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 know well two great champions of earlier years who cannot now always carry a hazard one hundred yards from the tee, but who still play the game and have shots in their bag which Hagen and Jones would view with envy. On my ideal course these shall not be denied nor yet humiliated.  ROBERT HUNTER

 

    

Wednesday
Mar042009

"It has been a long time since a premium player excelled at both games."

John Hawkins swoons over Geoff Ogilvy's emergence and looks forward to more press room visits.

Not everything he says is a profundity or a pearl of wisdom, and there are lots of wittier guys on the PGA Tour. What makes Ogilvy so appealing, and what shouldn't be lost on serious golf fans, is his willingness to offer candor and insight so that a more interesting perspective might be transmitted to the public. The print media may not be what it once was, but with the Internet becoming the primary source of information for a growing number of day-to-day followers, there is hope for the written word yet.

And this could apply to more than just Camilo...

On a week when several respected members of golf's full-time press corps were heard complaining about the difficulties and sour attitude they've encountered when dealing with Camilo Villegas, Ogilvy seemed to arrive on the doorstep of superstardom, which could only mean more trips to the media center. It has been a long time since a premium player excelled at both games. If the drought is almost over, you won't hear anyone griping about it at this end.

Wednesday
Mar042009

"The USGA will begin charging submitters of clubs and other equipment for official conformance evaluations."

Thanks to reader Kevin for spotting this discussion group posting of a USGA announcement to manufacturers.

To: Equipment Manufacturers

This is to inform you that, beginning with all submissions received on or after April 1, 2009, the USGA will begin charging submitters of clubs and other equipment for official conformance evaluations. This is being done to partially defray the cost of services provided by the USGA’s Research and Test Center and to more equitably distribute the cost of that support among the all equipment manufacturers.
Charges will be as follows:

Woods $ 150 each
Hybrids $ 150 each
Iron sets $ 500 per set
Individual Iron Heads $ 150 each
Putters $ 50 each
Other (tees, gloves, shoes, etc.) $ 50 each

There will continue to be no charge for the USGA’s opinions regarding potential conformance of prototypes, mock-ups, or concepts of golf equipment technology communicated to the USGA. There will also be no charge for re-submissions of clubs or other items that were submitted prior to April 1, 2009.

Payment information will soon be available on the USGA website under “Getting Equipment Tested”.

The USGA has charged for golf ball evaluations since 1979. During this time the USGA has not generally charged for evaluations of golf clubs. However, in the past decade, advances in golf club technology have resulted in the USGA dedicating a substantially increased amount of time, expense and sophisticated research to evaluate clubs for conformance with The Rules of Golf. In addition, during the same time period, the number of equipment submissions to the USGA has also increased significantly.

Therefore, the USGA has determined that it is now appropriate and equitable to apply a charge for all golf equipment conformance decisions. The USGA will continue to fund a substantial majority of Research and Test Center costs. If you have any questions, please contact Dick Rugge, P.O. Box 708, Far Hills, NJ 07931, Fax 908-234-0138, e-mail: drugge@usga.org 

Wednesday
Mar042009

Greg And Chrissy Ramp Up Pre-Masters Publicity Tour By Insisting It Was All Laura's Fault

Gosh, this is going to be so fun. Golf.com's Michael Walker reports on the dream couples' Australian TV show interview.

The real "Wow!" moment of the interview came when Norman described what it's like to write a check for $100 million, the amount of Andrassy's divorce settlement. "It's good to know you have it," Norman said. "It's the price you pay for freedom."

Evert strikes back too, saying that Andrassy's accusations are untrue and "come from a place of pain." She then suggests that Andrassy "get a job."

Chrissy is such a sweetheart!

Wednesday
Mar042009

Chris Wightman, We Hardly Knew Ye

Is it too late to bring Marty back? And Golf Journal? Sorry, dreaming again...

USGA MUSEUM DIRECTOR RAND JERRIS EXPANDS RESPONSIBILITIES

Far Hills, N.J. (March 4) – The United States Golf Association announced today that as part of an organizational consolidation, USGA Museum Director Rand Jerris’ responsibilities have been expanded to include leadership of its Communications Department, reporting to USGA Chief Business Officer Peter Bevacqua.

“This is a natural extension of Rand’s abilities and leadership skills,” said Bevacqua. “With 21 years of experience within the Association, he is intimately familiar with the core functions of the USGA. We are pleased to be able to rely on his expertise to guide our communications efforts.”

Jerris joined the USGA part-time in 1988, became the Association’s first Librarian/Historian in 1999 and was appointed Museum Director in 2002. He recently oversaw the development of the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History, which opened in June 2008.

Jerris completed his doctorate in art and archaeology at Princeton University and received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Williams College.

As a result of this consolidation, Managing Director of Communications Chris Wightman will be leaving the Association to pursue other interests.

Here was the glowing, and I mean glowing release with quotes praising the hire in December, 2007.

Jerris knows golf and does not speak in MBAisms, so this would seem to be an indication--in spite of what the original press release says--that David Fay is taking back the reins of the organization after the Walter Driver years left him with less influence.

Wednesday
Mar042009

Phil And Bubba In The Onion

Somehow I don't think that Phil Mickelson will want to take this idea to Golf Digest for an instructional piece. And frankly, us readers would agree.

 

Wednesday
Mar042009

"Your central nervous system enjoys change"

David Dusek talks to Geoff Ogilvy about changing putters, just as Bobby Jones suggests in today's quote (above...until I take it down). And you thought some of us Geoff's who would like to see a minor distance rollback aren't also passionate advocates of consumerism?

"Your central nervous system enjoys change," he told me. "The new putter theory is not BS, that's a fact and it works for everyone. So sometimes if my putting feels a bit flat, I'll change putters, but it's not like I'm completely changing putters. I just want to look at something new, something fresh. People might think you are just trying to escape all the bad karma in your other putter, but your brain likes change and it gets you excited about putting again." 

Wednesday
Mar042009

"The USGA has done a study in which 'the high majority' of everyday players prefer a single set of rules."

I'm not entirely sure why E. Michael Johnson is advocating a discussion of two sets of rules in this week's Golf World, though something tells me the manufacturers are moaning about rule changes limiting their ability to peddle new life-changing stuff, but either way I found this interesting:

As of now, there is no clear-cut answer on which would be better for the game, although the USGA has done a study in which "the high majority" of everyday players prefer a single set of rules. Yet we all seem content to sit on the sidelines of this debate, as if it is the third rail of golf. If we are being honest with ourselves, we already are playing with two sets of rules when it comes to posting scores. Recreational players use distance-measuring devices, for example, and then there is the pending, staggered roll out of the new groove rule, which is an indication of the USGA's willingness to institute different parameters for different levels of players.

Uh, about that USGA study and the "high majority" supporting a single set of rules. Any chance we could get that study posted at USGA.org?

Wednesday
Mar042009

“There's 18 of them.”

Tod Leonard takes a closer look at Ritz Carlton Golf Club's greens and notes that the course is signed through 2014 to host the Accenture Match Play. And we know, PGA Tour contracts are ironclad. Well, unless the course starts scaring players away. Something to watch in this case.

It was clear from Woods' comments about the tricked-up greens designed by Jack Nicklaus that the world's top player was not a fan. “If they had them at normal tour speed, they would be unplayable,” Woods said.

That's Tiger-speak for “I hate 'em.”

He wasn't the only one.

Asked to talk about the greens, Love said, “There's 18 of them.”

Said Camilo Villegas: “I probably don't want to compare this to any other golf course. I got to say it's unique. It's different. The greens are very severe.”

Nicklaus designed the course specifically to host the Match Play, but it is supposed to be played by resort golfers at all other times, and yet it looks like three-putt city for anybody with a handicap in the double digits. Hardly a relaxing experience.

“Unfortunately, whenever a golf course is designed with a golf tournament in mind, I don't think they take the other 51 weeks into mind really,” Ogilvy said. “I've got the feeling maybe some adjustments will be made in the next few months.

Tuesday
Mar032009

Q&A With George Kirsch

George Kirsch is the author of an important new book: Golf In America. A literate and entertaining read, Kirsch's meticulously researched study of the American game offers a timely perspective. Obviously, anyone with an interest in seeing how golf reinvents itself during these lean times will value the information gleaned from Golf In America.

A history professor at Manhattan College, Mr. Kirsch answered a few questions via email.

GS: What motivated you to undertake such a daunting topic?

GK: After writing two books about early baseball and editing several volumes of sports documents and one ethnic sports encyclopedia, I was looking for a new subject. I have played golf since I was fourteen, so golf history was a natural topic for me. Also, when I began my research I was surprised to discover that no one had written a social history of golf that covered social class, gender, racial and ethnic aspects of the sport.

GS: In looking at the history of golf in America, you reveal in many ways that its place in American life goes beyond the country club world. Yet the sport is facing a backlash these days because it is viewed as a game for the corporate elite. Can we get past this perception?

GK: In American culture it is very hard to change the public’s perception of any topic which has been reinforced by the media for a long time. This is true even when the facts clearly refute the prevailing myths. After all, many people still believe that Abner Doubleday invented baseball at Cooperstown, New York. Golf commentators on television and golf writers focus on tournaments held at private clubs, and showcase country club life and the best players. One of my main goals in writing Golf in America was to prove that the democratization of golf in the United States began as early as the 1890s with the first municipal courses in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and other cities. Sportscasters and newspaper and magazine writers need to remind the public that there are millions of working class and middle class golfers of both sexes and all races and ethnic groups who play the game on municipal and semiprivate daily fee courses.

GS: You explain how golf was viewed as important back then because it was a vital recreational sport and now we hear less about its benefits to health and fitness. Would you blame this on the emergence of the cart?

GK: I agree that although the advent of the motorized cart in the 1950s enabled many elderly and infirm men and women to enjoy playing golf for many more years, it also drastically reduced the health and exercise benefits for many people who were perfectly capable of walking for eighteen holes. In the early 1900s proponents of golf recommended it as an ideal sport for men past the age of thirty who could no longer play active team sports such as football, basketball, or even baseball. Today jogging and fitness training have become more popular than golf and even tennis for physical fitness. But it is still true that one of the major attractions of golf as a recreational pastime is that it provides people with the opportunity to spend four or five hours in a beautiful country setting, which is a welcome relief for city dwellers and even suburbanites and good for their mental health.

GS: You feature an excellent chapter on golf during the Great Depression. Do you see parallels to today's economic crisis and ways that golf will survive as it did during the Depression?

GK: Yes, there are many parallels. Many country clubs including several very upscale associations have already responded to declining membership by waiving pricey admission fees for new members. Other clubs have offered trial one-year memberships or delayed or extended payment of dues. If the hard times continue, many country clubs will have to resort to other remedies applied during the 1930s, including admitting classes of people who would have been denied entrance during more flush times and creating less expensive “house” or “associate” categories of membership. Officers will also be hard pressed to maintain balanced budgets. During the Depression golfers who could no longer afford club dues patronized semiprivate and public facilities, which were generally in a sorry state of neglect. Under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration between 1935 and 1937 the Works Progress Administration spent more than ten million dollars on 368 public courses nationwide, including sixty-two new facilities. Today’s municipal courses are in better shape, but some no doubt could benefit from improvements. But the recent federal stimulus legislation does not seem to include funds for renovation of municipal links. Another difference today is that now many real estate developments that feature golf courses are in financial trouble, and their management cannot maintain them in good condition. That was not a major problem in the 1930s.

GS: In the book you look at the role Presidents have played both in things like the WPA, and also just by their very participation in the game, or in John Kennedy's case, closeted participation. How do you see Barack Obama's affinity for the sport comparing to past Presidents and perhaps influencing golf's image?

GK: Barack Obama’s combination of basketball and golf as favorite pastimes is unusual for Presidents. I don’t think he will have as much impact on golf as did William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, who really played a critical role in the democratization of the game early in the twentieth century, or especially Dwight Eisenhower, whose influence was so important during the 1950s. If he plays a few rounds with Tiger Woods that might further enhance golf’s growing popularity among middle class and affluent African Americans. If he counts every stroke it would be an improvement over Bill Clinton.

GS: In light of your research and perspective, how do you see the next few years playing out?

GK: History suggests that golf in the United States has weathered previous hard times of depression and war quite well. The game still seems to remain popular among tens of millions of participants. The key for the near future is the cost of playing on municipal and semiprivate courses. Many of the daily fee facilities are now charging high green fees, so I expect that the cheaper public links will be even more crowded in the largest cities. It remains to be seen whether further rounds of suburbanization will also result in more golf courses. The various minority and youth programs sponsored by the PGA, USGA, and Tiger Woods should help. Changing family trends will make it more difficult for fathers to spend four or five hours away from their families on weekends. Women will gain more equal treatment at country clubs.

Tuesday
Mar032009

"Here’s all anyone needs to know about a most peculiar West Coast Swing: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem played more rounds than Tiger Woods."

Doug Ferguson sums up what he sees as a lackluster West Coast Swing and reports that the Commish is working the phones trying to find sponsors. I don't think it was quite as week as Ferguson says when you consider the quality of winners and the absence of Tiger. After we watch Florida golf the next month this year's West Coast will look brilliant.

Of course, he has a point when the entire thing was set against this ominous backdrop:

In a video message to players last December, Finchem encouraged them to show support by adding an event they don’t normally play.

Four players competed in every tournament for which they were eligible – Pat Perez, Alex Cejka, Brendon de Jonge and Dean Wilson. Those probably weren’t the players Finchem had in mind.

For his part, Finchem showed up at every tournament on the West Coast except for Phoenix and Mexico.

This is a critical year for the commissioner as he works to extend title sponsorship at some 20 tournaments that expire in 2010. Results have been mixed. Accenture and Travelers (Hartford) have renewed through 2014, but FBR (Phoenix), U.S. Bank (Milwaukee) and Ginn Resorts (Fall Series in Florida) already are out.

“I’m losing my voice and people ask me if I’m sick,” Finchem said. “It’s because I’m on the phone all the time.”

Tuesday
Mar032009

Callaway Sues Titleist...Again

E. Michael Johnson reports that these lovebirds can't get enough of each other in court. This time it's over the 2009 version of the Pro V1.

Tuesday
Mar032009

"Right before our eyes, the American poster boy turns into the American idiot."

Derek Lawrenson throws in this gem at the end of his weekly column about the next great American hope. Now, I know that to play the game at a high level requires a quiet mind, but this is getting to be a bit much.

Anthony Kim, America's savior:

"Oh, really? I didn't know Colin had been made captain. I don't follow golf that much." Anthony Kim, when asked about Monty being made Europe's Ryder Cup skipper. Right before our eyes, the American poster boy turns into the American idiot.

Tuesday
Mar032009

Are Top Players Playing More?

In attempt to determine whether players listened to Tim Finchem's plea for more appearances, John Strege takes a look at the West Coast Swing appearances of top players, subtracts Vijay and Tiger because of their injuries, and offers this:

Of the other 28 players, 11 played fewer PGA Tour events through the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2009 than they did through the same event in 2008; eight played more events; and nine played the same number. 

Tuesday
Mar032009

"Membership Without Privileges"

Thanks to reader Scott for catching Dave Andrews' nice bit of reporting on some Duramed Futures Tour players having almost no LPGA Tour status, despite tour press releases to the contrary.

Monday
Mar022009

"Modern equipment has played a large part in this rush of young blood."

While Ron Sirak attributes the emergence of teens Rory, Ryo and Danny to Tiger, John Huggan says their success at a young age may be thanks to equipment changes.

Such a phenomenon is relatively new in men's professional golf, certainly in terms of so many new and unshaven faces arriving at once. Where the women's game has long seen wee lassies in their mid-to-late teens capable of contending in the biggest events, it has traditionally taken longer for physically less mature laddies to achieve similar heights.

And...

So it is that, where the separation between good and great used to have much to do with the aesthetically pleasing art form that was shot-making, today the game is more about raw power. Very early – much earlier than before – young players armed with the requisite talent and nerve to survive with the very best begin playing basically the same muscle-bound game favoured by their supposed superiors. Accompanied by squeals of anger and disappointment from purists everywhere, draw, fade and feather have been replaced by crash, bang and wallop.

Which is not to say that there is not a lot of fun to be had from watching this new generation of stars in action

True, but will the quality of play ultimately be impacted the way a rush of youth in the NBA has affected play, or is this just a natural progression of the sport?

 

Monday
Mar022009

“Evidence is also mounting that the assets of the estate will be only a fraction of the amount needed to satisfy the anticipated claims against the estate"

Not a huge shock here, but it looks like Stanford Financial has few assets to pay off investors or "Eagles for St. Jude."

Speaking of that program, it appears that primary sponsor Stanford has been erased from the program website already, even though it had been announced at one time. At least, I can't find their logo anywhere. Not counting Vijay's shirt (left).

Monday
Mar022009

"Arguments for a 36-hole final dry up pretty quickly -- especially when this option offers the potential of more compelling, star-studded action deeper into the week."

John Maginnes weighs the pros and cons of the WGC match play's 36-hole final and can't find any good reasons to keep playing two rounds for the finale.

His piece appears on the Mothership's own website, so maybe this idea is gaining momentum? (Or, for conspiracy theorists, the decision has been made and the idea was merely started in Ponte Vedra and NBC...either way, Sunday semi's followed by an 18-hole final match would be a wise switch for everyone involved.)

Monday
Mar022009

"So you feel for Jack a little bit because you're not allowed to do it any more."

I thought Geoff Ogilvy was kind (and insightful) on the subject of what appears to be another Jack Nicklaus design players don't care for. Geoff's typically original analysis:

Q. Tiger earlier in the week said these greens were quite severe. What's the difference between big curvaceous greens like these and big curvy greens like at Augusta National?

GEOFF OGILVY: The greens at Augusta look like they're supposed to -- they look like -- they look right. Most of them are built on the hill that they're on, their natural looking slopes, it doesn't look like people moved too much dirt to make those greens.

These ones look a little contrived. And they're a bit -- Augusta has the bigger sweeping kind of more natural looking hills. These ones have a few little steep things and such.
(Laughter.)

But it's probably almost genius greens. I mean, all the best golf courses in the world have really slopey greens. So you can see what he's trying to do. Greens are getting too flat probably because greens are getting too fast. You couldn't design Augusta right now, every player would walk off if we walked into Augusta the first time we had ever seen it, played a brand new golf course, we would all quit after nine holes. We would all say, "I can't play this, it's ridiculous."

So you feel for Jack a little bit because you're not allowed to do it any more. But they look -- I don't mind big slopes. I just don't -- they just don't look as natural as Oakmont or Saint Andrews or Augusta like the truly natural slopey ones.

So he's really saying that an architect can still pull off big, sloping greens if the contours are built properly.

Now, the three courses cited by Ogilvy all had one thing in common at the time of their creation: they were not constrained by USGA spec greens.  Augusta has since gone to USGA greens and according to the people I trust who played them before and after, have lost a great deal of their character in the way of neat little bumps and rolls.

Not that this is a legitimate defense of poor green design, but it is something to keep in mind as the players pile on The Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. (And if they were lukewarm while at the tournament, it only gets worse when they get off property! Playing PGA National this week won't help.)

Monday
Mar022009

"In match play Sunday, it's a pairing sheet -- as in singular."

After reading Steve Elling's lament of the match play format and its impact on attendance, the SI guys suggestion of Sunday morning semi's followed by a Sunday afternoon final really is a great idea.

Last year, Woods played in the Accenture final against fellow Ryder Cupper Stewart Cink and the day drew an announced crowd of 7,500 fans. The tour's turnstile count for Sunday's Casey-Ogilvy tilt was 6,270. Setting aside the meaningless consolation match, for fans, it's essentially an all-or-nothing proposition on Sundays. There are only two players to watch over the course of an entire day, whereas a stroke-play format would have 70 or more guys to eyeball on the weekend.

In match play Sunday, it's a pairing sheet -- as in singular.

The 6,000 are clogged up, all walking on the same hole or two, making sightlines more challenging, too. Match play is a square peg on a round golf hole. That's probably why it's best left for quirky events like the Ryder and Presidents cups. Once a year is plenty.

Monday
Mar022009

Ogilvy Over The Final 36

From Derek Lawrenson's WGC Match Play game story:

But all credit needs to be given to the prodigiously gifted Ogilvy, who had no bogeys and was 12 under for the holes played, a marvellous feat at the end of such a draining tournament.

From Helen Ross at PGATour.com:

Over Ogilvy's last 56 holes, the numbers were even more eye-popping with 22 birdies, two eagles and just one bogey. He mowed down Kevin Sutherland, Shingo Katayama, Camilo Villegas, Rory McIlroy, Stewart Cink and Casey as he ran his record to 17-2.

And PGATour.com breaks all of the numbers down here, including the scorecard.