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 โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ 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

Perhaps there should be less emphasis on lists of "great courses" and on "toughness." Challenge is one thing. Extreme difficulty is quite another. Unfortunately, nobody likes to think his course can be taken apart by anybody, and that too often becomes the measuring stick by which courses are designed. JACK NICKLAUS




Monty Throws First Hissy Fit Since Declaring That Captaincy Has Chilled Him Out

I believe Ladbrookes had the Chinese Open as the over/under event for the next Monty spat, so check your tickets to see what specific day was the cutoff. Michael Walker passes along a Scottish TV report that Monty, more relaxed than ever, had some issues with a photographer.

The Great Britain and Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, who says his new role has given him a new serenity, growled “don’t film me” at the man who had filmed him hook his drive into the water.

I don't know about you, but I'd like another source on this. Just doesn't sound like our man.


Lauer Hoping Shoulder Recovers In Time To Land Golf Digest Looping Gig

Justin Timberlake obviously didn't get tortured enough last year, so he and Ben Roethlisberger will be joining Michael Jordan and some really, really white guy in year two's NBC-Digest-USGA 7 hour round to be aired before the real 7-hour round at Bethpage.


Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake to Join Michael Jordan at Bethpage Black

NEW YORK (April 17, 2009) – Golf Digest, the United States Golf Association and NBC Sports have announced that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake will join Michael Jordan in the 2009 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge. The three celebrities will play with one amateur golfer who will be determined by online voting.

The foursome will play the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, the site of the 2009 U.S. Open, and attempt to break a score of 100. The 18-hole round will be taped by NBC Sports and air on Sunday, June 21st from 12:00pm – 1:30pm ET, immediately prior to the final-round broadcast of the U.S. Open.

All three celebrities have a single-digit Handicap and have been included in previous Golf Digest rankings of athletes and musicians. In the 2007 list of the top athlete-golfers, Jordan ranked T-30 with a Handicap of 1.2 and Roethlisberger ranked T-121 with a Handicap of 7. Timberlake, the host of the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, was ranked T-15 with a Handicap of 6 in Golf Digest’s 2008 “Top 100 in Music” list. Timberlake played in the 2008 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge and shot 98 at Torrey Pines.

Butch Harmon, who is ranked No.1 in Golf Digest’s “America’s 50 Greatest Teachers” list, will once again caddie for Timberlake. Fred Couples, the 15-time PGA TOUR winner and 1992 Masters champion, will caddie for Jordan. Roethlisberger’s caddie will be announced at a later date.

Matt Lauer maybe? Since he played last year with Greg Norman on the bag, he can help Ben get through the grueling Roger Maltbie interviews and offer tips on playing a marathon round...assuming he can lift a bag by then.


"Am I alone in thinking that Tiger Woods was rude and ungracious at the Masters last Sunday?"

Look out Tiger, the Internet Writer of the Year doesn't like your 'tude!

He was curt in his handshake with Phil Mickelson, his playing partner, brief in his comments to reporters and disrespectful to his competitors when he described his play. "I fought my swing all day and just kind of band-aided it and almost won the tournament," he said. One possible translation of that last statement could be: even with a band-aid on my swing I almost won the tournament, which is hardly complimentary to his rivals.

Good news Tiger. A) he didn't mention the possibility of physical attack costing you a run at the all time major record, and (B) next week's column will be filled with blow-by-blow accounts of his golf, so you're off the hook...

The following itinerary sounds good, wouldn't you say? Golf at Turnberry on Monday, the Old Course at St Andrews on Tuesday and perhaps the Castle Course at St Andrews on Wednesday. That's my schedule for the next few days. I will let you know how I got on next week.


"The California Senate has voted to make it illegal to hold events that require participants to speak English in a move prompted by the LPGA Tour's English-only proposal."

I have figured out why my state has a $42 billion budget deficit!

The women's golf tour wanted last year to require its players to speak English so they could talk with each other and the media and give acceptance speeches in English.

The LPGA backed off the plan after Sen. Leland Yee and others criticized it as discriminatory.

Yee says the proposal insulted women, minorities and immigrants and might disqualify the best golfers.

The San Francisco Democrat's bill makes such policies illegal in California without a "business necessity." It was approved Thursday 21-14 without debate.

The measure now heads to the Assembly.


"I can just say what I want."

Justin Jarrett looks at the Twitter craze taking over the game, talking to Lee Bushkell of the PGA Tour about how the staff does such a stellar job sending out constant and informative updates. Jarrett also chats with Stewart Cink, who is up to 39,000 followers after having (I think) about 1800 heading into the Masters.

As the Twitter universe has expanded, so has the tour's dedication to getting updated tweets to its followers. What started as a one-person operation, with Beyer doing all the tweeting, has evolved into an army of tweeters with laptops and smartphones.

"I signed up for an account and started just messing around, sending out a few little, dumb messages," Cink said. "Pretty soon, I realized that my followers were growing and people cared about what I said.

"It turns out that it's really been a great way to make direct contact, unfiltered contact, with a fan base that's out there that I don't know otherwise," Cink added. "Without using the media, without using TV cameras or anything, I can just say what I want. Sometimes I share a little insight about golf, sometimes I just talk about my life. It's been great just to be able to connect with people in a way that I would have never, ever made a connection."


North Shore Post-Madoff

John Hopkins reports this in his current Spike Bar column:

The latest news is that the North Shore Country Club on Long Island, New York, is in financial trouble after one third of its members, many of whom were clients of Madoff's, resigned, unable to afford the $16,000 annual membership. As a result the club has laid off 20 part-time employees and, having been in existence for 95 years, is struggling to reach its centenary.


Bookmakers Hail Angel!

Dan Roebuck reports that 100-1 shot Angel Cabrera gave the bookies a profitable week, and he reports on some of the bigger winning bets. Well, all two of them.


Get Your U.S. Open Tickets!

Michael Buteau reports that corporate hospitality sales for the U.S. Open at Bethpage are down, but there may be a silver lining for those hoping to buy tickets.

Typically, the USGA withholds between 8,000 and 10,000 weekly tickets for purchase by corporations, Jerris said. As the current allotment of 1,000 tickets is bought by the public, the USGA will likely release more tickets if corporations don’t buy them.

“We’re reserving tickets in anticipation of more corporate sales,” Jerris said. “It’s an ongoing sales effort. We expect by the week of the Open, we’ll be sold out.”

In other words, there should be plenty of tickets available.

But if not, apparently you'll be able to play along with the players during the event in a virtual sense. I'll leave it up to you all to deliver a verdict on this.


Augusta's Day-to-Day Yardages

Since the club does not release the daily course yardages, Bill Fields breaks down the Augusta National yardages each day and while the overall change might not sound like much, remember that the disparity in yardage between back and member tees is so great that this is probably about short as they can play it without doing something pretty radical (like playing a member tee).

With the tee positions used each day, the course measured 7,342, 7,275, 7,266 and 7,335 yards from first through fourth rounds. (The biggest reason the yardage dipped much lower for rounds two and three is because the forward tees at the demanding par-3 fourth were used.) This averages to a 7,304-yard tournament course, 131 yards less than the scorecard says.

For 72 holes, 58 played shorter than the scorecard figure, 11 at the number and only three longer than the number (No. 2 Saturday, No. 6, Friday and Sunday).

The field got its biggest breaks at the following holes: No. 1, listed at 445 yards but played 10, 12 and 10 yards shorter the first three rounds and at its yardage for round four; No. 7, 450 yards, played 15, 17, five and 12 yards shorter; No. 15, 530 yards, played 15, 15, 13 and 17 yards shorter; No. 18, 465 yards, played 13, five, 10 and 17 yards shorter.


Final Masters Question: Is 60 Minutes That Important?

Other than providing a strong lead-in to CBS's Sunday night magazine show, I cannot comprehend any rational reason for continuing to decide Masters playoffs in sudden death.

Sunday's frenzied playoff was the latest example of the awkward, anti-climactic feel that has tainted past sudden deathers.

Just think: all of that work and all of that great play, yet the coveted first major often comes down to a missed putt or bounce when a three or four hole playoff could eliminate such concerns (as evidenced by widespread praise for the Open and PGA's aggregate playoff formats).

As a wise observer pointed out to me today, never has a Masters sudden death playoff gone more than two holes. In recent years, those holes have been played with the sun about to set. The observer couldn't help but wonder if the pressure of not finishing in the daylight adds to the chaotic nature of things.

Now, with the improved course setup this year, pace of play was significantly faster. Simply moving tee times up 30-40 minutes would open up enough of a window for three holes to be played while still providing that strong lead-in to 60 Minutes (Except on the West Coast).

So is it something about the late light looking a certain way that encourages the club to stick with the current "tradition," even though it would seem like an odd way to culminate a major championship?

Or is 60 Minutes and the lure of a big prime time rating just that important?

Or is it something else? Help!



Flash: Cart Users Play Extra Holes Without Paying

Michael Buteau filed a comprehensive Bloomberg story on the struggles of the golf car industry. Meanwhile posted the results of a Club Car funded "white paper" titled "Golf Car Vandalism: No Joyride," which estimates that operators are losing $8-10 million a year due to...

• 72 percent of courses reported vandalism or golfers playing extra holes without paying a green fee.

• 27 percent said they had retrieved a vandalized golf car from a lake or creek.

• 48 percent reported unauthorized use of golf cars.

• 42 percent reported golf cars being driven in restricted areas.

• 21 percent reported theft of golf cars.

The only solution to all of this bad cart news? Just ban the carts. Yep, I know, shocking. But it's the only way can eliminate this wasteful behavior.


How To Kick Them Out

What with the exclusive board meeting video and all of this talk about clubs, I suggested in Golfdom that clubs need to start locker room or bulletin board postings to fund the buyouts of less desireables. What do you think?



"Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?"

Jaime Diaz's engaging, must-read look at Tiger Woods' Masters week raises all sorts of fascinating questions.

So the speculation will begin again. For all the great wins since he began working with Haney in 2004, have the swing changes been the right ones? Is the relationship with Haney in jeopardy? Is there lasting damage in the left knee? Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?

Diaz goes on to detail all of the key moments from the week, highlighted by Friday's driving range session:

Steaming, he marched to the range and immediately—and uncharacterically—began pounding drivers. Williams, reading the moment, got away. Haney, who stayed to face the heat, got an earful. Woods eventually cooled off, had a long exchange with Haney and gave the fans who applauded his longer than usual hour-long session a grateful, if clearly discouraged, wave.

Ultimately, it still sounds like for all of the analysis and swing struggles, some perspective is in order. Tiger was off for eight months and simply hasn't played enough tournament golf to be sharp. Diaz doesn't quite go so far as to say it, but based on this next bit, you have to wonder if Haney has pointed out to Tiger that as miraculous as Torrey Pines was, even Tiger needs to play more competitive rounds to work off the rust and to give majors a little less high-pressure urgency.

Though they are words sure to make Haney wince, he took a bullet for his player. "Tiger worked as hard as humanly possible to come back for the Masters," said the swing instructor after the dust had settled Monday morning. "Maybe a little more tournament play would have helped, but he did everything he could. There were a lot of things that you can point to in his not winning, but all it does is point out how hard it is to win major championships."

Especially when they've become all that really matter.


"As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby"

Nice catch by reader Stan in this Rory McIlroy story by Bernie McGuire, with Darren Clarke commenting on the Masters Friday rules incident:

"Darren Clarke yesterday revealed he attempted to contact McIlroy’s agent after the teenager’s controversial incident in a bunker at the 18th on Friday.

The 19-year-old was called before the Masters Tournament competition committee, and told they were reviewing whether McIlroy kicked the sand — a rules violation.

Clarke revealed: "As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby (Chandler). I was hoping I could catch him before he handed in his card."


Second Masters Question: It was more than just the weather, no?

I was going to start this post asking why course setup was such a major topic (again) going into this Masters and yet, how few actual details we learned about what went into the committee's efforts to finally make Augusta National resemble its old self.

Sure, the committee will never be the chatty types, but how about some basic observations on tee and hole locations based on observation (you know, by leaving the press center). Or true player/caddy insights into what they actually saw? (And not just that the greens were clearly soft. We at home could see that.)

But then I saw this USA Today headline on a Jerry Potter story:

Players say scoring at majors often dictated by course setup

Rumor has it that tomorrow they've got a grabber titled, "Players say lowest score at majors often wins."

From what I've seen so far of the post Masters issues, the weeklies offer little in the way of details. However, a few reviews are in and, as warranted, they are quite positive.

Doug Ferguson rightly praises the overall change in tone. "The magic of the Masters, however, is not so much about the score as it is the opportunity."

Ron Sirak noted this detail, which seemed to have been overlooked but which was apparent on television (and almost noted on-air by Feherty at No. 15 before he realized the club has snipers trained on him in case he reverts to his true self):

Also, grass was allowed to grow ever-so-slightly longer, preventing balls that in the past may have rolled into water to hang up just short.

Steve Elling had a different take, not convinced just yet that the course is all the way back.

Even with abnormally idyllic weather, softer greens, easier pin locations and front tees that were used liberally throughout the week in a notable departure from the norm, the low score was 12 under par, marking the third time in eight years that the Masters winner finished at that exact number. Thus, it was hardly a sub-sonic total, yet it required perfect conditions and plenty of course tinkering to pull it off.

That represents a flashing yellow light.

Regular readers here know that after Shinnecock, Oakland Hills and way too many other recent rounds, I am fascinated with the idea of courses becoming silly when it's 75 and the wind is clocked at a whopping 15 mph.

So last week for me that "flashing yellow light" came in the form of intentionally soft greens. We should applaud whoever made the call to make the greens slower and softer, because it helped mask the deficiencies in the architecture and gave us a memorable week.

In recent days I've polled folks in the know, asking who deserves the most praise for making this call. They unanimously say Billy Payne deserves it for setting a new tone and essentially overruling the committee charged with setup. Still, let's nod our caps to Fred Ridley, course super Marsh Benson and the committees who found a few new hole locations and did the dirty work.

Of course they should not have to work so hard if the architecture was in better condition. Yes, it was clear the second cut has been negated in many key areas by a discreet widening out of holes.  And the frontal additions to several tees clearly helped based on comments by Crenshaw and Weir. But still, is this quote from an AP notes column (nice spot reader David) really what the club wants to read:

"We played the ladies' tees two days in a row." – Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods, on the course setup.

There were a few times I was worried about player safety on No. 11 when it looked like a Palmer follow-through might lead to a plunge off the front. Then again, wasn't it wonderful Sunday to see the 15th play so short that players were able to bomb it past the abhorred Fazio/Hootie tree farm?

Which is the issue at hand. The committee had to work their tails off to offset the glaring deficiencies: the decrease in width, the second cut, the still-missing ebb and flow of the back nine, and the lack of genuine tee "elasticity." (Oh and we'll give a shout out to Brandel Chamblee who rightly questions the deepening of key fairway bunkers to the point that they eliminate the temptation factor.)

Minus the rough, minus the Christmas trees that are turning into monsters (shrewd planting work there!) but with a few old tees and corridors widened out to their old selves, firmness could be restored. Remember, Bobby Jones HATED soft greens, even writing an essay about it that originally appeared in the USGA Green Section Bulletin and subsequently in Masters of the Links

Wider and firmer does not necessarily mean players would be put back on the defensive. On the contrary, it should lull them into a false sense of security, a primary tenet of great risk-reward design.  And best of all, the committee wouldn't have to work so hard covering up the mistakes made in changing the course.

But can we all agree, the overall change in tone the last few years was not merely a product of the weather?


"Cabrera's appetites are like his drives โ€” prodigious."

SI's Alan Shipnuck files his typically rich-in-detail-no-one-else-has Masters game story. So rich, I'm running for the Pepto tablets just thinking about Angel Cabrera's diet:

Earlier in the evening a quaint Masters tradition had compelled him to eat a champion's dinner with the Augusta National members. Eschewing the lobster macaroni and cheese and other delicacies from the buffet, Cabrera settled on an irresistible item called the Tiger Woods Cheeseburger. The burgers were smaller than expected, so a famished Cabrera ate nine of them, washed down by gulps of red wine. Back at the house, as it neared 2 a.m., he took lusty sips of his favorite drink: Coke mixed with Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit brewed from grapes and more than 40 herbs and spices.


"In 1968, I was watching with my mother when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified."

I'm not going to sleep as well tonight knowing that Condi Rice is angling not for a job with the PGA Tour, but instead, as a golf writer.

Writing--if you could call it that--for The Daily Beast.

Long before I picked up a golf club four years ago, I watched the Masters every year. In 1968, I was watching with my mother when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified. Mother was outraged because she thought that the mistake might have been a result of the language barrier.

Still spelling his name wrong, after all these years. Though I doubt he's had much trouble with folks messing up the Roberto part.

Look at the lyrical quality of this passage.

I know Tiger from our Stanford connection. I once sat with him at a Stanford-Duke basketball game. Stanford won on a buzzer-beater, and we stormed the court together. With that kind of bonding, whom else would I pull for? I had decided that if Tiger did not win, I would champion the cause of Phil Mickelson (met him at the White House and he’s a really nice guy); Stewart Cink (met him in Atlanta and he’s a really nice guy); or Anthony Kim (haven’t met him but I like his swagger).


"'Back to the clubhouse. I'm not going to live long enough to figure out that backswing.'"

John Garrity catches up with some of the older former Masters Champions, including '68 winner Bob Goalby and Jackie Burke, making his first visit to Augusta in seven years.

Goalby, for example, shares one about Jackie and another old pro, Miller Barber. "You know Miller?" Goalby arches an eyebrow. "He's got about 14 curlicues in his backswing, and then he sticks the club straight up in the air with no wrist cock. Anyway, he asked Jackie for a lesson. They went out on the range, dumped the balls out. Miller said, 'I'm mixed up on my backswing. Watch me hit some.' So he hit about a dozen balls before Jackie turned and started walking away. Miller's got this squeaky voice. He shouted, 'Jackie! Jackie! Where are you going?' And Jackie said, 'Back to the clubhouse. I'm not going to live long enough to figure out that backswing.'"


"Straub describes the 115,000-square-foot clubhouse as 'a new Breakers.'"

Thanks to Steven T. for Eve Samples story on the proud new owner of Tesoro, the former Ginn property.

Last month, the court approved the sale of Tesoro's assets to Straub's West Coast Investors LLC. He paid $10.99 million for 353 lots, a golf course and another golf course lease, 11 acres of commercial property, a racquet club and a clubhouse.

Straub describes the 115,000-square-foot clubhouse as "a new Breakers."

115,000 square feet? I can't imagine why this place didn't work.


Golf With Comedian Lewis Black At Westchester CC...