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
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

I can sum it up like this: Thank God for the game of golf.
ARNOLD PALMER


    

Sunday
Jan252009

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.

Saturday
Jan242009

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."

Saturday
Jan242009

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.

Friday
Jan232009

"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.

Thursday
Jan222009

See If You Can Spot The Malaprop...

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

Thursday
Jan222009

"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.

Thursday
Jan222009

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.

Thursday
Jan222009

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?

And...

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.

Thursday
Jan222009

"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.

Wednesday
Jan212009

"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.

Wednesday
Jan212009

"I just had a double-double with Arnie."

The In-N-Out files, courtesy of GolfChannel.com's blog and Jerry Foltz:

The place? The driving range at PGA West Palmer Private course -- probably not what you imagined with that preamble. The stories? Great reminiscence of the old days from the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic -- starting with year one. The food? In-N-Out Burgers supplied by their mobile unit, complimentary to all tournament folk. And if all of that isn't enough to make you want to come to the desert for the 50th Hope, then consider who I sat with: the King, Arnold Palmer. I won't soon forget it, if ever.

It was surreal for me, but I think Rich Lerner (also at the table) summed it up best in a brief conversation in passing with Scott Walker. "I just had a double-double with Arnie."

Meanwhile, Rich Lerner shares this little nugget from what is apparently THE place to be.

Tim Herron dropped by to enjoy lunch with the King. Lumpy, a former Bay Hill winner, settled for the double-double burger, backing off In-N-Out's mammoth four- by-four. I told him I was disappointed, that it was like laying up at 15 at Augusta with 190 yards to the hole. “Chip Beck did it,” Lumpy replied. He thought about it for a second and then added, “But then I guess I’m not built like Chip Beck am I?”

An In-N-Out truck at Riviera for the Northern Trust Open would be a bigger draw than Rory McIlroy, that I know!

Wednesday
Jan212009

"Someone please tell him that Indian Wells is no longer in the rota..."

Jim McCabe tells us about veterans who have become professional letter writers in search of sponsor invites, focusing on Billy Andrade and Olin Browne. Naturally, I found this disturbing:

What helps is if you have an impeccable record so far as tournament attendance goes and you have been there through the years to help out in some small way. Certainly, that worked in Andrade’s favor at Wachovia last year (“Billy has done everything we’ve ever asked of him,” Hougham said) and at this week’s Hope, where he’s played each of the last nine years and 13 times in all. Ditto Browne, who has played the Hope 13 times in all, missing just twice since 1996.

(Then there’s the spot awarded to Bobby Clampett, who has played it just nine times, but not since 1991. Someone please tell him that Indian Wells is no longer in the rota and chalk it up to one of those exemptions that still-active PGA Tour members have to live with.)

Bobby Clampett? I think I'm feeling a little less sympathetic about the Hope's demise.

Wednesday
Jan212009

Weir and Andrew

Great to read from Lorne Rubenstein that Mike Weir has joined design forces with Ian Andrew. And I loved this question from Lorne:

But what might happen should a city or town looking to do a public course, perhaps for kids, and unable to pay anywhere near that amount, approach Weir Design? Would Weir, Andrew and IMG entertain the idea?

"Absolutely," Pelletier said. "We talked about sending out an RFP [request for proposals] to municipalities saying, 'Here's an opportunity.' Mike wants to grow the game of golf in Canada."

Such a course could be Weir's and Andrew's first.

"There's the possibility of a public course," Weir said. "That's an idea Ian had, and I liked it. We'll see."

Wednesday
Jan212009

"Get some goodwill in the bank while you can."

Okay, I know Rory McIlroy is the second coming and all, but I think Derek Lawrenson is getting a bit carried away here:

The Los Angeles Open must have some field next month if they cannot find a spot for Rory McIlroy (right).

As of last week, the Ulsterman was still waiting on a reply to a request for a sponsor's invitation.

Memo to the organisers: in a couple of years, you'll be begging him to turn up. Get some goodwill in the bank while you can.

First, there probably aren't more than 100 people in the greater Los Angeles area who could pick young Rory out of a lineup. He's not exactly going to put people on the grassy hill above 18.

Second, let's say he becomes the golfing God that the British and Irish press is predicting. Do we really think that based on the behavior of the modern day professional, there is any longer a connection between favors down for a player when they become successful?

Wednesday
Jan212009

Taking Turf Out Of Play

One of the points raised in my Obama-WPA piece for Golf World revolved the idea of taking turf out of play and in general, irrigating less (perhaps with government incentives, as pointed out in this example). I close the piece wondering if golfers can actually accept less green in the name of Green.

I asked Tom Naccarato, who does digital photo work for architects and clubs looking to simulate what something will look like, to work on a couple of Torrey Pines photos I took last year. Because I can't think of a course with more acreage that needs to be converted to non-irrigated native. (There was one choice spot right of the 7th fairway where irrigation has been turned off and Tom used that for the rough look you'll see in the photo below).

While I was walking around Torrey prior to the Open I met consultant Andy Slack, the irrigation guru brought in to try and right the troubled irrigation system at Torrey. When asked how many acres on the property could be converted to non-irrigated without impacting play, Slack said he felt that 50 acres was an easy target. I would agree. And the ensuing cost savings in irrigation, energy and man power of reducing 50 acres would be incredible.

Furthermore, does this really look so bad? I know the PGA Tour would have a coronary because there isn't full turf coverage and many golfers would wonder what's wrong, but this would seem to me where golf is going to have to if it wants to survive and reclaim some of its "native golf" roots. Click to enlarge Tom Naccarato's digital enhancement of No. 14 at Torrey Pines:

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Every different treatment we could think of."

Dave Shedloski, talking to Bob Vokey about the groove rule change:

The rule change, which applies to clubs manufactured after January 2010, has forced Vokey and his design team to rethink grooves on wedges. His fertile mind has been working overtime.

"We have 25-30 different patterns we have already mocked up -- different patterns, different angles, different spacing, different radiuses, different face treatments, different punch marks ... every different treatment we could think of," Vokey said. "Even some of my old dreams from years ago. We want to see what we can come up with that gives us the proper feel and trajectory and level of reliability and performance.

"We've taken all of that, and now we're in the process of narrowing down to about three, and after that we'll submit them to the USGA. They will fall within the specifications; they will conform. We're going to try to get that done before the summer to get them in the players' hands to work with in their off-time. This way, they will be ready to go in 2010."

Not exactly sitting idly by!

Tuesday
Jan202009

PGA Tour Announces List Of Golfers Reported To Have Thoughts...On Occasion

This really has no relevance to your lives, I am just posting it so that I can easily find the list of usually interview-worthy players making up the the PAC and Policy Board.

PGA TOUR Announces 2009 Player Advisory Council
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL- The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2009.

The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and the Commissioner on issues affecting the TOUR.

2009 Player Advisory Council (PAC)

Stuart Appleby (Orlando, FL) George McNeill (Fort Myers, FL)* Steve Flesch (Union, KY) Joe Ogilvie (Austin, TX)* Harrison Frazar (Dallas, TX)* Tom Pernice, Jr. (Murrieta, CA) Jim Furyk (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)* D.A. Points (Ocoee, FL)* Paul Goydos (Dove Canyon, CA) Ted Purdy (Phoenix, AZ)* Ryuji Imada (Tampa, FL)* Brett Quigley (Jupiter, FL) Jerry Kelly (Madison, WI) Vijay Singh (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)*
Davis Love III (Sea Island, GA)* Mark Wilson (Elmhurst, IL)

* indicates new PAC member for 2009

Zach Johnson served as Chairman of the PAC in 2008, and joins past PAC Chairmen Stewart Cink, Brad Faxon and David Toms as a Player Director on the 2009 PGA TOUR Policy Board.

2009 Player Directors
Stewart Cink (Duluth, GA) Zach Johnson (St. Simons, GA) Brad Faxon (Barrington, RI) David Toms (Shreveport, LA)

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Out of nowhere, golf's very own snapping turtle has slipped into pole position to be named Europe's next Ryder Cup captain."

Vincent Hogan with a beautiful summation of the Monty-Ryder Cup captaincy ordeal:

As news stories go, this is a bit like Worzel Gummidge getting the chief MC gig for Milan Fashion Week.

'Monty', by the way, is one of this column's favourite people. He goes through life like someone with endless bone spurs in his neck, perpetually sore feet, looming migraine and the love-sick devotion of a fan whose camera shutter is louder than John Daly on a binge. No man cherishes a grudge more deeply, no one gives the impression of liking people less.

And yet I cannot think of anyone I'd prefer to see win a Major in 2009, outside -- of course -- of an Irishman.

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train."

Mike Freeman at CBSSports.com makes some solid points but ultimately goes a little far in blasting Tiger Woods' political appearance Sunday when he compares Tiger to Don King.

His words of support for the military were fine -- I'm ex-Army and appreciate that -- but he still said little of substance.

I'd have more respect for Woods if he stuck to his noncommittal persona and turned down the offer. It's true. I would.

Woods' meek appearance had the smell of bandwagon jumping. Too late, Tiger. Some of us know what you're doing, which is being overtly opportunistic.

Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train.

Monday
Jan192009

"I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year."

In this week's (somewhat entertaining) novella, the SI/Golf.com/Golf Magazine gang kicks around the Sony Open and predicts this week's Bob Hope Classic will be the last. They kick off with a debate about Rich Lerner asking Tadd Fujikawa about his father's indictment and Jim Herre chalks it up to new GC head guy Tom Stathakes.

Had a beer with Stathakes not long ago, and I was impressed with his energy and professed journalistic aggressiveness. I think he'll press the Golf Channel talent to ask the tough question, which should be quite the balancing act considering that the network is in bed with the Tour. I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year.