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

There are, of course, advocates for stroke play as the better format for identifying a champion. I prefer match play, particularly for amateurs, and if the decision were to be based on amateurs' preference reflected in the numbers who compete with each other at match play compared to those who chose stroke play, the vote for match play would be so overwhelming as to make counting votes a waste of time.




USGA Museum Entry Free With Your Bethpage Ticket

Nice touch by the USGA.


"The new USGA mantra: We're not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We're just trying to get them to finish before Wednesday."

That's Sam Weinman's clever headline to my item on low scoring at Bethpage and the USGA's reaction to the sea of red.


"We have excellent relations with Setanta"

Lawrence Donegan reports that the demise of sports network Setanta means that the UK rights holder to PGA Tour coverage may be leave the Tour as "the hardest hit sports league."

Where will the PGA tour go now? Sky, which used to hold the rights and bid around £5m-a-year when they came up for auction in 2006, may be interested. But it will not be interested at a price anywhere near that paid by Setanta - especially as it was miffed to lose the contract in the first place.

And this...

It is hard to know for certain because we don't know how the deal with Setanta was structured. But let's say the $103 million was spread evenly over the reported five years; that's $20.6 million a year. Two years have already elapsed, which leaves three years at $20.6 million - a total of $61.8 million. Ouch!


2009 U.S. Open, Day 3

Just a few more clippings that caught my eye:

Scott Michaux on the confident amateurs...delusional would have been too harsh. Richard Sandomir takes a compelling look inside the NBC broadcast center.

I'm off to the course. NBC comes on at 10 am EST. Comment away!

And the latest from my Twitter feed:


2009 U.S. Open Clippings, Saturday Edition

So much good writing, so little time. Just a few that caught my eye:

All the transcripts are here.

Mark Soltau finds the best lines of the day and puts them all here. compiles notes from its staff writers, including stats about the weird leaderboard and horror stories on Ernie Els and Brian Gay.

Lawrence Donegan's game story. Doug Ferguson's here. Still waiting on the local editions...

Michael Bamberger praises the USGA for a "nice save" on the ticket policy change. Oh I can't wait to read the tabloids tomorrow!

Steve Elling on the lopsided advantage for the afternoon-early guys.

John Huggan on Ian Poulter's silly little rant about plugged lies in the sand. He also notes Paul Casey's 75 and post round silence.

Jeff Rude on the Lefty Lovefest and how his playing partners have been ignored.

Ryan Herrington says the low amateur race might actually be close and interesting.

Thomas Bonk sums up the timing scenario possibilities and concludes there's no use trying to figure out where this Open could go.

I posted an item on earlier in the day on Tiger's prediction of mud on the ball worsening as the day went on, with a negative impact on scoring. Looks like Tiger got that one wrong.

Sean Martin on Drew Weaver's impressive opening round.

Mark Reason reminds us of Graeme McDowell's past U.S. Open success after his opening 69.

Neal Best on NBC's bonus coverage Saturday.

Jack McCallum on his RV neighbors.

The Angry Golfer visits the merchandise tent and vents about. I was disappointed that he missed the $168 belts, easily the LOL item of the week.


"The great thing about this game is the fact that we have the same set of rules for everybody."

Thanks to reader jmr for this report on Dick Rugge's webcast appearance with Andy North. I guess since Andy is asking serious questions, I'm going to have to lay off him for at least a month.

While I still support the groove rule change (I know, you're relieved with that clarification), the bifurcating of golf keeps me wondering why we couldn't have done it with the ball first.

Andy North just destroyed Dick Rugge! Just eating lunch, watching the open webcast and Dick Rugge comes in the booth to talk about the new groove rules. Rugge explains that the condition will apply on Jan. 1 2010 for pros, and 2024 for ams. Andy North asks, "So if I have a favorite wedge will I have to get a new one?" Rugge says, "Yes, but only if you're a pro." Andy then asks, "So I guess I'll need 2 different sets of clubs then." Rugge nervously answers in the affirmative.

It gets better. The very next question asks Rugge about conforming clubs . . . the first sentence out of his mouth was, "The great thing about this game is the fact that we have the same set of rules for everybody." This is literally the very next comment after his stumbling bifurcation explanation. Ummm, Dick . . . 2 rules, same rules, 2 sets, 2010, 2024? Not the same game, not the same rules, not a clue about fixing this game.

North also commented on the balls going too far and that they needed to spin more (a common thought from those with experience and/or common sense). Rugge's explanation? "Driving distance has actually flatlined for 6 years on tour." Thanks Dick -- now that 80% of classic courses were destroyed about 8 years ago with the new ball and titanium face, its nice to know that the USGA has full control. Andy North +1, Dick Rugge and the USGA -100.
06.19.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjmr


Basketball Announcers In The Golf Booth

Loved reader dsl's analogy of Berman sounding like Fred Willard's character in Best in Show. Brilliant. Wonder if he knows that's not a compliment?

Meanwhile, maybe they knew about Berman because they have some creative fun from Slate:


2009 U.S. Open Round 1, Day 2

Here's where to observe, opine, and oscillate on what appears to be a day where golf will be played.

A few more reads: Jeff Neuman on 47-year-old Mike Miles, Bamberger on the ticket issue and a decision the USGA "will come to regret," Lupica on the same topic, and Stephanie Gaskell reports on the rainfall amounts. A chart with her story (not online) shows that June is a bit more wet than some have led us to believe. The average June rainfall is nearly 5 inches (at 7.32 now) and in 2003 they had 10.27 inches of rain.

Oh and here's my Twitter feed.


Round .5 Clippings, 2009 U.S. Open

The rainout gave me a little more time to do some clippings. And there's actually a lot of fun stuff posted.

John Hawkins goes out in the rain to see just how miserable conditions were. And who says writers never leave the tent? On a serious note, in the video you'll get to see just how water logged the property is. And I can attest. They didn't just pick the worst spots. It's like this everywhere. Poor Bethpage deserves better!

Also on the video front, Jeff Rude talks to Tom Lehman in hopes of hearing how he hit the same person twice on the same hole, Bethpage's fifth.

Gary Van Sickle wisely points out that this week's problems should be a sign of trouble for the 2014 USGA plan at Pinehurst to contest back-to-back Opens.

I've already believe I was called out on Twitter for my latest entry of the day about Bethpage's lack of subsurface green drainage. That's comical since I'm not a fan of the USGA Green construction (largely for artistic and economic reasons). However, the question will be asked after this week: can Bethpage host another Open without converting to the better-draining green spec? I'd hate to see it happen, but when you want to host U.S. Open's and it tends to rain when you do so, they really come in handy.

Michael Walker points out the USGA's no refund policy and how it's not going over well. I heard local sports talk shows were chatting about it and less than civil tones, and the discourse likely won't improve when they hear the Yankees are giving all ticketholders to Wednesday's rainout a free ticket.

Alan Bastable talks to some of the disgruntled fans. Everyone was frustrated except those fortunate enough to have access to the corporate tents.

Perhaps in homage of Dan Jenkins, Jim McCabe tries to lighten the mood with a worst case scenario game story.

Golfweek features photos from the lovely day one.

Dave Fanucci on the USGA's weather policy and how they monitor inclement weather.

Dave Shedloski with some of the anecdotal evidence from Jeff Brehaut and others that Bethpage was playing long in almost unimaginable ways.

Jaime Diaz notes that the AmEx Experience is popular not only for the shelter it provides, but the cool amenities like the indoor bleachers setup in front of a huge screen and the interactive swing analysis. I'll get pictures before I leave, it's pretty swell.

And Jack McCallum, legendary SI NBA writer, is camped out in an RV near the course to experience the People's Open in the People's Town Car.


Johnny: “This thing is Johnny Miller, it’s totally Johnny Miller"

I received a few strange looks on the train this morning when I laughed out loud at this Johnny Miller remark in Richard Sandomir's NY Times story about Johnny's special notebook:

He used to carry a surveyor’s tool to assess how putts would break, but last year he downloaded the Break Meter application to his iPhone. He demonstrated his toy in an NBC trailer, showing the angle and slope of a table and the linoleum floor.

“This thing is Johnny Miller, it’s totally Johnny Miller,” he said cheerfully as the iPhone registered its findings. “I don’t really need it, but it verifies things for me.”

And I let out a groan after this one:

Miller confessed to one weakness: “I don’t sit on the range all day and talk to players. My thing is to be more of an expert on the holes, to know what to watch out for, what not to hit, how the putts break and to know every bunker.”

He also knows that Nick Faldo, the lead golf analyst at CBS and the Golf Channel, has something he will never have: a knighthood, which was announced last week.

“Is CBS going to call him Sir Nick now?” Miller asked. “Jim Nantz might.”

Would he like to be Sir Johnny? “As long as it doesn’t take three divorces to get it,” Miller said, referring to his friend Faldo’s marital history. He smiled and said, “I guess that wasn’t a cool thing to say.”


2009 U.S. Open Round 1

I filed this primer for on what to look for now that the telecast has started.

Post your comments as the round commences. Or, for as long as it commences.

I'll be Tweeting when I'm not in the press center. Here's some form of the feed, though it seems a bit slow. You can always go to my Twitter page.



The USGA Press Conference

Inside sources say the USGA ordered all air shut off to the media center interview room. How else to explain a media performance for the ages?

Let's deal with all five questions asked after the statements by President Jim Vernon and Championship Committee Chair Jim Hyler.

Q. In light of the weather forecast, the current softness of the course and the likelihood it's going to be a lot softer, can you envision any circumstance in which the players will be allowed to lift, clean and replace?

You have to love the brevity!

Q. So if they can't do that, you're prepared to take this tournament into Monday or Tuesday?
JIM HYLER: If it gets to the point where -- we're not going to play lift, clean and place. We'll suspend. If we can't play it, if it's not fair to be playing the ball as it lies, we'll suspend play. We'll stay here until we get a champion.

Uh, I booked on Priceline. Lift, clean and place doesn't look so bad to me.

Q. Do you recall any other championships -- and this is for David as well, I imagine -- in which the USGA has allowed that method of play?

JIM HYLER: Lift, clean and place? No.

Not a lot of grey area there!

Q. On the subject of future U.S. Open sites, how important is geographic diversity? Do you consider Oakmont to be part of the Midwest? And are you strongly considering something, a course in Chicago or Wisconsin, for 2017?

JIM HYLER: Oakmont is sort of Midwest, sort of East Coast. So it's certainly not East-East Coast.

Which reminds me, let's hear it for Oakmont! Questions, anyone, anyone?

My contribution to the proceedings:

Q. Some of the manufacturers have been indicating that they may have trouble implementing with the new groove rules and having enough clubs prepared, and they're lobbying the PGA TOUR to reconsider their support. How will that affect the USGA's stance on the groove rule change that takes effect in 2010?

JIM VERNON: As you know, Jeff, the implementation of the new groove regulations include a condition of competition for elite play, such as the PGA TOUR.

PGA TOUR will make its decision at some point as to whether they will implement that condition of competition for 2010. It is likely that if they were not to adopt it for 2010, we certainly would not adopt it for the U.S. Open either.

You can probably guess why I asked this. Last week we learned from Ian Poulter that certain manufacturers don't believe they'll be ready. Different theories have been floated, but it seems likely that at least one company is lobbying the PGA Tour in hopes of getting the tour to not adopt the condition of competition that bans the U-groove on the PGA Tour.

So now we know. Tim Finchem is the most powerful man in the game. Well, unless a certain manufacturer gets him to not comply to the rule change. Then that CEO is the most powerful.

I thought some of my counterparts would be fascinated and ask more questions. Instead...

Q. Have you given any consideration to a Senior Women's Open? You've talked about pairing up the men's and the women's open, but what about the Seniors? At the moment the women don't have a Senior Open.

I'm sure you can guess what David Fay said as kindly as he could.

Q. I wanted to ask about a future site by looking into the past a little bit. I don't know how many years ago it was that you announced that Pebble Beach would be hosting a U.S. Women's Open. It looked like '14 might be the best opening. You're booked now through '15. Can you give us any kind of an update on what's going on there, and how much of it is Pebble maybe just not wanting to give up a week that close after the U.S. Open?

DAVID FAY: Thanks. I've had conversations with them. They remain interested in having a Women's Open. That interest is sincere, but the date was never set in stone. It was speculation, and that's great. But I can tell you that they remain interested in a future Women's Open. No set date.

BETH MURRISON: Thank you all very much for being here. Gentlemen, we thank you very much.

Yes, we thank you for not asking questions.


2009 U.S. Open: A Few Final Preview Clippings

Thomas Bonk on Phil Mickelson's early morning press conference.

Ryan Herrington sums up the USGA press conference highlights.

Dave Perkins talks to players on the range who are staying away from the course. And the weather was perfect today. Shows you how simple the greens are, I suppose.

Mark Soltau with the best quotes of the day.

Lorne Rubenstein says don't count out the short hitters and considering how soft the greens are, he may be right.

David Shefter tells us all about the weather precautions and the unlucky folks who have to deal with it.

Wendy Uzelac preps us for Squeegee use and how the rules dictate various situations. Listen for the deep-baritoned frogs in the 8th hole pond. They may be the only ones happy Thursday (click to enlarge)

Tom Dunne explains what WaterHOGs are and how they are used to soak up the moisture. They were mentioned in today's USGA press conference

Ken Belson in a New York Times story tells us just how dead the corporate villages were early in the week.

Jason Sobel ranks the field. My wrists hurt just thinking about how much typing he did.

And finally, Lawrence Donegan loves that the USGA is playing a public course. He takes a while to make the point but it's worth it:

In a crowded sporting landscape, the Open Championship is the one of the few weeks during the year that the nation focuses almost entirely on golf. This is true now and it will be true in four years time, when people will turn their attention to Muirfield and see what? That's right, a golf club embodying every stereotype that has proved so damaging to the sport.

This, to put it at its mildest, is disappointing. Others would prefer to see it as a serious misjudgement; a needless provocation; or even a crime against the sport. I know I do.


Jenkins Tribute

The USGA hosted a salute to Dan Jenkins on the eve of his 200th major. Well attended, festive and fun (uh, were SI guys barred?), they handed out his latest book and DJ bobbleheads courtesy of Golf Digest.

Jerry Tarde saluted Dan and only slipped in twice that we were in the presence of a future Hall of Famer. Of course, what they're waiting for, no one knows!

David Fay thanked Dan for his service and shrewdly pointed out that this is Dan's 201st major, if you count the 1942 Hale America Open. You may recall Dan has lobbied for that 1942 playing of the Open to count, not because his boy Hogan won but because it was the rebranded U.S. Open in a war year.

Dan finally took the microphone atop the interview room podium, and proceeded to take us through his round in tour drone fashion. "Hit in the left rough on one." Press room joke. Had to be there.

My favorite was a Dave Marr story. Dave was asked what were the top three things Bruce Crampton did wrong. "He was born. He came to America. He stayed in America."


"To Bethpage faithful, a kinder and gentler Open isn't necessarily an improvement"

My first item on the Bethpage golf course setup is now posted. Let me know what you think.


Shock: Woods World's Top Athlete


Butch Going Pink

I'm sure if you told Butch Harmon ten years ago that he would be discussing his pink belt with Phil Mickelson on the eve of the U.S. Open, he'd have told you to go jump in front of a train.

And yet that was the scene Wednesday at Bethpage where he's outfitted in pink in tribute to Amy Mickelson. Here's Phil's press conference, where I posted a few Tweets.


"I've seen lots of rules written down on the first tees but I've never seen warnings."

The 17th hole during Tuesday's practice round (click on image to enlarge)Just a few clippings heading into Wednesday at Bethpage.

Mark Soltau has a nice overview of player comments from Tuesday. Rocco's press conference makes for a pretty fun read.

Bob Harig on the fans and how they may play a role at Bethpage, reminding us of Sergio's battles last time the Open was played here.

Steve Elling talks to folks about the 18-hole playoff concept and you might be surprised by Kenny Perry's answer.

David Shefter interviews Matt Nagy about his amazing journey to Bethpage. You won't believe what had to happen for him to get there. Thanks to reader Rob for catching this.

Mark Lamport-Stokes hears what Geoff Ogilvy has to say about the long slog that is Bethpage.

"This is probably the only golf course with a warning at the first tee," former champion Ogilvy told reporters at Bethpage State Park on Tuesday. "I've seen lots of rules written down on the first tees but I've never seen warnings."

Bill Pennington reports that fans are treating Ogilvy like a defending champ due to his win at Winged Foot.

And just a reminder, I'm filing updates on Twitter and will post live from the USGA press conference as well as the media center toast to Dan Jenkins on the eve of his 200th major.


The New Yankee Stadium... a lot like Bethpage Black. Big, grand, awe-inspiring but lacking some of the quirk and character you'd like to see in a ballpark. Some of the detail work and architecture is stunning, many other parts seem unfinished. It's just a wee bit soulless for my taste--like the Black.

The old park...

And today's new park...


The USGA Survey

If you aren't at Bethpage to participate in the electronic punch screen survey, unofficially titled "How Can We Be Loved More?", here's your chance to say something to the USGA on the state of their role in the game.

Take on any topic you like, just keep it civil!