Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

You must expect anything in golf. A stranger comes through, he's keen for a game, he seems affable enough, and on the eighth fairway he turns out to be an idiot.
ALISTAIR COOKE


    

Thursday
Oct022008

Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 4

Another image from John Kemp, who worked on the Castle Stuart project designed by Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen. Click to enlarge this image of the par-3 11th:

Wednesday
Oct012008

"In the shootout scenario..."

Tim Rosaforte analyzes the state of the FedEx Cup and reports that the PGA Tour is looking hard at some sort of format guaranteeing a grand finale on Sunday at East Lake. Why it took them two years to figure this out, I don't know. Here's what he confirms they are considering, first noted by John Hawkins:

As reported last weekend on golfworld.com, one of the alternatives is an 18-hole shootout among the top four to eight players in the standings. "The fundamental is we know it needs to finish this week," Finchem said, meaning not four weeks earlier, when Singh effectively locked up the Cup by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on the heels of The Barclays.

In the shootout scenario, the Tour Championship would begin Wednesday and conclude Saturday, leaving Sunday open for the last men standing to play one round of stroke play for a whole lot of money. "In theory, it's a pretty good concept," said Joe Ogilvie, a member of the tour's policy board. 

Here's the problem: the only way this makes sense is as a way to create a gurantee while not doing something closely resembling the LPGA's ADT Championship. Not surprising, but still pitiful.

For a bunch of free marketeer independent contractors, the players and Tour execs sure want to control and worship those points earners until the very end.  Why? To give us a "deserving" champion.

A free-for-all playoff, with eliminations on Friday and Saturday would be way too bold, interesting and potentially thrilling. But totally unpredictable, which scares these people way too much.

The Tour should use the ADT concept of a true day-to-day playoff, but instead, play 36-holes Sunday for the big prize.

Wednesday
Oct012008

"We remain in the planning processes for the 2009 tournament"

Steve Elling notes this from last week's Tour Championship:

In mid-September, Finchem said he'd issue the 2009 schedule last week in Atlanta, then sort of like the FedEx Cup chase itself, he failed to deliver. Complications, he said.
It's sounding like the Wachovia Championship situation is anything but settled, based on the language in this email that went out today from tournament director Kym Hougham. The underlining is mine:
Subject: Wachovia Championship 2009 Renewal-Update

In an effort to keep our valued patrons, corporate partners and volunteers informed on the day-to-day business of the Wachovia Championship, we wanted to reach out and inform you that we remain in the planning processes for the 2009 tournament, scheduled for April 27-May 3, 2009.

As it stands now some of our timelines in certain areas will need to be adjusted. One of those will be our ticket renewal process which was scheduled to begin October 1. We are going to delay this offering slightly, but please look for your ticket renewal information in the near-future.

We look forward to sharing another great tournament experience with each of you next spring.
Regards,

Kym Hougham
Executive Director

Wednesday
Oct012008

"She argued that golf is primarily played by white men over the age of 45"

Marisa Lagos posts an item about this week's taskforce meeting to discuss the fate of San Francisco's city courses, and in particular, Sharp Park. Now, I hate to encourage the stereotyping of San Franciscoans. I have to live in the same state as these people, but the item does raise a few questions about the sanity of my neighbors to the north.

There are the locals who want Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park for soccer fields, even though the course is by no means flat. And then there's this:

The high point of the meeting arguably came when parks advocate Isabel Wade went head-to-head with golf advocate Dave Diller; she argued that golf is primarily played by white men over the age of 45, a statement Diller angrily derided as "racist." Diller's response prompted the packed room to erupt in applause -- though to be fair, many of the people clapping appeared to be white men over the age of 45.
Wednesday
Oct012008

Augusta Making Changes?

Steve Elling tries to convince us that there is plenty to look forward to in the way of fall golf, and buries this little head-turner:

Staying on the Augusta riff, we have it on solid authority that Augusta National has made some more revisions to the course, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks when the club, closed for the summer, reopens for play. Did Masters chairman Billy Payne hear the fan and media catcalls calling for more birdies and excitement on Sunday after two lackluster years of final-round theatrics? You bet he did. How he will counter-punch, though, is anybody's guess. 

The rough could easily not be included when they start mowing down the fall overseed, but I still think they'll wait one more year and tie that in with the groove spec change.

Wednesday
Oct012008

Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 3

This is the 9th hole, with the clubhouse going up on the right. Again, anyone involved is more than welcome to tell us what we're looking at here. Click on the image to enlarge:

 

Tuesday
Sep302008

"But has there ever been such a dud in pro sports as the FedEx Cup?"

That's what Lorne Rubenstein asks as he runs down all of the problems. It makes you wonder about that whole any-press-is-good-press mentality.


Tuesday
Sep302008

OWGR Absurdity File, Vol. 4901

Doug Ferguson shares another reason why the Official World Golf Ranking is a farce (my view, not his).

The Chevron World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts in December no longer will be just an anchor of the silly season. Starting in 2009, it will be part of the Official World Golf Ranking.
According to an official involved in the discussions, the world ranking board has approved Woods’ request that world ranking points be awarded at the Chevron World Challenge after this year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
And...
The ranking board approved the request with one stipulation. To receive ranking points, it must take 16 players off the world ranking with no exemptions. For a larger field, the exemptions must go to players among the top 50 in the world.
The official said Chevron plans to have an 18-man field in 2009 with two exemptions.

It's amazing how folks bellow on about the criminal nature of the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers getting in the Masters, yet silly rich-get-rich pyramid scheme moves like this undermine the World Ranking and make exemptions based on the OWGR just as flimsy.

Due to a coincidence in timing, Ferguson paired this item with news that the R&A will be exempting the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers, up from the Top 20.

Tuesday
Sep302008

"We learned the market is not deep enough for fractional residences at that price point."

In the new Golf World, Mike Cullity considers the plight of Hamilton Hall in St. Andrews.

Hamilton Hall's current state is a far cry from the vision promised by its owner, Wasserman Real Estate Capital LLC, a Providence, R.I., development firm that bought the building from St. Andrews University for £20 million (about $40 million) in 2006. A 40-year-old developer of retail, mixed-use and residential properties, the firm planned to transform the old dormitory into a luxury residence club called St. Andrews Grand that would open in mid-2008 and count Phil Mickelson among the members paying a seven-figure sum for a share in one of 23 lavishly appointed apartments.

But those plans have been abandoned, and as St. Andrews looks toward the Open's slated return to the Old Course in 2010, locals are speculating about Hamilton Hall's future and expressing concerns over its appearance. The public outcry is a prominent example of the conflict that has emerged in Scotland between local interests seeking to preserve the historic character of golf's birthplace and real-estate developers—including Donald Trump, who for two years has battled local officials over a plan to build a $2.1 billion golf resort along Scotland's northeast coast—looking for a piece of the country's lucrative golf tourism pie.

Aiming to attract wealthy travelers, St. Andrews Grand did not generate the interest Wasserman Real Estate Capital had hoped for, said David Wasserman, the firm's principal. "We had demand but not necessarily enough demand to carry the whole project through," he said. "We learned the market is not deep enough for fractional residences at that price point." 

Nice quote, but way too transparent.

Tuesday
Sep302008

"It takes a lot of stress off me, and it gives me a realistic chance."

Randall Mell reports the good news that the PGA Tour has granted heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton a cart for Q-School.

Compton was informed by telephone this afternoon, PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw confirmed. Compton said he expects written verification by FedEx on Wednesday.
Now, if they sent him a letter saying "no," would they send it DHL?


Tuesday
Sep302008

"Play is conducted at a funereal pace."

Alistair Tait gets us in the mood to not watch the Dunhill Cup, once a great event.

The Pro-Am format of the Alfred Dunhill is something that has never actually caught the imagination of Scottish golf fans. While the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is well supported, Scottish golf fans haven’t exactly welcomed the St. Andrews equivalent with open arms.

I put it down to three reasons. The first is painfully obvious. Play is conducted at a funereal pace. Six-hour rounds are the norm. Play at St. Andrews is usually slow given that everyone who plays there wants to experience every last second on the Old Course. However, pace of play in the Alfred Dunhill would make snails seem quick.

Then there is the time of year. October is hardly balmy weather in Scotland, so the chance to actually recognize a celebrity let alone watch one is almost impossible. Movie actress Ines Sastre was in the field the year I covered the tournament. As far as ogling went, it wasn’t easy to appreciate her full beauty when she was wrapped in waterproofs and a bobble hat.

Besides, many of the celebrities fall into the B-list category anyway.

However, the bottom line is that Scottish golf fans have no interest in watching celebrities, A-list or otherwise, hack their way around the sacred turf of St. Andrews. The year I went I counted just 29 people in the grandstand behind the Old Course’s 18th green as former soccer great Sir Bobby Charlton played his approach.

Tuesday
Sep302008

Flash: Fat Cats May Party Less!

Not surprisingly we're seeing stories detailing how corporate America will be responding to the credit crisis. Even less surprising, they all say hospitality revenue will take a hit.

Peter Corbett in the Arizona Republic:

But the economic meltdown could put a damper on entertaining by those other sponsors as well, said Ray Artigue, executive director of the sports-business master's program at Arizona State University.

"Companies are less likely to throw a big party in the face of employee layoffs and want to be careful how they conduct themselves," Artigue said. "And that goes double for public entities."

But in Jon Show and John Ourand's piece for the Sports Business Journal, this caught me by surprise:

Others, like Radiate CEO Jay Lenstrom, believe financial companies will begin to shy away from title sponsorships. “I think entitlement will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.
I find that hard to believe simply because being the "Northen Trust Open" and all of the publicity that comes with that justifies the costs far more than a hospitality tent experience. No?
Monday
Sep292008

Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 2

From John Kemp, this is the 8th hole. Again, anyone involved with the course is free to post a description of what kind of hole we're looking at. But considering this was all man made, including the native area/heather, it's pretty impressive.

Click on the image to see a full screen version.


Monday
Sep292008

Sixth Major Safe For Now

Ron Green Jr. reports that the Wachovia Championship remains safe for now, though I'm still guessing those excessive player bribes locker gifts and player perks may become a thing of the past. Or at least, toned down considerably.

Thanks to reader J. for this:

Officials said the golf tournament is expected to continue in the future with a contract that carries it through 2014.
“We have a six-year extension and we look forward to continuing the golf tournament,” Mac Everett, the tournament's executive chairman and a former Wachovia executive, said Monday.
PGA Tour officials have been monitoring the Wachovia situation and expect the Charlotte stop to remain on future tour schedules.
“We fully expect the tournament in Charlotte to continue,” said Jon Podany, senior vice president for business development with the PGA Tour said..
“The acquiring company would assume the contract. That's typically the way the contracts work.”
It is still to be determined whether the Wachovia brand would remain on the event while officials at Citigroup and Wachovia work out the details of the transition. With a portion of the Wachovia brand remaining, it's possible the tournament name could remain.
As title sponsor of the golf tournament, which had a $6.4-million purse in 2008, Wachovia spent $3,009,000 on its entitlement fee last year. The PGA Tour pays 62 percent of the tournament purse.
Wachovia also paid more than $3 million for television advertising plus a significant amount on hospitality for clients and guests during the event.
I don't care how massive Citigroup is, I'd stamp this one with a big STAY TUNED.
Monday
Sep292008

Hawkins: PGA Tour May Be Open To Good Idea!

It's one thing for a cerebral tour player like Joe Ogilvie to be coming around on the brilliant FedEx Cup fix proposed by yours truly last year in Golf World.

But to see a media colleague, one who is a star and a man who doesn't have to write back-of-the-magazine notes, now taking the same view? it's heartwarming in ways I never imagined.

John Hawkins in this week's Golf World on GolfDigest.com:

One logical and recently discussed scenario involves an 18-hole shootout among the top four to eight players in the standings. The Tour Championship would begin on Wednesday and conclude on Saturday, leaving Sunday open for the last men standing to play one round of stroke-play golf for a whole lot of money. "In theory, it's a pretty good concept," says Joe Ogilvie, a member of the tour's policy board.

Votaw acknowledges the shootout as an option and adds, "It may seem alluring in some respects. We may come up with a better idea or receive feedback that leads us in another direction."
Cruel of Hawkins to have put the question to the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, who oversaw the creation of the LPGA's similar ADT Championship. That said, isn't it wonderful to see that after hitting rock bottom, they might consider something that people actually want to watch. My heart is warming so much, I have to go now.

Before I do, about those ratings...
Saturday's third round on NBC had an overnight Nielsen rating of 1.3, down 46.4% from last year's 2.8 (that turned out to be a 2.6 in the final rating).

Sunday's fourth round had an overnight rating of 1.8, down 54.5% from last year's 3.3 (a 3.0 final rating).
Monday
Sep292008

Cumulative Scoring!?

We're about to start getting some whacky suggestions for the broken FedEx Cup, and while I've heard lots of fun stuff about the not very original idea I proposed last year and argued about with Steve Dennis this year, SI's Gary Van Sickle raises the loopiest idea yet. This is in an interview with Dennis, who doesn't sound like he's buying it either.

After all, how do you try to win a tournament each week when you are also worrying about your cumulative score?

Monday
Sep292008

Castle Stuart Images Vol. 1

With all of this gloom and doom I thought I'd share a few photos sent to me by John Kemp, an aspiring architect who worked on The Prairie Club's Horse Course project with us this summer. John was part of the crew that built Castle Stuart with Gil Hanse, Mark Parsinen and Jim Wagner. He recently played the course on what looked to be a stunning day and captured these shots. I don't know much about the holes, so hopefully John or someone else will chime in.

I believe this is the fourth hole. You know the drill, click on the images to see full screen versions.


Monday
Sep292008

"OJ in Church? What was he askin' fo'?"

In a roundup of miscellaneous LPGA items, Beth Ann Baldry notes a surreal scene for Hwanhee Lee, first reported by the Golf Couture blog.

Monday
Sep292008

“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here"

One week after a major brand, uh, refurbishment and platform expansion, Kenny Perry worked ably to reestablish his image as a spoiled tour professional by pointing out the sheer awfulness of having to appear in a 30-man, $7 million+ giveaway as millions of Americans worried about paying their electric bill.

Jeff Rude reminds us why Kenny will always be Kenny:

Perry shot 76-75 the first two days and wasn’t happy he had to submit to a random drug test for the second time since the program’s inception in July.
“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here,” said Perry, adding he’d rather be home celebrating his Ryder success. “It really has.”
It’s refreshing that a professional athlete in effect is saying big money isn’t everything.
Well that's certainly one unusual way to look at it.

Commissioner: when you fine him, fine him good.

Which reminds me, I guess the horror of peeing in a cup at the Tour Championship probably means that Ryder Cup drug testing we heard about never happened?

Sunday
Sep282008

Wachovia Next?