Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

I would love it if we played a tournament every year where we had to use half a set. Or play with persimmon and balata on a 6,400-yard course. It would be fun for us to do a couple times a year. Low score would still win. The best player would still win.  TIGER WOODS

 

   

Wednesday
Jun032009

"Tweet during rounds?"

Jeff Rude raises another fine point about the absurdity of on-course tweeting.

LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens wants her players to be able to “tweet” their thoughts during rounds on Twitter.com. I’m not sure I’ve heard anything that nuts since I watched the Cuckoo’s Nest movie.

Tweet during rounds?

The competition must be held sacred. And concentration and focus are at the heart of the competition.

And isn’t the pace of play already slow enough?

Wednesday
Jun032009

MPCC Shore To Be Announced

Jerry Stewart says the members have voted and Monterey Peninsula's Mike Strantz-designed Shore Course is in the AT&T Pro-Am rotation...for now.

Tuesday
Jun022009

"People like to bring up dirty laundry, I guess."

Bob Verdi writes about Kenny Perry's first remarks about the FBR Open incident.

Kenny Perry looks as though he has lost no sleep whatsoever over a "controversy" concerning an "incident" surrounding his victory at the FBR Open last February. In fact, he's somewhat puzzled that people are talking about it without talking to him.

Now I was out all day so I had only seen Verdi's take thanks to the readers who emailed the link to Bob's story. Only later did I read the transcript and the combination of Verdi's observation with the transcript probably won't make this go away.

Now, I know it's a bit unfair to Perry since there wasn't much he could say at this point that would help make the video more palatable. And it's perhaps unfair to parse his words from a transcript since the tone may have been tough to grasp, but sheesh, this is rough...

Q. Kenny, I know you talked about this earlier this morning. What do you suppose this playoff wedge thing from Phoenix has taken on such a life of its own on the Internet? I don't know that I've heard you talk about it. I was wondering what your take on all that is and why it won't go away.

KENNY PERRY: Well, I mean, I said the truth will set you free. I looked at it, and I thought it was crazy, my first impression.

I went to Charlie Hoffman, and I asked Charlie. Charlie, do you have a problem with it? That would be the only guy, if he had a problem with it, it would have really upset me, if he thought something was done wrong there.

You know, doesn't that mentality speak directly to something I wondered about recently: self policing gone awry to the point that the opinion of one's fellow competitors supersedes the Rules of Golf?

He said that's crazy. You didn't do nothing wrong. Patted me on the back. And saw the Tour came out -- I wasn't in the closed door. The Tour went in. I wasn't with the Tour staff when they made their -- they shot back with their remark saying, we saw nothing wrong. I mean, I just let it go.

That's life, isn't it? People like to bring up dirty laundry, I guess.

How is it dirty laundry if it is clearly not a violation?

Q. You were just trying to figure out how high the grass was and where the crowd was?

KENNY PERRY: You're allowed to.

To figure out how high the grass is? No kidding?

You're able to sole your club. Did you watch it? Did you actually watch that last hole?

Q. Everybody has seen it.

KENNY PERRY: I soled my club on the ball. Did you watch me sole it left of the golf ball? Then I went and hit the shot.

I don't think that quite describes how things transpired.

When you're in the rough, you just need to find the bottom so you can figure out how high the ball is sitting up in rough.

Find the bottom with about many stabs of the fire stoker? Sorry, here's the close up.

Q. You kind of hit a chunky running shot out of there anyway.

Oh, so the shot was lousy, therefore whatever precipitated didn't matter?

It wasn't like you hit some spinner that stuck it a foot from the hole, right?

KENNY PERRY: I hit it 25 feet from the hole. It's not like I hit a great shot. I mean, I don't know. What do you all think? Someone brings something up four months down the road. I didn't understand. We're going to go looking in the archives of all the players who have been on TV and see what they've done? I didn't understand that part of it.

That is a fair point that no one has been able to answer. Then again, the Super Bowl had started, so we now know just how many people were watching golf.

I've got a camera guy five feet behind me. He's right there looking. I turned around and looked at him.

If I thought I was doing something wrong, I definitely wouldn't have done it there.

Scribblers in attendance, did Kenny leave behind a large hole and a mound of dirt next to the podium?

Once that was -- I didn't hear nothing about it after that. There was nothing else said. So I just assumed it was dead. not after this press conference!

Q. When was this brought to your attention?

KENNY PERRY: When I finished the Sunday round at the Players. They came and told me about it. I was just stunned.

Q. Did they just walk up to you and say, by the way, you didn't cheat?

KENNY PERRY: No. They said you're going to have to answer some questions about this video. I didn't quite understand.

Rick George came and talked to me. And then I met with Alex Miceli. He was out there. And talked about have you heard anything about this video? Which I didn't know.

And then the Tour came out with their saying there was nothing been done wrong here.

After this press conference? Maybe not.

Tuesday
Jun022009

Monty Lloyd Wright Already Running Up Celtic Manor Decorating Tab

Mark Garrod says Europe's visionary captain has made sure to avoid any major hand or wrist injuries after a cranky Sergio blows open the team room double doors after a match demolishing.

"We are lucky that everything there is purpose-built for the Ryder Cup, including the team rooms which can be entered and exited by two big wooden doors.

"Although they were beautiful, as I was standing there looking at them something didn't feel right and it suddenly dawned on me – you couldn't see who was on the other side.

Well, and that Formica finish...it's so trailer park. Oh, sorry continue Monty Stickley:

"Now while that might not seem a big problem, imagine you are coming back off the golf course and are just about to put your hand on the handle to pull the door open when one of your team-mates comes barging out of the room from the other side.

"Bang! The door smashes into your hand and that is your Ryder Cup finished right there and then. Twelve months of sweat and toil to get into the team taken away in an instant.

"I immediately alerted the officials to the issue and that will be changed immediately either by making each door only open one way or by putting glass panels in both the doors so you can see who is on the other side."

Tuesday
Jun022009

USGA Architecture Archive

The USGA's new Architecture Archive website is live and you can see the exciting potential once more materials are submitted.

You'll need to register but once you do, I recommend checking out the Oakmont and Bethpage collections, including the old Bethpage scorecards showing a 288-yard tee on the 9th.

Tuesday
Jun022009

The Intervention Worked: Padraig To Stop Tinkering With "Rant"...For Now

Brian Keough delivers the news:

“I have been trying to fix something in my swing that has been annoying me and while I still have more work to do on it, the important thing is that I’ve finally got the answer I wanted.

“I have been on this particular rant for the last two or three years and it has only been in the last four or six weeks that I have finally figured out what it is, what I need to do to change it.

“That doesn’t mean that is going to be there for the next period of time. But a huge part of this is finding the answer and because I have that, I can maybe put this on the back burner for a while.”

The news will be music to the ears of Harrington’s wife Caroline, caddie Ronan Flood and mental coach Dr Bob Rotella, who have been begging him to cut back on his marathon sessions on the driving range this season.

Monday
Jun012009

Barkley Regrets Taking Eight Tedious Episodes To Not Get Better

Actually, according to Gerard Gallagher in a lengthy piece featuring quotes from Charles Barkley and Hank Haney, about every element of the recently shuttered reality show is addressed (well, except if cameras were on hand this night.)

Charles Barkley gets golf tips wherever he goes, even the dry cleaners. He walks through the supermarket and they wish him luck.

"Little old ladies walking the street want to give me advice, and it makes me laugh," Barkley said. "Everybody gives me golf advice."

And...

"I felt bad, to be honest with you, that I didn't improve more for him," said Barkley.

"People were surprised that somebody at my level of success through my life would basically put himself in a situation where you can be humiliated on a weekly basis," he said.

So they try to help him, at the cleaners and the supermarket and on the street...

Monday
Jun012009

"This would be just another tale of housing woes were it not for the fact Leisurecorp’s money is funding the European Tour’s Race to Dubai"

In this Richard Gillis look at the recession and high-end developments, he focuses on the places that have chased a "championship" course and "signature" architect. The Leisurecorp part is interesting:

Leisurecorp’s business model is focused on selling expensive houses around its golf courses and so is very exposed to the downturn. For example, it is currently building 1,000 houses around its Earth course, a Greg Norman-designed lay-out, which forms the first of four such projects planned in the city.

According to new chief executive Colin Smith, a former Uefa executive, 90 per cent of the homes have been sold, with final payments due when the houses are completed, “sometime after the first quarter of next year”.

However, many of these people are likely to be “flippers”, speculators who bought off plan and intended to re-sell the house as it comes to market. With property prices down, there is a real risk that they will write off their down payments and join those whose cars are at the airport.

“The housing market in Dubai has taken a major hit,” says Sartori. “There has been an oversupply of residential property and too many speculators as a proportion of the houses that are being sold, rather than people buying their houses to live in them. Now there is a huge stock of property which they all want to put on the market at the very discounted price. It will take some time before demand and supply balance off.”

This would be just another tale of housing woes were it not for the fact Leisurecorp’s money is funding the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Dubai World Championship.

Monday
Jun012009

The Joe Burbeck Association Launches

Seems someone is hoping to fuel the dispute between Ron Whitten and the Tillinghast Association over the proper design credit for Bethpage-Black.

I give to you, via a reader, the Joe Burbeck Association and their lovely (limited of course) print that so encapsulates the soulful Bethpage architecture.

In time for the upcoming 2009 United States Open, the newly formed Joesph Burbeck Association is having a one-time offering of a fine "artistic" print in honor of Mr. Burbeck's finest original work-The New York State's, Bethpage Park's Black Course.

This seragraphic print will be a collectors item that anyone would be proud to display above their library's fireplace mantle or living room wall. It depicts the tough-as-nails 2nd shot from the fairway of the 'Black's" most respected 15th hole which will no doubt highlight Mr. Burbeck's intentions of making the 'Black' the toughest test in Golf for the common man, if not the finest Golfers ever to touch the verdant green of this Long Island gem!

Purchasing the print also helps the Association, because a small but generous portion of your donation for this print goes to the JBA for the betterment of all of the Bethpage Courses, as well as helping further JBA efforts to save other Burbeck-designed courses which have been wrongly attributed to other more well-known designer-architects. Be part of the team today!

Prices for the prints are as follows:

Print only, on fine acid-free parchment: $29.00
Print, on fine acid-free parchment, framed in dark red Bethpage Fir (purchased at 99¢ Only Stores®): $65.00
Print, on fine acid-free parchment, framed in dark red Bethpage Fir (purchased at 99¢ Only Stores®) Numbered and artificially-signed by Bethpage Park Consultant, A.W. Tillinghast (limit: only 200 special editions available): $95.00

With all regards,
The Joe Burbeck Association
Bethpage Park, Long Island, New York

 And what a lovely print it is...

Monday
Jun012009

Monty Says No To Wales Open Pavin Pairing!

Derek Lawrenson hid this little nugget at the end of his European Open story:

You can imagine the temptation to pair them together for the first two rounds, 18 months before their teams duel over the same course in the Ryder Cup itself.

Except that Monty, who endured another miserable day here with a final round 75, has requested it does not happen.

Clearly, he would be under more pressure to perform and can visualise the bold type in the papers the next morning if he has one of his grumpy days and Pavin shoots 69.

As one colleague wryly put it: ‘A disappointingly shrewd move on his part.’

Monday
Jun012009

Perry To Test New Pre-Shot Routine In Front Of Tiger, Jack

And Stewart Cink will Tweet all about it! Michael Buteau reports on the special event taking place at Muirfield Village Wednesday as a result of the Northern Trust fallout.

Monday
Jun012009

Phil's Returning For Memphis, U.S. Open

Monday
Jun012009

Obama Accepts President's Cup Honorary Chairmanship

This is going to really make some of golf's hecklers squirm, as Ron Sirak notes. The question is, will he make an appearance?

Don't take this news lightly. The decision by the Obama Administration to have the President serve as honorary chair was not a cavalier conclusion. The consequences were considered, and the consensus clearly was that it is fine for Obama to be associated with golf.

"I wouldn't say there were lengthy discussions, but it took a little while because he has never done anything like this since he's been elected," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem told GolfDigest.com. "It had to go through a lot of reviews." What it means is that the myth of the elitist boondoggle label has been exposed as exactly that -- a myth.

"This is very positive for the game of golf, not just for the Presidents Cup," Finchem said. "What this says for him to give the Presidents Cup this kind of recognition is that he has a positive attitude about the game, is a supporter of golf and understands the charitable and other contributions it makes. We could have seven-and-a-half more years of a fan of golf in the White House."

The full release:

President Barack Obama to be Honorary Chairman of The Presidents Cup 2009
President Obama is eighth world leader to serve as honorary chairman in event’s history

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL June 1, 2009

President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, has accepted an invitation to be Honorary Chairman of The Presidents Cup when the competition is played for the first time on the West Coast, at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco, Calif., Oct. 6-11, 2009.

“We are honored that President Obama has accepted our invitation to be Honorary Chairman of The Presidents Cup in October,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “As the eighth head of state to serve in this role, President Obama continues a long-tradition of support and leadership dating back to the first Presidents Cup in 1994. His involvement will not only further enhance the stature of The Presidents Cup, but also that of golf on a global basis.”

President Obama joins a distinguished group of seven world leaders who have held the position of Honorary Chairman at The Presidents Cup. He is preceded by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was Honorary Chairman of the 2007 event in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

President Gerald Ford was the Honorary Chairman at the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994 and was followed by President George H.W. Bush in 1996. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was Honorary Chairman in 1998 when the event was held in Melbourne, Australia, and was followed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, was Honorary Chairman in 2003 when The Presidents Cup was staged in Western Cape Province, South Africa. President George W. Bush was the most recent U.S. President to serve as Honorary Chairman, holding that position the last time the event was staged on U.S. soil, in 2005.

The Presidents Cup, a team match play competition featuring 24 of the world’s top golfers – 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe – is held every two years, and since 1996 has alternated between United States and international venues. The Presidents Cup was developed to give the world’s best non-European players an opportunity to compete in international team match-play competition. The U.S. Team has won five of the seven previous Presidents Cups, and the only outright win by the International Team came at the 1998 event in Melbourne. The 2003 Presidents Cup ended in a tie.

More than $4.2 million was distributed to charitable causes from the 2007 Presidents Cup, a record for this prestigious competition and part of the nearly $18 million raised since the inception of the event. Players are not personally paid for their participation in the event; there is no purse or prize money. Each competitor, instead, designates charities or golf-related projects of his choice to receive a portion of the funds raised through the staging of each Presidents Cup.

Meanwhile, back down the 17th, the tortoise backed off a chip so often you felt your life flashing before you, before eventually knocking it close.

Monday
Jun012009

"If the GM bankruptcy filing was supposed to calm the waters, it had the opposite effect at tour headquarters"

Steve Elling on how little anyone seems to know about what GM's bankruptcy means for the PGA Tour:

If the GM bankruptcy filing was supposed to calm the waters, it had the opposite effect at tour headquarters, where it seems to have fostered more uncertainty, if anything.

“We look forward continuing our discussions with Buick about the future,” the tour said in a three-paragraph statement that created as many questions as it answered.

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said the organization would have no further comment on the GM situation -- likely because nobody at the tour has a clue about what will happen next, especially since the federal government has assumed partial ownership.

Larry Peck, Buick golf’s marketing chief and the promotions manager for Buick, Pontiac and GM -- three automobile lines that face extinction as GM shutters 12 plants -- did not return a phone call. A tour official said Buick representatives have been prohibited from discussing the status of the tournaments until the dust settles.

Monday
Jun012009

"The tortoise backed off a chip so often you felt your life flashing before you"

Don't miss Derek Lawrenson's entertaining European Open game story on Christian Cevaer's painfully slow win on an even painfully worse setup.

What a curious event this was, where the seven-under par winning score was exactly the same as the leading figure on day one, despite the fact the last three rounds were played out in glorious sunshine; where the winner returned a score of 74 and had one birdie on his card.

Why? With the fairways narrowed, they became just too hard and bouncy for anyone to hold in the testing breeze, with the consequence that the day’s proceedings became something of a lottery.

Sunday
May312009

"Our testing showed me that the majority of PGA Tour distance increases attributable to equipment have likely come from changes in the driver, not the ball"

There have been a couple of good pieces on technology-related issues and both struck me as interesting because we've crossed a threshold of some kind where no one seems to be scared to write about the subject any longer. Perhaps that's a testament to how the discourse has evolved or maybe it's simply a matter of writers finally taking more interest in the impact side of the issue.

Either way, here's what John Paul Newport wrote in Saturday's Wall Street Journal about persimmon v. titanium:

But how much have we really gained? This is a philosophical question with no definitive answer, but you can’t say my father-in-law didn’t have fun with his wooden clubs. He was a life-long avid golfer, which fact I couldn’t help but reflect on last weekend when our family toured the Amish country in central Pennsylvania. The most observant Amish (a Christian Mennonite sect) really do still drive around in horse-and-buggies and live in houses with little or no electricity. My fascinated 14-year-old daughter spewed forth factoids from the Internet that she pulled up on a BlackBerry. “The Amish don’t have phones in their houses because they want to encourage face-to-face conversations,” she read. “They don’t allow tractors because they want their farms to remain human-scale.” In other words, they’ve decided what they want of the modern era (they can use phones outside the home and avail themselves of modern medical technology) but reject what doesn’t contribute to the values they hold highest.

I’m not tempted to adopt the Amish lifestyle, believe me, but I’m not sure I’d mind going back to wooden clubs and less modern balls, provided everyone else did the same. (You can keep balata, which cuts too easily.) In terms of challenge, based on my experience, there really isn’t that much difference between the old and the new. Trying to keep a short, spinny ball in play with a wooden driver is not easy, but it’s no more formidable a task than trying to keep a longer ball in play with a metal driver.

Mike Stachura was inspired by Chad Campbell's recent bout with persimmon and balata to make the case for the poor, beleaguered golf ball's innocence in the bastardization of courses around the club. He says the numbers suggest shafts are the real culprit and who can argue with that?

It is worth theorizing that a larger percentage of the improvement might just be attributed to the shaft's effect on swing speed. Today's modern shaft usually weighs 75 grams or less, about half what the steel shaft on the MacGregor Byron Nelson driver weighed. But the 200 grams on the end of that shaft is the same force on today's heads, although the weight is better distributed. The faster you can swing that mass, the more it can improve your distance. Moreover, shaft technology has elevated to the point where the same stability that better players with faster swings found in steel shafts years ago is nearly the same today in graphite shafts that weigh half as much.

And...

Though the USGA has been conducting research on shorter golf balls for the last three years, that project has not yielded any announcement of a proposed rollback in the golf ball in the way groove performance was rolled back late last year. Rugge simply says today that the research project is "ongoing." For now, Rugge believes that current research suggests that the ball need not be singled out as the root cause of distance in the modern game.

"Our testing showed me that the majority of PGA Tour distance increases attributable to equipment have likely come from changes in the driver, not the ball," he said.

It's not clear whether one set of numbers and a few swings through history on the range of a PGA Tour event last week confirm that idea or call it into question. But isolating the effect to either club or ball seems impossible. Rather, today's club-ball system seems to exceed the sum of its parts.

Which is why all of the calls to alter the golf ball have been made. If you have to pick between club and ball for the simplest way to make courses relevant while restoring elements of skill, isn't it just easier to alter the ball? That doesn't make it guilty in a court of a law, just a victim of convenience.

Sunday
May312009

"What's up with CBS and Clark's wrists?"

In this week's SI/Golf.com/Golf Mag/Golf Nation/No-Longer-Stuck-With-AOL opus, the gang kicks around Tim Clark's latest disappointing loss. Thankfully they don't dwell too much on his playoff approach shot that hit the 17th hole flag (a bad break but I'm not sure if it would have been as close as some thought), and instead discuss other issues related to Clark...

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Clark pulled a LeBron James after the loss. He refused to come to the press room (though he did give a couple of quotes to Tour PR). He said he will take nothing positive from the loss and that he had a lot of work to do in closing out tournaments.

And...

Gorant: What's up with CBS and Clark's wrists? I always thought it was pretty common knowledge that he has a congenital condition that prevents him from turning his hands palm-up. That's why it's difficult for him to chip, but the CBS guys never mentioned that. They just kept saying he prefers to putt from eight feet off the green because he isn't a good chipper. Is this supposed to be an off-limits topic?

Herre: Interesting point. You'd think Peter Kostis would be all over something like that.

Geeze Peter, your own team is picking on you now!

Sunday
May312009

"Half the players on tour do that."

John Huggan looks at the intent question in light of the Kenny Perry video surfacing and offers this summation:

Let's go back to Perry and the clump of grass he did or did not deliberately pat down, thereby improving his lie. During the recent Players Championship, I showed a recording of the incident to a prominent PGA Tour player. He took one look, snorted, and announced: "Half the players on tour do that."

Again, such revelations come as no surprise. Every tour on the planet is rife with rumour when it comes to those who cheat for a living. And why, you may ask, is nothing ever done about it? The reason is simple: professional golf, to a large extent, is sold to commercial sponsors on the basis that it is whiter than white. Unlike footballers and rugby players, all golfers, ahem, play strictly by the rules. Or so, predictably, the tours would have you believe. Their economic health depends on public perpetuation of that myth, so they look the other way when naughty things happen.

Saturday
May302009

"All factors considered, Burgoon’s shot will go down as one of the best in college golf history."

Check out Eric Soderstrom's NCAA game story on a thrilling win by Texas A&M. Sounds like the new match play format produced a classic. Just a shame it wasn't televised. At least Golfweek TV has video of the big finish.

Ryan Herrington also notes a subtle way that the new format produced more media attention that almost certainly would not have occurred under the old format.

Saturday
May302009

"It's not a scheduling conflict. We have no means to take money for public play"

This won't mean much to those outside of LA--and frankly inside LA city limits since the course is virtually unknown--but Bob Pool reports that the hidden gem that is the "VA Course" has been closed because as much as $200,000 has been stolen. Built by members of Hillcrest for recovering veterans, the 9-hole par-3 course is also home to beginners and the occasional celebrity working on their game in anonymity. All for just $12, all you can play.

Gates to the rolling 7-acre course were padlocked March 30. The lush links are located beneath the Getty Center on the north side of the VA complex, which is divided by Wilshire Boulevard.

A VA spokeswoman initially attributed the closure to "operational issues" related to scheduling problems between public play and VA patients' therapeutic golf outings.

This week, officials acknowledged that "financial improprieties" at the course were to blame.

"It's not a scheduling conflict. We have no means to take money for public play," said Ralph Tillman, director of asset management at the medical center.

Tillman said local VA officials plan to contract with an outside vendor -- perhaps a nonprofit group -- to operate the course in the future. He said there are no plans to redevelop the course for any other purpose. "We'll reopen when we get an outside partner to run it," he said.