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

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON




"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.


"We are getting back into it"

Uh, who is Sergio Garcia referring to in this quote from his press conference today, and published in this wire story on round one at The Barclays?

Garcia took another important step toward recovering from a troublesome season Thursday with a 6-under 65 at Liberty National for a share of the lead with Paul Goydos and Steve Marino.

"We are getting back into it," Garcia said. "Last week was nice. It was good to see ourselves ... getting that feeling of being out there trying to win a tournament and getting the juices flowing a little bit. We're just looking forward to hopefully finishing the year well here, keep this good momentum going."

Is there more than one Sergio? Does he have a pit crew?


"Jordan Thomas: Making A Connection Between Golf & Health Care Rights"

Nice post and audio interview of Jordan Thomas by Ryan Ballengee. Check it out and Thomas's foundation here.



in·ter·est·ing (in-t(ə-)rəs-tiŋ) : holding the attention : arousing interest

It's hard to interpret the early reviews of Liberty National, but it seems like most of the players are trying their best not to blast the design. Shoot, Norman Vincent Ogilvy is tweeting about how great it is that players are actually discussing design. Granted, it took a Cupp-Kite nightmare, but he's finding the positive in that. Impressive restraint!

In case you want the backstory in print form before CBS drums it into us, Michael Buteau does a nice job explaining how the place came about and how much it all cost.

Adam Schupak sums up Tiger's not so subliminal description of the design in today's presser.

“It's interesting,” Woods said.

In a good way?

“It's interesting,” Woods repeated.

Hank Gola writes this...

One prominent Tour player was saying earlier this year it would be the worst course his fellow golfers would play in 2009. Another quipped it will be the best course he'll play this week.
Vijay Singh thinks the course has "its own character" and "will grow on people."

But his answer to what style of player the course favors was telling.

"One who doesn't worry about what the golf course is and just plays one shot at a time," he said. "You go out there and start criticizing the golf course, then you might as well not show up."

Jonathan Wade says this is probably Liberty's only shot...

It's clear the tour is considering the idea of making Liberty National a regular part of a rotation in the New York metropolitan area. A press release by the PGA Tour on Monday announced that Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., and Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., will host the event in 2010 and 2011 respectively, but the event's future is unclear after that. The tour also has a contract with Westchester to bring the event back there once before 2012, but there was no mention of Westchester in the release.

The press conferences revealed one player who likes the place and one who artfully avoided the question.

Q. What do you think of your golf course since you're a member here?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I love it. I love it because I think the shots around the greens have been very well thought out. I think the greens have movement to them, but it's subtle movement. It's not these big humps and hollows that modern architecture seems to have. The rough doesn't go right up to the edge of the green. There's a lot of shaved areas that extends out. There's a lot of movement, so you get different lies, and I think around the greens it's within very well thought out. I think it's hard, though. It's a hard golf course. Tee-to-green it's very demanding.

Q. How many times have you played this before?

PHIL MICKELSON: Just a handful, just five or six.

And the artist...

Q. Your thoughts on the course in general?

LUCAS GLOVER: It's in perfect shape. Kind of intimidating scenery. But it's in great shape.


"But the most egregious moment came when the official basically said to the three, now is the time to inform me if you think any member of the group is to blame."

Ryan Herrington on the disastrous day for the Walker Cup team except Mike Van Sickle's 6&4 win. Oh wait, that's right, he's not on the team...yet.

Sean Martin follows up on round 1's medalist Tim Jackson defeating John Kostis after the two were involved in a slow play incident Tuesday. Peter Kostis kindly took the time to weigh in on what he saw as the flaws of the USGA policy under the comments section of the earlier post. Check it out. This was particularly interesting to me as someone who supports the USGA policy, but it easy to see why this

The most disturbing parts of the whole episode were the fact that the USGA has factored in the "correct" amount of time to play a hole poorly and its included in the timing stations. I never realized that it's ok to make a double that only adds 4 minutes to the pace of play, but a 6 minute extra time double is too much! But the most egregious moment came when the official basically said to the three, now is the time to inform me if you think any member of the group is to blame. Asking someone to throw someone else under the bus to save a stroke is sickening to me. What does that teach? I'm all for speeding up play, but there must be a better way. When a group waits for 10 minutes to play the 15th hole and finishes the round 2 minutes past their allotted time, is that worth compromising the integrity of the competition?


"Guys who haven't won a tournament all year could win the FedExCup. It is quite interesting how it could work out that way."

Tiger Woods Wednesday at Liberty National:

Q. Do you think it's fair if you could win the next three weeks and not win the FedExCup with eight wins this year?

TIGER WOODS: It could happen.

Q. It could very well happen?

TIGER WOODS: It could very well happen, no doubt. Guys who haven't won a tournament all year could win the FedExCup.

It is quite interesting how it could work out that way.

Q. Should it be a season-long marathon, or the four-week sweepstakes that it has become? It's like it's trying to serve two masters and not really successfully doing either one.

TIGER WOODS: It used to be season-long, but also season-long for Player of the Year, Money List title, I guess it was the Arnold Palmer Award, and that's what you're playing for all year is the money title. You win the money title here, you could lose the FedExCup. So it is different, there's no doubt. But then again, this is what we're playing for. This is our opportunity to play well. You play well at the right time, you should be all right.

Steve Elling explained the latest wacky FedEx Cup points possibility:

Woods has won five times already this year, three more than anybody else. He could win this week, then follow suit in Boston and Chicago, but if somebody from the top five in points beats him in Atlanta by a shot, he can't win the title.

Worse, Woods conceivably could have eight wins to his credit and lose the FedEx Cup crown to a player well down the points list who didn't win a single tournament all season, like David Toms (No. 12) or Hunter Mahan (No. 14). Thanks to the reshuffle before the finale, Woods loses much of his edge.

Bob Harig tried to find the positive in this:

Another stipulation already is causing some concern. Anyone in the top five heading to Atlanta who wins the Tour Championship is assured of winning the FedEx Cup. So if Woods wins this week and next but doesn't win in Atlanta, he still could be denied the top prize.

That, however, seems like a fair trade to create some much-needed drama in the last event.
And just like in those other playoffs, the regular-season champion does not always prevail at the end.


"PGA Tour big bird didn't like this tweet"

Steve Elling reports that master Tweeter Stewart Cink heard from The Man Wednesday after Tweeting about AT&T's wretched (I can attest!) cell coverage.

That's when Commissioner Tim Finchem called to ask him to stop ragging on key PGA Tour sponsors on his Twitter site. AT&T is the title sponsor at events in Pebble Beach and Washington, D.C., and now stands as the lone sponsor of multiple events on the U.S. tour.

Cink was somewhat amused by it all. Later, when he got to the course, he was asked by another tour official to take down the posting, which he did. Eventually.

The offending Tweets:



"We think it brings a new sharpness to the Playoffs."

Say goodbye to strengthen and platform and say hello to sharpen.

The Commish unveiled a new word Wednesday at Liberty National and the world is a better place for it.

Here we go into the Playoffs. We are excited about the way the Playoffs are structured this year. We think it brings a new sharpness to the Playoffs.

After all, we strengthened last year and well, it wasn't really stronger so now we are sharpening. Next year we'll be activating a new points system...again.

I think overall thus far, as we get to our third set of Playoffs, we are very pleased with the traction the Cup has had in golf, the stature, recognition, positioning of competition takes years to accomplish, and I think this one has really been at warp speed to get to the position of where it is after only 2 1/2 years.

Warp speed down the drain?

And now on to Liberty National...wherever it is.

With that said, we are delighted to be back here in New York. I think the visuals this week for CBS and the GOLF CHANNEL will be outstanding. We have a good weather pattern moving in which is going to sharpen those visuals of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Sharpen those visuals. But will that sharpen the brand?

So what we decided to go forward with a few years ago is in fruition and we are excited to see it play out this week. With that said, I'll be happy to try to answer your questions.

Q. First, spending 20 years in Jersey, New York is over there; but anyways, coming back here, I know you're going to go to Ridgewood, but the logistics that the undertaking of having this event here and some of the players we spoke with yesterday were, they bit their tongue a little bit about the untraditional layout and the untraditional construction of the course. I wonder what your long term plans are and thoughts are for coming back to a site like this?

New York/New Jersey...picky liberal media elitists!

And on to the Olympics...

Q. If you were to get in, and I know that's a bit of a hypothetical, but it does look promising, if you were to get in, does that open doors for you with the PGA TOUR kind of getting access to the Olympic sponsors and possibly parlaying that into more sponsorship on the PGA TOUR?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think so. I mean, if you look at the configuration of the sponsorship of the Olympic Games, it's companies that we already talk to. I don't think there's much for us there, and No. 2 I think we are largely sponsored already. Even though we will have some turnover on this downturn, we are already working hard to fill those gaps. I don't see that.

But I do think that the texture of the game is richer to some extent with golf in the Olympics, which makes it even more attractive to sponsorship. So I think it will help us possibly globally with sponsorship, even though it may not be a direct interface with some sponsor that happens to be at the Olympic Games, so indirectly.

Got that?


Letter From Saugerties, Jimmy Cannon Edition

After a number of recent posts, Frank Hannigan files this Cannonesque "Nobody Asked Me, But..." Letter from Saugerties:

Dear Geoff,

There are no words to express my gratitude for your posting of The Crazy Swing of a man in Egypt.  I wonder what happens when he finds himself in a bunker?

Peter Thomson ran for the Australian equivalent of our Congress. His politics? Let's just say he was not a man of the left. He came here in 1985 to play on the senior tour for only one reason: to beat Arnold Palmer like a drum. He told me not to pay much attention to his scores since "we are playing from the ladies tees."

He is also memorable for his speaking the ultimate truth about instruction which is that neither he nor anyone else could teach a newcomer anything useful other than how to grip the club properly and to aim. Peter once covered a US Open at Oak Hill in Rochester for an Australian newspaper. I asked him what he thought of the course. "It's too good for them" was his response.

Slow play by the women in the Solheim Cup, with 4-ball rounds approaching 6 hours, could be cured immediately by the simple device of sub-letting the role of the committee to officials not employed by the LPGA or the European women's tour. I would put USGA alumnus Tom Meeks in charge and tell him that if any given round takes 4 hours 45 minutes to transpire that he would not be paid.

Corey Pavin's average driving distance on the Tour today is 260 yards, or 8 yards longer than he was in 1999. You figure it's the mustache?

Comparisons of some other short drivers: Jim Furyk 278 now, 268 then. Paul Goydos is up 12 yards in a decade to 276, Billy Mayfair has become a brute at 284 but was only 269 a decade earlier.

In the early 1990s I was a consultant (unpaid) for a golf course project at Liberty State Park - the site of this week's Tour event. It required the blessing of then New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, herself an enthusiastic golfer.

She wouldn't help us because the mayor of Jersey City said that golf was inherently elitist and that none of his city's precious land should be wasted on the rich. Never mind that the land in question was poisonously polluted. My idea was for a daily fee course supplemented by renting the course out once day a week for huge fees from Wall Street firms who would arrive by boat. What's happened is the creation of a $500,000 private club that is out of the reach of anybody who isn't loaded.

Liberty National is a design of the architectural pair of Tom Kite and Bob Cupp who survived the misfortune of designing a 2nd course at the Baltimore Country Club. It's adjacent to the wonderful Five Farms course created by AW Tillinghast. There were to be 36 holes as routed by Tillinghast. Because of the Great Depression the second course was put off for 50 years. The contrast between the two courses? Let's just say that the Kite-Cupp course concludes with a double green.

I twitched whenever I heard the name "Solheim" on television last week. Remember the great U groove wars of the 1980s when Ping sued both the USGA and the PGA Tour? There were endless meetings in attempt to resolve the matter without litigation. One took place in our USGA offices in New Jersey. Karsten sent one of his primary technicians. The man recorded the meeting secretly with a device hidden in his briefcase, hoping I or my colleague Frank Thomas would be caught saying something that might be useful to Ping in the suit to come.

Never mind how we found out. The tapes are stored in Mayer Brown, the USGA's Chicago law firm. Pity the
meeting did not take place in New York where such bugging is a crime. Anything goes in New Jersey.

Frank Hannigan
Saugerties, New York


“Well that’s wonderful, I beat everybody by two shots.”

Sean Martin reports on Tim Jackson's record-breaking play to become the oldest U.S. Amateur medalist at 50, despite a one-shot penalty for slow play.

The only thing that upset Jackson was a slow-play penalty that he received after the round. “I’m not real happy about it, let’s put it that way,” Jackson said. His group was warned at three of the four timing checkpoints (the fourth, ninth and 13th holes).

When it was confirmed that Jackson, who’d finished earlier in the day, was the medalist, he replied: “Well that’s wonderful, I beat everybody by two shots.”

How can you be a jerk about it when you are warned at three of four stations?


Teddy Forstman's Lucky Day: No More Pro-Am Rounds With Vijay

Doug Ferguson reports the sad news that the big Fijian has left Forstman's IMG to spend more time with his longtime advisor and a former IMG agent.


“I understand what you are saying.”

Adam Schupak says that the USGA's Dick Rugge visited Liberty National to take in the lovely architecture to let Phil Mickelson vent about the latest turn in the grooves saga.

For 45 minutes, Rugge and Mickelson stood in the middle of the putting green, nearly toe-to-toe, and engaged in a wide-ranging – at times, animated – but cordial discussion.

Rugge termed it a “pleasant conversation” but would not reveal specifics.

But much of it could be overheard easily. Mickelson, speaking with conviction, expressed his disappointment with the USGA’s recent ban of his prototype irons, his concern that the 64-degree wedge could be banned in the future and his view that this wasn’t good for golf on a global scale.


Rugge repeatedly answered Mickelson by saying, “I understand what you are saying.”

I suppose that was better than, "thanks you sir, may I have another."


Solheim Cup Ratings Almost Include An Integer!

Well, the good news is that more people saw that great event...

Solheim Cup Ratings on Golf Channel Top All-Time Highs

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 25, 2009) – GOLF CHANNEL concluded its exclusive coverage of The Solheim Cup on Sunday by garnering its highest rating ever (.93) for the final day of the LPGA’s biennial team event, tripling the Sunday rating from 2007 (.27) and far outpacing the Sunday rating in 2005 (.62), the last time the event was played on U.S. soil.

The rating for the six hours of coverage on the third and final day of the international event – which pitted the U.S.A. versus Europe – represented more than 956,000 total viewers, which was the highest for an LPGA telecast on GOLF CHANNEL this year and second only to the U.S. Women’s Open as the highest rating for women’s golf on television so far in 2009 – cable or broadcast.

Friday’s rating (.32) was the second-highest Friday rating on television for a LPGA Tour event this year, and coverage of Saturday’s matches – at 12 hours representing the longest continuous GOLF CHANNEL tournament telecast ever – achieved a rating of .60, topping same-day ratings from both 2005 and 2007.


"I don't know how it works. I looked at it for the first time the other day to see where I stood."

That's Lucas Glover describing the drama-deprived concept that is the FedEx Cup, which we will have to endure another year of starting Thursday. John Strege considers the state of the cup, talks to several players who have some interesting things to say and also points out the lousy timing of the "playoffs."

The FedEx Cup still has obstacles, obviously, widespread indifference among them, even as the networks dutifully update us on FedEx Cup points each week. FedEx Cup points. How does that work again? Another obstacle: the calculus on which the tour relies to produce a champion. Who can understand it without an MIT degree, or at least a slide rule? "It's just a little difficult to follow," Glover said.

Four bullet points are offered in the section on the FedEx Cup, beneath the heading, "2009 Changes," in the PGA Tour Guide. The last of them is this: "Streamlining the points structure for ease of understanding."

Really? Here's the first bullet point: "Shifting the points reset from the beginning of the Playoffs to after the BMW Championship, which means points earned during the PGA Tour Regular Season will be carried through the first three Playoff events."

"They need to make it easier for the fans to follow," Ben Curtis said. The players could use some help, too, he might have added.

I know we've warn this one out, and I still stand by the concept I floated in Golf World a couple of years ago.

The main positive, as noted by Doug Ferguson in a recent tweet, is Tiger Woods playing golf right now when he ordinarily would not be teeing up. And while that's signficant if you are a network looking for ratings, at some point FedEx is going to get fed-up with an association to a bean-counting, yawn-inducing, head-scratching and integrity-challenged farce of the "playoff" world during arguably the most exciting time of year in sports.


“It’s just moving the goal line just as someone is about to score a touchdown"

Probing around the vastly improved looking and functioning today, I finally tracked down the Phil Mickelson remarks about the USGA and grooves that have been reported in bits and pieces.

Seems it was a blog item buried on their old and quite dreadful blogging platform (hallelujah, it's gone!). Then Jeff Rude put it all in a column, where the most extensive quotes appeared.

The short version: Phil had new clubs to play at Firestone but they were considered too groovy by the USGA under its revised groove rule language.

The company offered this according to Rude:

“It’s just moving the goal line just as someone is about to score a touchdown,’’ company spokeswoman Michele Szynal said Thursday.

And after going to Commissioner Finchem and being met with a blank squint, Mickelson said.

“It seems like they (USGA) withhold the right to change the rules any time they want,” Mickelson said. “It’s very frustrating.”

It would seem that when you combine this with the item I posted last week from Mike Clayton and the other anecdotal stories beginning to roll in, it's possible to envision this rule change implementation becoming uncomfortably complicated at best, downright ugly at worst.


“I woke up that morning and didn’t expect to win"

Thanks to reader Tim for this Kyung Lah CNN report on Y.E. Yang which included what could not have been music to Presidents Cup captain Norman, assuming the translation was correct.

Watching Yang play with his friends on this Dallas, Texas golf course, you can see that love of the game is obvious. Yang later tells me that he hopes to never face off with Tiger again, because he’s not sure he’d win again. You get the sense that while wins at the PGA level are important, this game with friends is just as important — and at the heart of why Yang managed to accomplish what no other golfer in the world could.

The video version:

Jack Nicklaus has also has some interesting observations on the Yang win at Hazeltine in this sitdown with Tim Rosaforte. And is me or is Jack way too pleased that Tiger won't be breaking the all time major's mark at St. Andrews next year?


"Trending: Down."

USGA Executive Director David Fay sneaks in the final spot on The New Jersey Star-Ledger's list of the top 25 most powerful sports brokers in the Garden State. Thanks to reader Carl for this.

25. David Fay. USGA, based in Far Hills, controls the rules of golf, and Fay has used his office and influence to bring many of its events to New Jersey courses. But will we ever get the U.S. Open again? Trending: Down.

How can they be so cynical with Trump National Bedminster looming on the U.S. Open radar?