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

Match play can be a pretty game and exciting, but it can never exert the relentless pressure of the card and pencil. In match play you can lose only one hole at a time, and that only to an opponent you can see. In stroke play you can blow a comfortable lead with one careless or misplayed shot; and the most phlegmatic player is always plagued by rumors or imaginings of what others are doing.




Vagaries Of Match Play Warning: NCAA Men's Championships

I've spared you the various stories over the last few weeks where college coaches whine about the new NCAA championship format because, well, I can only take so many ignorant comments about the "flukiness" or "vagaries" or "luck involved" with match play.

To review, from the Golfweek staff (you can also read their picks here):

Teams will play 54 holes of stroke play to determine the individual champion and the eight teams that advance will play match play. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place Friday, with the championship match being held Saturday.

Personally, I think it's a more pure and logical way to find out who has the best team. Sure, the 54-holes to determine the individual winner isn't ideal and there is still a reliance on stroke play to determine the final 8. And oh yes and there's the motivation behind the move: to lure television.

Regardless, doesn't this have the potential for excitement and to deliver a more worthy team champion than a traditional stroke play event?

Ryan Herrington thinks so provided the weather doesn't become a story, and he also makes his picks for the week:

Think of how much grinding we're going to see in the final stroke-play round as the 30 teams try to earn a spot in the Elite Eight?

And if that doesn't seem compelling enough, think of how intense the head-to-head, school-versus-school showdowns will be as we narrow the field to four teams, then two and ultimately a national champion. Tell me you don't think a Georgia vs. Georgia Tech match-up in any round won't be interesting? What if UCLA must face USC to get to the championship match?


"Campbell, who swings like Ben Hogan, managed a carry of 232 yards using an old balata ball."

Thanks to reader Jim for the heads up on this note in Bill Nichols' Dallas Morning News coverage of the Nelson.

Pros go old school with equipment: Curt Sampson, working on a story for Sports Illustrated, drew a crowd on the practice range when he unveiled a MacGregor Byron Nelson persimmon driver. Everybody wanted to hit it. Vijay Singh went the longest at 253 yards, one yard farther than Colleyville's Chad Campbell. Campbell, who swings like Ben Hogan, managed a carry of 232 yards using an old balata ball.


Tail Of The WD Tape

At the end of Jeff Rude's story, lists the Open Championship qualifiers in Texas, which included Davis Love. It's fun to see who tried, and also to note who threw in the towel after one round.

I couldn't find a listing of scores and WDs from Europe for the U.S. Open qualifying, just this story.


"With the passing of the Corning Classic the tour was losing a massive block in its foundation, a vertebra in its backbone."

Ron Sirak covered the final Corning Classic (won by Yani Tseng) and had this to say:

The Corning Classic truly captures the spirit of the LPGA, an organization that throughout its 59-year history had relied on the love and support of small-town America. And there is no market smaller or more supportive than Corning, a town of fewer than 11,000 people that managed every year to turn out 850 volunteers and upwards of 50,000 spectators.

While the community was losing the Memorial Day event that kicked off the summer tourist season in the Finger Lakes region of New York, it felt like the LPGA was losing much more than Corning. With the passing of the Corning Classic the tour was losing a massive block in its foundation, a vertebra in its backbone.

For as long as this tour has existed, places like Corning and Rochester and Toledo have been its heart and soul. And there is a sense now that is going away as the LPGA tries for bigger-market events with a more international accent.


Monty Kicks Off One Of Golf's Great Traditions...

...some people look forward to the Masters, others clamor for that first spring day when they can tee it up after a long winter, while I long for the final WD count from the European U.S. Open qualifier.

Last year there were 20 who entered but pulled up lame, just four short of the 2006 record of 24. But with Monty and Marc Warren already pulling out Sunday night after rough final rounds at Wentworth, anything's possible on Monday. Gentlemen, start your cell phones!



"Mr. Ginn says he now faces about 30 lawsuits."

The New York Times' Geraldine Fabrikant profiles the struggles of developer Bobby Ginn and reveals his legal woes. However, there is no mention of the PGA Tour's case against Ginn over contractual obligations to sponsor a fall season event. Sounds like they are going to have to get in line.


"Maybe it's the travel. I know a lot of Americans don't like flying overseas."

John Huggan talks to Ben Curtis about his decision to play in the BMW and European Open next week, and based on his remarks about a nice variety of topics, there's a lot more to the 2003 Open Champion than most realize.

"The Race to Dubai is an intriguing thing," he says. "The money involved in that is part of what I'm here for but I see this more as a challenge to see how well I can do on both tours. It would be cool to play in the (PGA] Tour Championship then make it to Dubai as well.

"I think there are three or four other guys trying to do the same. Anthony Kim is one. But there aren't many, I know. I'm not sure why that is really. I know there's a lot of money on offer on the PGA Tour, but it isn't as if you can't make a lot of money over here too.

"Maybe it's the travel. I know a lot of Americans don't like flying overseas. Then there's the weather. But, that aside, I think the European Tour is great. I love the competition. I look around and see many of the world's best players here. Competing with guys like Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson can only make me better. A lot of guys in the States think it is easier to win over here, but I don't think so. You still have to play great for four days. And the winning scores are always tough. It might be easier to make the cut, but winning is hard."

Also on the theme of European Tour vs. PGA Tour, Steve Elling takes a closer look at the amazing feat of three amateurs winning on the European Tour and tries to figure out if it's a statement about the quality of the tour or just a fluke.


"The rules geeks have heard every possible objection before and in most cases debated alternatives."

John Paul Newport on the rules of golf in light of the Kenny Perry video and the Rory ruling at Augusta in April:

Decisions like these, because they are based on capricious-seeming subtleties in the rules, often evoke consternation among fans and the media, especially when other cases that seem equally innocent are decided more harshly. Last week at the Irish Open, for example, two pros were disqualified for infractions that they, too, obviously did not intend. One player transposed two digits on his scorecard, thus signing for a lower score on one of the holes than he actually made. The other player inadvertently carried 15 clubs in his bag instead of the maximum allowed, 14.


"This kind of thing makes even the bravest journalist break out in a nervous rash waiting for him to emerge from the recorder’s tent"

Nice to see Martin Johnson returning to golf coverage, now appearing in The Times and offering miscellaneous thoughts on the BMW heading into Sunday's final round:

Rory McIlroy started playing golf at the age of two, which by comparison to Tiger Woods (who was just out of the womb when he applied the interlocking grip to his own umbilical cord and started chipping cotton wool buds into the wastepaper basket) almost qualifies him as a late starter.

And on his favorite subject, Monty:

This kind of thing makes even the bravest journalist break out in a nervous rash waiting for him to emerge from the recorder’s tent, and he gave short shrift to one of them who reminded him he would qualify for the US Open were he to go on and win here. “Well I’m not going to, so that’s all hypothetical,” he said. “Next question?” Monty, though, was at least encouraged by yesterday’s round after complaining that his form had been badly affected by the Ryder Cup captaincy. “It's a huge distraction,” he said. So we can now add the Ryder Cup to the long list of Montgomerie distractions, including noisy spectators, camera-clicking photographers, irritating marshalls, and insects fluttering their wings in an adjacent meadow when he’s halfway through his back-swing.


"They always say it takes a man to wear pink."

Mark Reason on John Daly taking the BMW by storm...or at least drawing crowds.

Back home, Daly is a pariah. Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner, said at the start of 2008: "There are certain things about presentation that are not going to be tolerated." It was hard not to think that those words were aimed at Daly. As soon as the big man stepped out of line – the tour obviously didn't think an orange prison jump suit lived up to their ideal of presentation – he was banned for six months.

But Daly has found a huge welcome in Europe during this period of exile. Yesterday he was asked if he had made any particular friendships in his time over here. Daly just smiled and said in that laconic drawl: "I'm like Jesus, I love all of you." How can you not like a man like that? And how can you not like a man who continues to entertain even when he's not quite sure where the ball is going? Daly holed out three times from off the green in his second round. The roar when he chipped in on 17 nearly turned his hair white.

After his round, the wild thing kept saying he had also holed a chip on 13 when it was in fact the 11th. He never was a man for detail, but he's always been a man of flair. Or is that flares? The trousers he had on yesterday were low key by his standards, though there was a fan in the crowd with a pair of the orange and pink Harlequins pants Daly wore in Spain.

Daly has something altogether more vibrant planned for today and tomorrow. "Saturday will be a kind of flowery type and I've got a solid pair for Sunday, bright pink pair Sunday," he said. "They always say it takes a man to wear pink."


Here's An Ad You Don't See Everyday...

Thanks to reader Don for spotting this one on this is a "sponsor" or a "partner?"

Click on image to enlarge


"I wonder if they will still have the crab legs"

Thanks to reader Rick for Eli Saslow's Washington Post story on Uniontown Country Club caving to the economic crisis by allowing non-members to dine at the club.

Amid some protest from what he called "the hard-core, conservative members," Hughes fired the old chef early this spring and hired Michael DiMarco, a local chef known for his many tattoos and for serving gigantic portions at budget rates. He remade the menu to his liking, adding onion rings with ranch dressing for $3.95, topping his signature salads with french fries and eliminating all steaks smaller than 16 ounces. A few dozen locals started arriving at the club for meals each week, occasionally rankling members by parking their pickup trucks in preferred spots and exiting through the lobby with to-go containers.

Oh yes, you want to read this one.


Ah The Nostalgia: Greg And Chrissy Moving Back To Where It All Began!

Thanks reader Steven T. for Jose Lamblet's report.


"For it to resurface now would be laughable if it didn't involve a good man's reputation being called into question due to insufficient reasoning."

Since Donegan's story Sunday and over 35,000 views of the video, a few writers have spoken out in Kenny Perry's defense.  Steve Elling and Scott Michaux both say it's time to move on, that cheating was clearly not Perry's intent.  John Hawkins also is fired up about Perry's reputation coming into focus.

The Perry situation didn't receive an ounce of attention when it happened at the FBR Open back in early February. For it to resurface now would be laughable if it didn't involve a good man's reputation being called into question due to insufficient reasoning.

Perhaps, but suppose a bigger issue is at stake here: the wink-wink, look-the-other-way blurring of certain rules that has become all too common in professional golf. (You know, the same sport where the guys don't need to be drug tested because they police themselves.)

After seeing the Perry video several players said something to the effect of, "that goes on all the time on the tour." (And we've all watched guys fix ball marks in their line without blinking, much less pointing out to their playing partner as a courtesy that they were performing major surgery on their line).

I point these out in the context of the Perry episode because I vividly recall as a young, impressionable lad, studying how tour players walked, dressed and behaved. For a few weeks after taking in tour golf at Riviera or Sherwood, I'd typically play better after absorbing the tempo, gentle grip and overall relaxed-but-focused demeanor exuded by such elite players.

Particularly fascinating was a player's care around the greens or when making a recovery shot from the rough or trees.  Both situations provided unique opportunities to get close and hear the conversation with the caddy and to observe their actions.

Consistently I was always fascinated by the manner in which they treated their ball. It was as if a meteor had landed off the fairway and they didn't want to get too close until they had to bat the thing back into play. I remember watching many players gently approach the ball--maybe stare at the lie or delicately lift away a leaf--but always treat a live ball as something to be careful around. Practice swings--if they even took one--were often a bit away from the ball and the player was typically cautious not to be seen as testing the surface in anyway by pressing their clubhead down behind the ball. Furthermore, when that final moment arrived many would just barely lay the club behind their ball.

And again, I'd take this image of gentle club placement for a few weeks and that absorption of studied, careful and gentle demeanor would lead to better golf. Then I'd eventually revert back to old bad habits.

So it's with that image in my mind that I watch Kenny Perry pull his club and walk up to his ball, jabbing away like he's armed with a poker, trying to jumpstart some stubborn logs. And as you can see in this longer version of the playoff posted, the mashing does not occur at the address position, as many defenders have noted. It happens in the moment that he initially arrives, long before the honor has been established or the shot is actually addressed.


I hope the takeaway from this is not to demonize Perry. The event is long gone and we'll never know just how close that clump of grass was to the ball.

However, let's hope this encourages tour players to take the rules and club grounding a bit more seriously. In other words, to take the rules of golf more seriously.


"Early adopters say they will cut an average of 10 percent of their typical water use, amounting to millions of gallons of water each year."

I'd love to hear what our maintenance gurus out there lurking think of today's New York Times story by Larry Dorman looking at the potential impact of sensors in reducing water usage.

This is a green addiction with the potential to spread, with more than 20 states affected by some form of drought and water restrictions a daily reality in cities across the nation.

At least three companies are competing in the market for subterranean wireless sensors, which monitor moisture, temperature and salinity in the soil and feed the data to a software network accessed remotely on a laptop, a handheld device or a desktop computer. The system could be used far beyond the golf course — on other athletic fields, in agriculture, in both home and commercial landscaping, and in parks.

The leader in the clubhouse so far is a system called UgMo, a network of wireless sensors that mine subsurface data and link to a software package developed by Advanced Sensor Technology of King of Prussia, Pa., the original manufacturers of the RZ system. The company announced its updated system in February and made it available in early April, installing it at golf meccas like Merion, Desert Mountain outside Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Card Sound Golf Club on Key Largo, Fla.

Early adopters say they will cut an average of 10 percent of their typical water use, amounting to millions of gallons of water each year. At that rate, the system would pay for itself within the first year, depending on the volume of water a course uses.


"We all see her as Phil's No. 1 partner and No. 1 fan"

Several nice stories about Amy Mickelson today. Doug Ferguson features a quote from Tiger Woods.

Thomas Bonk talks to several family friends about what Amy and Phil mean to each other.

Michael Bamberger shares several Amy anecdotes to round out the picture of a woman with great personality and character.

Christine Brennan on Amy's lack of presumptuousness and her ability to make friends every time she shows up at the golf course to watch Phil, which is pretty much daily.

Larry Dorman talks to Scott Verplank about how Phil notified friends by text message Tuesday night and how upsetting the news was.


"There's rumors floating around here this week that it may not even come into play."

From Greg Norman's chat with the working press Wednesday prior to the Senior PGA:

Q. When you were younger in your 20s and 30s you were obviously a great ball-striker, but always considered one of the best drivers of the golf ball. That was in the year of the persimmon heads. Has it changed a lot now? Do you think there's more guys who hit 70 percent plus in fairways hit because of equipment or back in the day that was a heck of a lot harder figure to reach?

GREG NORMAN: I think it's easier to hit the golf ball straighter now days. And the ball goes longer. No question. Is that -- that is technology. No question about it.

I think a great barometer, just to get off your question a little bit is, a great barometer is when the V grooves come into play next year. And I hope it does. There's rumors floating around here this week that it may not even come into play. But if the V grooves do come back into play, that will be a great barometer to see how good these players are with their touch and their feel and their imagination. And understanding that that ball, it looks like it's going to leap 40 yards extra off the club face, how do you play that?

That's going to be great to watch on television. Because that's, to me, is the art of understanding the game of golf. And understanding the spin of the golf ball. Not just a pure given fact if you hit it in the rough and I did it a couple times today on these firm greens, I'm in the rough, I know it's going to spin, I'm just going to open that club face up a little bit more and the ball comes down like an old dog lying by a fireplace. It just drops on the green.

Now that's not going to happen next year. So those are the type of things that actually help the better players distance themself from the average players. And I think that's why in my generation you saw such great shot makers out there, Trevino and like I said, Seve in a lot of ways, he hit phenomenal shots.


"Plaintiff also shanks this claim.''

You have to love Judge Wallace Dixon's opinion in throwing out Andrew Giuliani's suit against Duke. He artfully demonstrates why people can't stand most judges.

Judge Dixon takes a serious proceeding and uses it to audition as Gary McCord's joke writer, circa 1992.

From an AP story:

Dixon noted that Giuliani "tees up his case'' by alleging he was victim of a secret expulsion with no opportunity to defend himself. He also observed that Giuliani asserted he had properly made a claim for breach of contract. Dixon wrote, "His analysis, however, slices far from the fairway.''

In another section, Dixon asserted that Giuliani was trying to change arguments "like trying to change clubs after hitting the golf ball.''

Likewise with Giuliani's reference to a "good faith'' covenant: "Plaintiff attempts to take a mulligan with this argument; however, this shot also lands in the drink.''

And as for interference with a contract: "Plaintiff also shanks this claim.''


"Maybe McIlroy should ask Ballesteros whether the Ryder Cup is an exhibition."

We have our first crack in the armor that is Rory's British press shield!

Mark Reason in the Telegraph on McIlroy downplaying the importance of the Ryder Cup:

Maybe McIlroy should remember who made this all possible for him. Maybe he should remember Seve Ballesteros and his compadre Jose Maria Olazabal, who was yesterday inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Olazabal had tears in his eyes when he said: "I can never compare myself to Seve. He's out of reach for me."

But Seve was not out of reach. He and Olazabal formed one of the greatest Ryder Cup partnerships in history. They made European golf. Maybe McIlroy should ask Ballesteros whether the Ryder Cup is an exhibition.


"I don’t feel like changing my schedule for an event where if I’ve played well, I have only finished in the top ten."

I thought the sheer magnitude of The Players was cause for Padraig Harrington's reason not to play the BMW at Wentworth, but actually it's the greens according to Peter Dixon:

However, with the club about to dig up all of its greens and rebuild them to modern standards, the Irishman says he will commit himself to playing the famous West Course in 2010. Speaking yesterday at Turnberry, venue of the Open Championship in July, Harrington said: “I find the greens very difficult. I don’t feel like changing my schedule for an event where if I’ve played well, I have only finished in the top ten. I am positive I will be there next year. It is one of the best courses in Europe and I love its challenges from tee to green.”

Martin Dempster reports that Padraig turned up at Turnberry for a practice round and Wilson outing. He offered this scouting report:

"I played one or two shots out there that come up a lot on this golf course and I will work on those over the next two months so that I am ready when it comes around to the Open. For instance, there are a number of elevated greens out there, so you are going to have a lot of chip and runs from rough across fairway on to the green.

"If I had not looked at the course, I would probably have been practising my chip and runs at home from tight lies but, in actual fact, it looks as though we'll be playing those from soft, fluffy rough.

"Also, some of the greens have three to four-feet drop offs and that's something I'll also be practising, either chipping over those or running them up. Just being here five minutes has shown me some different shots to practise coming into the tournament."