Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON

 

  

Thursday
Sep172009

"The guys (on the PGA Tour) wouldn't last a week doing what we do.”

Tod Leonard, writing about the state of the LPGA Tour as the Samsung kicks off at Torrey Pines, notes this from Juli Inkster:

Through the troubles, the players forge on, doing their best to overcome the issues that are out of their control. Sirak of Golf World said they remain the most fan-, sponsor- and media-friendly athletes on the planet.

“When you look at the PGA Tour versus the LPGA, there's more youth interaction with the LPGA,” said Torrey Gane, the Samsung World Championship tournament director. “On the PGA Tour, they sign an autograph and keep walking. Out here, they look at the individual, make eye contact. They really interact with people and show their appreciation.”

Inkster has been a proud example of that for nearly three decades.

“It blows my mind how good we are,” Inkster said, “and how much we still have to work to get to where we're at. The guys (on the PGA Tour) wouldn't last a week doing what we do.”

Thursday
Sep172009

Walking Golfers Alert

Walkers, rejoice and bookmark the Walkability ratings.

Thursday
Sep172009

If You Squint Hard Enough, You Can See The Ad...

..thanks to reader Tim for this Gizmodo post on one of the worst ideas I've seen a sport that seems to its fair share.




Thursday
Sep172009

"I [kept] thinking it didn't happen, after it happened. I'm like, there's no way that just happened"

Thanks to reader Jim for this $1 million hole in one winner. Love the reaction where Jason Hargett makes like Usain Bolt.

 

Thursday
Sep172009

Condi Joins Shoal Creek; Next Stop, ANGC Green Committee

First, she'll be gnawing on cigars in the Shoal Creek lounge, going all 18 with the boys and telling fart jokes. Next thing you know, Condoleeza Rice'll be up on the podium Wednesday of Masters week, clad in green, telling the assembled scribes that if we don't narrow the fairways and grow more rough the distance explosion smoking gun will come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

Jaime Diaz notes the surprising news and what a nice show of progress...assuming this wasn't just a move to help Shoal Creek get back into the major championship picture. So cynical, I know. After all, Condi summers in Birmingham for all I know.

But even better, the news gives Jaime a chance to remind us it was only 19 years ago that some really backwoods good ole boys were hosting majors!

It took a good reporter, Joan Mazzolini of the Birmingham Post-Herald, to ask Thompson the right questions. With little knowledge of golf but possessing a keen eye for cultural dissonance, Mazzolini used the occasion of a major championship coming to Birmingham to embark on a story of the exclusionary practices at the city's private clubs. In her 90-minute interview with Thompson, she combined an engaging conversational style with a direct line of questioning to get forthright and ultra-revealing answers.

Mazzolini now works at the Cleveland Plain Dealer as a business reporter. "Who would have thought Condoleezza Rice and Shoal Creek?" she said upon learning the latest. "But you know, maybe I shouldn't be surprised, because I found the people in Birmingham were really affected by what happened, and really thoughtful about what it meant. And a lot of things are different. I mean, golf has Tiger Woods. And the country elected Barack Obama. I'm sure Shoal Creek changed some minds for the better."

Wednesday
Sep162009

"But feedback about the course was, at best, mixed."

One last Cog Hill item from Steve Elling:

Owners spent $5.2 million to spruce up the joint in hopes of landing a future U.S. Open bid or hosting the Olympics in 2016, if the opportunity arises. But feedback about the course was, at best, mixed. Without prompting, a longtime PGA Tour official panned the course and said the Rees Jones redo was not much of an improvement. No doubt, the U.S. Open needs to be played in the Chicago area on a consistent basis, since it's one of the world's great golf cities. But with Medinah tied to the PGA of America, and after a so-so Open staged six years ago at suburban Olympia Fields, the potential site options aren't exactly dizzying, are they? It would be a shame if the Cog Hill makeover gamble went for naught, and not just for owners -- in the redesign aftermath, greens fees are now $150 per round.

Wednesday
Sep162009

"I'm just peculiar."

I'm not sure if I've ever heard of a driving range causing a world class player to lose their swing, but you have to love Padraig's self-awareness in analyzing the situation. Steve Elling writes:

Harrington explained that he lost the feeling with his driver while practicing at the oddly angled TPC Boston range, which threw his alignment out of whack. "I'm peculiar in that certain ranges ..." he said, laughing as he tried to explain, then added, "I'm just peculiar." Thank goodness for that. Harrington, who failed to play in the final two FedEx events last year, will enter the Tour Championship next week ranked No. 6 in points, which means he has a great shot at the $10 million bonus if he wins.

Wednesday
Sep162009

Amy Re-Appears

Sam Weinman reports the good news and she looks incredible.


Tuesday
Sep152009

You Realize...

...this may be the best indictment yet of the FedEx Cup, courtesy of Gary Van Sickle on Twitter:

Tuesday
Sep152009

"The primary motivation behind developing the game of golf in China is property, not bashing a little white ball around a course."

Clifford Coonan files a perspective on golf-in-China for The Independent. It's hard to read this and wonder how anyone could possibly think this is going to turn out well.

There is another dimension to this picture of serene golfing pleasure. The development of the game is tightly allied to the social changes in China over the past three decades. As with so much else in the New China, this golf revolution is built on cold, hard cash. The primary motivation behind developing the game of golf in China is property, not bashing a little white ball around a course. Plush villas pay the green fees.

"What make money in most clubs are the villas and apartments ringing the courses. The golf itself is a loss leader, and many of the courses in China are chronically underutilised," said a golfer at another club – on condition of anonymity: he doesn't want problems with his membership.

In extreme cases, developers buy up large tracts of farmland on the outskirts of the boom towns of New China: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai. They then start building flashy villas – reasonably priced by UK standards but more than most Chinese families would earn in a lifetime. The courses are often an afterthought, hastily-constructed – even unplayable. The developers don't care; they can charge a lot more for property near a course.

Sometimes this land is taken illegally with the connivance of corrupt local officials, leading to social unrest as disenfranchised farmers take to the streets and demonstrate, attacking building sites and picketing government offices. China's arable land is scarce, and the government is worried about a growing wealth gap between the rich of the cities and the poor in the countryside.

There have also been efforts to clamp down on Communist Party cadres doing business on golf courses. The central government has put a ban on the construction of new courses for fear of a potentially-destabilising backlash, and ultimately the development of golf in China is largely dependent on what the Beijing government does.

But the ruling doesn't mean an end to the construction of golf courses in China. Many courses are listed as part of the facilities for a luxury villa development or as country clubs to get around the ban. Most people believe the government is more concerned about stopping course development turning into another bubble, and the slowing of growth is aimed at cooling the market.

Where could the government have gotten that idea?

Tuesday
Sep152009

"Is our world-class city so inept we can't figure out how to protect endangered species at a golf course without having to either give away the land or eliminate golf there?"

Nancy Wuerfel, "a fiscal analyst by profession," is on San Francisco's Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee. And yes, its acronym is PROSAC. Anyway, nice to see another common sense op-ed piece on the Sharp Park situation as major decisions are about to be made.

This was the most refreshing point, something I touched in my Golf World story and something that the extremists have been fudging the truth about for some time:

Claims that city golf courses lose money are just not true. I analyzed the financial information for the first six years of the city's Golf Fund. The Recreation and Park Department's accounting practices have created the appearance that Sharp Park golf course is losing money when it is not. These findings were submitted to the Recreation and Park Commission and the Recreation and Park Department.

Tuesday
Sep152009

“The players were dictating how long it was going to take to play a round, and we felt that was unacceptable.”

They're finally going to do something about slow play! They, being the Ladies Golf Union, governing body of the women's game in Great Britain and Ireland.

“Rounds were starting to get over 5-5 hours and, sometimes in the worst-case scenario, it was touching on six hours,” said Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of operations. “The players were dictating how long it was going to take to play a round, and we felt that was unacceptable.”

Their solution? A four checkpoint system (I believe that's one more than the USGA progressive pace of play program):

During last year’s British Girls’ Championship, Simpson and her team undertook a trial by implementing a new system that involved four checkpoints being set up around the course. Clocks were placed at these locations and players were made aware of what time their group was expected to reach those points by having it printed on pin sheets.

The system proved so successful that it has been in operation at all of the LGU’s events this year.

“The check points are normally at the fourth, ninth, 14th and 18th holes and the times we are looking for them to get round is usually about four hours and 20 minutes in stroke-play and three hours and 40 minutes for match-play, taking into account weather conditions and the course set-up,” added Simpson.

Tuesday
Sep152009

"In terms of where the competition fits into the modern sports firmament, many fans and observers–present company included–don’t exactly know what to make of it."

I knew there was a purpose for the rain at Merion: it gave Rob Matre's b&w shots a little more ambiance.

Tom Dunne files a typically thoughtful look at the Walker Cup and tries to detect why there seemed to be a little less enthusiasm for the event, and he offers a counterpoint to John Huggan's take on the USGA and diversity.

And in terms of where the competition fits into the modern sports firmament, many fans and observers–present company included–don’t exactly know what to make of it.

There are a couple of reasons for this bewilderment. The first is that amateurism itself is in a steep and steady decline. This is a time in which people can get excited about the potential of Tiger Woods someday winning an Olympic gold medal without so much as a nod to the irony of that scenario. There is so much money on the pro tours today that most top talents leap for it at the first opportunity. You can’t blame them for that, but the result is a dilution of the amateur ranks so extreme that an event like the Walker Cup becomes something like a collegiate all-star game, a senior prom for guys like Rickie Fowler and Brian Harman, who have probably already turned pro by the time of this writing.

Tuesday
Sep152009

"He's now sixth in total driving for the season."

Hank Haney, making his case for Tiger's game in an interview with Alan Shipnuck:

"Everyone likes to peck at Tiger about his driving," he said. "He's now sixth in total driving for the season. It's hard to get much better than that. And what no one ever points out is that his stats are skewed because he only plays the really hard golf courses with really penal setups. At Kapalua" -- which Woods skips -- "it's literally impossible to miss a fairway. There's a bunch of other easy setups he never plays. You take the guys who don't play all the majors and invitationals and maybe not all of the playoff events, and it's a totally different Tour in some ways, but Tiger's numbers are still way up there."

Monday
Sep142009

Why PGA Tour Players Should Think Twice Before Tweeting, Volume 49

John Daly, who owns a restaurant in Memphis where one of his employees was shot in the parking lot:

That's nice, and he is in our thoughts and prayers too. And...oh no, you left it at that John, didn't you? Oh no.

Monday
Sep142009

Tiger Takes Day Off; Falls In FedEx Cup Standings *

Now, I know the team at PGATOUR.com is doing their job and doing it amazingly well to keep on top of FedEx Cup scenarios, but look at this disaster of points breakdowns, scenarios, permutations and other nonsense.

Look, I get it that you want to reward the season and playoff play. But the most recent points reset really undermines that argument. If you have to gerrymand the FedEx Cup finish, then it'll never be taken seriously. Never!

Why are all these tough-guy, free-wheeling, free-market loving gamblers associated with the PGA Tour so afraid of old-fashioned, head-to-head, no points stuff, true playoff play at East Lake? Would it be too stressful?

Monday
Sep142009

"According to a tour executive, players were in unanimous agreement with the move."

Ron Sirak reports on a couple of LPGA events lowering their purses. Great to see the players and executives not hung up on "value dynamics" or whatever they call it.

Weather the storm, keep your sponsors happy and hopefully the goodwill pays off down the road when times aren't so lean.

See why I'd never get my MBA.

Monday
Sep142009

"He expects savings of $1 million-plus."

That's David Fay, talking to Golfweek's Adam Schupak about scaling back the grants program.

Never too early to start cutting to compensate for the massive revenue hit in 2013!

Monday
Sep142009

Everybody Get Ready To Hate Ray Romano...

And not because he isn't funny or a great guy. No, it's merely the thought of 8 million airings of the same Golf Channel promo between now and the next Haney Project's airing...

“We are very excited for Ray Romano to be joining the Golf Channel family,” said Tom Stathakes, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming, production and operations. “The first season of The Haney Project was a giant success for us. With Ray’s sense of humor and dedication to improving his golf game, we are confident season two will be bigger than ever.”

Looks like Haney's first priority will be fixing the homage-to-Ben-Crane-pre-shot-routine. I say he takes some hints from this guy.

Monday
Sep142009

"It will work, it will absolutely work."

Joe Logan talks to Mike Davis after the Walker Cup at Merion and asks how the week went, though no talk about how pace of play would work with a full field on a cramped course full of short par-4s. Not that the Walker Cup would help answer those questions.

For some fans at the Walker Cup, where crowds ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 each day, one question they came away with is whether Merion can accommodate upwards of 10 times that for the Open.   Not Davis.

"First of all, it’s not 10 times," he said. "And believe it or not, there is a lot of room for grandstands.  We will have some challenges moving crowds, but you can seat crowds on the course.  It will work, it will absolutely work."

If anything, added Davis, Merion has better potential for viewing than some other Open venues, such as Winged Foot.  "All the greens sit up in the air there, and there are trees around every one of them and we can’t get grandstands around many of them," said Davis. 

Still, Davis noted that Merion will be a "small Open," with maybe 25,000 spectators each day.  But they knew that before they picked it for ’13.