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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

Every hole must have individuality and be sound. Often it is necessary to get from one section to another over ground which is not suited to the easiest construction, but that troublesome hole must be made to stand right up in meeting with the others, and if it has not got anything about it that might make it respectable, it has got to have quality knocked into it until it can hold its head up in polite society.  A.W. TILLINGHAST


    

Wednesday
Nov192008

"Given what could have been the potential negative economic impact on our schedule, we view this as a barometer of stability, appeal and value for our players and our property"

That's what the LPGA Commish said in describing the new schedule, which is missing three events and has the players making some pretty long treks from week-to-week. Tim Reynolds, writing for AP:

Next year's LPGA schedule begins in Hawaii, then heads to Thailand, Singapore and Mexico, not returning to the U.S. until the Phoenix event from March 26-29, details of which have yet to be released.

Some events shifted slots from the 2008 schedule, others changed sponsors and details are still being finalized about the Samsung World Championship, which was in Cleveland this year.

One quirk to the 2009 schedule: The U.S. Women's Open starts July 9, followed by the Evian Masters, the British Open and the Solheim Cup. So it's possible that a player who isn't qualified for those events wouldn't play between the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (which ends July 5) and the Safeway Classic (which starts Aug. 28).

"Given what could have been the potential negative economic impact on our schedule, we view this as a barometer of stability, appeal and value for our players and our property," Bivens said.

Wednesday
Nov192008

"It's not the end of the world. It will be fine. It is fine."

Let's hope when tournament sponsors pondering their next exemption decision look at John Daly's name and take a pass in favor of J.P. Hayes. That's assuming they have seen Gary D’Amato's story on the journeyman's incredible show of integrity at Q-school second stage. (Thanks to readers Gene and Lee for the heads up.)

After the second round, as Hayes relaxed in his hotel room, it suddenly occurred to him that the wrong ball he had played in the first round might not have been on the USGA's approved list.

"It was a Titleist prototype, and somehow it had gotten into my bag," he said. "It had been four weeks since Titleist gave me some prototype balls and I tested them. I have no idea how or why it was still in there."

He could have said nothing and kept playing. But he couldn't have lived with himself knowing he had possibly broken the rules.

"I called an official in Houston that night and said, 'I think I may have a problem,' " Hayes said. "He said they'd call Titleist the next day. I pretty much knew at that point I was going to be disqualified."

Hayes refused to blame his caddie.

"He kind of wanted to take some of the blame, but he knows I'm anal about my equipment," he said. "I go through my bag every night. I want to know what's in there. It's almost therapeutic for me."

This time, Hayes missed one non-conforming ball. The prototype should have been easy to spot because while it bore the Titleist brand name, there was no label on the "seam" to identify the model.

Hayes said if he'd teed up the ball on a par-4 or par-5, he would have immediately known he had the wrong ball because he uses the label as an alignment aide with his driver. It's a habit he picked up several years ago, when it was rumored Titleist balls flew a few more yards when struck on the label.

"But it was a par-3 and I don't use the label to line up on par-3s," he said. "It was my mistake. I had no choice but to take my medicine."

Wednesday
Nov192008

Safe To Say: "Value Proposition" A Must On Any MBA-Speak Bingo Board

Here I was just getting comfortable with value modulations when I come to learn it all comes down to value propositions.

Randell Mell reports that ADT actually might have liked to have stayed on as the sponsor of a year-end, must see, ultra cool event on the LPGA Tour. But the LPGA's increased asking price is the real culprit.

I think the countdown clock just started ticking for the Brand Lady.

Tour pros were informed by the LPGA one month ago that ADT chose not to renew because the company was pursuing different marketing objectives.

"The explanation ADT gave us for not renewing was that its marketing objectives and means of going about attracting customers was changing and the ADT Championship didn't fit into its future plans," said Mike Nichols, LPGA vice president of tournament business affairs.

ADT President John Koch said there was more to the decision.

"Basically, the change in the renewal pricing caused us to re-evaluate the value proposition of the overall program," Koch said. "You will hear various takes on that, but it is inaccurate for anyone to state that our decision was based on any form of cost cutting by our company. In fact, we have increased our marketing budget."

The LPGA made various proposals to ADT, including making ADT the umbrella sponsor of a series of LPGA events. The proposal the LPGA favored most was moving the event to the start of the 2010 season, where it would no longer compete against football and would be more appealing to TV as part of a potential package that the LPGA could sell to networks.

While ADT officials expressed concern about altering the nature of the event with a big payoff at season's start, Koch said it wasn't an overriding factor in his company's decision not to renew.

Koch would not reveal what ADT paid for its title sponsorship in the latest two-year contract extension that ends this year, but industry insiders estimate the company paid $3 million per year. While Koch also would not divulge the LPGA's asking prices, an industry expert said the tour was asking a substantial increase, prices beyond what adding weekend network TV coverage would require.

Koch said his company enjoyed a "great relationship" with the LPGA, a "good dialogue" and carefully considered all the LPGA's proposals, but ultimately decided not to accept.

"At the end of the day, there wasn't any reason other than value proposition," Koch said. "They have the right to think what the value of their tournament is. We respect them for that."

But just think, they won't have to compete with football now! Oh wait, there's no sponsor. Or course. Or date set.

Why take an established attention-getter--albeit one in November running up against the NFL--and exchange that with a year-starting $1 million event (?!?) that might happen?

And even the master negotiator himself isn't expressing much admiration for the Commissioner's work.

Donald Trump, who has been an unofficial host of the event for its entire eight-year run as owner of Trump International, was disappointed the LPGA didn't make ADT a better offer.

"Outside the U.S. Open, this has been the most important event on the ladies' tour," Trump said. "It is sad it has to end, and perhaps the tour should have made some concessions."

Perhaps? Who said The Donald isn't a kind soul?

And this from Juli Inkster:

"ADT and their people have been nothing but very supportive of the LPGA Tour and its players," said Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, a member of the LPGA's Board of Directors once sponsored by ADT. "They've done so much for us, and I was just very disappointed to hear we were losing them.

"But I don't want to point fingers. I don't know the ins and outs of what happened or what went wrong, but something went wrong. If it didn't, we would still have ADT as a sponsor. Hopefully the tour knows what it's doing and this will work out for the best."

And if they don't?

But back to value propositions. Larry Dorman takes a look at all sectors of the golf industry and frankly, I came away less bummed out than I thought I might based on his talks with various retailers. Of course, the PGA Tour's $5 million man stayed on message...nearly verbatim to previous statements. Though this value proposition business has thrown me for a loop.

Finchem runs the organization of players that many golfers aspire to become, or at least to emulate. As such, he knows the importance of sustaining what he calls the PGA Tour’s “value proposition.” That, he said, is the formula for success that includes “the demographic of decision makers that we reach, the quality of the branding we deliver, the quality of our TV platform, the business-to-business opportunities, and our long-term relationships with our customers.”

 

Tuesday
Nov182008

Azinger Fired Up and Ready To Go!

After considering his offers (not too many) and touring the White House where 43 convinced him the job was as meaningful as the Presidency, Paul Azinger appears to have thrown his hat in the ring for the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy. At least, judging by this comment reported by Tim Rosaforte.

"It would mean something to carry the flag [into Wales]," Azinger said, excited by the challenge.

Meanwhile, Jeff Rude says "PGA of America" has not popped up on Zinger's caller I.D. in some time and the job will likely be going to Corey Pavin.

Tuesday
Nov182008

Hunter Mahan Will Cross California State Line To Play In Chevron World Challenge

It's touching to witness Hunter Mahan's bravery in deciding to enter a golf tournament here in California, that offensive state he made the mistake of acknowledging to President Bush as his birthplace!

More importantly, Stephen Ames is in the same field. Hopefully he'll be coming off his ninth straight Skins Game win!

COME JOIN TIGER WOODS AS HE PLAYS HOST TO 16 PGA TOUR PROFESSIONALS AT THE CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE DEC. 17-21

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (November 17, 2008)— It’s Tiger Wood’s tournament and you are invited! Don’t miss your chance to join Tiger as he plays host to 16 elite PGA TOUR professionals for the Chevron World Challenge presented by Bank of America. On December 17-21 at Sherwood Country Club, Woods will return to Southern California in his official role as host of the prestigious co-sponsored PGA TOUR event. Woods will be on hand to kick off the tournament starting with the annual Pro-Am on Wednesday. The tournaments 10th year of professional play begins Thursday and ends with Woods’ award ceremony on Sunday.

“Even though I can’t play, I’m looking forward to joining the fans for another exciting Chevron World Challenge while raising money for my Foundation,” Woods said. “I will be there to support the players, watch an incredible week of golf, and participate in the award ceremony.”

The Chevron World Challenge field is comprised of 16 players, the top 12 players from the Official World Golf Ranking who accept the invitation to complete and four players who are awarded special exemption. This year’s field includes Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis, Fred Couples, Paul Casey, Boo Weekley, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, Luke Donald and Stephen Ames. 

Tuesday
Nov182008

Sirak Prepares To Cover The First Of Annika's Farewells

Reporting from the ADT Championship, where Annika's first farewell commences, Ron Sirak:

Even Sorenstam has backed off using the "R" word, changing the phrasing from "retiring from competitive golf" to a more qualified and significantly more open-ended "stepping away from competition." What is likely is that after the ADT Championship this week and the Dubai Ladies Masters next month, a Ladies European Tour event, we will not see Sorenstam in a full-field tournament for at least a year.

But is this really the end? All I know is that I covered Arnold Palmer's last British Open and last Masters twice each. Muhammad Ali retired at least three times. And six years after Richard Nixon told the media "you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore," he was elected President of the United States -- and six years after that kicked out of office. But I digress.

Tuesday
Nov182008

"He's common folk just like we are"

PGA.com's Kathy Orton talks to the Ryder Cup players who visited the White House Monday.

Boo, on the outgoing President who attended Yale and Harvard Business School.

"He's common folk just like we are," added Boo Weekley. "He's just like his daddy, I think. I met his daddy before, a couple times. Like his daddy told me at the Ryder Cup, he said, 'Son, you act just like my son.' I said, 'Yes, sir, I probably do. I don't know that for a fact, but I probably do.'"

There you go. 41 says 43 acts like Boo Weekley.

This is lovely...

Hunter Mahan was worried that he upset the President because he told him he was from California, even though he now lives in Texas.

"He asked if I was from Texas, and I'm not originally, but I do live there," Mahan said. "I consider myself a Texan more than a Californian, which is where I'm from. I hope I didn't offend him."

I can see where he might be offended. I've never understood why the President should have to deal with a state that does not give him the electoral votes he desires. So offensive. 

Maybe Hunter should just not play in California?

Tuesday
Nov182008

Ben and Bill To Get...A Senior Major?

Last week Greg Henry reported at Examiner.com that Colorado Golf Club was going to get a PGA Championship. That report has since been taken down (come on guys, that's now how the web works!) and replaced with a new post that Thursday's announcement will reveal a 2010 Senior PGA for the Coore-Crenshaw design. That was based on a Rocky Mountain news report suggesting that the announcement could still include a PGA.

Tuesday
Nov182008

"I'm Tiger Woods right now. You're not getting anything out of me but plain vanilla."

From Mike Bresnahan's LA Times Laker notes, covering the latest in the Kobe-Shaq saga after O'Neal's comments to the Sacramento Bee's Scott Howard-Cooper:

Predictably, Bryant didn't want anything to do with the topic on Monday, even though he and O'Neal appeared to have sewn up their differences, at least publicly.

"Why are you asking me that?" he said. "No, really. You've got to be kidding me. I've been talking about it for so long, I don't want to talk about it anymore. It's silly to me. I'm Tiger Woods right now. You're not getting anything out of me but plain vanilla. I'm not saying anything. My mouth is locked."

So much for Tiger's street cred with the NBA crowd.

 

Monday
Nov172008

IM'ing With The Commissioners, Vol. X

Now that my friends at the NSA are downsizing in the wake of the election results, they found time to send along an instant message exchange between Commissioners Tim Finchem and Carolyn Bivens.

Click on the image to enlarge:


Monday
Nov172008

J.B. Holmes Spotted At White House Wearing Shoes

Only seven Republicans players make it to the White House for an Oval Office visit? Wow...

"I was really proud of what the players were able to accomplish on a stage of this size, one of the biggest stages in the world when you consider there were some 600 million viewers."

Azinger was accompanied by his assistant captain Raymond Floyd and players Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis, Jim Furyk, J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan and Boo Weekley. 

Monday
Nov172008

“It was a tough sell at $2 million a year and now you’re coming back two years later with a $4 million price tag?”

Jon Show talks to the LPGA Tour's Chris Higgs, who says the tour will have nearly the same number of 2009 events as this year...if you don't know how to count. More alarmingly, a sidebar with the piece says only five events are locked in for 2010, with this ominous note perhaps explaining why the future is bleak:

While most tournaments cited the economy as the main obstacle to finding new title sponsors, the LPGA’s rising sponsorship and sanctioning fees under Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who took the post in September 2005, have created some obstacles in small to medium-size markets. Tulsa, which lost SemGroup as a title sponsor when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, has not found a new sponsor, in part because of the higher price tag.

“It was a tough sell at $2 million a year and now you’re coming back two years later with a $4 million price tag?” said a source close to the tournament. “That’s not an easy proposition.” 

Monday
Nov172008

Hertz Club Gold, Here They Come!

Doug Ferguson reports the tragic news that the PGA Tour's finest may have to rent cars next year after Buick's various regional offices are believed to be cutting courtesy car programs at all but a handful of tournaments.

Kevin Sutherland finished a career-high 18th on the PGA Tour money list this year with just over $2.5 million. He has been on tour a dozen years and can remember times when he rented his own car at an airport.

“I expected some of the perks we’ve gotten in the past are going to be cut back, and it only makes sense,” Sutherland said. “It’s easy to take this for granted. You show up, you get your car. You bring in your dry cleaning, they do it for you. Some of this stuff is over the top, and you get spoiled over time. But so many companies are struggling.” 

Sunday
Nov162008

"Now, who knows?”

Katie Thomas lays out scenarios for the sports business world in a post-GM bailout era. Two things jumped out as it pertains to golf. The first item revolves around bankruptcy vs. a bailout.

On the surface, organizations with existing agreements with G.M. may consider a bailout a preferable outcome, because under a bankruptcy, the company could ask a court to void contracts. But because a federal bailout would also very likely lead to significant restructuring, some said G.M. could be compelled to try to renegotiate active contracts anyway.

“With the bailout probably comes strings attached, and what those strings are, who knows?” said Greg Brown, the president of Learfield Sports, which handles marketing for 50 university athletic programs. Rather than seek to cancel existing contracts, several sports executives said G.M. and other companies were more likely to scale back promotions and focus on initiatives that led directly to a sale.

“If you’re on the verge of bankruptcy, then you want to find out how to get the money now, rather than how do I get the 15-year-old to start thinking about the car they want to buy in the future?” Shropshire said.

As for pro golf...

But for now, marketers at a variety of sports organizations say they are in for some tough times.

“In this environment, autos are going to be off across the board,” said Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour. Two of its tournaments are sponsored by Buick through 2010, and others are sponsored by Chrysler, BMW, Honda and Mercedes. “They’re doing, in varying degrees, terrible,” he said. “The U.S. automakers are really struggling. Now, who knows?”

Finchem, however, said he was confident the companies would remain in business, which meant “they’re still going to be selling cars and, again, we have a good platform from which they can promote.”

Wow. "Terrible." "Now who knows?" "Good platform." Is this the new, more humble Commissioner? Certainly an improvement over earlier last week.

Sunday
Nov162008

Uihlein Assures Customers An Uninterrupted Supply Of Expensive Golf Balls

Wally, it was such a delight to see your name in my inbox this smokey Sunday morning, only to find a bullet point press release. Here I thought we were friends?

That's why I preferred this Op-Ed version from SouthCoastToday.com, which, if nothing else, proves that life is just fine in South Massachusetts if they can devote Op-Ed space to a patent spat.

Regardless, we want to assure our associates, customers, golfers and the community, that the injunction ruling will not have any impact on our ability to continue to manufacture, sell, ship and play Pro V1 golf balls now and in the future. This is due to the steps we took in September, well in advance of the court's decision, when we converted the production of existing Pro V1 model golf balls so they are outside the patents in question.

And who needs Lunesta when you can read news like this...

There will be no disruption in the supply of Pro V1 golf balls to golf shops around the world, or to the millions of golfers who play them. All versions of Pro V1 are legal and conform to USGA Rules and can be played with confidence. Further, Pro V1 golf balls will also be available to tour professionals and other competitive players through the remainder of the year or when their schedules resume in January 2009. 

Sunday
Nov162008

"Bivens' remaking of this season-ending event and the break with ADT will tell us so much about the wisdom of her overall plan."

Randell Mell on this week's final ADT Championship and the Commissioner's state of the LPGA Tour address:

ADT, the Fields Open, the Ginn Tribute and Safeway International are losing their title sponsors. Kapalua has been looking for a sponsor for more than a year. These issues affect Bivens' larger strategic TV plan for 2010. She needs good partners to realize this plan, and that means being a good partner in turn.

Really, the break with ADT offers a telling microcosm for us to judge Bivens' larger approach.

Tour pros ought to scrutinize what's happening to this event very closely to see if the changes are really for the better or if something special's being damaged.

Bivens' remaking of this season-ending event and the break with ADT will tell us so much about the wisdom of her overall plan.

If she unveils a future to this championship that sounds convincingly better than the eight-year run ADT gave us, players should be encouraged. If she doesn't, they ought to be worried, and they ought to be asking hard questions of their commissioner. This has been a terrific event with a wonderful run. Players are sure to measure future events against it.

Stay tuned, as they say, the commissioner steps up to the tee Wednesday.

Sunday
Nov162008

The Donald: "I've got £1bn in the bank ready to fund golf resort"

Jane Bradley reports that The Donald has all £1 billion needed to fund the Scottish golf project. Cash just waiting to be wired!

George Sorial, the Trump Organisation executive in charge of the golf resort development near Balmedie, told The Scotsman that Mr Trump had recently "increased his cash position" and has the money on hand to fund the development.

The Scottish Government gave the go-ahead to the project earlier this month, after strong opposition from locals drove the development to a public inquiry.

Mr Trump's plan for the site includes two golf courses and a 450-bedroom hotel and housing, as well as holiday apartments and golf villas.

Mr Sorial said: "The money is there, ready to be wired at any time. I am not discussing where it is, whether it is in a Scottish bank or what, but it is earmarked for this project. If we needed to put the development up tomorrow, we have the cash to do that. It is sitting there in the bank and is ready to go."

He added: "I don't think anyone in Scotland has anything to worry about."

He better, since he's suing one of his primary lenders!

Mr Trump, who is due to visit Scotland in two weeks to meet his Scottish development team, has recently filed a suit against a group of lenders – led by Deutsche Bank – on the 92-storey project, in an attempt to extend his $640 million (£430 million) construction loan.

Saturday
Nov152008

"The often insular US press, as you'd expect, has been generally scornful, sniffily reminding their readers that Europe's circuit is rife with appearance fees..."

John Huggan offers a mix of items, including agreement that Jack Nicklaus's Neiman Marcus catalog appearance is "tacky, tacky, tacky." And there was this on the European Tour.

Over the last few weeks much has been written about the European Tour's new-fangled and big-bucked 'Race to Dubai.' The often insular US press, as you'd expect, has been generally scornful, sniffily reminding their readers that Europe's circuit is rife with appearance fees and, Anthony Kim apart, bereft of Americans willing to leave the comfort zone that is the PGA Tour.

And...

Geoff Ogilvy, tied for third in last week's season-opening HSBC Championship, is another Aussie who has taken the plunge.

"I would like to add a little variety to my schedule that has not been there for a while," says the former US Open champion. "That and the fact that, for professional golfers, Dubai is going to be the place to be next November."

Saturday
Nov152008

Compton Misses By One...

While Golfweek.com has the breakdown of each second stage Q-school site, Erik Compton was the main story. Steve Elling and Bob Harig were both there to cover his final round. Elling writes:

He began the day tied for 13th, but three-putted two holes on his back nine and finished 6 under, good for a tie for 22nd. The top 20 and ties advanced to the finals, where they are assured at least partial status on the Nationwide Tour next year.

"When you live and die by the way I play and live life, it will catch up to you," Compton said.
Gut-wrenching words, indeed, but there figure to be some tough days over the short term for Compton, who gave away too many shots down the stretch, including a three-putt par from 20 feet on the par-5 16th hole after hitting a seemingly finals-clinching approach from 245 yards.

"If I get to the finals, it opens a lot of doors for somebody like me," he said, staring at his feet.
Compton was visibly tired as he completed the four-day march and didn't hit any practice balls after any of the tournament rounds. He finished 72 holes at the PGA Tour's Disney World event last Sunday, the most golf he had played in well over a year.

"Obviously, the pressure definitely got to me," he said. "I'm disappointed with that."

Harig writes:

It was obvious that Compton, 28, was exhausted, despite the fact that he had been granted the use of a cart due to his medical condition. Three weeks ago, he made it out of the first-stage qualifier by shooting a final-round 68 and advancing on the number. Last week he played in the PGA Tour's Children's Miracle Network Classic, where he made the cut and tied for 60th.

"He would have had zero chance to play if he had to walk. Zero,'' said Jim McLean, the noted instructor from the Doral Golf Resort in Miami who has worked with Compton for years. "There's no way he should be playing. No way he should be competing at this level. I'm very proud of him.''

Friday
Nov142008

"The first impression will be big -- big fairways, big greens, just big"

John Paul Newport samples 10 holes at Old Macdonald and gives us a preview.

Given the bulk of low-lying land that Mr. Doak and team will be responding to "as if they were C.B. Macdonald," Mr. Keiser said that golfers may see as much St. Andrews in the course as they do the National. That will be especially true from the inland clubhouse, with its view of the conjoined first and 18th fairways, as at St. Andrews. "The first impression will be big -- big fairways, big greens, just big," he said. 

Don't forget to check out Team Doak's work on the Kiwi Challenge this weekend at 4 p.m. EST each day (I think Cape Kidnappers appears Sunday on NBC).