Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

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




“We can see everything, frame by frame.”

Rex Hoggard says that D.A. Points attributes his improved play to...his iPhone 3GS.

“It’s amazing,” said Points, who has his caddie video him with the new device and then e-mail it to his swing coach Brian Mogg in central Florida. “We can see everything, frame by frame.”


Happy 4th Of July!


"There are markets we'd like to get to, and we've done some things to get there in a variety of ways."

Thanks to reader Jeff for Joe Juliano's story about the AT&T National's move to a much better course Aronimink for two years. But as Jeff asked, how are the Philly fans going to like being lumped into the same market class as Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Portland and Seattle?

Maybe that's why the paper ran that less-than-flattering peppy shot of the Commish?


"Awkward" Tees At Congressional

I have to confess it's been a while since I looked at Congressional very closely but today's AT&T National first round was an eye-opener. The list of cringe-inducing sights is too long, so let's just hope they do some tree and bunker work before the 2011 U.S. Open. To call the bunkers there two-dimensional would be unfair to two-dimensional bunkers.

Rex Hoggard blogged about this change, which actually sounds like it fits with the rest of the course:

The Blue will close shortly after this week’s event and the greens rebuilt, but some new tee boxes that the U.S. Golf Association may use have already been installed, at Nos. 9 and 15 for example, giving players a glimpse at what may await in ’11.

“(Nos.) 15 and 9 seemed very awkward because they move away from the way the slope is,” said Jim Furyk, who has played in the last four Tour events played at Congressional (’97 U.S. Open, ’05 Booz Allen Classic and ’07 and ’08 AT&T Nationals). “They both slope left to right and the tee is going back to the left, which makes the tee shot a little bit more awkward.”

Speaking of awkward, that hill behind below the new 10th tee, old 18th green site. They will find a way to put people there in the U.S. Open, right? It looks a little strange right now with just a television tower. Actually, that's the least of Congressional's issues.



"Ian Poulter causes plenty of commotion with his style on the course."

Golfweek "Fashionistas Ash and Ash" were invited "to hang out on the set of the latest IJP Designs photoshoot." 

Poulter had better be careful, especially after the part where he's doing his hair. It might not be long before his fellow pros tag him with the Bruno knickname.

Actually, Bruno's a lot more fun.



"We can handle it"

Look how well some of the principals in questioning the groove rule change have lightened up. At least, on Twitter:


"We have a 50-50 chance of being here next year."

Reading the AP blurb that went out suggesting the $1.4 million Jamie Farr Classic has only a 50-50 chance of returning in 2010, it was hard not to wonder if anyone at the LPGA is thinking that it might be nice just to have some tournaments next year, regardless of purse size and market?

Then I see that Beth Ann Baldry raised this very point in a tough plea for the Brand Lady to wake up before it's too late. Calling the LPGA "a floundering tour with flourishing talent" Baldry writes:

The days of Bivens doing too much too soon should be over. The LPGA needs to bend over backwards to make things work from here on out. The tour needs strong partners such as Wegmans, a supermarket chain in the Northeast (Everyone’s got to eat, right?) now more than ever.


“When we get our boots down on golf course design, it opens up to every kind of deal we have, the wines, clothing line"

I know what you're asking yourself! Who said that? Was it MacKenzie? Tilly? Dye? Doak? Hanse? Oh wait, only one architect sells wine and clothes! (Which reminds me, Jack, why don't you have your own wine label?).

Thanks to reader Nick for Wing-Gar Cheng of Bloomberg's report that Greg Norman is looking at up to 20 design projects in China.

Chrissy, you better start learning to say Ni hao.

Norman, known as the “Great White Shark” for his aggressive golf style and blond hair, is chasing 20 golf-course design leads in China, said Harley Kruse, an architect at Greg Norman Golf Course Design Co. Each course could attract a fee of more than $1 million, Kruse said in an interview late yesterday.

“When we get our boots down on golf course design, it opens up to every kind of deal we have, the wines, clothing line,” Norman, 54, said in an interview in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. “China is the bright spot.”

Wonderful that he's eyeing the opportunity to grow the game and share his vision of  250 yard carries and misery at a premium.

The company plans to open offices in China in the next five months, and may establish a wine distribution partnership within a year, Kruse said. Norman previously designed courses at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen and Kai Kou Golf Club in Xiamen, where another Norman course is under construction.

“What you have within your corporation is what your brand represents,” Norman said late yesterday. “I’m not trying to get everything. You just have to identify your market and know what you’re going after.”

Just think architects: there will be 20 redesign jobs in just a few years! So Greg's opening up two markets, design and redesign.


"Over time we're going to be experimenting with a lot of different ways to set things up because our hope is that this change is going to make the game more interesting to watch"

After giving a remarkably cogent explanation of the groove rule history--really, not jargon!--Commissioner Tim Finchem was asked this interesting question:

Q. Tim, the only manufacturing company that has objected publicly to the reinstitution of the V-grooves has been a golf ball company so far. Do you have any research indicating that the adoption of the V-grooves will somehow impact the performance of golf balls and therefore affect golf ball companies?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: With respect to companies, I've spent a lot of time talking to manufacturers as you might suspect over the last six weeks. They have different opinions among them on different aspects of the rule and equipment and where it should go and all those things.

You know, all I know is that with this change you're not going to be able to spin the ball as much out of the rough. There's some assumptions that players will as a result, maybe, in some instances, look for a ball that spins more generally. That's not necessarily the case in my view, but it's possible.

With respect to the manufacturer that objected, they were a party that recommended the delay. We looked at the request based on whether or not -- because one of the arguments made was there's not enough time to make the transition, and we primarily were looking at it from that perspective.

We also looked at it from the perspective of the timeline and the fairness issue of delaying after individuals and entities and companies had spent time, energy and resources reacting to the timeline. That was a major concern.

But in terms of how it develops, you know, that's something the players will sort out as they pick up the equipment. They go practice with it and then they make the adjustments that they feel like they need to.

Q. So just real quick, nobody presented you with any research indicating that there would be an impact on a specific golf ball product?



This was particularly encouraging, but also in an peculiar roundabout way, an admission that course setup took on Draconian measures in response to technology changes:

Q. One more on grooves. Yesterday you said one of the challenges is the qualifiers and that you may look at possibly different rules for that. USGA and R & A are also looking at that. Are you likely to act in lockstep with them or will you act independently regarding rules on qualifiers? And on a different note, do you see with the new groove being implemented next year that course setups may evolve, possibly pin placements get a little more accessible?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me answer the second question first because it's more fun. Yes, we do. We have changed our rough heights this year at a number of golf courses and did some fairly meticulous analysis of what happened when we brought those rough heights down a little bit compared to earlier years, and the reason we did that was to set the stage for now measuring what happens on those same golf courses when we shift grooves.

So this will be a -- you're not going to see us revolutionize our setup the first month next year, but over time we're going to be experimenting with a lot of different ways to set things up because our hope is that this change is going to make the game more interesting to watch from a variety of perspectives, and that would be helpful to us. So we're going to be -- we have more people, more energy, we have this wonderful ShotLink program that tells us everything, so we're going to really, I think, enjoy the process of doing some things differently and playing around with it.


PGA Tour Drug Testing Exposes Severe Performance Anxiety Issues

The buried lede in Leonard Shapiro's analysis of Tim Finchem's drug testing remarks was not this statement--"We may have had some test results that trouble us in other areas that we treat in a different bucket"--no, it's what Jim Furyk revealed.

He said he'd been tested at least three times during the last year, and the only problem with the program was that some players were initially unable to provide urine samples after they completed their rounds and were told they were being tested.

"I guess it's kind of humorous that some guys have had a hard time producing a sample," he said. "Guys have said 'I couldn't go, it took me two hours,' or guys have said, 'There were five people in front of me, so it took a long time.' But I haven't heard anyone really complaining other than the amount of time it takes."

They're human! Guys who can hit a little white ball 300 yards with ease as millions look on sometimes can't produce in front of five lab-coated scientists. I feel so much better about that time when I was 13 at Pauley Pavillion, and they only have two urinals in the entire freakin building and well, we won't go there.

By the way...five people? Really? No wonder this program costs so bloody much.

Here's what Finchem said when pressed about his distinction between no positive test results for one class of drugs.

Q. I just want to confirm, so you're saying there have been no positive tests, either recreational or performance enhancing --

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I didn't say that. I said we have had no positive tests with respect to performance enhancing. We may have had some test results that trouble us in other areas that we treat in a different bucket. But we don't publicize those. We treat those as conduct unbecoming.

We may in those instances -- I'm not saying this has happened or not, I'm just saying what the process is. If we get a test like that, we will consider it conduct unbecoming, and what are our choices? We can suspend a player, we can fine a player, we can do both of those and put a player into treatment. We could also add to that regular testing.

As I said last year, we have three kinds of testing. We have random testing, we have selective testing. That means we decide to test you because you haven't been tested for whatever reason. It's not random anymore. We're selecting you. And then we have regular testing. We have reason to believe that a player may be using an illegal substance or may have a substance problem and he's in a program and we want to test him. Or a player is playing under a TUE where he's allowed to have certain levels of a substance and we just test him on a regular basis because we want to make sure we get him the TUE, but you've got to play by the rules. So it takes on different forms.

With respect to conduct unbecoming, we don't announce that. With respect to performance enhancing, we would be announcing that.

Q. You can't confirm for us then that there has been any positive testing?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I wouldn't say yes or no to that, no. I'll say this: We don't have a problem in that area.

Got that?


"My reaction was extreme disappointment."

Gary D'Amato on the vandalism (with photos) at Brown Deer Park just two weeks before the U.S. Bank Championship. Thanks to reader Nick for this.

About 60% of the putting surface on No. 17 was damaged by vandals on the night of June 23, according to tournament director Dan Croak. The damage likely was caused by a motorcycle or motorcycles.

"I got the call early Wednesday morning (June 24) from Tim," Croak said, referring to course superintendent Tim Wegner. "My reaction was extreme disappointment."


"I want the rough up and the greens firms."

I skimmed Tiger's press conference yesterday in search of his grooves answer, but gave this passage another read today:

Q. Thick rough, no rough. What's your preference?

TIGER WOODS: I want the rough up and the greens firms. I want the build [ability?] to have the guys get the ball down there on the fairways, be aggressive off the tees if they want, get the ball down there, but also have the greens firm enough where it rewards guys for being more aggressive off the tees and getting the ball down there so they can control their spins coming in the greens.

I doubt that Tiger gets too involved in setting up Congressional--that would mean actually speaking to people not under his employ--but it still strikes me as odd that he's dictating setup for a tournament he's playing in. Oh I know, it's his event and Jack Nicklaus probably used to make the call on Muirfield Village's setup when he was still active. Still odd, but what's the Tour going to do, tell him to bugger off?

It's also confusing that Tiger selects high rough as a setup ideal. Especially as he's advocating reward for aggressive driving. That said, the transcript was a weird one and I probably should not read much into it.


"It's a very complex thing, but it's also necessary"

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post looks at the plans for redoing Congressional's greens and talks to superintendent Mike Giuffre.

"But it comes down to the fact that that grass has performed poorly for us in the summertime the last six or seven years. It hasn't putted like we'd like it to. We need a change."

And so close to the U.S. Open.


How Finchem Got The Grooves Back

The grooves coverage features several intriguing tidbits.

Mike Stachura writing for, writing about industry reaction:

Others in the industry see no cause for alarm, however.

"We're very happy they took the decision to move forward," said Benoit Vincent, chief technical officer at TaylorMade. "The USGA had a pretty set schedule, and we have been working to develop solutions within the new rule, so there was no rational reason for us to want to postpone implementation for a year."

E. Michael Johnson talks to players and gets their take on how this will play out, including this from Ping man Ted Purdy, who is about to take delivery on conforming wedges that Ping didn't want to make:

"The game is hard as it is, to make it harder doesn't make a lot of sense to me," he said. "I think people want to see excitement. We'll evolve and we'll be fine and there will be great scores and great shots being hit. But I don't think this was the will of the majority of the players."'s Rob Sauerhaft reminds us all that this will have little impact on the everyday game for some time.

How will the rule affect amateur and "casual" golfers? First, equipment companies can continue to sell current models with U-grooves through the end of 2010. Beyond that, the new regulation on conforming grooves will take effect for high-level amateurs in 2014 and for "casual" players in 2024.

That didn't stop Jeff Rude from complaining that this rule change is cruel to the average golfer. They're taking away their Oxycontin! (In 2024.)

If the PGA Tour wants to have its players use smaller-groove irons and wedges, fine. But leave the recreational golfer alone.

Isn’t the game hard and long enough? We’re going to make it harder for the masses in a few years (elite amateurs in 2014, the rest in 2024)? Doesn’t golf already have a difficult time keeping recreational players in the game? Isn’t the game hurting in most corners?

The theory is that reduction of the size of the current U-grooves and the sharpness of their edges would make playing from rough more difficult and, in turn, put a greater premium on driving accuracy and shotmaking.

That’s fine for the Tour, but not for you and me. We play for enjoyment (and today’s equipment makes the game more enjoyable than ever for the garden-variety amateur).



"Trace the problem to the hiring of Carolyn Bivens as LPGA commissioner in 2005."

Thanks to reader Brian for Bill Pucko's story on the demise of the Rochester stop. Another Brand Lady fan!

Hop on a golf cart with Wegmans LPGA Tournament chairman Jerry Stahl and you quickly come to appreciate how in touch he is.

Stahl is a big shot in Rochester, but he seemingly knows every golfer, caddie, volunteer and fan of his tournament by their first names. It is a large part of what makes the event successful. But the greetings were more melancholy this time around. "Don't let them take our tournament," they said.

It's always something. Stahl has dealt with the purse, the venue, the dates and the sponsor. The weather is a constant crisis to overcome. This is even a tougher nut to crack.

Trace the problem to the hiring of Carolyn Bivens as LPGA commissioner in 2005. Pursued for her marketing expertise, not for her golf world presence, Bivens was charged with bringing the struggling tour into the 21st century. She is proceeding with machiavellian efficiency.

This wire story details the demise of the Kapalua stop, with promises of legal action by the LPGA Tour. And Ron Sirak filed several Tweets today about the dwindling domestic schedule, including this:

My count has 10 full-field domestic LPGA events, as of now, for 2010, and that is generous since two of those do not have sponsors.

I also couldn't help but notice this odd juxtaposition of Tweets from LPGAer Christina Kim and Sirak:


"We're looking at one of the most lethargic, uninspiring, memory-challenged years in the game's modern era."

John Hawkins is probably right, 2009 is shaping up to be one of those forgettable years in golf. But after 2008--the equivalent of a 62--it was going to be tough to follow.


"We've had plenty of time to make our adjustments."

Not the cleanest transcript ever, but you get the idea. Tiger Woods at Congressional, asked about the groove change going ahead in 2010:

TIGER WOODS: I think it's great. We've had plenty of time to make our adjustments. We've known for over a couple years now what this decision was going to be, when it was going to come down, and we've had plenty of time to make our adjustments.

All the companies have been testing and getting ready for this, and the guys will make the changes. Most of the guys play with big groups brought their irons. Only new groups they usually have use their sand wedges. But guys will make their changes, their adjustments.

It'll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough. Their decision is how they play par-5s whether they will they try and drive drivable par 4s now. Short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price, and you know, how many more 64-degree wedges you're going to see with the balls being as firm as they are. Are guys going to start going to a spinner ball.


"Exactly why the board decided to let Finchem make the call remains, for the moment, unclear."

Steve Elling on the PGA Tour's Policy Board Tim Finchem's groove call:

It will be interesting hearing the four players who have seats on the board explain what happened at the meeting, but at minimum, it removed them from a potentially uncomfortable situation – the players have endorsement deals with manufacturers, which might have created a conflict of interest.


Titleist: "Disappointed"

Boy they work fast up there in Fairhaven. Hot off the presses:

Acushnet Statement re: U.S. PGA Tour Groove Decision

The Acushnet Company is disappointed that the U.S. PGA Tour has decided to adopt the Condition of Competition for the new groove rule effective January 1, 2010.

For the past several months we have communicated with the USGA, the R&A and various worldwide professional tours, our support for aligning adoption of the Condition of Competition with January 1, 2011, the date that manufacturers are required to begin shipping products with the new groove configuration. We believe that alignment of those dates is in the best interest of the professional tours, consumers, retailers and manufacturers. Below are some of the factors that we believe support our position.

Although Acushnet incorporated a new conforming groove configuration into its irons in 2007, we elected to wait to convert our wedges until after the USGA/R&A took final action on the groove proposal. Once the new groove dimensions were finalized, in the rule as adopted in August 2008, we developed a new groove for wedges and began tour player testing in March 2009. We have since tested a significant number of tour players comparing the current and the new groove configurations.

Our test results are consistent with testing conducted by the USGA/R&A that revealed a spin rate reduction of between 30% and 50% for full shots out of the rough. However, our testing also revealed significant changes in ball launch angle, ball trajectory, angle of descent and roll out on the green. The testing also revealed significant differences in performance depending on player club head speed and short game technique. Player reaction to what they saw was dramatic. They were caught off guard by the magnitude of the performance difference and expressed concern about the extent of the transition process.

Momentary pause here to run for my Kleenex box. Continue...

We believe, and players have confirmed, that the conversion process will not be a simple exchange of existing wedges with new grooves. The conversion process may involve different wedge designs and lofts, different shot technique, different golf balls and different set configuration (including drivers). These types of changes are iterative and take time. They also require significant support from players and equipment manufacturers. There are approximately 1,500 exempt tour players worldwide. We don’t believe that this extensive transition process will begin in earnest until late in 2009, when manufacturer tour support is almost non existent. That is particularly true for tours outside of the United States.

The groove rule change is the first time in the history of contemporary competitive golf that equipment performance has been rolled back. Making a change of this precedential significance requires that the conversion process be conducted in a thorough, deliberate manner taking the interests of all constituencies into account. Regardless of how much research and thought went into the development of the rule change, as with any significant change, there are unforeseen issues and complexity, particularly at the point of implementation and adoption. There is no way to predict many of these issues and they only surface during the actual conversion process, as described above. While no one is to blame for these circumstances, the major logistical issues of implementation still need to be taken into account.

Hey, maybe this will force more guys to show up at Kapalua!

One of the most significant consequences of this equipment roll back is that not aligning adoption of the Condition of Competition with the manufacturer sell by date creates a bifurcation between the equipment that the Tours are using and the equipment consumers have available in the market place. That disconnect is also unprecedented. Our research indicates that the majority of retailers and consumers only have an interest in product with the new groove configuration if product with current grooves is not available. On the current schedule that is January 1, 2011. We believe that alignment of these dates to January 1, 2011 is critical as it allows for a thoughtful, orderly and comprehensive implementation of the proposed new grooves for all parties. Non-alignment is not in the best interests of the game of golf and all of its constituencies.

Now that the USPGA Tour has voted to continue with a January 1, 2010 adoption (and we expect all professional tours to follow their lead), we will, as promised all along, make the effort to service all worldwide professional players as best we can. Our irons currently conform to the new rule and we will begin distribution of new wedge product to the professional tours shortly. However, the decision to adopt the Condition of Competition effective January 1, 2010 does not diminish or alter the challenges described above.


And The PGA Tour's Groove Rule Verdict Is...

...they are going ahead with the 2010 "condition of competition." Victory for USGA, Finchem, rough mowers. Finchem conference call highlights:

"full and thorough discussion on delaying, reaffirmation of general support for rule, some issues with the enacting date"

"the board finished discussion by continuing the history policy of using condition of competition, our intention to move ahead January 1, 2010"

"full court press" to make sure every player is paying attention to what he has to do, working with his manufacturer, to be prepared

"some challenges"

"Delaying at this point in time was not in our overall best interest"

"continues to be wide support for rule itself"

Ferguson asks: why in best overall interest? Finchem: "late in the process"

"Board did not take action" according to Finchem. Means no vote was taken, left up to the Commissioner.