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

The Nature the golf architect has in mind is linksland upon which golf has been played for hundreds of years, and remained through a major part of this time uncontaminated by the hand of man except for the cutting of the holes. Whatever beauty such land possessed was inherent in it, and those today who have played golf amidst such primeval surroundings are conscious of a certain charm wholly lacking upon a palpable man-made golf course.  MAX BEHR

 

  

Tuesday
Jul142009

"It was like watching a one-act French farce."

For the backstory on Lyle v. Monty (and Jakarta in particular), check out John Huggan's column.

Dan Jenkins has already found his Twitter groove and tells you all you need to know about Lyle's apology.

Sandy Lyle says he's sorry for suggesting that Monty cheated years ago. Then he suggested that Monty cheated years ago.

Karl MacGinty files an entertaining account of Lyle's "train wreck" of a hastily arranged news conference to clarify the remarks.

Montgomerie spent much of yesterday out of public view and cancelled plans to attend the Annual Golf Writers banquet last night, but he was tracked down by reporters at Turnberry during the afternoon.

“I don't want to say much at all,” the Ryder Cup captain said. “It hasn't much to do with me. It's all Sandy. I found it a rather strange apology. I have read it and am digesting it. I will let you know when I have digested it further.

“I have come here to try to compete in The Open and my preparations have been slightly dented. I'm not very happy about that at all. I found it a very strange apology, to be honest, and you'll be hearing from me later on.”

We will be here for you Monty when you are ready to continue this glorious spat.

Phillip Reid adds this detail about the timing of the story and Lyle's actual remarks Tuesday:

Lyle’s original comments – to two journalists last Friday during the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, but which were only published in British national papers yesterday – referred to an incident in the Indonesian Open in Jakarta in 2005 where video evidence indicated Montgomerie had taken an incorrect drop after a rain delay.

After reading his statement, Lyle partook in a QA session in which he expanded on the issues and, basically, backed up his original comments. Of the drop in Indonesia, which he reminded everyone was “all on video, it’s not like I’m prefabricating (sic)”, Lyle expanded: “It was a pretty poor drop. And it was one of his mistakes. I didn’t make him do that mistake, it was his mistake. And it will probably live with him for the rest of his life; it’ll be cropping up. I can’t do anything against that.”

Lyle, a former US Masters and British Open champion, added: “I’m only trying to protect myself when I got called a quitter and (accused of) walking off the golf course when I’ve got a legitimate hand injury . . . my decision was legit and I’ve got X-rays at home to prove (it).”

Peter Dixon features a statement from Monty's agent and suggests that "legal action could be considered."

Mike Aitken clarifies whether Lyle faces a fine and paints this picture of Monty's day.

There was no immediate reaction from the European Tour to the original attack, but it's expected Lyle will be disciplined for his comments, bearing in mind the Tour's regulations stipulate "it's an obligation of membership to refrain from comments to the media that attack, disparage or criticise tournament sponsors or promoters, fellow competitors, the European Tour or its officials."

And...

On leaving the practice range, he was asked if he had any reaction to Lyle's remarks. "Nothing to say on the comments, nothing to say at all," he replied initially. When told Lyle had apologised, the Ryder Cup captain simply shrugged his shoulders.

He walked back to the clubhouse at a brisk lick where, coincidentally, Lyle was registering. Lyle seemed to try and catch Monty's eye, but by now the possibility of a rapprochement between the giants of Scottish golf was slight. Montgomerie went into the club shop to peruse a paper copy of Lyle's remarks while the older man left through another door. It was like watching a one-act French farce.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"The American broadcaster is required to take the world feed"

Michael Walker gets confirmation that the BBC is to blame for the lack of HD Open Championship coverage.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"Goodness gracious, we left here for the British Open, changed to a small ball, used seven clubs from a different manufacturer, changed in a day and went and played the tournament"

Steve Elling talks to Jack Nicklaus about player complaints related to the burden of changing to new grooves next year, and reminds us that he had to change balls and clubs for the Open.

"The guys are talking about, 'We don’t have enough time to practice enough with these new V grooves for next year,'" Nicklaus said recently. "'Are we going to have enough time to really get ourselves ready?'"

Nicklaus believes the adjustments won’t prove much more than a tiny bit difficult. After all, he made them every year and won three British Open titles.

"Goodness gracious, we left here for the British Open, changed to a small ball, used seven clubs from a different manufacturer, changed in a day and went and played the tournament," he said.
Now many associated with the tour are wringing their hands because years of lead time players and clubmakers have had to prep for the rule change -- the proposal was first floated by the USGA in 2005 -- isn’t enough time to make a smooth transition?

"'Is really another year enough for us to get used to it?'" Nicklaus said, parroting the current question. "That’s how long it takes -- it takes a day or two to get used to equipment.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"I can’t deal with that woman"

Beth Ann Baldry and Gene Yasuda talk to various folks tied to the LPGA Tour and get all sorts of interesting feedback about Carolyn Bivens.

Laura Davies recently asked a sponsor whom she considers a longtime friend whether the company pulled out because of financial difficulties.

“He said, ‘No, our business is great. I can’t deal with that woman,’ ” Davies said.

Katherine Hull tells a similar story from a conversation she had with tournament staff from another long-standing tournament.

“They said, ‘As long as Carolyn is commissioner of the LPGA, we will not sign a contract,’ ” Hull said.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Schmidt Loses Amateur Status Case Against USGA

From the wire:

Representing himself in court on Monday, Schmidt made an emotional appeal, borrowing from amateur great Bobby Jones: "There is golf and there is competitive golf and the two are entirely different things."
Schmidt said he entered an inferred or implied contract with the USGA when he applied for his amateur status and paid a $125 fee.

But Lee Abrams, an attorney representing the USGA, claimed that any contract was essentially completed when Schmidt was granted his amateur status.

Mosman, while prefacing his ruling by saying "a part of my heart always roots for the underdog," turned down the request because Schmidt's status did not meet the legal threshold of a contract.

Schmidt is proceeding with an appeal of his status through the USGA. He could also pursue other aspects of his legal complaint, but he said Monday he has not decided whether he will do that.

I suppose the USGA would take their time with his application if he reapplied for his amateur status?

Tuesday
Jul142009

What Would The PGA Tour Gain...

...by taking over the LPGA Tour, as was mentioned in Sirak's story on the leadership changes?

I can think of a few positives and negatives, but I'd love to hear what you all think of this idea.

Tuesday
Jul142009

“We did it about three weeks ago because we did not want to give the impression that the Open is about hacking out of rough"

An unbylined Times piece on Tiger's first practice round contained this insight into the R&A's widening out of the Turnberry rough.

Dawson confirmed that the first cut of rough had been widened to about six metres instead of five. “We did it about three weeks ago because we did not want to give the impression that the Open is about hacking out of rough,” he said.

Can't wait to see what a difference that extra meter makes.

Tuesday
Jul142009

“What happened over the course of the last 10 days at the L.P.G.A. is cyclical"

That's our Brand Lady! But before we get to her comments exclusive to the New York Times' William Rhoden, let's consider who she picked to talk to. Wisely I might add in admiration, as Rhoden has proven to have no clue about golf (I say that someone who enjoys his baseball and basketball writing).

You may recall it was Rhoden who wrote about Trevor Immelman's only case of nerves coming down the stretch at Augusta to be his 17th hole tee shot landing in the fairway bunker. Immelman had hit it in the water on the hole before and of course there is no fairway bunker on the 17th.

Anyway, today he lands what appears to be the only interview with Carolyn Bivens and he weaves quite the tale of woe. Before we get to that though, I did notice that in listing her screw-ups in the print edition, he referred to "Twittering during matches." Someone wisely changed the online edition to "competitions." Rhoden also refers to Bivens as "a consummate businesswoman and dealmaker" before revealing that she's leaving the tour in shambles.

But let's get to the good stuff.

Although Bivens’s resignation may provide short-term satisfaction, the long-term effect could force the L.P.G.A. into chaos at the worst possible time.

The next commissioner will inherit an organization that competes in a catastrophic economy, an organization that has lost sponsors, had purses reduced and had one of its greatest stars, Annika Sorenstam, retire. The L.P.G.A. also announced that Sorenstam, who won 10 major tournaments, would be an adviser to its board of directors.

The forced resignation of the organization’s first female commissioner is a pronouncement about the perils of competing for dollars in a male-dominated sports landscape and the pitfall of leading an organization in which players have too much control over areas where they have limited expertise.

Oh really? Did the players upset longtime sponsors and negotiate with them in ways that made them want to close up shop?

The Brand Lady says so. And this is just cyclical!

"What happened over the course of the last 10 days at the L.P.G.A. is cyclical,” Bivens said. “We have a governance issue. How we are run and the constitution of the L.P.G.A. is a problem, not just for me, not just for the former commissioners, but for current and former board members.

“Being an active player and trying to govern an organization don’t go together,” she said. “They are absolutely counterintuitive. They fight each other.”

It is amazing how common sense stuff like wanting to play as much as possible gets in the way of vision.

For a different take, Bill Fields gets to the point in this week's Golf World after pointing out that Deane Beman wasn't exactly loved either:

A commissioner doesn't have to be loved, but he or she must be respected. Beman's shrewd business mind and his often brusque style co-existed with a golf soul that Bivens never showed she possesses. As Beman -- often with opposition, even from his stars -- went about modernizing and upgrading his tour the way Bivens tried to transform the LPGA, his grounding in the game was hugely important.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Clarke: Portrush Beats This!

Derek Lawrenson talks to Darren Clarke about the prospects of a Portrush hosted Open after seeing it answers all of the same questions Turnberry faced.

But, as Clarke drily points out: 'Turnberry answers all the accommodation questions, does it? With the new road (to Portrush), you're no more than 40 minutes from Belfast, where there's plenty of accommodation. There's plenty of room around the course for tented villages and so on, while the new tees mean that the course is plenty tough enough.'

Hill believes the venue could not cope with more than 15,000 people walking round it each day but Clarke doesn't buy that argument either.

'The bottom line is we're talking about a links course as good as any in the world, where the arguments against are less strong than they are for the return of Turnberry,' he said.

Monday
Jul132009

Shark: Finchem Must Be Using Smoke And Mirrors

Derek Lawrenson scores an exclusive interview with Greg Norman, who talks about how losing the Open last year was nothing compared with laying off his staff.

In a sidebar he also is quoted about the PGA Tour:

United States Tour: Commissioner Tim Finchem must be using smoke and mirrors to keep it buoyant, that's all I can say. Either that or he's working his way through a huge war chest. We run one tournament and I know how hard it is getting sponsorship. Multiply that by how many tournaments he runs. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, to tell you the truth.

And this on the U.S. economy:

It's dead and it's a long time before it's coming back. Run what's considered a small to medium business like mine, in the $200million to $500m turnover range and there's no incentives to grow. It's going to take a long time for business to recover and the rest of the world is going to recover quicker than America.

Monday
Jul132009

Sandy: My Tacky WD Was Nothing Compared To Monty's Cheating!

Nothing like calling a truce on the eve of the Open. James Corrigan reports that Sandy Lyle, former 2010 Ryder Cup captain hopeful, thinks his embarrassing WD last year was minor compared to Monty's Jakarta incident.

When asked whether he believed his decision to sacrifice a precious Open berth so early into the first round at Birkdale last year had affected his own captaincy chances, Lyle replied: "You would have to ask the committee that. But you've got Monty with his situation where he was dropping the ball badly overseas. And that is far worse than someone pulling out because he has got sore knuckles. It's a form of what [could be called] 'cheating'. If that was going to go against Monty you would think: 'Yeah, that's a case where he is breaking the rules'. There have been a few times where he has been called in to see the videos."

And this couldn't have helped matters:

Little wonder, therefore, that Lyle felt so baffled when his efforts to contact his one-time campaign leader went unanswered. "I rang him a few times straight after the decision but didn't get a reply," he said. "Eventually I got a letter, but I had the impression that was written by [his manager] Guy Kinnings."

And this won't help matters!

"You never see him!" Lyle said. "He disappears. Playing on the regular tour he isn't around much. You might see him half an hour before a round. He is a bit aloof. And this age factor thing is a load of crap. You have got [Paul] Azinger, at the last Ryder Cup his two vice-captains were Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton who are both in their late sixties. They got on great with the team because they were respected. It is all about respect in the end and how good a character you are to control and to be a leader."

Meanwhile Monty confesses to Derek Lawrenson that he fears he may never win again.

Monday
Jul132009

"The two tours can even do co-ed events. Golf needs to think outside the box on things like this, find new ways to market itself."

A few stories on the official resignation of Carolyn Bivens and the naming of Marsha Evans as interim LPGA chief, starting with Ron Sirak who writes about Evans and the search for a Bivens replacement:

In 2005 she stepped down as CEO of the American Red Cross after a battle with the board of governors over what it called her "command-and-control" management style, according to the Washington Post. A search committee comprised of board members Leslie Gries, Juli Inkster, Helen Alfredsson and Bill Morton will work with the search firm Spencer Stuart to find a full-time replacement.

This little buried item was interesting:

Among the ideas being kicked around by some players is taking on a business partner with deep pockets to manage the LPGA, such as the PGA Tour. The two tours could coordinate schedules and have LPGA events end at 3 p.m. on Sunday, for example, before the PGA Tour television coverage begins. Or the LPGA could end on Saturday -- marketing it as Championship Saturday.

"It's a no-brainer," one agent said. "The two tours can even do co-ed events. Golf needs to think outside the box on things like this, find new ways to market itself."

Michael Buteau also looks at Evans and her past while Gene Yasuda notes that LPGA board member Dawn Hudson spent most of the announcement praising Carolyn Bivens and explains where the tour goes from here. There was also this item lost in much of the day's coverage:

It appointed Annika Sorenstam as advisor to the LPGA Board of Directors, and promoted Zayra Calderon, the tour’s senior vice president of worldwide sales, to executive vice president, tournament development and worldwide sales. Known as an engaging relationship-builder, Calderon will oversee all tournament business affairs and is charged with, arguably, the tour’s top priority: Working with tournament owners and title sponsors to secure renewals, and landing new business partners.

And finally, an unbylined AP story features this quote from Juli Inkster:

"Carolyn did a lot of great things. She tried to stand up for the LPGA, which no one has done in a long time,'' said Juli Inkster, a tour veteran and member of the board. "I just think her delivery on the whole thing was not the best.''

Monday
Jul132009

Rear Admiral's Reign Off To A Rip-Roaring Start

Let's review.

- The LPGA sends out an announcement and then amends it to remind everyone that it is embargoed. The announcement release says that a 1 p.m. EST press conference will be held on the Golf Channel. But since it's embargoed, no one can write even a Tweet or blog post suggesting LPGA fans could tune in to The Golf Channel to find out what the event is about.

- The LPGA allows no media (other than Golf Channel) present at this "announcement" to ask questions. We did have Christina Kim present and Annika Sorenstam on a phone line that died almost as soon as she started talking.

- Carolyn Bivens is present at the announcement of her resignation and is shown on television, but she does not speak. Cynics will presume that her presence indicates she received a substantial buyout. And why will cynics presume this?

- Marsha Evans is named the interim commissioner. A Bivens selected board member, Evans is a specialist in bouncing around boards and other executive jobs. She was on the Lehman Brothers board and we know how that turned out. She received a $780,000 buyout after resigning as head of the Red Cross just days before a likely humiliating Hurricane Katrina congressional hearing.

- She's got a husband and he likes golf! Marty DeVine in an extensive profile detailing her career, her campaigning for McCain/Palin and other information, includes this: "Nonprofits have tapped her talents as well and she serves on the boards of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, which raises money to support education of midshipmen beyond what the federal budget provides, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association. An avid golfer, her husband Jerry particularly enjoys the LPGA board meetings in prime golfing sites."

- The in-studio analysis job from Kelly Tilghman, Laura Baugh and Charlie Rymer with most of the conversation sounding like an LPGA infomercial and Baugh seeming to imply that the non-English speaking players were part of the Bivens downfall. Oy.

- But hey, Bivens is gone and that's a start. But with all but one Board member not appointed during her tenure, it's hard to imagine this amounting to a sea change for the organization.

Monday
Jul132009

Marsha: They want you as a new recruit!

Anne Szeker reports that retired Navy rear admiral Marsha Evans has been named interim LPGA Commissioner after Carolyn Bivens officially resigned.

Sunday
Jul122009

Will The Golf Gods Punish The R&A?

Just a question heading into Open Championship week. I ask for a simple reason: Turnberry has hosted three Opens and produced three Hall of Fame winners who were arguably the best or second best player in the game at the time they won. Bill Fields did a nice job reviewing those three wins, as did Larry Dorman who also mentioned the epic Nicklaus's v. Watson's 1994 pitch and putt battle he witnessed (Jaime Diaz wrote about in Golf Digest).

Yet the poor dame couldn't be allowed to face today's players without underoing a reconstructive surgery with input from Peter Dawson. Then it had its 9th hole trashed by Peter Alliss and was attacked by folks because the past winners posted low scores. Even in complimenting the course, Ron Whitten addressed its lack of resistance to scoring.

Oh and the plan is to redo it again after the Open, this time by Greg Norman. Assuming Leisurecorp still has the desire to spend.

Tim Rosaforte wondered if the combination of the setup and the Open's recent track record adds up to an unpredictable winner. And I'm wondering if the Golf Gods have had enough with all of the recent Open Championship setup boondoggles and in particular the Turnberry tinkering. Just enough to give us a singular champion that helps commemorate the fifth anniversary of Todd Hamilton's win?

Sunday
Jul122009

"We don't doctor rough."

Lawrence Donegan reports on Tiger's first practice round at Turnberry and files this observation about the setup:

That is exactly how it should be at the Open, and exactly what many expected of Turnberry, a terrific golf course whose absence from the championship rota for 15 years seems bizarre. The weather off the Irish Sea has the potential to wreak havoc but on the evidence of a blustery, occasionally sunny Sunday afternoon, the R&A appears to have produced to stern but sensible test. The fairways are broad, the greens fast (ish) and the rough – which has been talked up by many, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington among them, as the closest thing to penury this side of San Quentin– is not as ridiculous as had perhaps been feared.

Make no mistake, it is wrist-breaking in places, but those places are a distance from the centre of the fairway – in part because the organisers took the decision three weeks ago to widen the semi-rough. If conditions are hard and bouncy, as they almost certainly will be, that will stop some balls disappearing off into the jungle.
"We have widened the cut sections of rough a little bit on each side. Six yards rather than the usual four and a half yards, which is what we had a little while ago," said Dawson. "It is very nasty off the fairway and off the shorter rough but the fairway and shorter rough is, I think, fairly generous. We don't want to get the reputation that the Open is about hacking out of rough because it isn't about that.

"We don't doctor rough. We take what we get naturally and leave the playing arena at a sensible level. If you spray it outside the playing arena here, it is lost ball; hack-out territory."

Sunday
Jul122009

"Some of these guys have no idea what they're going to be in for"

Bill Elliott profiles Greg Norman on the eve of his return to Turnberry and talks about the state of his game. There was also this at the end of the piece:

"The return of V-grooves is the greatest move technologically in golf for years. That's gonna teach today's players a huge lesson on the art of understanding a lie, controlling a ball and flight trajectory. Some of these guys have no idea what they're going to be in for," he grinned.

Sunday
Jul122009

Pebble Beach In 1963

I'm only a few holes into the 1963 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf re-broadcast featuring Jack Nicklaus vs. Sam Snead. Besides the obvious (Snead's swing is amazing, the HD restoration is stunning), I'm curious what you all thought of the crispy, roughless Pebble Beach. Naturally I think it looks sensational. Also love Jack's 7th hole logoed hat!

The back nine in 1963

7th hole from above

Nice logo

Snead in the 2nd hole barranca

 

 

Sunday
Jul122009

"We're looking for someone for four, five months, three or four months, to just right the ship"

This unbylined AP story quoting Juli Inkster would seem to speak to the urgency of salvaging the 2010 schedule, something we speculated about here to explain the otherwise awful timing of the Bivens ouster.

Inkster said it's important for the board to find the right person to lead the tour into the future. In the short term, the need is immediate.

"Right now, we're in the middle of the season,'' Inkster said. "We're looking for someone for four, five months, three or four months, to just right the ship, get us going in the right direction: straight ahead.''
Inkster said the board plans on taking its time to find a new commissioner.

"Right now, we want to take our time and find the right person for the job,'' she said. "And you can't do that on a whim.''

Saturday
Jul112009

"Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries"

AP's Anne M. Peterson analyzes the case of Dusty Schmidt, who is suing the USGA over having his amateur status revoked after his $1 million challenge to someone who would beat him at 72 holes of golf and at poker. Schmidt has filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow him to keep his amateur status, with a hearing slated for Monday.

The USGA informed Schmidt he could apply to have his status reinstated, but he says that the process wasn't timely enough because of the registration fees he'd already paid to compete in events over the summer.

The crux of Schmidt's argument is that no one took him up on the challenge, so it is moot.

A spokesman for the USGA said the organization does not comment on current or pending litigation.

In court documents, the USGA maintains that Schmidt's challenge was violated a rule aimed at actions "detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game," and another related to gambling and the spirit of the rules.

"Having promoted his prize money golf/poker contest for two months and having obtained tremendous publicity for himself, his entrepreneurial Web site and his prize money scheme, Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries," the USGA said in court documents.

Now a few years ago I would have understood the USGA's claims. But when you have college players receiving free clothes, clubs and Lord knows what else, all while retaining their amateur status, do they really have a leg to stand on at this point? I'm sure you'll tell me why Schmidt's case is different.