Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

Obviously the objection to the stymie originated in the conception that each player must be permitted to play his own game free of any interference of his opponent. Why this should be an essential when the contest is man-to-man and head-to-head, I have never been able to see.   BOBBY JONES




"How good would it be to watch Palmer and Nicklaus play a few holes again on the big course during the Masters?"

Not content with getting Jack Nicklaus to the first tee Thursday morning, Scott Michaux is pleading for more:

It would be nice to keep the banter going longer than one brief swing. In the early days of this tradition, the honorary starters didn't just hit walk-off drives.

Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod were the first honorary starters in 1963, in recognition of their victories at Augusta National in the first two Senior PGA Championships. The two didn't stop with one shot, playing either nine or 18 holes depending on how they felt.

When Sarazen, Nelson and eventually Snead took over the task in the 1980s, they too kept playing up to nine holes. Sometimes they skipped around the front nine, letting the patrons get a look at them play all the shots before retiring to the champions locker room. Eventually age got the better of them, and the ritual was reduced to one drive.

How good would it be to watch Palmer and Nicklaus play a few holes again on the big course during the Masters? They could play from any tee box they choose (they are club members, after all) and as many holes as they wanted. Just seeing them playing 1, 9, 10 and 18 would give patrons a fix that will last a lifetime.


Kostis Tweets!

Who knew, right? And after reviewing them, including a buddy bromance with Paul Casey and complaints about having to do four hours of a cable telecast, I think we're finally going to get to know more about the infomercial host and friend of all things Titleist.

However, I had to ask a friend what Peter Kostis meant in his latest Tweet complaining about my work, this time in reference to Sunday's SI roundtable:

Apparently this was an homage to the Edsel, a car I suppose Kostis drove in his first years out of college. Get it, not ShackelFord, ShackelEdsel.

I tell ya, with such witty borscht belt humor, we can only hope that Ron Shelton will ask this modern day Sheckey Greene to touch up his new Q-School script.


"High-profile abuse like this is nothing but a positive for golf."

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's WSJ analysis of the hatred towards golf:

High-profile abuse like this is nothing but a positive for golf. It's a sure sign that the game is healthy, and a good, spewing antigolf rant enriches everyone. Robin Williams's profane riff about the stupidity of the game (check it out on YouTube) is a classic, as is "Caddyshack." That movie was a wicked, all-out send-up of golf at its most boob­ish, yet 29 years later it remains every golfer's favorite golf movie. For young assistant club pros, knowing the key "Caddyshack" passages by heart is practically a job requirement. So golf's got that going for it, which is nice.


As a longtime connoisseur, I've identified three dominant strains of antigolf rhetoric: the athletic, the political and the environmental. The last of these is the least fun because, though often exaggerated, environmental objections to golf have some actual basis in reality. (I intend to write more about this soon.) Cultural attacks, on the other hand, are almost always based on flagrantly unfounded stereotypes and comic personal prejudice. One of my best friends from high school, for example, whose father played football with Davey O'Brien at Texas Christian University and whose grandfather was a mounted Texas Ranger, still cannot suppress a slight snigger at the corner of his mouth when the subject of my golf infatuation comes up. In his eyes, I might as well be skipping after butterflies through meadows with a dainty net on the end of a pole.


“I played my heart out all summer, and thought it was good enough, but in the end those guys didn’t think it was good enough.”

Some of you commented and I heard from several prominent folks privately who were outraged at the final Walker Cup selections. I don't know enough about the politics of it, but like many USGA affairs, I'm sure it's messy.

Sean Martin calls the omission of Dan Woltman a "snub" and writes:

Many thought Woltman was a lock for one of the final two spots on the team regardless of what happened at the U.S. Amateur. Woltman won this year’s Northeast Amateur, made the Sweet 16 at the Western Amateur for the second consecutive year, advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur and had top-10s at the Players Amateur and Sahalee Players Championship.

“I’m very surprised,” Woltman said. “I played my heart out all summer, and thought it was good enough, but in the end those guys didn’t think it was good enough.”

The U.S. Golf Association put a heavy emphasis on team camaraderie when selecting this year’s team, especially after the close-knit 2007 team won at Royal County Down.

This was an interesting point as it relates to the new format:

There’s something to be said for team chemistry. But the fact of the matter is that 18 of the 26 matches will be singles matches. A player’s relationship with his prospective teammates should be weighed, but only if he is a borderline candidate. Woltman was not one of those. He is No. 8 in the Golfweek/ World Amateur Rankings.


"Thoughtful setup equals more fun"

Lance Rigler documents a small but nice example of shifting tees around and how some college golfers are finding it both fun and challenging.

The best examples might have been Nos. 16 and 17. Playing from the tips, the par-5 16th hole featured a back right hole location and gave players all they wanted today. It stretched over 680 yards and played to a 5.13 scoring average.

However, players were immediately rewarded with the par-4 17th, where a good drive could find the putting surface. What a swing of emotions that were produced in that two-hole stretch.

“The kids are saying this is a lot of fun,” said Vanderbilt coach Tom Shaw. “The setup today with some of the tees up and some of the tees back, it really makes them think.”


Jack To Join Arnold On Masters First Tee

Jason Sobel reports (thanks reader Lee):

Nicklaus, who made the last of his 45 career Masters appearances in 2005, said he was previously reluctant to steal the spotlight from Palmer, but accepted the invitation when his longtime friend and rival encouraged such a move.

"I have always had great respect for Arnold and his legacy at the Masters, and I did not, in any way, want to infringe on the opportunity for Arnold to have and enjoy this Masters tradition for himself," Nicklaus said in a statement released Monday by Augusta National Golf Club. "He is so deserving of this honor, and thus I felt it was his time, not mine.

"Recently, I was invited by both Augusta National and Arnold to join him on the first tee, and because he enthusiastically supported the invitation, it became an easy decision for me."


Golf Magazine's Rankings Now Posted

The world list is here, the U.S. list is here.

Good to see the courses dropping off the world list this time: Wentworth, East Lake, Congressional and Shadow Creek.

I think the US and A's world standing just improved a whole bunch! Good going Golf Magazine Panel!


"It looks like 'Potpourri for $100, Alex.'"

That's Gary Van Sickle's line from this week's SI Roundtable, which was joined by yours truly even though I vowed not to do it again until they found an old AOL chat room to make life easier.

I think it's safe to say I won't be offered a job at CBS or Liberty National anytime soon, and my friend Peter Oosterhuis probably won't be wild about my laughing gas comment either (but he is very giggly these days, no?).

In my defense, this is what happens when I sit in a chair and watch all four hours of a CBS telecast of a tournament played on a golf course that epitomizes everything that has gone wrong with the game.


"You got the sense the membership is very pleased that their track is kicking some tail rather than the other way around."

In reading about Byeong-Hun An's win at the U.S. Amateur Sunday, Sean Martin notes:

An beat Ben Martin, 7 and 5, on Sunday, but both players struggled in the final because of pressure, typical USGA conditions and an inconsistent breeze.

In the final, a hole was halved with double bogeys, another was won with bogey, and pars were good enough to win many holes. An played 31 holes Sunday in 9 over par, while Martin was 15 over.

In the time I watched Sunday, it was surprising and frankly disturbing to see the bermuda rough playing such a prominent role in a Mike Davis-controlled setup. Especially compared to the highly successful 2007 PGA Championship, and considering that the GCSAA fact sheet said the planned rough cut was 2.25". 

Earlier in the week, Ryan Herrington addressed the membership euphoria over the brutal conditions and high scoring.

One club member, who preferred to remain nameless to make sure the nameplate on his locker isn't unceremoniously removed, said that the course is playing better--and by better he means tougher--than when it hosted the PGA Championship in 2007. "And don't even think about comparing it to the Open in 2001," said the member. "That was a bit of a joke. The guys then would have begged to play it like this."


My member friend only smiled as the discussion continued on the course's difficulty. You got the sense the membership is very pleased that their track is kicking some tail rather than the other way around. I was talking with someone the other day who noted that Oakmont CC members are probably the most sadistic group when it comes to having their home course playing so hard on a daily basis that will make you want to take up tennis. He went on to say that the folks at Southern Hills could be distant cousins of the Oakmont folks. I'm starting to agree.

Well either way you cut it, I'm sure the Southern Hills folks are giddy that the extreme setup measures produced a worthy champion in Byeong-Hun An.


Heath Slocum Win Means He Can Take Next Two Weeks Off And Still Reach The World Series

There's some nice reporting to check out on Heath Slocum's upset win at The Barclays. The scribblers surely had plenty of time to whip up some fun lines, since twosomes of the world's best took four and a half hours to get around Liberty National. I doubt it was because they were busy sketching out the architectural details. More likely all of the lift, clean and cheat drops to get away from the catch basin divot clusters.

That said, Ernie Els said "it's just a wonderful place to play golf." Remember that next time they go to Wentworth and everyone's wondering how Ernie could mess up such a great place.

Anyway, about Heath. From Doug Ferguson's AP story:

In the third year of these playoffs, the FedEx Cup finally has a winner that resembles a real underdog.

He qualified for these playoffs with two points to spare – he was No. 124 out of 125 players who advance to this postseason bonanza. His victory moves him to No. 3 in the standings, assuring him a spot in the Tour Championship and a shot at the $10 million prize.

Steve Elling writes:

Ladies and gentlemen, your underdog in the FedEx race has arrived, straight from the tiny Panhandle burgh of Milton, Fla., where characters like Boo Weekley and Bubba Watson also hang out.

There's a reason Heath doesn't have a colorful nickname. He's more of the accountant, librarian type, not tobacco-spitting extrovert like Weekley or a ball-vaporizing masher like Watson. If those guys are the strawberry and chocolate in a carton of Neopolitan ice cream, Heath is the vanilla.

And Jason Sobel shares a nice anecodate about Vicky Slocum before putting the win in perspective:

Even so, surging from that number to a victory at The Barclays is the equivalent of a sub-.500 club in a team sport earning a playoff series win. He is golf's version of the 1975-76 Detroit Pistons, who went 36-46 before scoring an opening-round postseason victory, or the 1985-86 Toronto Maple Leafs, who were 25-48-7 in the regular season, but also advanced. Speaking of playoffs, Slocum's final-hole putt avoided a five-man overtime with Woods, Els, Harrington and Stricker -- a quartet that has combined for 97 career PGA Tour titles and 20 major championships.


USGA Makes Final Two Walker Cup Picks...

Anyone who follows this stuff have anything to add about the committee's choices?


Far Hills, N.J. (Aug. 30) – Cameron Tringale, 22, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Peter Uihlein, 20, of Orlando, Fla., have been named to the 2009 USA Walker Cup Team by the International Team Selection Committee of the United States Golf Association.
Tringale and Uihlein are the final two players selected to the USA Team that will compete against 10 amateurs representing Great Britain and Ireland in the 42nd Walker Cup Match, to be played Sept. 12-13 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
Tim Jackson, 50, of Germantown, Tenn., has been named as the first alternate for the team. Ben Martin, 22, of Greenwood, S.C., will be the second alternate.
The eight players previously named to the USA Team on Aug. 9 are Bud Cauley, Rickie Fowler, Brendan Gielow, Brian Harman, Morgan Hoffmann, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Smith and Drew Weaver. The captain of the USA Team is George “Buddy” MarucciJr.
The USA Team has won the last two Matches, posting one-point victories at Chicago (Ill.) Golf Club in 2005 and at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Ireland, in 2007. The USA leads the series overall, 33-7-1.
For the first time, the Walker Cup Match will comprise 18 singlesmatches and eight foursomes (alternate shot) matches in 2009. Ten singles matches will be played on Sunday.
This change marks only the second time in the 87-year history of the Walker Cup that the format has been altered.
From 1963 to 2007, the Match comprised 16 singles matches and eight foursomes matches. From 1922 to 1961, the Match comprised four foursomes matches on the first day of play and eight singles matches on the second day of play.


Tigers Braces For Emotional Final Time Around Liberty National 

Okay it's not Bobby Jones at the Old Course in '36 knowing this would likely be it, but you can just imagine how emotional it'll be for Tiger and the other PGA Tour greats to know this is likely the last time they'll ever have to get to play Liberty National.

With Tiger, the smiles and the cranky body language could be fatigue, but it was more likely the dread of knowing you have to play Liberty National one more time. I expect a chipper and fired up Tiger Sunday. Jim McCabe explores the first three days of very un-Tiger like intensity.

Until this week, that is, when a first-round 70 and second-round 71 were followed by quick exits from Liberty National.

Laryngitis? No. Sick of the media? Possibily, and who could blame him, given that he’s playing for the fifth time in seven weeks. But more than anything, you get the feeling that these greens give him the creeps and the sooner he’s out of here, the better. Maybe he was afraid if he got going on them, he’d get himself in trouble, yet when Woods finally stopped to talk and offered his views, he had all he could do to be diplomatic.

“The greens,” he said, “they are just so different.”

Steve Elling noticed the same thing.

Woods said that he turned up to play this week mainly to help give the tour, the FedEx series and the sponsor a shot in the arm, since he missed the Barclays in each of the past two seasons. Yet after seeing the critically panned course, his body language for the first two rounds suggested his give-a-crap meter was running low.The New York Post on Saturday said he had spent the week "acting like a child whose parents forced him to go to summer camp against his will."

Seems Tiger also had this to say about the setup Saturday. From an AP notes column:

Tiger Woods was surprised that players were allowed to use some forward tees at Liberty National on Saturday in The Barclays.

"Where the tees are, they are playing the ladies' tees most of the day," Woods said after shooting a 4-under 67 to reach 4 under overall on the rain-softened course.

Uh Tiger, for those green committees you'll be working in the future. It's forward tees.

Gary Van Sickle suggests that this unusual calling out by Woods was a ploy to get the tour rules officials to move things back.

Woods said he thought the tees would be back at the tips because the tour was using lift, clean and place rules due to wet conditions and a forecast of additional rain Saturday (that luckily never came, by the way). Steve Marino, who shares the lead with Paul Goydos, disagreed, saying he thought the course played plenty long.

What might be behind Tiger's mild rant? Simply that he wanted more of a challenge? More likely, he's looking for a competitive edge going into the final round.


"Anybody could play there and have a good time."

John Huggan played Castle Stuart--the new Gil Hanse creation for developer Mark Parsinen in Northern Scotland--and offers a glowing review along with comments from others and a nice mention about the efforts of shaper Jim Wagner.

"Castle Stuart is unbelievable," says European Tour pro Stephen Gallacher. "I think it is the best new course I have ever played. The layout is fantastic, as are the facilities. It looks as though it has been there for ever, completely natural.

"The fairways may be wide at first glance, but you have to attack the greens from the right sides. Plus, there aren't many holes where the high-handicapper couldn't get away with a 'skitter' off the tee. Anybody could play there and have a good time.

"I especially enjoyed the short par-4s, classic risk-and-reward holes where you can take a chance off the tee. That's a nice change from many courses these days where 250-yard par-3s and stupid rough seem to be the norm. In contrast, Castle Stuart is proper golf."

Gallacher speaks the truth, of course. The outwardly generous fairways – 60-80 yards wide in places – at Castle Stuart are a feature increasingly less common in an age where great spaces to drive into are far from the convention at the professional level. There, one-dimensional thinking of officials defines the point of golf as asking players to drive down narrow and constricting corridors of fairway bordered by long grass.

Happily, that sad and depressing scenario is the antithesis of golf at Castle Stuart. With width comes a multitude of options from the tee, affording the player the chance to decide where best to play. This does not make driving easy; as it is at all seaside courses the skill is to drive the ball through the winds to the correct spot on the fairway. So it is that there are many different shots to be had from different sides of the fairways. But one thing is constant: the thoughtful, accurate player can always open the ideal angles that provide for significantly less demanding approach shots.

I've previously posted images of the course here, here, here, here, and here.



"I figure if I hit it in there, I should have to play it as it lies. I was very surprised by what they did. I’ve never seen a rule like that before.”

The ghost of Bivens strikes!

Jim Achenbach reports on one of the stranger committee calls: lift, clean, place in the semi roughs at Pumpkin Ridge for this weeks' Swine Flu Safeway Classic, where the players not dropping out with a mysterious illness are gettting to take drops in the rough.

Pumpkin Ridge is dry as a bone, groomed by superintendent Bill Webster to be firm and fast, similar to U.S. Open conditions.

Sue Witters, manager of tournament competitions, clarified the reasons for the step-cut addendum, which had never before been used in any LPGA tournament: “Several weeks ago, we asked Pumpkin to put in the step-cut. It’s about six feet wide, or two paces. Normally they don’t have one. Unfortunately, there was a record heat wave, and the step-cut took the brunt of it. It’s spotty, the ground is cracked, it’s a lot more extensive that we originally thought it was.”

Marking the affected areas, according to Witters, was out of the question because a player might be able (remaining within one club length, no closer to the ball) to place her ball in the fairway. This would not be fair, Witters indicated.

On the other hand, veteran Heather Young was more philosophical. “In golf, if you miss the fairway, you’re in the rough,” Young said. “That heavy grass is rough. It isn’t that bad. I figure if I hit it in there, I should have to play it as it lies. I was very surprised by what they did. I’ve never seen a rule like that before.”
Pumpkin Ridge officials were furious.

“We weren’t told until this morning,” Webster said. “I was shocked. Sure, it was tough on the edges, but it’s always been that way. You get that around here with seasonal grasses.”


TCC, USGA Finally Wrap Up Negotiation 

It's not the U.S. Open that The Country Club should be hosting in 2013, but the amateur will do. Only took three years to wrap up that negotiation? Hate to think how long it'll take them to iron out a U.S. Open contract, if that ever gets back on the table (we can only hope).

As for this year's NCAA match play final, Ron Balicki files a game story on Saturday's semis, Ryan Herrington previews the finale and Sean Martin says finalist Ben Martin's dad is already planning the Masters trip.


"This is a phenomenal golf course. I think this is good enough for a major." 

Liberty National has fans!

Granted, one of the guys wears pink pants with pride and the other looks to Howard Hughes for life inspiration, but at least two guys won't get fined this week.

Steve Elling reports. Padraig first:

Harrington was asked whether a monkey wrench had been thrown in the FedEx Cup series' week because a course picked mainly because of its panoramic views and proximity to Manhattan had been pelted by bad weather that grounded the aerial blimp. Yet Harrington unexpectedly sprang to the defense of the three-year-old track.

"This is a phenomenal golf course," Harrington said, unprompted. "I think this is good enough for a major. This is a major golf course we are playing here, this is a superb test, really puts us right on the limit.

"This is exactly what we should be playing. This is an excellent golf course. It may look good, but the actual layout of the golf course, it's a real test out there. And you know, at all stages, you've got to pay attention. Absolutely."


Maybe his membership certificate -- initiation dues here are $500,000 -- is in the mail or something. Then Ian Poulter, another Ryder Cup player who is known for expressing the unvarnished truth, didn't exactly pooh-pooh the notion.

"Yeah, a few of the greens might be a tiny bit severe," Poulter said. "But with a couple of little tweaks, which I'm sure they will do in time, it's a hell of a golf course."


"With this fescue, shades of an Open Championship layout."

Kelly Tilghman on today's telecast, talking about Liberty National.


"It's like a tornado just went through."

Reader Don grabbed this round one screen shot of Liberty National and offered the fitting description quoted above.


"We have no plans to add any additional golf ball rules."

Ryan Ballengee follows up with the USGA's Dick Rugge about his groovy chat with Phil Mickelson this week and shares this:

"I expect that the Tour players will deal with the reduced spin from the rough in a variety of ways – whatever works best for each individual. How their adaptation affects other parts of their games will be seen after the rule goes into effect."

Rugge is confident, though, that the players will be just fine. "These are the most adaptable athletes in the world. Their conditions of play can change from event to event, day to day, hole to hole, and shot to shot. "

And the USGA's tech czar is certain that the golf ball will not be further regulated anytime soon.

"We have no plans to add any additional golf ball rules."

Now considering we're in year six of the USGA's ball study, should we take that to mean the study is finished? Or that they went into the study with a closed mind? Or simply that they currently have not plans for the ball because the study still has a ways to go?


“Maybe Tom did this course before his eye operation.”

Just when the doctor cleared me to watch a CBS telecast the rest of the year (only two more!), he advised against listening to the fawning over Liberty National and suggested I not view anything featuring divot swarm-decorated catch basins, faux creeks or fairways lined by containment mounds. 

So there I was during an accidental Golf Channel moment today catching David Feherty in full dry hump mode, declaring his admiration for the course. (Perhaps to make up for Nick Faldo, who apparently was less kind. Why couldn't I have been watching then?)

But after reviewing a few stories this evening, it's become clear that this week's visit to the Bob Cupp-Tom Kite masterwork has awakened the average PGA Tour player's inner sense of humor, usually buried under threats of a Sid Wilson driving range visit.

Granted, we only a know who a few of the culprits are, but how can you not enjoy these gems?

Adam Schupak reporting Robert Allenby's post round remarks:

“I really don’t know how to answer that in the right way, because I could really could get myself into a lot of trouble.”

“They set it up very well,” he added, “That’s as good as I can go on the course.”

That's just an appetizer. It gets better.

John Hawkins suggests that the PGA Tour's deal with Liberty National "was built on something other than the best interests of the competitive standard" and features these beauties:

Even those who consider Liberty National unfit for a tour event, much less a tournament of this magnitude, are blown away by the aesthetics. "It's like this beautiful birthday cake you bring into the room and slice into pieces, everyone takes a bite and realizes there's [bleep] inside," is how one player put it, a quote that earned the award for creative criticism of the day among the two dozen or so tour pros and caddies I spoke with Wednesday.

"If it was a fish, I'd throw it back," picked up second place, and though neither player is likely to have made those statements on the record about any course, the tour's sensitivities are particularly high this week. So high that Camp Ponte Vedra has asked those in the field not to make any negative public statements about the design, a Bob Cupp-Tom Kite collaboration with small, very severe greens.

Steve Elling takes the temperature of players and comes away with these gems:

Said one prominent player: "I guess $250 million doesn't buy what it used to."

And this...

Even the kindest players have struggled mightily to say something positive. Said Zach Johnson, who ranks third in FedEx Cup points, when asked for a comment on the track: "I am not your guy."

Ah but the best involves Tiger, found by Ian O'Connor:

According to Sanjay Jha, a Motorola executive and one of three amateurs who played with Woods on Wednesday, Tiger took time out of their five-hour loop to joke, “Maybe Tom did this course before his eye operation.”

And after sharing some anecdotes about Tiger's respectful pro-am conversation, O'Connor writes:

Tiger shared some stories, shared some laughs. But when he surveyed the course, Woods looked about as happy as a Mets executive reviewing the disabled list.

Finally there was this...

So Tiger had a little fun at Kite’s expense. When Jha started relaying the line to a reporter, Lauer tried to cut him off. “I don’t think you should repeat it,” the Qualcomm guy told the Motorola guy.

Jha couldn’t help himself. By sharing an inside-the-ropes joke, he humanized the red-shirted automaton bent on world domination and inspired this singular question:

Can Tiger Woods conquer a course he can’t stand?

The answer will be in by the Sunday evening news.