Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

Golf lexicon of colorful words and phrases is its crowning achievement. For long after the urge of the ability to play the game leaves us, golf's joyful adjectives and modifiers, its splendid superlatives and unequalled accolades ring in my ear the waves of a familiar sound.
ROBERT BROWNING


    

Thursday
May222008

Turnstile Lays Off 14; Post-Noose Cover Ad Revenue Decline To Blame?

With great regret I learned tonight that 14 of our friends in the publishing business lost their jobs. According to my sources, declining ad revenue was cited as a reason for the cuts at Turnstile Publishing, which houses Golfweek along with other titles.

No one milked Golfweek's noose cover debacle more than I did, however, it's depressing to think that major advertisers are still staying away from the publication in the aftermath (come on, let's move on Carlsbad!). Jobs have now been lost as a result of a mistake that has been apologized for and the editorial quality of an important publication may be taking an unnecessary hit.

Among the casualties were three on the editorial side at Golfweek, including one of my favorite writers, Scott Hamilton, who broke several major business stories and was just developing a strong voice in the limited space provided for Golfweek's media column. I know Scott will land somewhere and someone's publication will be much better thanks to his contributions.

 

Thursday
May222008

“It was a tough call. Not a good day to be a rules official.”

wind.jpgBoth reports out of the NCAA Women's Championship imply that the round called Wednesday due to high winds should not have been called. Beth Ann Baldry at Golfweek writes:

Play was suspended for the first time at 1:10 p.m. May 21, just as the morning wave began to finish. Southern California and UCLA managed to wrap things up and post an 8-over 584 total. Of the teams that finished, Denver posted the day’s lowest round, 6-over 294, and trails by three.

After an initial two-hour, 10-minute delay, teams were sent out to resume play. Officials hoped for a weather lull but instead found even stronger wind gusts.

“I thought it was calmer before they called it off the first time,” said Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst, who was 3 under through 14 holes. When she returned to finish her round, Blumenherst three-putted twice to post 1-under 71.

And...

Many coaches were stunned to hear the horn blow the first time. Rules officials saw “ball movement on four different greens,” though no penalties were assessed. Tina Krah, NCAA director of championships, said conditions weren’t dangerous but felt that players were in an “unfair situation.”

“Our intent is to not wait until there are penalties,” Krah said. “Our intent is to protect them from penalties.”

As coaches and players gathered around the UNM clubhouse, many said they never saw the wind blow one ball. Tulsa coach Randy Keck called the decision “one of the worst he’s ever seen.”

At the Conference USA Championship in El Paso, Keck said “the dirt was so thick in the air you couldn’t see the ball.” Tulsa not only finished, they won.

Purdue coach Devon Brouse also oversees the men’s program in West Lafayette, Ind. He counted at least three tournaments this year where the men played in tougher winds.

“I don’t see this as a dangerous situation,” Brouse said. “You have the Rules of Golf to cover balls moving on the greens.”

Ryan Herrington got the same reaction from coaches and also noted that the possibility of a Saturday finish now exists. 

Wednesday
May212008

"I have told the players we are going to make them play faster."

John Hopkins reports on the slow play epidemic, and though he says the final pairing at The Players took only 4:15 (according to some readers it was 4:40), he offers this:

The answer lies partly in easing the set-up of some courses but more in harsh penalties for slow players. The LPGA Tour in the US recently introduced a policy of penalizing players who took more than 30 seconds a stroke and, furthermore, penalized Angela Park when she was only one stroke out of the lead. Compare this with the PGA Tour's policies under which a player has not bee fined for 15 years.

Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour in the US, said in an interview with The Times last week: "I have told the players we are going to make them play faster. I think we owe it the sport, to the players who play at this level and to the fans that we are doing everything we can to analyse and take steps on this issue."

Well, it's something. This isn't so hot:

Last Monday the World Golf Foundation, a body incorporating the United States Golf association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the professional tours from around the world as well as Ladies Professional Golf Association (in the US), met in Jacksonville. I understand that slow play was on the agenda but nothing substantive was discussed even though slow play was an item on the agenda.
Thankfully, there is great news. According to Doug Ferguson, the big execs in golf are working on the real priorities at the expense of their carbon footprints. What for? To grow the game with 72-holes of stroke play once every four years. 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem headed for London this week, stopping along the way to pick up USGA executive director David Fay and LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens.

They were to join R&A chief executive Peter Dawson and European Tour chief George O’Grady at a meeting with the International Olympic Committee, the first step toward bringing golf back to the Olympics.

It was not a formal meeting, but no less important to show the IOC a unified front in golf’s desire to be part of the games.

“This will be a protracted process,” Fay said. “But this is an important first step.”

Vital. Just vital.

Wednesday
May212008

Phil Risks Family Values Q-Rating For Entourage Shoot

philgreenwood.jpgHave already lost points for his scruffy hair, Phil Mickelson is endangering his Q-rating to shoot an episode of Entourage, reports Melanie Hauser.

"It's a funny show,'' said Mickelson, who is back in the field for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial after two years. " . . . I just think it's one of the best shows I've ever seen. Certainly it's edgy, the language is a little rough. But I just love watching the show.''

He didn't give away much -- if anything. He's on a course with Piven, Martin Landau and Paul Ben-Victor and "the four of us were having a deal." It seems Piven was trying to get someone in a movie.

"I don't know what I can or can't say,'' Mickelson said.

The bottom line? The episode will likely be shown in September, but not in the Mickelson household, where small, tender ears could hear rough things.

'It will be (shown) in 12 years,'' Mickelson chuckled.

You may recall Phil was part of an Ari Gold joke two seasons ago.

Wednesday
May212008

Torrey Pines 14th Driveable?

A Golfweek staff report says that the USGA will make Torrey Pines' 14th hole a driveable par-4 during the final round.

Golfweek learned that the fairway toward the green of the par-4 14th hole (which normally plays 435 yards) recently was narrowed. The reason? It’s going to be played as a 277-yard par 4 on Open Sunday, with play proceeding from the forward tee and the hole cut front left on the green. The narrowed fairway approach makes sense for players opting to go for the putting surface. In all likelihood, they won’t even need a driver, and if they do hit it long, they’ll have to deal with a shaved-down rear bank that feeds into the irrecoverable canyon.



Wednesday
May212008

Ryder Cup Drug Testing Possible, No Word Yet On Whether Captain's Will Be Tested Too

Steve Elling notes the confirmation from George "Big Mouth" O'Grady, not from the PGA of America

The Ryder Cup is the PGA of America's other signature event. A total of 24 players, featuring many of the top stars from around the globe, make up the two Ryder Cup teams.

"There's facilities in place for drug testing to take part," O'Grady said. "The PGA of America announced last week that they would be the first major to have drug testing; that they would be welcoming the PGA Tour's system and it will be in place for The Ryder Cup. Whether we choose to use it or not hasn't been decided yet. But the drug testing unit will be on site."

Meanwhile Ron Sirak notes that the LPGA is reportedly going to try again this week after their messy trial run earlier this year.

Wednesday
May212008

Deere Rents Mavs Jet

Steve Elling reports on the latest John Deere Classic tournament perk, a chartered jet to the Open Championship (invitation not included). It's the same jet bringing the lugs back for the Canadian Open. These Guy Have It Good!

Anyway, in an attempt to build the field strength, tournament officials have taken the Deere by the horns and chartered a jet plane for a Sunday-night redeye flight to Manchester, promising to ferry for free the players and their families to the British in time to practice on Monday morning. Tournaments have been in an all-out arms race to out-hustle one another with gifts, spa treatments, free food and the like, but this is a novel idea that just might boost one of the weaker fields of the regular season.

From the sounds of it, the jet seems downright posh. Clair Peterson, the Deere tournament director, said they have lined up a 100-seat 767 that will be parked at the Quad Cities Airport, warmed up and ready. All the seats are first class, he said, and it should arrive by 8 a.m. in England.

"It's a big deal," Peterson said. "Obviously our date and our location have made it difficult for players to get to the British Open. We had eight players last year that played here and made the trip over. Our expectation is that we'll at least double that this year.
And... 
The jet has frequently been used by Mark Cuban's NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and is going to run more than $300,000, a Deere tournament official said. Rather than choosing to dump the money into the purse, where it wouldn't have attracted much attention from the players, they figured the jet service would make a splash.
Wednesday
May212008

Royal North Devon Told To Cease Coastal Erosion Efforts

painting.jpgThanks to reader Chris for Robert Booth's Guardian piece detailing the bad news about England's oldest course.

As coastal erosion accelerates, the seventh and eighth holes at the 144-year-old Royal North Devon Golf Club near Westward Ho! could disappear as early as next year, according to senior club members.

But there is frustration that Natural England, a government agency, has ordered the club to stop "potwalloping", the practice of holding back coastal erosion by rounding up local people twice a year to replace by hand the stones which have been washed away.

The agency said the coast must be allowed to erode in a "managed realignment" because continued human intervention will alter the way the sea naturally interacts with the sand dunes in an area of special scientific interest.
There are also concerns that diverting the tidal flow could expose an old landfill site further along the coast, which is thought to contain tonnes of asbestos.
Until this year, the banks of the windswept links were disappearing at a rate of about a metre a year, with the pebble ridge which defends the course retreating 50 metres between 1947 and 2000. Fierce storms earlier this year tore a 27-metre chunk off the exposed tip of the course and the unstable land has since continued to crumble, leaving the eighth hole 18 metres from the edge.

"If something isn't done to stop it, we will lose a significant portion of the course in the next 12 months," said David Lloyd, a senior club member.

The club web site has more information and you can also read Ran Morrissett's excellent profile here, which includes one of my favorite Mike Miller paintings (linked above as well).

Tuesday
May202008

Faldo Will Consider Monty For Captain's Pick If Seve And Sam Torrance Aren't Available

Lewine Mair shares Captain Faldo's lukewarm comments.

Yesterday, though, Faldo indicated that Montgomerie is still very much in his thoughts despite languishing at 90th in the world rankings. "I believe Monty will turn it round," the captain said. "He has a great way of producing the goods when it's really needed - and in theory, a player of his ability has enough time to make it happen."
And... 
Later, he added that he might well ask his some of his more senior players to voice their opinions on his picks - and that is something which could definitely work in Montgomerie's favour.
Tuesday
May202008

"You never know for sure if you're going to get one because there's so many variables like blood type and heart size that have to match."

Craig Dolch reports on Erik Compton getting a second heart transplant just in time and talks to Jim McLean about the prospects of another return to golf by Compton.

Tuesday
May202008

"I couldn't care less whether a President chops wood or plays Chopin in his free time."

gwar01_080523bush.jpgBill Fields weighs in on the president giving up golf to help grieving families with a common sense point and some strong quotes from an Iraq vet. First, the common sense:

I couldn't care less whether a President chops wood or plays Chopin in his free time. If he happens to enjoy golf, hail to the chief for that, multiple mulligans and all (Gerald Ford seems to have been the presidential exception in not utilizing breakfast balls). I want a president to have his eye on the ball and keep his head down when he is in the Oval Office. What he does when he is away from it is his business, although I would prefer that he has something deeper than the latest John Grisham best seller on his nightstand and that his vacations can be counted in days, not weeks.
I say Fields is offering common sense wisdom because I had just seen some of the reader comments over on the golf.com Press Tent blog. My favorite was posted by "rmadsen" who writes: 
I remarked to a friend several years ago that if I were invited to play Pebble Beach with Bill Clinton, that I'd have to decline. This is coming from a certified fanatic of the game. I hope all you sad people that are bashing President Bush are not really true fans of the game; because in my experience; people who truly understand the game tend to be conservative and honorable. Bush has made mistakes of course. I wish he could communicate better to an American society that unfortunately is made up of mostly juveniles who understand very little of what makes a country great and vote like they are choosing a prom queen. He also should have vetoed a lot more spending bills and used his position to try and reign in congress. But the biggest failures of our government lately have little to do with the position of president, be he a democrat or republican.

Now, I think most of those juveniles he refers to would not turn down a round at Pebble Beach with Bill Clinton. Talk about juvenile! 

Tuesday
May202008

"Get that golfer off my football field."

goydoshallaran.jpgThanks to reader Warren for noticing this Q&A with Paul Goydos conducted by Laury Livsey that includes a fun story about his Long Beach State days and the school's ever-so-brief football coaching stint by George Allen.
Long Beach State had a driving range that the football team wanted to use to practice on when George Allen got there for his one year as coach. I'm on the golf team, so one day I was out there hitting and shagging balls, and he yells, 'Get that golfer off my football field.' I never met the man, but let's just say he definitely knew who I was.


Tuesday
May202008

Ogilvie Really Wants To Meet Bill Gates And Find Out Where Vista Went Wrong

Colin Fly profiles Joe Ogilvie on his aspirations outside of golf, including possibly becoming a PGA Tour vice president in hopes of someday warranting consideration for the Commissioner's job. After all, where else in golf can you make that kind of money?

In the meantime, Ogilvie, who has eaten with Buffett about 10 times, is keeping busy with investments and thinking about how he would pick Gates' brain if the two met.

He said he's much more interested in the philanthropic work of the billionaires like Gates as opposed to how they amassed their fortunes.

"I can understand philanthropic work more than I can understand the Vista operating system," said Ogilvie, who admitted he owned a Mac. "Obviously he's one of the smartest tech guys that ever lived, so it would be fun just to think about, 'Where we would go from here?' — that type of thing."

Or, I would submit, "is Vista the biggest disaster in the history of operating systems?"

Tuesday
May202008

"Well, Alex, I guess that's why I played on the tour, and you were a teaching pro."

maar01_newtonqa.jpgGolf Digest's U.S. Open preview includes John Huggan's interview with the engaging Jack Newton. So many great stories, but my favorite involved Huggan asking Newton how he lost his BBC announcing gig:
I was commentating with Alex Hay at the 1984 Open. John Bland, Baker-Finch and Fred Couples came to the last hole at St. Andrews. The wind was into their faces off the right. The pin was left and over the Valley of Sin. Bland got up and hit his drive way left, onto the first hole. Alex said he'd pulled it, hooked it and come over the top of it. Then Baker-Finch did the same thing, maybe 20 yards farther. Alex said the same. He'd either hooked it or pulled it. So Fred gets up there and smashes it 40 yards past Ian on the same line. So Alex said the same again.

The upshot was that Bland and Ian both made 3. And Fred holed his pitch for a 2. When Couples hit his drive, I had said, on air, that all three players had gone where they did so that they would have the best angle for their second shots. They took the Valley out of play and were hitting back into the wind. Alex disagreed, again on air, which is a bit of a no-no. Anyway, Fred is interviewed. Clive Clark told him there had been some disagreement over the way he had played the last hole. So Fred says he was trying to hit a low hook up the left so that he would have the best angle and be hitting into the wind.

When we came back to the commentary box, I was expecting Alex to say something about it. But he ignored me. So I thought, Mate, you're not getting away with this. So I said, "Well, Alex, I guess that's why I played on the tour, and you were a teaching pro."

I never worked for the BBC again.
Monday
May192008

Deja Vu All Over Again: Torrey Vandalized In The Middle Of The Night

met-vandalism.jpgWhat is it about these USGA venues and vandals working in the middle of the night?

Tod Leonard reports on the latest minor incident (thanks NRH for the link), which has prompted officials to install a chain link fence around the third green. Some crime scene tape for the character-free front bunker wouldn't hurt either.

South Course – City Golf Manager Mark Woodward said workers arrived before dawn to find fresh footprints in the dew and heavy heel marks stamped into the surface of the green.

Woodward said a two-word vulgarity was etched in the sand of one bunker, and that several sprinkler heads were broken off. The incident was reported to San Diego police and is being investigated.

The damage to the green was minimal and quickly repaired, Woodward said, and though a Torrey Pines men's club outing that was to begin at 6:30 a.m. was delayed by 10 minutes, several golfers said they didn't notice any problems with the green after they played it.

The incident follows another act of vandalism on the same green about a month ago. In that case, Woodward said, it is believed the flagstick was used to scrape an obscenity into the green's surface, but the effect was cosmetic and was fixed with routine mowing.

Monday
May192008

Leroy Neiman Unveils Ryder Cup Print; Pentagon Inquires About Possible Use On Detainees

neiman_ryder_cup.jpgGary Van Sickle at golf.com's press tent blog tracks down the image on Neiman's web site and offers his thoughts on this latest masterwork.

Personally I think you can tack that baby to any wall in the Guantanamo Bay prison, throw on Celine Dion's greatest hits, and no one will ever ask about waterboarding ever again.

Monday
May192008

Dai Davies, R.I.P.

Lawrence Donegan salutes Dai Davies who passed away at the age of 69 and talks to many who remember him fondly.
Davies was the golf correspondent at the Birmingham Post from 1965 until 1982, when he joined the Guardian. He retired in 2004 but continued to file stories and columns for a number of magazines and newspapers. It was, as he wrote in a note to colleagues recently, a perfect career. "I have lived the life I always wanted to, working for a newspaper I always wanted to, going to lovely places around the world, populated in the main by people I would have chosen to be with. Surely no journalist could ask for more?"

Monday
May192008

The Farmers Almanac Schedule

Rex Hoggard tackles the question of what an ideal tour schedule based on weather would look like. The current one doesn't look so bad after all.
Monday
May192008

Brand Lady Scores Three-Year Extension, Media Yawns

06lpga7.jpgRon Sirak reported the stellar news in the May 16 Golf World and no one seemed to notice, including LPGA.com (no press release or denial).

Sirak says that Carolyn Bivens' contract now runs through 2011.

I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank the LPGA Board of Directors for a gift that will keep on giving. 

Monday
May192008

"Have the stretching exercises led to shaft changes with any clubs other than your putter?"

The Star-Telegram's Jimmy Burch asked Phil Mickelson about his growth spurt and other uh, shaft changes as a result of stretching.

What kind of stretching do you do to increase your height?
Just legs, low back, stuff like that. It has helped the elongation through motion. It's like a pitcher when he throws. He can't get his arm into certain positions statically when he throws a baseball. It's the same thing as using motion to stretch his length. It helped.

Have the stretching exercises led to shaft changes with any clubs other than your putter?

Not really. But my posture has been more consistent and easier to hold throughout the swing, so that's led to a little bit more consistent ball-striking.