Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

Searching for a lost ball is not a pleasant vocation, but since golf was first played a lost ball has always been a part of the game. So reconcile yourself to tradition.




"Congress has moved to prevent money from the proposed $825 billion stimulus package from being used for zoos, aquariums, golf courses, swimming pools and casinos"

Thanks to reader Joel for this:

Congress has moved to prevent money from the proposed $825 billion stimulus package from being used for zoos, aquariums, golf courses, swimming pools and casinos, an effort to ensure the bill funds only what it calls the "highest quality" infrastructure projects.

"The purpose of this bill is to direct funding at projects that are primarily and clearly aimed at benefiting the economic conditions of communities and the public at large," the bill states. "The federal government and all other levels of government are directed to look with a skeptical eye at projects that don't meet that test."
CNN revealed last month that a list of "ready to go" stimulus projects endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors included museum and zoo renovations, aquatic centers, skateboard parks and bike and horse paths. One of the zoo projects in the report is a $4.8 million polar bear exhibit at the Providence, Rhode Island, zoo.

The House Appropriations Committee added those restrictions last week after criticism from watchdog groups like the National Taxpayers Union, which monitors government spending.

"To the people supporting them, these proposals aren't a joke," said Pete Sepp, the group's vice president. "But to the taxpayers funding them, yes this will be a joke for them, only they won't be laughing."

The restrictions in the bill appear meant to address reports about some of the projects endorsed by the U.S. mayors, Sepp said. 

Any followers of politics who know how to find out which fine politician drove the inclusion of this language in the bill? Or is it all done behind closed doors?

Obviously, my Golf World piece was not read by this fine guardian of American values! And clearly, Steve Mona, Bob Combs and the crew down in Florida working to educate our nation's capital have their work cut out for them.


Monty Takes Euro Captaincy Stakes By Two Lengths

And Jose Maria is not named 2012 captain, so we get to do this all over again in two years!


Sergio Refuses To Confirm He's Penciled In As 2029 Ryder Cup Captain

Okay, that's not entirely true but believe it or not, some are already eyeing his possible tenure as the absurd 2010 captaincy debate comes to a head with Wednesday's planned announcement.

Bill Elliott writing for The Guardian:

Ewan Murray, the former Tour player who now is lead commentator for Sky Sports golf, is not alone when he articulates the thought that the Tournament Players Committee is making a mountain out of a molehill by prevaricating on the choice of captain.

"Especially when every­one can see how clear-cut it is, or should be," said Murray. "Monty can't do it in the States because the punters over there would just be into him from the start while Ollie would be ideal for America. The fact is that Gleneagles in five years' time might well be too late for Colin. He'd be too old really so surely it has to be now. Look, it's a different European Tour now. Players are younger, potential Ryder Cup men like Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett and Oliver Wilson, for example, are late teens and very early twenties. They need a connection. The Tour is lucky because there is a logical sequence of potential captains through to 2029. I went through this list with a senior official on the flight over and we ended up filling every spot and ­ending with Sergio García in '29 by which time Sergio will be 49."

I think these people are taking their captaincy talk just a bit far, no?

Mark Garrod weighs the possibilities for both candidates and also lists the endorsement quotes for all of the candidates, including Dennis Kucinich Ian Woosnam.

...the Scot is the one widely expected to be named Ryder Cup captain for next year's match in Wales. Nobody was even guessing such a scenario just a couple of weeks ago.

Both men had expressed their desire to play next year and, if they had stuck to their guns on that, it was almost a given that Olazabal would be in charge in Chicago in 2012, while Montgomerie would lead Europe on home soil at Gleneagles in 2014 and 2010 might have gone to either Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam. But they have not stuck to their guns.

Lawrence Donegan reminds us that when you lock grown men in a room and call them a committee, just about anyone has a chance to be named captain.

George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European tour, thought carefully when asked to describe the tenor of debate during a meeting in Abu Dhabi of players and officials – a body formally known as the tournament players committee – two weeks ago to discuss the captaincy of Europe's Ryder Cup side for next year's contest against the United States in Wales.

"Statesmanlike," he said eventually. Two weeks later, not a lot can be said with certainty about the Abu Dhabi meeting but it is safe to say this: it was far from ­statesmanlike. One of those in attendance, a former Ryder Cup player, was overheard the day after telling colleagues it was a shouting match, while another described the experience of sitting in a basement room of a hotel, albeit the seven-star Emirates Palace hotel, for three hours debating the whys and wherefores of the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy as "exhausting".

Mike Aitken makes a convincing case that the death of Sandy Lyle's bid rests on Nick Faldo's shoulders. Just one more reason the Masters Champions Dinner should be televised.

Karl McGinty believes we have Paul McGinley to thank...assuming Monty gets picked.

Steve Elling and Scott Michaux debate the logic behind each leading candidate.

And Tony Jimenez says it'll be a joint announcement with Monty and Ollie getting the next two jobs.


"It was just apathy out there."

Gary D’Amato analyzes the demise of U.S. Bank's role in the Milwaukee event and gets a pretty frank analysis from the bank's Bill Bertha.

"We're not blaming anybody," Bertha said. "Other companies didn't see the value of entertaining clients. No revenues were being generated above operating costs, other than what we were subsidizing.

"Nobody cared. A very good analogy is that we threw a multimillion-dollar party for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, in a park with tents, refreshments and entertainment - all the bells and whistles - and nobody showed up.

"It was just apathy out there."

Tournament officials do not release attendance figures, but the galleries were noticeably smaller in 2007 and '08 than they had been in previous years at Brown Deer Park, the host venue since 1994.

One reason is that the PGA Tour shifted the tournament dates in 2007 so that the Milwaukee event was played the same week as the British Open, a major championship televised by ABC.


R.I.P John Updike

Nice work by the USGA communications staff for posting the lone golf-driven obituary of the legendary writer, with a quote from David Fay and text of his 1994 address at the USGA Centennial dinner.

At they've posted a list of his contributions to various anthologies and Updike's USGA centennial essay "The Spirit of the Game."


Finally, A Reason To Play L.A.!

The chance to play Riviera before its George Thomas design is completely gone? That's nothing compared with the Northern Trust Open's new player perk for helping with those 90-minute drives back to the hotel room east of the course that you should never have booked.

Mercedes-Benz Named Official Car Sponsor of Northern Trust Open
Two-year agreement includes Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 as hole-in-one car at 14th hole

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., January 27, 2009 – Mercedes-Benz has been named Official Car Sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. Under terms of the two-year agreement, Mercedes-Benz will provide a hole-in-one vehicle at the 14th hole each year and hand over the keys to a new Mercedes-Benz courtesy car for every player to drive during the tournament. For 2009 the all-new Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 will be the hole-in-one vehicle and the players will be driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles consisting of a variety of BlueTEC clean diesels, S-Class sedans, and GLK SUV’s.

“We are delighted to establish this partnership with Mercedes-Benz,” said Northern Trust Open Tournament Director Tom Pulchinski. “Mercedes-Benz has a wonderful reputation for building outstanding motor vehicles and its brand is a perfect fit with the rich history of the Northern Trust Open.”


Golf House Blues

I hate to overshadow the release of the USGA's annual report (kind of amazing to see those total liabilities and net assets down $101 million from last year). But after much contemplation and legal consultation (well, not really), I've decided to share the satirical newsletter that's been circulating around the USGA's cheery Golf House. Apparently the satire, sent to me anonymously, has not been appreciated by some in upper management (shock!) even though it could have been so much worse.

While much of the material is of the inside baseball variety, it speaks to the toxic environment created by the Walter Driver era. I doubt similar newsletters are floating around the PGA Tour, PGA of America or R&A. Then again, they probably don't have lifted-from-the-Goldman Sachs playbook initiatives named PAR...Proactive, Accessible, and Relevant.

Because it's a large document in small type, it's presented here in two windows. Click to enlarge:



U.S. Bank Is Out...

A shame for any number of reasons, but especially since it sounds like the bank had tried some innovative things to increase interest.


"Until the final 15 minutes on Sunday, Pat's record was more Bobby Wadkins."

The SI/ Magazine/all-other-Time-Inc.-people-involved-with-golf's weekly roundtable is entertaining again, though the danger of these weekly novelettes has become clear: each week's winner is the next Nicklaus. Still, I enjoyed this exchange:

Bamberger: Perez has a Lanny Wadkins look, in his face and in his game. I could see this guy getting really, really good.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Perez is nothing like Lanny Wadkins. And winning a birdie-fest doesn't mean he's ready for anything except winning the Bob Hope Classic.

Van Sickle: Bamberger's Lanny Wadkins comparison is the smartest thing anyone has said so far. He's very Lanny — quick tempo, aggressive, swagger, emotional and always in a rush. Perez's game is more based on power, but he's got the energy of a young Lanny, who also wasn't averse to a party. I hope this means we're going to see more of him.

Bamberger: Lanny was super feisty, fast with the hands, often annoyed, a jock's jock, a good talker, an emotional player and superb with the irons.

Morfit: Until the final 15 minutes on Sunday, Pat's record was more Bobby Wadkins.



Rules App For The iphone

It's $9.99 and looks pretty slick. Anyone used it yet?

It would be super if the USGA developed an application with the Decisions book, but there are only so megaybytes on an iphone.


"This was the way it was at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic because Chrysler did it right."

Bill Dwyre writes that Chrysler is to be praised for minimizing their presence at last week's Hope Classic.

Who would notice, or know, that there were no Chrysler executives around, that the 30 Chrysler dealers who won a contest to play as amateurs in the tournament came and played, but paid their own way?

Who would notice, or even pay attention, when the final ceremony on No. 18 for winner Pat Perez did not include the usual executive from the title sponsor making a speech? No reason to question that when Palmer himself was there to handle things.

Only a few might have noticed that there were no Chryslers displayed in prominent places around the course; especially none in that traditional middle-of-the-lake spot for maximum TV exposure.

This was the way it was at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic because Chrysler did it right.

Yes, read that again. Praise for one of those big, arrogant corporations that we now perceive to be a leading reason for our country's current economic mess, as well as for our neighbors' move to Trailer Park, Texas, and for our 401(k)s becoming 201(k)s. 

Unfortunately I think he has this one wrong. Furthermore, such an attitude toward corporate America will absolutely sink the PGA Tour and just about every other industry that relies on marketing dollars.

There is a major difference between the greed of say, a Citigroup still taking their $50 million French made jet order, and a car company putting its money into an event that produces significant charity money, community goodwill, an opportunity for potential customers to look at their product in a relaxed setting, and a pro-am format that allows the company to reward dealers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with PGA Tour pros.

I'm no fan of corporate America's often repulsive displays of greed, but even a struggling car company must not be stifled from showcasing their new products and rewarding the people doing the dirty work. Otherwise, how are they supposed to recover?

Your thoughts?


"But good clubs realise that their best asset is the course."

In Peter Dixon's look at the struggles of clubs in the UK, he that much of a club's standing still comes down to the quality of the course:

While there are still some high-end developments being planned, the future probably lies much farther down the scale. Williamson points to a development near Edinburgh where a farmer is adding a nine-hole course to an existing driving range and is encouraging families.

In 1997, the Henley Centre identified an emerging demand for what it called “fast golf, friendly golf, family golf”. This is just such a development. “I think traditional golf clubs have to move as far in that direction as they possibly can,” Williamson suggested. “Particularly in terms of relaxing dress code, welcoming families and so on.”

And as for the Royal Troons, Muirfields and Royal Birkdales of this world? They seem immune from the downturn, earning good income from visitors without having very many of them. The one thing missing from all their websites is an invitation to join the club. Now there's a surprise.


Pat Perez Wins Hope: Somewhere George Lopez Is Crying

Ken Peters reports on the surprising turn of events Sunday that surely would have yielded some material for former "Hopez" host George Lopez.


"Golf Channel is a news organization, not a public relations firm."

As Jim Herre predicted recently, we're seeing a more discerning Golf Channel when it comes to covering their PGA Tour "partner." Besides the front page item, "Tim Finchem's Nightmare" (pictured left), check out Brian Hewitt's defense of the recent Rich Lerner interview with Tadd Fujikawa.

Of course we can celebrate the good in golf and nobody celebrates that good better than Golf Channel. What some people don’t seem to get, however, is that Golf Channel is a news organization, not a public relations firm. 


On Vote Eve, Monty Scores Lee Westwood's Superfluous Endorsement

And he's laying it on kind of thick, no?

“Colin is known for the way he has played in Ryder Cup. He would stand on the first tee – and seeing he is there with his fantastic cup record . . . it would feel like being one up to start with,” Westwood said.


Norman Refining His Outback Analogies In Preparing For Masters Appearance

Tom Ramsey shares some if the Shark's imagery, which I must say, is better than the usual MBASpeak.

"The world's financial climate has changed dramatically. It's a big change for my business ... I am putting every extra ounce into looking after my business. You build it up, and then something like this happens which is beyond your control - you just have to put the saddle on the horse even tighter and ride it a bit harder.

And somehow I doubt Greg Norman has ever been chased by men with spears, but...

"When you're at the tip of the spear, everybody behind you is throwing other spears at you,'' Norman said during the week."


Torrance Praises Committee's Selection Of...Uh, Sam, You Might Want To Wait

The former Captain heaped praise on the committee in this John Huggan column. Only problem is, the same committee may very well just choose to go with someone other than Monty in 2010.

"I like this move by the (European Tour Tournament] committee," declares Torrance. "It shows real forward thinking. They haven't bowed down to any kind of outside pressure. And Monty is the right man for the job. The Ryder Cup is so important to our tour, we just have to get the right man. It raises the profile of the tour and all the players. Nobody would know who the hell I am if it wasn't for the Ryder Cup.

"I think we – and by we I mean Europe – made a mistake when the job was recently given to people who probably deserved it on their records but who weren't the right kind of person. Not this time though. Monty will give it everything."

If he gets the chance.

About this whole age thing. John Hopkins notes as others have that both candidates "are comfortably within the correct age range and both would be in touch with current players, which was felt to be a weakness of Nick Faldo, the last captain of Europe, at Valhalla, Louisville, last September."

Jeff Rude correctly points out that this notion may be overrated.

Nick Faldo (Louisville 2008) has been submitted as Exhibit A of an old guy being out of touch. But as Europe was racking up Ryder Cup victories in the 1980s and ’90s, I don’t recall anyone calling Tony Jacklin or Bernhard Gallagher too old and out of touch. Or Ian Woosnam in ’06, for that matter.

Short losing streak. Short memories.


"One can only imagine what his thoughts were when the news came through yesterday of Olazábal's latest change of heart." **

Lawrence Donegan analyzes the dynamics of Jose Maria Olazábal's apparent interest in the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy.

Montgomerie has not been offered the job – certainly not formally – but he has clearly been given the impression that next week's meeting in Dubai of the European Tour's tournament players' committee, where a final decision on the captaincy is due to be made, was a forgone conclusion. It may have been, but not any more. Such is Olazábal's stature within the game, and such is the respect with which he is held by his peers, that his newly-announced availability demands to be taken seriously.

Alas poor Monty, who now finds himself reduced from a red-hot certainty to a lukewarm favourite on the whim of a contemporary who has consistently bested him as they have progressed through their careers. One can only imagine what his thoughts were when the news came through yesterday of Olazábal's latest change of heart.

And here's the real crux of the matter for Monty, whose comments to Mark Reason last week could come back to haunt him should he decide to refute the notion that he'll be too old at 51 in 2014:

Olazábal has been far less decisive, or at least he was until Gómez's statement yesterday. There is also apparent agreement of the tournament players' committee that henceforth only players who are competing regularly on the tour will be offered the captaincy. In that case, 2010 represents the Scot's last chance. He may still be on tour in 2012, when the event will be held in Chicago, but his history in the United States, where he has long been the target of the "Hey Monty, eat a salad" brigade, rules him out, surely. Under the new policy, he will be too old by the time Gleneagles comes around in 2014.


See If You Can Spot The Malaprop...

Here's a fun golf course email received by a reader who wishes to remain on the image to enlarge:


"Old courses aren't always the best, Fazio says"

I'm shocked no one emailed to point out Tom Fazio's latest wisdom on why his generation (well, and really, him personally) is the best. I suppose you can only hear the same old broken record skip around so much. Nonetheless... 

Lorne Rubenstein writes:

There's a tendency in course architecture circles to sanctify the past while discrediting the present. The top 10 courses in Golf Digest's most recent ranking of the top 100 U.S. courses were built before 1935. Can this be an accurate reflection of the truly "great" courses?

No, says Tom Fazio, probably golf's most successful architect in the past 30 years.

"That is fact," Fazio, 63, said the other day of modern rankings, "not that they are the best, but that that's the way people automatically think. Golf is a traditional game, and people like to go to Scotland and Ireland. They want to visit the home of golf. But imagine if somebody designed a course like St. Andrews today with blind shots. Golfers would wonder what's going on."

I know, can you imagine, blind shots? All that strategy too, minus framing and aiming bunkers? Frankly, it's just so wrong that they don't update the Old Course for today's discerning golfer.

Fazio was speaking in his headquarters here, in a house backing onto the Intracoastal Waterway. He'd flown in from Spain the night before, and had watched the film Casablanca on the plane. The famous film was made in 1942 and starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Many people think of it as the best film ever made. Fazio loves the movie.

"It's wonderful," he said. "But I was watching it and wondering what people would say today. You accept that it's the best. That's what people say. It's like when golfers talk about a Donald Ross course. But they never say just that they played a Donald Ross course. They played a 'great old' Donald Ross course."

And the point of this brilliant analogy, besides the fact that we shoud be grateful Tom Fazio isn't a film editor charged with restoring Casablanca?

None of Fazio's impressive body of work is in the Golf Digest's top 10 in the United States, of course.

Of course! Why would it be? Oh sorry, continue...

He breaks into the top 100 with Wade Hampton (1987) in Cashiers, N.C. at No. 15, and next is No. 22, his Victoria National (1998) in Newburgh, Ind. But he didn't seem concerned.

"I'm always telling clients that it's very hard to break into the Golf Digest list," Fazio said. "I hammer the people who run the magazines about the rankings, because it's such a controversial subject. I would have a top 100 for every decade. What's wrong with that? I happen to think the nineties were the best decade. Others say the twenties.

"The decade of the twenties was great," Fazio continued. "There was money around then, before the Depression."

Because after all, money=great design.

"Golf changes," Fazio said. "You wouldn't want to go back to the equipment that my uncle used, or to the way they built courses."

Nor will anyone want to go back and build courses the way Tom Fazio does!

Imagine today, the travesty of producing the graceful lines and gentle character like the old guys did. Or those green complexes that rest so nicely in the landscape and have all those cute little bumps and things that are lost with modern USGA green construction.

Here's a reminder that there is one architect who loves the equipment revolution. After all, it creates more chances to bulldoze the work of those pesky old and overrated guys!

"I've been listening to these discussions forever," Fazio said, "whether they're about equipment and how far the ball goes or about courses. I think the modern equipment is great for golf. It's kept us in the game longer. People in their sixties and seventies are hitting the ball as far as they ever did. They love that."

Not all players love it. Jack Nicklaus, for one, is adamant that the powers-that-be should roll back the distance a ball can go.

Fazio doesn't agree. He also pointed out that the best classic courses are always changing. Pine Valley, No. 1 on Golf Digest's most recent list, had seven new back tees and three rebuilt greens. Then there's Augusta National, No. 3, where Fazio is the design consultant.

"You go to Augusta National, and you might not notice the changes," Fazio said because the club works in alterations seamlessly. "But they're making changes all the time."

Nope, it is so hard to detect those changes at Augusta. Because they've been so discreetly carried out. And  yet, so well received.