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

A New Yorker showed up at Austin Country Club one day. He said he’d heard about this famous teacher, this Penick fellow. I asked, “What can I do for you?”  “If you’re such a great teacher, teach me how to get out of sand traps,” the New Yorker said. “Not so fast,” I said. “I can teach you how to get out of sand traps. But I’m not going to do it until I teach you how to avoid getting into them in the first place.” HARVEY PENICK




"It was a great win for Oakmont."

Gerry Dulac reports that the folks at Oakmont are quite happy with Angel Cabrera's Masters win. For a while there, they were thinking maybe they'd have to rethink all that over-the-top rough and the narrow fairways for giving them a one-off major champ. But not now...

Club officials have been wanting to bring Cabrera back to Oakmont so they can officially -- and ceremoniously -- present him with their own version of the green jacket, symbolizing lifetime membership in the club. Oakmont does that for all players who have won a major championship at its club.

They also want to show him the room in the club's newest guest cottage, overlooking the swimming pool, that bears his name. Located on the second floor, the Angel Cabrera room is right down the hall from rooms that bear the names of Steve Melnyk (1969 U.S. Amateur champion) and Gene Sarazen (1922 PGA), other past winners at Oakmont.

Angel has to know he's made it when he shares something in common with Melnyk.


"Damn, I found Anthony Kim obnoxious."

Jack McCallum, bought-out SI NBA beat legend, novelist and occasional golf scribe fresh off covering the Barkley-Haney show, joins this week's SI/AOL/ page-turner to kick around the state of golf. There's an interesting discussion about Rory McIlroy's decision to pass on a PGA Tour hall pass and comments about slow USGA sales in New York at the end, but McCallum's take on Anthony Kim didn't come as a total shock.

Jack McCallum: I hate to swing at the first pitch in such an august group of golf scribes, but since you asked ... Damn, I found Anthony Kim obnoxious. He came out to one of the Barkley-Hank Haney sessions I was covering for the SI story a few weeks back and acted like a 13-year-old. Then again, Charles acts like a 17-year-old, so it was kind of a draw.


Askernish, Links and The New Yorker

Thanks to reader Dan for the abstract link to David Owen's New Yorker story on the resurrection of Scotland's Old Tom Morris original, Askernish (here's the link for subscribers).  There is also an audio slideshow by Owen. I mostly enjoyed Owen's explanation of links golf and the difference between old and modern design. Assuming the average New Yorker reader got that far, they would be in for an eloquent explanation as to why some of us take this architecture stuff so seriously.

John Garrity has also written about Askernish in this 1991 SI story, and more recently in T&L Golf last year.


"Gee Nick, I didn't realise that you are such a big guy. How come you used to hit it so short?"

John Huggan examines the Phil-Tiger relationship and shares several juicy anecdotes. Two of my favorites:

Then again, Mickelson is hardly devoid of a sense of humour. Less than two weeks ago at the traditional Tuesday evening Champion's Dinner, he got stuck into, of all people, Nick Faldo. Standing next to the six-time major winner for the official photograph, the present world number two didn't miss the past number one. The trash-talking conversation went something like this:

Phil (loud enough for everyone to hear): "Gee Nick, I didn't realise that you are such a big guy. How come you used to hit it so short?"

Faldo: "Listen Phil, when you shoot 19 under par to win the Open at St Andrews you can start giving me a hard time."

Phil: "I understand that. But how come you hit it like such a pussy?"

Faldo: "I played golf the proper way."

Phil: "Yeah, like my wife."


Still, even when Phil and wife Amy sent the Woods family a present to celebrate the birth of daughter Sam, there was an edge to the gesture. The miniature ping-pong table was a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that, at every Ryder Cup, Lefty is too good for his teammate when it comes to table tennis. (Rumour has it that Tiger has searched out expert coaching in order to rectify that situation next time round).


Monty Blames Latest Row On Ignorance Of "Emerging Nations"; Also Hasn't Returned Captain Pavin's Call

But other than that, he continues to have really stabilized affairs after Nick Faldo's run as European Captain. First, this explanation, which never actually says that the photographers were snapping before impact. I'm just assuming...probably a mistake with ole rabbit ears:

Reflecting on the incidents, Montgomerie said yesterday: "It's very difficult. This is an emerging nation golf-wise, and is an emerging nation in most events. It's the understanding – the etiquette – of the game that sometimes the Chinese and the Koreans and the Thais and these emerging countries over here in the Far East tend not to appreciate."

Montgomerie's mood had not been helped by a disappointing round of 73 and a two-over score at the halfway point of the co-sanctioned tournament. "Unfortunately, they picked the wrong guy and the wrong time," he jokingly added.

Meanwhile, the Daily Record reports the Pavin snub:

Pavin said: "I phoned and left a message on his answering machine to congratulate him but he hasn't returned my call.

"And I got his number right because I checked it with about three sources." Monty has already spoken of being shocked by the workload of a Ryder Cup skipper but Pavin has no problem with it.

He said: "I'm not sure why he said that because it really hasn't changed much, it hasn't affected me."


Brendon Todd Puts Wrinkle In Nationwide Tour's Plan To Unveil 20 Greatest Moments

Even though they've probably already set the "20 Greatest Moments" in Nationwide Tour history, judging by the first two yawners I think they'll want to reconsider and add Brendon Todd's amazing feat at the Athens Regional Foundation Classic

Even more amazing, it was caught on tape! Oh, and he's a former U. of Georgia player pulling this off in Athens, Georgia.



Monty Throws First Hissy Fit Since Declaring That Captaincy Has Chilled Him Out

I believe Ladbrookes had the Chinese Open as the over/under event for the next Monty spat, so check your tickets to see what specific day was the cutoff. Michael Walker passes along a Scottish TV report that Monty, more relaxed than ever, had some issues with a photographer.

The Great Britain and Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, who says his new role has given him a new serenity, growled “don’t film me” at the man who had filmed him hook his drive into the water.

I don't know about you, but I'd like another source on this. Just doesn't sound like our man.


Lauer Hoping Shoulder Recovers In Time To Land Golf Digest Looping Gig

Justin Timberlake obviously didn't get tortured enough last year, so he and Ben Roethlisberger will be joining Michael Jordan and some really, really white guy in year two's NBC-Digest-USGA 7 hour round to be aired before the real 7-hour round at Bethpage.


Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake to Join Michael Jordan at Bethpage Black

NEW YORK (April 17, 2009) – Golf Digest, the United States Golf Association and NBC Sports have announced that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake will join Michael Jordan in the 2009 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge. The three celebrities will play with one amateur golfer who will be determined by online voting.

The foursome will play the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, the site of the 2009 U.S. Open, and attempt to break a score of 100. The 18-hole round will be taped by NBC Sports and air on Sunday, June 21st from 12:00pm – 1:30pm ET, immediately prior to the final-round broadcast of the U.S. Open.

All three celebrities have a single-digit Handicap and have been included in previous Golf Digest rankings of athletes and musicians. In the 2007 list of the top athlete-golfers, Jordan ranked T-30 with a Handicap of 1.2 and Roethlisberger ranked T-121 with a Handicap of 7. Timberlake, the host of the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, was ranked T-15 with a Handicap of 6 in Golf Digest’s 2008 “Top 100 in Music” list. Timberlake played in the 2008 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge and shot 98 at Torrey Pines.

Butch Harmon, who is ranked No.1 in Golf Digest’s “America’s 50 Greatest Teachers” list, will once again caddie for Timberlake. Fred Couples, the 15-time PGA TOUR winner and 1992 Masters champion, will caddie for Jordan. Roethlisberger’s caddie will be announced at a later date.

Matt Lauer maybe? Since he played last year with Greg Norman on the bag, he can help Ben get through the grueling Roger Maltbie interviews and offer tips on playing a marathon round...assuming he can lift a bag by then.


"Am I alone in thinking that Tiger Woods was rude and ungracious at the Masters last Sunday?"

Look out Tiger, the Internet Writer of the Year doesn't like your 'tude!

He was curt in his handshake with Phil Mickelson, his playing partner, brief in his comments to reporters and disrespectful to his competitors when he described his play. "I fought my swing all day and just kind of band-aided it and almost won the tournament," he said. One possible translation of that last statement could be: even with a band-aid on my swing I almost won the tournament, which is hardly complimentary to his rivals.

Good news Tiger. A) he didn't mention the possibility of physical attack costing you a run at the all time major record, and (B) next week's column will be filled with blow-by-blow accounts of his golf, so you're off the hook...

The following itinerary sounds good, wouldn't you say? Golf at Turnberry on Monday, the Old Course at St Andrews on Tuesday and perhaps the Castle Course at St Andrews on Wednesday. That's my schedule for the next few days. I will let you know how I got on next week.


"The California Senate has voted to make it illegal to hold events that require participants to speak English in a move prompted by the LPGA Tour's English-only proposal."

I have figured out why my state has a $42 billion budget deficit!

The women's golf tour wanted last year to require its players to speak English so they could talk with each other and the media and give acceptance speeches in English.

The LPGA backed off the plan after Sen. Leland Yee and others criticized it as discriminatory.

Yee says the proposal insulted women, minorities and immigrants and might disqualify the best golfers.

The San Francisco Democrat's bill makes such policies illegal in California without a "business necessity." It was approved Thursday 21-14 without debate.

The measure now heads to the Assembly.


"I can just say what I want."

Justin Jarrett looks at the Twitter craze taking over the game, talking to Lee Bushkell of the PGA Tour about how the staff does such a stellar job sending out constant and informative updates. Jarrett also chats with Stewart Cink, who is up to 39,000 followers after having (I think) about 1800 heading into the Masters.

As the Twitter universe has expanded, so has the tour's dedication to getting updated tweets to its followers. What started as a one-person operation, with Beyer doing all the tweeting, has evolved into an army of tweeters with laptops and smartphones.

"I signed up for an account and started just messing around, sending out a few little, dumb messages," Cink said. "Pretty soon, I realized that my followers were growing and people cared about what I said.

"It turns out that it's really been a great way to make direct contact, unfiltered contact, with a fan base that's out there that I don't know otherwise," Cink added. "Without using the media, without using TV cameras or anything, I can just say what I want. Sometimes I share a little insight about golf, sometimes I just talk about my life. It's been great just to be able to connect with people in a way that I would have never, ever made a connection."


North Shore Post-Madoff

John Hopkins reports this in his current Spike Bar column:

The latest news is that the North Shore Country Club on Long Island, New York, is in financial trouble after one third of its members, many of whom were clients of Madoff's, resigned, unable to afford the $16,000 annual membership. As a result the club has laid off 20 part-time employees and, having been in existence for 95 years, is struggling to reach its centenary.


Bookmakers Hail Angel!

Dan Roebuck reports that 100-1 shot Angel Cabrera gave the bookies a profitable week, and he reports on some of the bigger winning bets. Well, all two of them.


Get Your U.S. Open Tickets!

Michael Buteau reports that corporate hospitality sales for the U.S. Open at Bethpage are down, but there may be a silver lining for those hoping to buy tickets.

Typically, the USGA withholds between 8,000 and 10,000 weekly tickets for purchase by corporations, Jerris said. As the current allotment of 1,000 tickets is bought by the public, the USGA will likely release more tickets if corporations don’t buy them.

“We’re reserving tickets in anticipation of more corporate sales,” Jerris said. “It’s an ongoing sales effort. We expect by the week of the Open, we’ll be sold out.”

In other words, there should be plenty of tickets available.

But if not, apparently you'll be able to play along with the players during the event in a virtual sense. I'll leave it up to you all to deliver a verdict on this.


Augusta's Day-to-Day Yardages

Since the club does not release the daily course yardages, Bill Fields breaks down the Augusta National yardages each day and while the overall change might not sound like much, remember that the disparity in yardage between back and member tees is so great that this is probably about short as they can play it without doing something pretty radical (like playing a member tee).

With the tee positions used each day, the course measured 7,342, 7,275, 7,266 and 7,335 yards from first through fourth rounds. (The biggest reason the yardage dipped much lower for rounds two and three is because the forward tees at the demanding par-3 fourth were used.) This averages to a 7,304-yard tournament course, 131 yards less than the scorecard says.

For 72 holes, 58 played shorter than the scorecard figure, 11 at the number and only three longer than the number (No. 2 Saturday, No. 6, Friday and Sunday).

The field got its biggest breaks at the following holes: No. 1, listed at 445 yards but played 10, 12 and 10 yards shorter the first three rounds and at its yardage for round four; No. 7, 450 yards, played 15, 17, five and 12 yards shorter; No. 15, 530 yards, played 15, 15, 13 and 17 yards shorter; No. 18, 465 yards, played 13, five, 10 and 17 yards shorter.


Final Masters Question: Is 60 Minutes That Important?

Other than providing a strong lead-in to CBS's Sunday night magazine show, I cannot comprehend any rational reason for continuing to decide Masters playoffs in sudden death.

Sunday's frenzied playoff was the latest example of the awkward, anti-climactic feel that has tainted past sudden deathers.

Just think: all of that work and all of that great play, yet the coveted first major often comes down to a missed putt or bounce when a three or four hole playoff could eliminate such concerns (as evidenced by widespread praise for the Open and PGA's aggregate playoff formats).

As a wise observer pointed out to me today, never has a Masters sudden death playoff gone more than two holes. In recent years, those holes have been played with the sun about to set. The observer couldn't help but wonder if the pressure of not finishing in the daylight adds to the chaotic nature of things.

Now, with the improved course setup this year, pace of play was significantly faster. Simply moving tee times up 30-40 minutes would open up enough of a window for three holes to be played while still providing that strong lead-in to 60 Minutes (Except on the West Coast).

So is it something about the late light looking a certain way that encourages the club to stick with the current "tradition," even though it would seem like an odd way to culminate a major championship?

Or is 60 Minutes and the lure of a big prime time rating just that important?

Or is it something else? Help!



Flash: Cart Users Play Extra Holes Without Paying

Michael Buteau filed a comprehensive Bloomberg story on the struggles of the golf car industry. Meanwhile posted the results of a Club Car funded "white paper" titled "Golf Car Vandalism: No Joyride," which estimates that operators are losing $8-10 million a year due to...

• 72 percent of courses reported vandalism or golfers playing extra holes without paying a green fee.

• 27 percent said they had retrieved a vandalized golf car from a lake or creek.

• 48 percent reported unauthorized use of golf cars.

• 42 percent reported golf cars being driven in restricted areas.

• 21 percent reported theft of golf cars.

The only solution to all of this bad cart news? Just ban the carts. Yep, I know, shocking. But it's the only way can eliminate this wasteful behavior.


How To Kick Them Out

What with the exclusive board meeting video and all of this talk about clubs, I suggested in Golfdom that clubs need to start locker room or bulletin board postings to fund the buyouts of less desireables. What do you think?



"Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?"

Jaime Diaz's engaging, must-read look at Tiger Woods' Masters week raises all sorts of fascinating questions.

So the speculation will begin again. For all the great wins since he began working with Haney in 2004, have the swing changes been the right ones? Is the relationship with Haney in jeopardy? Is there lasting damage in the left knee? Did Woods try to accomplish too much, too soon? Has he simply changed?

Diaz goes on to detail all of the key moments from the week, highlighted by Friday's driving range session:

Steaming, he marched to the range and immediately—and uncharacterically—began pounding drivers. Williams, reading the moment, got away. Haney, who stayed to face the heat, got an earful. Woods eventually cooled off, had a long exchange with Haney and gave the fans who applauded his longer than usual hour-long session a grateful, if clearly discouraged, wave.

Ultimately, it still sounds like for all of the analysis and swing struggles, some perspective is in order. Tiger was off for eight months and simply hasn't played enough tournament golf to be sharp. Diaz doesn't quite go so far as to say it, but based on this next bit, you have to wonder if Haney has pointed out to Tiger that as miraculous as Torrey Pines was, even Tiger needs to play more competitive rounds to work off the rust and to give majors a little less high-pressure urgency.

Though they are words sure to make Haney wince, he took a bullet for his player. "Tiger worked as hard as humanly possible to come back for the Masters," said the swing instructor after the dust had settled Monday morning. "Maybe a little more tournament play would have helped, but he did everything he could. There were a lot of things that you can point to in his not winning, but all it does is point out how hard it is to win major championships."

Especially when they've become all that really matter.


"As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby"

Nice catch by reader Stan in this Rory McIlroy story by Bernie McGuire, with Darren Clarke commenting on the Masters Friday rules incident:

"Darren Clarke yesterday revealed he attempted to contact McIlroy’s agent after the teenager’s controversial incident in a bunker at the 18th on Friday.

The 19-year-old was called before the Masters Tournament competition committee, and told they were reviewing whether McIlroy kicked the sand — a rules violation.

Clarke revealed: "As soon as I saw Rory kick the sand I knew it was a foul and rushed out to ring Chubby (Chandler). I was hoping I could catch him before he handed in his card."