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

There may possibly be some reader whose golf life has been so insulated and isolated that he or she does not know what is meant by the verb to yip. What it means is to be so overwhelmed by grotesque fear of missing a short putt as to lose control of the putter. That loss of control can take two basic forms: inability to move the putter at all, which was the affliction Ben Hogan suffered at the end of his career; or the putter, as if in the hands of demons, wildly stabs at the ball.
SANDY TATUM ("recovering yipper")




"I don't know nothing about the history of golf"

Mike Aitken adds to the Boo-Weekley-should-not-talk-golf files. Reporting from the Scottish Open:

In the course of conversation, Weekley asked the Aberdonian if he was playing in the following week's major. "I kind of put my foot in my mouth there," recalled the man named after Yogi Bear's sidekick.

This week the American was sitting beside Sandy Lyle in the players' lounge – the only Scot ever to win at Augusta – and was surprised to learn he was a past Masters' champion.

"I don't know nothing about the history of golf," confessed the game's favourite country bumpkin. "I was sitting in there yesterday with Sandy Lyle and never even knew he won the Masters (in 1988]. Seriously, I don't keep up with golf."


"It's nonstop. You can't lose your luggage."

Nice story by Bob Harig on the Deere Classic's $300,000 investment in a chartered jet paying off, with 22 players using it to fly to Turnberry this year. The last year before the jet, they had 2 Open contestants tee it up. And they don't lose luggage of not hugely fat people.

It didn't take Mark Calcavecchia long to see the benefits of such an arrangement. Calc, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 1989 British title at Royal Troon, had a nightmare trip to Carnoustie two years ago.

"None of my stuff showed up until Wednesday," Calcavecchia said. "Clubs, clothes, nothing. Absolutely zero. I had to go find some clothes. Not that I'm hugely fat, but when you're looking for double XL stuff over in Scotland, you'd think there were no fat guys anywhere near there. It was a struggle to find something to wear.

"So this is awesome. It's nonstop. You can't lose your luggage. It's a nice plane, everybody has a good time. The food is awesome. It's kind of a no-brainer."


"We’re not sure whether she crushes the grapes with her feet or wedges, or melts them out of their skins with her icy stares."

Before we get to that gem, Jim Achenbach is tired of the Brand Lady resignation talk.

Still, this Bivens bashing is a raw deal. With the LPGA caught in the crunch of a severe commercial downturn that has handcuffed most current or potential tournament sponsors, this is not the time to publicly undress Bivens. The bad judgment of the LPGA players who requested her resignation was exceeded only by their bad timing.

His Golfweek colleague Jim McCabe wasn't so forgiving, particularly after Cristie Kerr's refusal to speak...except that winemaking.

Winemaking? The sour one herself makes sweet nectar? Shock of shocks, sort of like finding out that John Daly is really a pate and sparkling water guy.

We’re not sure whether she crushes the grapes with her feet or wedges, or melts them out of their skins with her icy stares. Nor do we know whether she prefers white or under-par red, but this is an intriguing development in golf. It brings to 1,639 the number of players who are now making their own wine.

Bob Lentz talks to Lorena Ochoa about the situation and previews the Open.

Steve Elling features several interesting remarks from Dottie Pepper including this:

At the moment, Bivens is not predisposed to be deposed, though most believe it's an inevitability.

"I think it's now a matter of when [Bivens is ousted]," said Dottie Pepper, a longtime LPGA star and now an analyst for multiple broadcast networks. "This is pretty much the ultimate vote of no-confidence. Frankly, something needs to be done."

He also buries this intriguing item:

As bad as Bivens' moves have backfired, the players deserve huge catcalls for failing to speak up about their role in the insurrection -- although it should be noted that the LPGA is exerting pressure to silence the criticism.

A highly placed industry source said Wednesday that rising star Tseng was given written notice from the tour before her Tuesday press session, asking that she not answer questions about Bivens' status.

I wonder how that notice worked? Probably something simple, flowery and on a lawyer's stationery.

Speaking of Pepper, she penned these Open preview thoughts. I particularly liked her nominations of Salem CC and Pasatiempo as possible future venues. Not so sure about the Oak Hill nod.


Golfers Around The World Pay Tribute To King Of Pop

Nice catch by Bob Smiley...


Stevie Shedding His Bib

Sounds like a children's story, and in a sense, it is.

Bob Carney reports that Golf Digest/Golf World receives weekly letters like the two he posts about Woods bagman Steve Williams and his 18th hole bib-shedding act.

Carney says the tour doesn't really want to pick a fight with Stevie, and after this video, can you blame them?


Sirak Tweets: No Bivens At Saucon Valley

Maybe the wisest move she's made in a while.


"He’s started referring to next week’s extravaganza as — deep breath now — the ‘British Open,’ for heaven’s sake."

Derek Lawrenson searches for deep hidden meaning in Ian Poulter's Tweeting and also notes this:

That 15ft putt at Birkdale was actually the last time Poulter was seen in action on British soil. Never mind those spelling mistakes. Here’s something worth feeling horrified about: the lad has spent so long in America he’s started referring to next week’s extravaganza as — deep breath now — the ‘British Open,’ for heaven’s sake.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, would probably be well within his rights to take the Claret Jug back off him if he started any winner’s speech with those words.


"Somewhere along the way, we have lost the relationship that is essential between sponsors and the LPGA."

Not a lot of positive coverage for the Brand Lady, and the theme is pretty consistent: sponsor relations stink.

Richard Oliver talks to Wendy Ward who has plenty of interesting things to say, including this:

“I am a business major; however, I am not a business professional,” said Ward, who earned a business management degree from Arizona State in 1995. “I play golf for a living. But one of the key responsibilities as a professional golfer is to maintain relationships with my sponsors. If we don't keep the sponsors happy, then we lose their interest.”

Lorne Rubenstein checks in with one of the healthier LPGA events--the Canadian Women's Open--and talks to Tournament Owners Association president Gail Graham. She explains how the Bivens put-up-shut-up approach isn't working.

Jill Painter says it's time for Bivens to go.

Bivens just doesn't get it.

She was the first female commissioner of the LPGA Tour, and Bivens didn't seize it. She's made one puzzling move after another and reportedly now is completely unyielding in negotiations with tour sponsors. The tour has lost seven tournaments since 2007. Even the PGA Tour has lost sponsors in this troubled economy but has managed to remain viable.

Earlier this year, the LPGA announced a new tournament in Los Angeles, and Bivens was in Beverly Hills for a news conference with a handful of foreign media. None of the major Los Angeles news outlets, including television stations, newspapers or Web sites, were invited to attend.

It was a puzzling omission.

Wow, and here I just assumed my invite was lost in the mail.

Len Shapiro continues the theme, talking to Kris Tschetter:

"The mistake she made is that she walked in and said 'this is what we're going to do,' and she did not get a lot of people on her side," Tschetter said. "Tournament directors didn't like her because they felt she was telling them 'my way or the highway.' Someone else might have been wiser to go a little slower with it. She was not as willing to be creative as these economic times probably would have called for.

"The bottom line is we want to play tournaments. My goodness, some of these younger girls are probably thinking we're only going to have 10 events [in the U.S.] next year. The players are thinking we've got to do whatever it takes to get this thing right. I understand both sides of it. But you just hear too many tournament directors and sponsors saying she's too hard to deal with."

And finally, Dave Seanor envisions a world where the PGA Tour or IMG take over the struggling LPGA Tour. Heaven help us.


Saucon Valley's Environmental Stewardship

Back in April Ron Whitten wrote about Saucon Valley winning the 2008 National Private and overall prize of the 2008 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award. Hopefully NBC will talk a bit about this during this weekend's U.S. Women's Open telecast.


“All we are doing is standing up for our tour. Now it’s up to our leadership and our board to find a solution.”

Leave it up to Suzann Pettersen to be the only player willing to fess up to signing the Bivens resignation letter and live to comment. Beth Ann Baldry reports:


"You can't change par in the middle of a tournament"

Thomas's rendering for LACC No. 5 using alternate tees and hole locations to match the corresponding difficulty (From The Captain)Doug Ferguson reports on a concept that I know Mike Davis has mentioned elsewhere, but it's news now that it's getting the AP treatment and a perplexed reaction from Tiger Woods: changing par during a tournament.

"One thing I'm absolutely positive we'll do in the future, perhaps in 2015 at Chambers Bay, is play a hole certain days as a par 4, and certain days as a par 5,'' Davis said in a telephone interview over the weekend.
Davis mentioned the first and 18th holes at Chambers Bay, which he felt could be played as either a par 4 or a par 5.

"We would hate to make a decision one way or another, because they could be such a good par 5, and such a good par 4,'' he said. "I would hate to give up playing it multiple ways because we have a set par.''

That could be a first - a U.S. Open where par for the four days would be 282.

"Par is just a number,'' Paul Goydos said with a shrug when told of the concept. "All you care about is the total score. What wins is 277, not 3 under or 5 under.

To add even more fun to the equation, there is an alternate green at Chambers and Davis has said he may use that too. (I believe it's on No. 5?)

Readers of The Captain know the concept is not new. George Thomas built similar flexibility into the North Course at Los Angeles CC and saw extreme-day-to-day variety as a way to import links-style diversity to inland sites, and as the next progression in architecture (little did he realize that the next generation would be devoid of imagination and could barely build 18 holes, much less anything displaying great ingenuity).

Hopefully Davis does not wait until the 2015 Open to do this. With the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay next year, what better time to test out this more aggressive setup flexibility than during match play?

And to really spice it up, why not make some radical changes during the 36-hole days? The possibilities are just so fun to contemplate and so much more interesting as a test of skill.

Can we kick around some major championship holes where you have the flexibility to move tees enough to alternate their par in a way that is both functional and adding to the overall test?

I'd nominate No. 18 at Oakland Hills for starters. One day you could play it as an interesting risk-reward par-5, another as the goofiest par-4 finishing hole in golf west of Bethpage.

They'd roast Davis on the fire pits at Spanish Bay for doing it, but No. 18 at Pebble would be fun playing to different pars. Other nominations?


"A total of 26 teens are in the field"

That's what Mark Wogenrich reports from Saucon Valley, including 13-year-old Yueer Cindy Feng.


"I think a player ought to be on the executive committee of the USGA"

Thanks to reader Carl for picking this up in Doug Ferguson's weekly notes column:

The latest suggestion from Joe Ogilvie? "I think a player ought to be on the executive committee of the USGA,'' said Ogilvie, still perplexed at the various dates when new grooves rules take effect.

Now that would liven things up in Far Hills!

While Joe's point relates to grooves, I say they need a professional golfer on the committee because he or she will better relate to the top amateurs in the game. You know, someone who knows what it's like to receive lots of free stuff.


“You’ve got Tiger and Anthony Kim in the last group. Does it really matter who’s not here?”

Doug Ferguson tries to figure out why more top players aren't coming to the swampy, stagnant, dreary Congressional two weeks before the Open Championship and where the host is Tiger Woods.


"Sources close to the situation say Bivens has no intention of resigning"

Couple of bits in Ron Sirak's latest filing on the Bivens/LPGA situation, starting with this from LPGA Board Chair Dawn Hudson.

"I can't speak with you right now," Hudson, the LPGA Board chair, said when reached by Golf World. "I have so much to do of an internal nature I can't speak with you." Bivens has 18 months remaining on her contract and the cash-strapped LPGA would be hard-pressed to buy her out.

And after reminding us that the LPGA Tour may not have the funds to offer Bivens a viable buyout-got to love that irony--Sirak notes:

What's not clear at this time is exactly what it has come to. One thing that is clear seems to be the difficult position sponsors or potential sponsors would be in if they are negotiating with a commissioner whose future is in doubt. While sources close to the situation say Bivens has no intention of resigning, that may become a decision that is not in her hands, but rather that of the Board.


King Of Golf For A Day

Thanks to reader Jim for Ron Green Jr.'s take on a old favorite. I can't say I disagree with any of his ten wishes, especially this one:

10 No cars, fountains or signs in water hazards

The only things allowed in water hazards are whitecaps, algae, Titleists, disobedient putters, ducks, rocks and bass. And Tiger Woods' 9-iron Steve Williams dropped in the pond at the K Club in Ireland three years ago.


Another DVR Alert: Nicklaus-Watson At Turnberry

I'm sure the ESPN on ABC On BBC telecast will feature the inevitable revisiting of Nicklaus-Watson at Turnberry, but this Monday night Golf Channel show sounds promising despite the presence of "award winning" journalists.

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6, 2009 – One of the most memorable showdowns in major championship history took place at the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry, when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson engaged in a historic 36-hole battle for the Claret Jug that became known as “The Duel in the Sun.”

When the 2009 Open Championship returns to Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland, next week, GOLF CHANNEL will chronicle the story of the duo’s epic battle in a special presentation, Duel in the Sun, airing Monday, July 13 at 9 p.m. ET. The half-hour special includes tournament footage from the original broadcast and features recent interviews with Nicklaus and Watson, third-round leader Roger Maltbie, 1977 U.S. Open Champion and third-place finisher Hubert Green, and several award-winning journalists.

Duel in the Sun will document the Nicklaus-Watson pairing in the final round at the 1977 Open Championship, where they separated themselves from the field. Watson, going for his second major of the year, birdied the 71st hole on Sunday to take the lead for the first time, ultimately finishing one shot ahead of Nicklaus at 12-under-par. Green, who finished 11 strokes back of Watson at 1-under-par, was the only other player to break par for the tournament.

Duel in the Sun will re-air Monday, July 13 at 9:30 p.m. ET and Tuesday, July 14 (Monday night) at midnight ET.


"We need to keep our subways running."

My July Golfdom column reviews the 2009 U.S. Open and makes a plea for tips on superintendents who are helping out their nearby muni's. All over the place in 600 words. Your basic Nuke LaLoosh special.


"Out of respect for the USGA, I'm asking that questions at this time be reserved for the U.S. Open or questions about myself and my golf and perhaps my wine making."

Cristie Kerr, at the 2009 U.S. Women's Open, sidestepping LPGA/Bivens questions:

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. I want to read something I've actually prepared for everybody. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for coming out for the 2009 U.S. Women's Open at Saucon Valley. The USGA as usual has done an amazing job preparing for this event, and I speak for a lot of players when I say we're very excited to be here this week. As a former champion of this prestigious event, I can honestly say that this course, the community and the field for this year's event is going to provide a memorable week. I happen to think it's one of my favorite U.S. Open golf courses I've ever played. I also realize many of you in this room probably have questions and concerns and issues involving the LPGA. Out of respect for the USGA, I'm asking that questions at this time be reserved for the U.S. Open or questions about myself and my golf and perhaps my wine making. I cannot comment on matters pertaining to the LPGA operations as I do not have an official capacity to do that.

But I can talk about the new cab we're debuting this fall. It's not subtle but it is very crisp, just like Carolyn Bivens!

Kerr's statement did not go over too well with Steve Elling. Wowsers.


"She was able to ignore much of the criticism because she knew her constituency had her back."

We're seeing the value of a local perspective in coverage of the brewing Bivens-LPGA situation.

Ferd Lewis reviews several Bivens lowlights--many coming in Hawaii--and concludes:

The question shouldn't be whether Bivens is shown the door by the LPGA, but what took so long to finally push her out it?

Dave Hackenberg in Toledo:

Some of her ideas and moves have made her a punching bag for the media, and too many tournament owners and sponsors have gone from feeling like customers and colleagues to mere ATM machines for the tour.

But she was able to ignore much of the criticism because she knew her constituency had her back.

He goes on to share some of the ways tournaments are having to pay the LPGA more and looks at the perils of Bivens' "hard-line negotiating stance"

Larry Bohannan in Palm Springs:

A growing school of thought is that some sponsors aren't just cutting back on expenses during a recession. Instead, they are leaving the LPGA due to Bivens' policies, but using the economy as a legitimate smokescreen.