Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • 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
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • 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
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

It is not the love of something easy which has drawn men like a magnet for hundreds of years to this royal and ancient pastime; on the contrary, it is the maddening difficulty of it.
ROBERT HUNTER

 

  

Monday
Oct052009

IGF Calls on International Golf Stars Who Won't Push Their Design Services For Final Olympic Bid Presentation

Last time they took Monty, Jack and Annika to Lausanne where each sprinkled their design business cards throughout IOC headquarters, but this time they're wisely taking some younger stars less likely to appear with a set of blueprints underarm:

IGF Calls on International Golf Stars to Take Part in Final Olympic Bid Presentation at IOC Session on October 9.

Harrington, Pettersen, Wie, Manassero confirmed for Copenhagen
 
Copenhagen, Denmark (October 5, 2009) – The International Golf Federation has announced that professional golfers Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Michelle Wie of the United States, as well as 16-year-old (British) Amateur Champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, will participate in the final presentation before the International Olympic Committee membership on Friday, October 9 during the IOC’s 121st Session.
 
The four golfers will join Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee, which has coordinated golf’s Olympic bid, and Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF. Golf and rugby sevens, the two sports recommended for the 2016 Olympic Programme by the IOC Executive Board, will present their final case to the full IOC membership before it votes that same day on whether to accept one, both or neither sport.
 
“We have demonstrated to the IOC Executive Board throughout the evaluation process that golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport has received unprecedented support from both amateur and professional golf organisations around the world and leading international players,” Votaw said. “Now, we must reaffirm this support before the full IOC membership and we couldn’t be more pleased than to have Padraig, Suzann, Matteo and Michelle help to communicate this support during our final presentation.”

In June, when the IGF presented to the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland, Votaw and Dawson were joined by Global Ambassador Annika Sorenstam, 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and LPGA of Japan President and World Golf Hall of Fame member Hisako “Chako” Higuchi.

Leading up to Friday’s vote, golf and rugby sevens emerged from a year-long evaluation that included formal presentations by seven candidate sports, the submission of a Detailed Questionnaire and responses to questions raised by both the IOC Programme Commission and the IOC Executive Board. The IOC Executive Board announced its recommendation of golf and rugby sevens following a meeting in Berlin, Germany on August 13.

On Friday, October 2, the IOC selected Rio de Janeiro as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Sunday
Oct042009

Orender: "Basketball is what's in my future."

Donna Orender blabs on and on to Mechelle Voepel about the bright future of the WNBA, sending the no-so-subtle message that she's unwilling to take the LPGA Commissionership. Brand Lady 2 is not happening. My loss as a blogger, but the LPGA Tour's gain if Orender's buffet line manners were any indication of her potential for Commissionership buffonery.

"I believe in the promise of what everyone thought this league could be when it started 13 seasons ago, and it's going to continue to grow," Orender said Sunday. "The impact basketball has on young girls and the society at large is incredible. I've invested a lot of time in this, and have worked with really great people. I want to keep being part of that growth."

Thank Heaven, for little girls...oh sorry, and?

"There are longer-term plans about … how we continue to grow and keep moving in a positive direction," Orender said. "I anticipate next year we'll be focusing more on that."

Orender is enjoying these Finals but already looking ahead.

Wait, what finals? Oh, the WNBA finals. Silly me.

No wonder the PGA Tour can't get anyone to watch the FedEx Cup. It's up against the WNBA playoffs!

Sunday
Oct042009

The Hits Just Keep On Coming!

What a great night on 60 Minutes!

There was the opening story of Marc Dreier, swindler and golfer who is seen in photos throwing charity golf tournaments and watching golf on television as he dines from his now-former penthouse.

That was followed by Lesley Stahl's look at coal ash that included the Virginia golf course built over the toxic stuff and, brace yourselves, evidence that the golf course contractor did not properly cap the ash, exposing neighbors to the stuff (notice the report didn't seem to care much if the golfers were being harmed).

(Frankly I'm just shocked to think that a golf course contractor might have cut corners. Baffling I tell you.)

At least the third segement of the show wasn't about avid golfers like the Craigslist killer or David Letterman's black mailer, who appears to own more Titleist hats than Adam Scott.

Sunday
Oct042009

"I saw one of the most remarkable sights I have come across in 50 years of playing and watching the sport."

Photographer Rob Matre just opened an exhibition where some of the proceeds go to the Jordan Thomas Foundation to benefit children in need of prosthetics. And for more inspiration, the one-legged Manuel de los Santos just played in the Dunhill Cup and plays to a three handicap. John Hopkins profiled de los Santos and courtesy of reader Jeff, there's this video of his swing:



Sunday
Oct042009

Absolute Stunner: "Trump ‘threatened to sue’ over refusal to back golf resort"

I know, I know. I don't believe it either. Must be some sort of misunderstanding! Or miscommunication. It's just not the way our Donald does things.

Saturday
Oct032009

"There is nowhere in the world I would rather play golf."

John Huggan catches up with Brad Faxon about his latest visit to Scotland for his favorite type of golf.

"The first time I played the seventh hole on Gullane No.1 I drove the green," he smiles. "One day later I had to hit a driver, 3-wood. Yardage means nothing over here; it's just a starting point. There is nowhere in the world I would rather play golf.

"I came over to my first Open in 1985. The practice days at Littlestone were great, sunny and calm. I remember taking a 2-iron off the first tee and knocking it on the first green, more than 300 yards away!

"Of course, for the first round of qualifying it blew a gale. I was hitting 4-iron, 7-iron to par-5s, then driver, 3-wood to par-4s and not reaching the greens. I played with Tony Johnstone and DJ Russell. They were so funny. DJ shot 28-49 for a 77. And Tony was tomahawking clubs down the fairway. He threw one into a bush and we almost lost the club!

"I appreciated sleeping in a tiny bed and having a huge English breakfast. I could never understand why so many of my compatriots didn't feel the same way. Anyway, I qualified but shot huge numbers at Royal St Georges. But that just made me more determined to come back and play. I still have Pringle cashmere sweaters I bought at that Open and they are still in great shape."

Saturday
Oct032009

"Why not Rio?"

Ty Votaw tells us about vote day for the 2016 Olympics and shares some insights into the lobbying effort for this week's vote on golf. Meanwhile Bob Smiley looks at one of the early frontrunners to host the golf, El Course Crappo. Smiley says Rees Jones has already been approached about touching it up.

Saturday
Oct032009

"A course like this sends a message that the city of New York has made a huge effort to build something very special"

John Paul Newport looks at the $123 million Jack Nicklaus-designed New York muni, Ferry Point. Brooklyn's Tom Dunne follows up with some thoughts on the potential impact of the course which Jack says could host a major. Didn't someone say that about Liberty National too?

I just hope it doesn't turn out like the artist's rendition.

Friday
Oct022009

Chicago Golf Courses: Blame It On Rio!

Still waiting on Ty Votaw's blog post from Copenhagen to tell us why he'll be happy to rack up some monster miles flying to Rio in search of a golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games. But based on Garry Smits' post, the options are slim unless you roll back the ball.

Hey I know! Since 6,600 yards is outdated now and the manufacturers love the idea of the Olympics growing sales the game, how about they all pitch in to build Rio a proper length course for the modern game?

Friday
Oct022009

Chrissy Will Do Anything To Get Out Of Attending The Presidents Cup

Leave her man? The same week he has shoulder surgery?

It wasn't long ago she was looping in the Augusta par-3 contest, suggesting Greg's ex "get a job," instilling "different thought processes" in Greg, filming nauseating Golf In America segments, buying back Greg's old house, then visiting the White House and taking all of the attention away from Tim Finchem. I suppose in that light, the Presidents Cup would be a letdown.

Doug Ferguson reports the surprising split between Christine Marie Evert Lloyd Mill Norman and Greg Norman and says it was announced on a Friday afternoon to help squelch any rumors when Chrissy didn't show next week at Harding Park.

Oh yes, this will really put the fire out.

And to think it was just three weeks ago she was taking Tim Rosaforte's money and consulting on Adam Scott's selection to the team.

Thus began the exercise of going through a process of elimination that started with me blurting out, "Well, you'll never take Adam Scott. He's playing like ..."

Greg never flinched, but I should have known looking at Chris' raised eyebrows and the way she shifted and looked out of the window that Scott was going to be one of Norman's choices. I even mentioned that Adam was dating the Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic and they were both slumping. Shortly after this awkward moment, a straight-faced Evert made the bet.

"You're going to be surprised," she said.

I'll say!

Thursday
Oct012009

R&A Contemplating Out-Of-Bounds Tee For Road Hole

Earlier this week it was noted here (courtesy of Trevor Immelman's Tweet) that the Road Hole still features a silly roadblock of rough about 310 yards off the tee.

Now we learn this from John Hopkins' Spike Bar column:

An intriguing whisper was circulating in St Andrews recently. The Royal and Ancient have asked a leading player his thoughts on the positioning of a new tee on the 17th, the famous Road Hole. The tee would be 40 yards back from the existing one and therefore over the fence, which used to be the line of the old railway line from Leuchars. Clearly, the 2010 Open, the 150th anniversary of the event next July, is on the minds of the R&A.

First, as a blogger who has made a study of the R&A's emasculation of rota courses in place of regulating distance, this one will be particularly fun since it's only the most famous hole in golf.

Second, isn't it a bit late in the game to be scouting out a possible new tee for a major that is only ninth months away? Particularly when the tee in question will be off the property and driving over a stone wall and a billboard for the Old Course hotel? I can only imagine how tastefully it will erupt out of the landscape.

At least we know the R&A has experience now with this hole off-course tee thing when it went over so well last time in 2005 when they couldn't really figure out the whole OB thing on No. 2.

Thursday
Oct012009

Could This Mean Johnny Miller Will Have To Work Weekdays?

Thanks to reader Sam for this on the rumored merger of Comcast's cable holdings with a spun off NBCUniversal, a move that would surely impact the Golf Channel, the PGA Tour and maybe the LPGA Tour:

Comcast is currently in talks to merge its content arm, composed of cable channels such as E! and Versus, with NBC Universal after the entertainment company is spun off from its parent, General Electric ( GE - news - people ), according to a report on CNBC's Web site. (Comcast denied prior reports that it was buying NBC outright but has neither confirmed nor denied reports of the spin-off plan; NBC hasn't commented publicly.)

Under the reported scenario, General Electric would spin off NBC into a separate, publicly held company, with GE shareholders receiving shares of the new vehicle. Comcast would then turn over its cable channels, plus "as much as $7 billion in cash" in exchange for a 51% stake in the new company.

Anyone care to speculate on how this could impact the upcoming PGA Tour television contract negotiations? It would seem positive to me since Comcast has shown a great interest in golf...but what do I know?

Thursday
Oct012009

"But it is often these small things that make the biggest impression, especially at the margins."

I must say the 74 comments (at blog posting time) on the Jerry Tarde editorial calling for loosening of cell phone rules made for great reading. Thanks for all of the great remarks. I'm sure Jerry was tickled at all of the kind remarks about his stance and the state of Golf Digest. (Note to self: don't send Jerry that email with story idea for a while.)

Lawrence Donegan noted the story on his Guardian blog and echoed the comments many of you made and put the issue into the context of golf club's current problems:

Golf clubs are in trouble. Why are they losing members? Obviously, the economy is the main problem but they don't help themselves with their insistence on maintaining petty restrictions that exist, it seems to me, only for the benefit of those who take pleasure in, well, maintaining petty restrictions. This is not an original point, and it might be a small one. But it is often these small things that make the biggest impression, especially at the margins.

And...

On a grander philosophical level (a speciality of the Guardian golf blog, as regular readers will know), it would be better if golf clubs - and Golf Digest - focused their attention on those things that harm the game far more than any jeans-wearing, car park shoe-changing, hat-wearing reprobate ever could - extortionate joining fees (especially in the States), insidious bigotry (or every shape and form) and slow play.

Thursday
Oct012009

"All those turrets and towers!"

It's shocking, I know, but as the Scots get to know The Donald and see his plans for Trump International Aberdeen, they aren't liking what they are seeing. John Hopkins uses the latest news of campaigns and unveiling of more plans for the clubhouse to again tell the Donald to scrap the project.

No one in their right mind, no matter how mad you are about golf, can honestly say that what the world needs at this moment is another links golf course - and certainly not a high end one such as this is, one that will cost so much and appeal to so few.

There was also this priceless anonymous quote:

"There is a degree of support for his project in the area because of the good it could bring by way of investment end employment," one Scotsman who lives near Aberdeen, said. "But there is no support for the way he has gone about it. We also are not sure about the clubhouse's design. All those turrets and towers!

Thursday
Oct012009

"My dad was like, 'You want to go and try to qualify for this event?'"

Not to take anything away from the incredible 14-year-old Alexis Thompson, who shot a 7-under 65 to trail Janice Moody by one in the Navistar LPGA Classic, but this was odd:

Thompson made a late decision to travel to Alabama to attempt to qualify. Event officials canceled a Tuesday qualifier when enough spots opened up to add all qualifier participants. "My dad was like, 'You want to go and try to qualify for this event?'" Thompson said. "I was like, 'Yeah, sure, why not?'"

Not enough qualifiers for a sanctioned LPGA Tour event that includes Lorena and Michelle Wie in the field? I know it's Alabama, but still...

Thursday
Oct012009

"Let 'em shoot what they shoot"

Steve Elling follows up on the Bay Hill redo and features glowing quotes from tour official Jon Brendle. There's also this:

Oh, for those who think the Palmer, now a great-grandfather, has perhaps gone soft in his advancing years, fret not. The course changes include the addition of 100 new oak, cypress and magnolia trees, which helped visually frame certain shots here and there. One of Palmer's architects said the King, a blue-collar guy who has always known the value of a buck -- if not how to squeeze one -- worked a deal where Bay Hill bought $150,000 worth of trees for $50,000.

So he hasn't lost his touch. Indeed, the new awakening might prove to be a boon for Bay Hill across the board, because, as many tour players had muttered over the past few years, "hard" is not a synonym for "good."

"What we'd really like is for the course to get back into the top 50 [rankings]," Larsen said. "It's kind of fallen down [the list] over the years."

Would that be top 50 in...Florida? America?

There are some before/after photos in this GolfClubAtlas.com thread.

Thursday
Oct012009

"When you roll it back, it will not only prejudice the performance of the players, it will also prejudice the patent portfolios of one company over another."

John Huggan's recently surfaced April chat with Wally Uihlein continues with part two and more ball talk.

JH: 
What can the rules makers do that would not provoke litigation?    

WU: You would have to go in and buy up all the patents and put them into the public domain so that everyone can practice them on a paid-up license. Then, whatever specification changes they came up with, no one would have any legal downside consequences. That’s the reality. And that is the element of the discourse that has never been acknowledged by anyone in the media.

This is not about private sector versus public sector. It is not about private sector versus regulatory bodies. When you roll it back, it will not only prejudice the performance of the players, it will also prejudice the patent portfolios of one company over another.

Hmmm...this couldn't be related to a certain bit of litigation, could it?

We are dealing with multi-million dollar investments. So it’s not just about the sensibilities of those who profess to care about the game and them questioning why we wouldn’t support that view. It’s not that simple. It’s almost like it is beyond our control. When I get into a court—and they have little to do with truth, justice, and reason—they are 80 percent about theater. It comes down to who has the best trial lawyer.

Unless the regulatory bodies are prepared to create a super-fund, buy up all those patents, and tell us all what balls we can make, nothing is going to change. 

So the courts and trial lawyers are the ones we should be blaming, not the personal trainers who made the guys longer?

How did the groove rule change slip by everyone then?

JH: 
I watched Geoff Ogilvy using an old Toney Penna 3-wood at Kingston Heath last year. He hit it beautifully and I asked him if he would consider using it in a tournament. His reaction was, “Wally may not like that.”  

WU:
No one likes to be singled out as the whipping post. 

JH: He only used your name because he is contracted to Cobra.  

WU: But I’m the whipping post of technology. But I only adopt that role because the equipment can’t speak for itself.  

Someone has to speak for the vulnerable...pieces of synthetic materials sitting on store shelves. You go Wally!

JH: 
Another leading question: who does the best job of running golf—the R&A, the USGA, the PGA of America, or the PGA Tour? Or are you running golf? I’ve accused you of that before.  

WU: 
I know you have. And when you do that, you hit on a key issue. There is no global czar. Unfortunately, golf is lacking that. Which is good and bad. The good part is that we have a number of parties who should be working together to protect the game. You’ll notice I said “protect” rather than “grow” or whatever. 
I don’t think the manufacturers are running the game. I do think the professional game has become golf’s chamber of commerce. We have to be careful not to confuse the professional game—which is entertainment—with the game that we all play. 
There is a big gap between the amateur and professional games.

Then let's bifurcate! Oh wait...you're against that too. Sorry, continue...

But the latter is an entertainment. Which is why we pitch our advertising the way we do. We don’t have players saying, “I play this, you should too.” We’re not saying you should use our equipment just because the professionals do. But we want you to take note of the fact that so many do. 
Now, that may make us a little anachronistic.

Anachronistic wasn't quite the word I had in mind...

But we take the view that their using Titleist is a pretty good endorsement of the quality of our products. Professionals don’t use stuff that isn’t going to make them play better. 
Marketing approaches can go into one of two buckets: the “how many” or the “who?” Most companies employ a “who” strategy. We go the other way. They are different messages. “How many” is more subliminal and sophisticated. 
But you are never going to get me to agree that the manufacturers are running the industry. Not when I’ve just sat with the ruling bodies today and told them I am out $1 million in capital expenses, and $400- to 500,000 per year, because we are coming out of the most activist phase in the history of the regulatory landscape. 

You know I look at Dick Rugge, Jim Vernon, Jim Hyler or Jay Rains and think, "activist."

JH: Will the players all go to higher-spinning balls in the wake of this change?

WU: Take it to the bank. As I said, their first request will be that we get back half the spin they have lost with a softer ball, leaving them free to determine how much distance they are prepared to lose. It’s a balancing act. 
Their next stop, of course, will be to the driver guy. They’ll be asking how much of that distance they can get back with longer shafts or whatever. Don’t worry though. This game will never be mastered, even if it beguiles us into thinking it can be. Which is where we come in. 

Hey, instead of looking to some tech guy for improvement, how about a little love for the beleaguered instructors of the world? Like your good buddy Kostis!

Wednesday
Sep302009

"Do not change your shoes in the parking lot. (Perfectly OK at a public course, but the locker room at private clubs is preserved as the last bastion of golfing ablutions.)"

Jerry Tarde's "Golf's 5 Sacred Rules" comes at an interesting time considering that the American country club is dying in part because it holds things like the five rules sacred.

You know I'm all for tradition, but I'm finding it tougher and tougher to savor some of these "sacred" traditions when the fundamentals have been stampeded over for reasons that usually relate to someone's bottom line and almost never in the name of advancing the sport. 

Tarde's plea is both timely and also perhaps evidence of where the country club set's priorities lie. He notes these five no-nos at the country club to set up a key point about budging on cell phone rules.

1. The most important: Never throw a club in anger.

Tiger's out!

2. Do not change your shoes in the parking lot. (Perfectly OK at a public course, but the locker room at private clubs is preserved as the last bastion of golfing ablutions.)

3. No blue jeans, even the expensive kind.

4. Take off your hat when you go indoors or when sitting down to eat.

5. No cell phones on the course or in the clubhouse. (One club I know is very tough on this: Mobile phones are only permissible sitting in your car in the parking lot with the windows rolled shut. A friend of mine adheres to this rule with his convertible top down.)

Tarde goes on to suggest that the first four remain sacred but that "golf clubs have an opportunity to set the standards for good behavior with these devices" and "putting our heads in the sand and hoping they go away is just not a realistic answer."

I don't disagree, but I do have to wonder if preserving the sacred rule of hats-off in the grill or where we change our shoes constitute sacred private club values?  Your thoughts?

Wednesday
Sep302009

Norman Has Shoulder Surgery; Insists His Prez Cup Lineup Cards Will Not Be Affected

Do I smell a sympathy sling in International Captain Greg Norman's future after today's procedure?

After experiencing ongoing discomfort in his right shoulder, Greg Norman underwent an arthroscopic procedure Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The procedure was scheduled to allow adequate time for rehabilitation, meaning Norman's December playing schedule should not be interrupted.

"It was imperative that I take care of this because it was keeping me from performing at a level that suits my standards," Norman said. "The procedure will in no way impact my responsibilities at The Presidents Cup, and I very much look forward to captaining the International Team next week."

Wednesday
Sep302009

Rory Letting Them Down Slowly...

...as he drops the first hint that he'll be playing the PGA Tour next year. He has until December 1st to let everyone know his mind was made up a while back.

It wasn't so long ago we were hearing that the European Tour was going to overtake the PGA Tour. And now?