany, and we have 10 new members of the LPGA. Half of those are international players. The list for Qualifying School was released this morning; we have almost 70 international players. That provides both challenges and opportunities for us. . . . What we were doing is looking down the pipeline and saying this is the perfect time of year to be looking at what’s coming to the LPGA over the next couple years and make sure we’ve got the resources and support to be able to handle that.

GW: So it wasn’t so much the current players on tour as it was looking ahead.

CB: Correct.
Are we now putting lipstick on a pig? Wait, don't accuse me of calling the Commissioner a pig!
GW: Looking at it now, do you realize or recognize that the penalty portion was a mistake?

CB: The penalty wasn’t something that was decided overnight. There was lots of feedback and lots of reasons.
Would that last sentence be allowed on the LPGA's English exam?
GW: Looking back on it now, do you wish you have discussed the penalty portion with more sponsors or...

CB: Sponsors never want to be part of these decisions.

Huh, she told Tommy Hicks the same day that "we were addressing sponsors' needs and requirements."
GW: Whom will you consult now, going forward? Will you include more people on this?
CB: What do they say . . . a camel is a horse built by a committee?

Good animal metaphor, much better than lipstick on a pig. I have a lot to learn.

What we need to be able to do is include enough for a cross-cultural group and to be able to control and announce. And not have something play in primetime way before it was ready. It was never intended as an announcement.
Got that Beth Ann. It's all your fault!

Speaking of fault, Ron Sirak says that the LPGA's triple-bogey could impact the Olympic golf push.
Fathers are angrier than their daughters at a perceived cultural insult, and the jury is still out on the mood of Korean companies who pour millions into the LPGA and have great national pride. The issue also may impact next year's vote on whether to add golf to the 2016 Olympics. It's the kind of insult the IOC remembers, such as when the Atlanta games proposed Augusta National as the golf venue.
Thursday
Sep112008

Ike Wreaking Havoc On Media's Early Week Ryder Cup Golf Plans

Those Monday and Tuesday rounds at Crooked Stick aren't looking so good thanks to Hurricane Ike. Also appears Valhalla may get quite a drenching.



Thursday
Sep112008

Langer: Get Some Help, Nick

Peter Dixon reports that Bernhard Langer becomes the second former Captain to say that Nick Faldo is making a mistake by not having assistant captains.

“I think he [Faldo] is making a mistake by not having somebody with each group,” Langer said of Faldo's assertion that he and Olazábal have enough experience to cope, echoing Sam Torrance, another former Europe captain, a week earlier. “Once you have four teams on the course, I know, as captain, that I would like to have one person with each group. I can't be everywhere and I need information.” 

Expect the media to pounce the first time Faldo is asked about how someone played and he gives them "I didn't see enough of the match to say."

Wednesday
Sep102008

Vijay Supports Vijay's Decision Not To Comment On FedEx Cup Victory**

His hastily arranged teleconference is a total bore to read (what else would you expect), but Vijay Singh did take a second to halt his monotone accented answers to fire a shot at his old pal and fellow Annika Sorrenstam admirer, AP reporter Doug Ferguson.

You know, there's one thing I want to say to the press. I'm sure all of you guys are listening. It was a very unfair comment that Doug Ferguson put on the USA Today that I more or less did not speak to the media. I had not wrapped it up. When I left the golf course on Sunday, Jimmy Furyk was in the lead, and if he had won, it was wide open. There's no way to celebrate something that I have not won, so I think that was a very unfair comment that USA put out there, and I think that was very unfair to even do that.
On that note, I'd just like to say to whoever is listening, Doug if he's there, this is the second time you've created this, and that's not right.
Unfortunately NBC didn't see it that way, nor did the rest of the press. Gary Van Sickle in Sports Illustrated this week notes that Vijay did talk when essentially cornered:
You can only imagine Singh's reaction to this historic feat. Really. You can only imagine. Because in FedEx Cup Defining Moment Number 1, Singh declined to be interviewed about his then-still-probable title. A Tour media official and a determined international wire-service writer chased him down later in the locker room, where Singh obliged with a few comments that included criticism of Bellerive's greens but nothing about his likely FedEx Cup windfall.

Out of respect for his fellow competitors, of course. He's so considerate.

Wednesday
Sep102008

"It’s time to bury the FedEx Cup."

The FedEx Cup reviews aren't getting any kinder. In fact, Brad Klein of Golfweek becomes the first to use the "failure" word and says it's time to end it.

There was always something false and manufactured about the FedEx Cup playoffs. The PGA Tour tried to ram them down the throat of the American public and to use the golf media as their mouthpiece in the process. But when it comes to consumer markets and audiences, folks can pretty much figure out for themselves what’s worthwhile and what’s not.
And...
In a transparent effort to brew up relevance as if it were a cup of coffee, the PGA Tour has gerrymandered events and tried to hoodwink the public and the players themselves. It’s not working. It’s time to bury the FedEx Cup.

Jason Sobel of ESPN.com notes the dilemma facing the commissioner (outside of the massive loss of face that he's going to be coping with).

The easy answer is to steal a page from the LPGA's season-ending ADT Championship, in which eight players reach the final round, all slates are wiped clean, then they compete for 18 holes with the low score taking home the grand prize. Based on most PGA Tour players' comments, however -- there's been grousing for a month about the first 37 weeks on the schedule becoming irrelevant this time of year -- that's the exact opposite of what they'd like to see happen.
Which really sums up the problem for the PGA Tour. The players want a four-week coronation of the season points list, apparently oblivious to just how boring such an event would be to the fan trying to stay awake on television.

But I say humor them. Revert to last year's no-volatility points, create a wild and wacky Tour Championship format and many of your biggest problems are solved.
Wednesday
Sep102008

The Azinger Cut And Other Course Setup Ploys

That's what I write about for Golf World to kick off the Ryder Cup countdown.




Wednesday
Sep102008

19th Hole Golf Show

Ryan Ballengee has me on the show to talk about the Ryder Cup. Brace yourselves.