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.




Letter From Saugerties, 2009 U.S. Open Questions

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan dropped this letter in my email box on the eve of the USGA's annual press conference.:

 Dear Geoff:

We are on the verge of what should be a primary golf-media happening - the annual press conference of the USGA on the eve of the US Open Championship,.

Unfortunately, the affair seldom lives up to its potential. Most of those bearing questions think that Tiger Woods invented golf in 1997. On the answering end, the USGA president is not a threat to Barack Obama when it comes to being informative and amusing.

Alas, I will not be present for purposes of incitement. But I herewith offer, without request for compensation, a series of potential questions to lend a spark to the occasion:

Q. Mr Vernon, Bethpage is a wonderful site, but are you not concerned that the USGA has alienated its other New York area Open clubs - Shinnecock Hills, Baltusrol and Winged Foot?

Q. You pay a rental fee for Open courses. How much have you paid the State of New York to use Bethpage?

(follow-up). Since both you and New York are public entities, how you can you refuse to divulge financial dealings?

Q. You have praised the USGA for taking the Open to public courses. Can you name public courses that have been built anywhere as a consequence?

Q. The USGA spent $25 million to revise its Museum in Far Hills, New Jersey and then began to charge admission. What has been the paid attendance this year?

Q. Next year you will change the rules to bar U grooves on the Tour and in the majors. Will the average scores rise accordingly?

Q. There seems a good chance golf will be voted into the Olympics next week. Will the patronage jobs go to the PGA Tour, the USGA or the R&A?

(follow-up) Mr. Vernon, who won the gold medals in tennis in the last Olympics?

Q There has been a dramatic turnover among the USGA staff in the last few years - firings and resignations.
Why is that and does it bother you?

Q. A few years ago the USGA began to lease a corporate jet. Did you fly here commercial or did you use that jet?

Q. Golf Digest magazine reports that the salary of your executive director is $725,000. Are you kidding?

Frank Hannigan


Overheard On The LIRR, Day One

I'm a novice Long Island Railroad passenger. How else to explain my expectation that a printed schedule of the U.S. Open trains would not actually be accurate? I see 6:48 train. I figure there will be one.

Thankfully the 7:03 on the schedule arrived and when the logo clad gallery saw the track number flash on the screen, a mad dash ensued. You'd think a free Adams putter was offered the way the loudly-dressed mass of Bethpage spectators, club reps, volunteers and in my case, lowly blogger, ran to get on a train with plenty of seats.

Conversation was muted as one would hope in the morning hours. Or at least, I hoped after yesterday listening to the stereotypical debate over Pacino's best film in full Saturday Night Fever accents. The only thing missing were leisure suits and jabs at Gerald Ford.

Tried to pass off my New York Post to the gentleman seated next to me. Judging by the look on his face, you'd think I was handing him a pipe bomb.

In the Post I read Mark Canizzaro's depressing account about just how soggy the course is, with warnings of low scores possible. Brace yourselves people. 10-under could win.

The LIRR is catering to the U.S. Open fans with special announcements and reminders about catching the buses. And there was this call for etiquette from the conductor: "Keep your cell phone conversations brief, keep your feet off the seats."


"The intriguing thing about all this is that there have not been any low scores accompanying the high praise for Davis’s setups."

Larry Dorman on Mike Davis's role in transforming the Open.

Geoff Ogilvy shot five over par to win at Winged Foot in 2006. Angel Cabrera shot five over par to win at Oakmont the next year. And Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate each shot one under to tie last year. They then each shot even-par 71 in an 18-hole Monday playoff, won by Woods with a par on the first hole of sudden death.

“A lot of that had to do with the weather we got,” Davis said. “Oakmont and Winged Foot were dry and we had breeze. Had it been soft and there hadn’t been breeze, I really think you would have seen under par win both those. So much of it truly has to do with what Mother Nature gives you.”

True. But there are many pieces to the setup puzzle, something the final arbiter on the length of the rough, the speed of the greens, the width of the fairways and the positions of the holes knows well. The temptation that accompanies a decent lie in the rough may, on the whole, be hard to resist.”


Medinah Set For Its Traditional Pre-Major Redo, Still Won't Be Any Good When Work Is Finished

There's a Ryder Cup coming, so that must mean it's time for another Medinah redo.


Chicago-Area Club Bucks National Cutback Trend

MEDINAH, Illinois (June 15, 2009) – At a time when many of the nation’s recession-weary country clubs are cutting back, Medinah Country Club is stepping up with a view toward the 2012 Ryder Cup.

By a margin of more than 4-1, Medinah’s membership voted Saturday (June 13) to spend upwards of $3 million on a multi-faceted renovation that would see the club’s famed No. 3 Course close August 15 and re-open next June.

“What this overwhelming vote means is that we now will be able to bring our crown jewel up to the world class level where we want it to be,” said club president John Potts. “It will be ready for the 2012 Ryder Cup for the whole world to see. The membership is happy.”

Below is a brief outline of each aspect of the renovation project:

Reconstruction of the 11 remaining original soil-based push-up greens on the club’s No. 3 course, site of five major championships and of the 2012 Ryder Cup. These surfaces and the Putting Clock in front of the clubhouse would be replaced by state-of-the-art sand-based greens set to specifications of the U.S. Golf Association. The greens to be replaced are on holes 3, 4, 5, and 6. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14. A select number of these greens also will be re-contoured. The seven other greens on No. 3 were rebuilt to USGA standards during a 2003 course renovation directed by noted golf course architect Rees Jones. Jones also will oversee this phase of improvements.

Re-grassing of all 18 greens and the Putting Clock in front of the clubhouse to bring about all pure bentgrass greens upon reopening in June 2010.

Re-grassing of all 18 fairways and intermediate rough areas to eliminate poa annua and other types of undesirable grasses.

With Course 3 closed for the renovation, the club will undertake a Cart Path and Hardscape improvement program aimed at upgrading the aesthetics and functionality of cart paths, the halfway house complex, and the area surrounding the No. 6 green and No. 7 and 10 tees.

Renovation and expansion of the golf course maintenance facility.

Club leaders determined this was the membership’s last opportunity to undertake the projects prior to the 2012 Ryder Cup. Moreover, the club in is good financial shape, has a full membership, and a waiting list.

The vote is just the latest in a series of improvements made since the arrival of general manager Dan Miles in 2007 and, shortly thereafter, golf course superintendent Curtis Tyrrell, who oversees all three layouts.

The club has built a new 12-acre state-of-the-art short game practice area adjacent to its newly configured and improved driving range. Last fall, Medinah replaced all 88,000 square feet of tan-colored sand in all 74 bunkers on its No. 3 course with white Tour Signature Sand in order to make the bunkers more playable and more aesthetically appealing.


“I take it one golf hole at a time."

The flight east allowed me to really savor Amy Wallace's must-read look at the wildly entertaining Yellowstone Club saga and the lovebirds who own it, the Blixseth's. Also part of the mess is Porcupine Creek, a favorite of the Golf Digest panel where Ms. Blixeth lives...and weeds.

Whether such calm will descend upon Ms. Blixseth remains to be seen.

A partial list of her debts filed with the bankruptcy court in April includes bank loans, judgments and tax liens totaling more than $141 million, including the $35 million from CrossHarbor. Her household staff of 114 has been cut to less than 40. Some days, she spends hours outside doing yard work.

“I call it Zen weed-pulling,” she says. “I take it one golf hole at a time.


Just Arrived...

...because I know you were worried. Oh, and if you ever get the chance to fly Virgin Airlines, do it.

Off to Bethpage tomorrow. Spending the rest of the night drying out after arriving in the middle of a deluge.



2009 U.S. Open Coverage

Via, my Twitter page and this page, I'll be covering the Open in a variety of ways.

Starting Wednesday, I'll be filing a daily golf course musings, images and impressions with--weather permitting--previews of the following day's possible setup touches. I hope to take you inside the ropes to show how the setup is impacting the outcome and offer a few tips on what to look for during the telecasts.

Via Twitter and this site, I'll do my usual reports from the grounds about the experience. Since I'm taking the train from New York City this week, expect  some posts about that experience and maybe a few non-golf posts about certain expensive new ballparks in the area that I may take the time to visit.

While we won't be able to do the live blog this week, I will have a daily post inviting your observations of the event as well as--feed function permitting--easy to find Twitter text and photo updates.

And in between I'll try to get up a few key clippings from the media coverage.

Special thanks to Tom Naccarato for the New York City banner to liven up the page this week. Extra points for those who can spot the landmarks and folks embedded inside the letters!


2009 U.S. Open Preview Stories

It's not easy to preview the U.S. Open's return to a course that so recently hosted and which has been so exhaustively profiled. But, the working press did their best and here are just some of the stories I enjoyed.

First off, just a note: offers a one-stop location for all of their latest news, previews, qualifying scores and the latest WD's (two Sunday). And of course I've also will add to my links list on the right as the week goes.

Jason Sobel offers his traditional Weekly 18 with plenty of U.S. Open info, including some nice ideas for picks (and those who should be doing a rain dance).

Bob Harig takes us back to last year and asks people where they were when Tiger birdied 18 Sunday. With the story, offers a video feature that recaps the epic 08 Open.'s coverage is frozen in time.

Karen Crouse catches up with Rocco. While Connell Barrett organizes reader questions for Rocco.

The USGA Museum has posted their Tiger Woods scrapbook with much from last year, but the really great stuff is from his early career and an interesting interview with Earl. Love the bucket cap!

Cameron Morfit talks to Mike Davis and also predicts a storybook ending for Phil Mickelson Sunday afternoon. Tim Rosaforte explains the odd dichotomy of California boy Phil Mickelson returning home to Bethpage.

Michael Foley asks what's wrong with Padraig Harrington who inexplicably continues to talk about making swing changes after winning two majors. That's my nice way of saying I would not make him a pool pick.

Chris Berman explains how he does his best to drive people bonkers during the opening rounds of ESPN's U.S. Open telecast.

Rich Lerner delivers hooks and cuts from the LPGA Championship and previews the U.S. Open.

Dave Shedloski reminds us why the 2002 Open was so memorable despite the awful setup and finishing in the dark.

Bill Fields considers why no one has broken the 63 barrier. Now with Bethpage being soft, the setup actually reasonable this time and those greens so flat, maybe this is the week? Oh I shouldn't have dared to think such a dreadful thought.

Peter Williams looks at Doug Batty's improbable run as a qualifier.

Christian Red uses the 10th anniversary of Payne Stewart's tragic death to check in on all of the families of those who died aboard the private jet. Thanks to reader Tim for noticing this impressive bit of research and writing.

Erik Peterson does the Bethpage walk-up car line thing and lives to tell about it.

Ron Kroichick contemplates the impact that the U.S. Open has had on the public course venues it's been played at. Check out those new Torrey Pines green fees.

Speaking of the golf course...

Greg Logan takes us back a few years and reminds us who the visionairies were who saw Bethpage's potential as a U.S. Open venue.

Bill Pennington explains the course changes and in this video segment, interviews Rees Jones and only subjects us to one Open Doctor groaner.

Alan Shipnuck compares Bethpage with Liberty National, home to this fall's Barclay's.

John Huggan talks to Mike Davis about his golf philosophy:

"Everybody seems to have this fixation – much more so in the US than in the UK – that, when someone is in the rough, the penalty has to be the same every time. Conversely, those same people think that, when a ball is in the fairway, you are always entitled to a good lie. So when they get in a divot they are looking for a free drop!

"None of that should be true though. There is some charm to getting a bad lie in the fairway or a great lie in the rough. That's golf. And leads to the potential for spectacular shots. How can that be bad?"

Mike Stachura says Bethpage may play a lot shorter this time around because of improved equipment, though with the recent rains and reports that the course is soggy, maybe not.

Well, first of all there will be more players using drivers that have a large area of the face that has a high spring-like effect. In 2002, that area of high ballspeed was a few square millimeters smaller. What's more, club designers today actually have to slow down the center of the face because it's so easy to engineer a single point on the face that produces the maximum allowed springiness.

But there's more to it than that. Players are better matched to the golf ball than they were seven years ago. To be sure, the majority of the field in 2002 had already switched to multilayer urethane-covered balls, but there were still a handful of balls in play that year with windings.

SI features a great gallery of artsy Bethpage aerial images by Fred Vuich. They also posted an aerial flyover page.

Ron Whitten reiterated his take on the design heritage of Bethpage, with other notes about the course setup possibilities in the current Golf World.

Bethpage was conceived by Robert Moses, the most powerful unelected public official of the 20th century, but owes its implementation to Joseph H. Burbeck. As manager of the Bethpage Corporation in 1934, Burbeck supervised the design and construction of the complex, at the start drawing upon the talents of design consultant A.W. Tillinghast, the legendary architect who candidly credited Burbeck with the ambition of making the Black Course as great and severe a test as Pine Valley.

Sadly, Tillinghast never viewed the finished product. Burbeck, however, became the superintendent of Bethpage State Park in 1937 and presided over the place until his retirement in 1964.

You can also read his controversial 2002 profile of Burbeck here.

Whitten also analyzes the Black Course's putrid finishing hole and the options Davis considered before sticking with it as a courtesy to the everyday golfers who want to play the entire Black as it plays in the Open.

And finally, Damon Hack says No. 17 was the place to hang out last time. I can't wait to check it out for myself.


Clayton Almost Does It...

Great playing by Australian golfer and golf architect Mike Clayton at this week's Jersey event on the European Senior Tour. He was edged in a playoff by Delroy Cambridge.


"I think Bivens has made nothing but smart moves here."

Brand Lady, you've got a friend in Michael Bamberger, who says McDonald's is not a good sponsor for the LPGA to be aligned with and that Bulle Rock is too isolated to work as a major venue.

I think Bivens has made nothing but smart moves here. She's irritated a lot of powerful people in women's golf along the way, including some of the top executives at NBC Sports, which is not a smart thing to do when your tour is struggling, and the LPGA is struggling. But in the long run, Golf Channel is going to be the right home for many LPGA events, including its marquee championship.


Star-Ledger Answers Ball Rollback Question!

Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger profiles Dick Rugge, USGA testing and offers this on how a ball rollback could work...sure sounds easier than the groove rule change!

At the beginning of the decade, professionals on tour converted from wound balls to the solid-core, multi-layer models that reign today. Another way to drop maximum driving distance is to change the polymers that make up these interior layers. Doing so affects something called the coefficient of restitution, which is a measure of how well the energy from the swing is transferred to the ball. A higher coefficient means more energy is transferred and the ball travels farther. But the composition of the polymers can be modified for a less efficient energy transfer and shorter maximum driving distance.


"The reason has to do with the LPGA’s new business plan, referred to as 'Vision 2010'."

Jennifer Myers says the Corning Classic's demise suggests it wasn't entirely related to the economy.

The bad economy was an obvious culprit, but was not solely responsible. Corning Glassware was hit hard by the global recession, which led to a 13 percent reduction in its workforce (650 jobs. There was also a 50 percent drop in sponsorship support, which amounted to $500,000. Projected cost increases for the 2010 event were $300,000, and for 2011, when the purse was to increase from $1.5 million to $1.7 million, meaning the cost increase for the sponsor would be $675,000. Not only are the purses for events increasing, television production costs will be going from $255,000 a year to $425,000 in 2010, with five percent increases each year through 2013. The reason has to do with the LPGA’s new business plan, referred to as “Vision 2010”.


Pinehurst May Host Two Opens In Two Weeks

Ron Sirak breaks the news that barring a possible last minute hiccup, Pinehurst No. 2 will host the 2014 U.S. Open (already announced) and the 2014 U.S. Women's Open in successive weeks.

According to sources, to hold both Opens on the same venue on consecutive weeks will be both a publicity grabber and cost efficient. The USGA will be able to leave its infrastructure in place -- scoreboards, bleachers, hospitality facilities -- and the network televising the events can leave its cable and cameras in place.

'"Because there are eight courses, they will be able to keep the other seven open during the tournaments," according to one of the sources. "And with the men's event held first, the USGA will be able to widen the fairways, trim the rough and slow the greens for the women if they desire," the source said.

First of all, they are not going to widen out fairways since the scalping would look ridiculous and the statement would be overwhelmingly condescending. The point of back-to-back Opens is to have both men and women playing a similar course.

I really love the concept, unfortunately I'm not wild about the venue they've chosen for this exercise.

Obviously two weeks in a town with limited accommodations, limited food selection and a limited volunteer base strikes me as a glaring weakness. And there's the dicey weather.

The dream site for back-to-back Opens is Pebble Beach, but I suspect it would be too huge of a financial sacrifice for the Pebble Beach Company and considering summer hotel prices in Monterey, a huge budget drainer for everyone else.

A close second and probably far more plausible venue would be Torrey Pines. Abundance of hotel rooms, huge population base to draw volunteers and oh by the way as I pack my Goretex for Bethpage, it doesn't rain in San Diego in June.


Golfdom U.S. Open Coverage

I jump on the Q&A with Mike Davis bandwagon on the eve of the U.S. Open. In this session for Golfdom Magazine, I ask Mike how he sees his ideas impacting everyday course setup and maintenance. We also get into the groove issue, Bethpage's architecture, his post Oakmont memo to supers about excessive rough primping and the USGA's TruFirm device.

And in advance of Bethpage, editor Larry Aylward asks me a few questions for a special Golfdom podcast.


Interviewing "At The Turn"

I've never understood the big deal about talking to golfers mid-round, but for whatever reason it's been considered off-limits. Personally I think the NBA playoff telecasts are great fun thanks to the Coach interviews which, if nothing else, become an exercise in how little a coach will say. Even Stan Van Gundy!

Anyway, Golf Channel and the LPGA Tour are reviving the idea for this weekend's LPGA Championship.

During Saturday and Sunday’s live coverage of the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, Rich Lerner is scheduled to interview at least one player from the final four groups after completion of nine holes in a new feature titled, “At the Turn.” The new feature was first introduced during GOLF CHANNEL’s coverage of the LPGA Corning Classic in May.

GOLF CHANNEL / McDonald’s LPGA Championship TV Times

Saturday – Sunday 4 – 7 p.m. ET (Live)
7:30 – 10:30 p.m. ET (Live)


Sir Nick! Queen Recognizes Faldo's Contributions To Reviving American Golf

Mark Reason reports that Nick Faldo has been knighted, the ultimate recognition of charitable works such as using your Ryder Cup captaincy to help dejected American males feel better about themselves or spending countless hours working for the Golf Channel.

Faldo said: "I was delighted to hear the news that I will be receiving a knighthood and am more than a little bit humbled. It has come as a real surprise and the reaction from my children, family and friends has made this a very special moment for me."

Faldo stressed that a large part of the honour was its recognition of the Faldo Series that works to inspire young golfers. But having stated his pleasure at becoming only the second British professional golfer to be knighted, he seemed a little flummoxed by the timing.

Reason has broken the news five hours ahead of the royal palace's embargo. There goes his knighthood!


Poulter: "the usga are insane to make us change so quickly."

It was only a matter of time before a player would elaborate on the manufacturers concerns about grooves. In this case, it's Ian Poulter of England, Orlando and Cobra Golf fame. Thanks to reader Manny for the Tweeted comments from Poulter, writing a series of posts about the new groove rules soon after Adam Barr's report that Acushnet is trying to delay the rule change:

i tested the new grooves with vokey in feb. what a difference no spinnnnnn. the usga are insane to make us change so quickly.

i guess they were all bored sitting around that table drinking coffee and smoking cigars... get a life let us have fun on the course

it will cost the manufacturers millions to develop and distribute to all the stores global, so you AMs can get them before open qualifying

Our irons already comply, but wedges need to change for start of the year. all the best... thanks R&A and USGA softer balls here we come

The players have had plenty of time to experiment and when I've asked manufacturer reps, most players have taken little interest in experimenting, preferring to wait until this fall.

The manufacturers are pleading financial hardship because they are being forced to develop and ship new grooved wedges to their most loyal customers, who, if they are serious about tournament play, have to buy.

They've been handed a nice serving of forced planned obsolescence and they are still complaining?


Golf World Cover Gives Scary Peak Into Future Of Golf Fashion?

I can hear Golf Digest stylist Marty Hackel now. Jim Furyk is putting on the oversized shoes and Marty's yelling, "Jim, red is your color. It brings out your freckles. And think of the leverage you'll get with those size 24's!"

As Furyk skeptically slips on the red nose, Marty: "First, it's how you wear it. And second, it'll give you SPF 200. No chance of a burn!"

Furyk: "But what about the puffy shirt?"

Marty: "It's veeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyy retro. You look fantaaasssstic."

There is actually a serious story to accompany Golf World's U.S. Open cover by John Hawkins too. But a Marty breakdown of the fashion would have been nice.


US Open Mobile Apps Now Available

You can read about them here. Just fooling around with the US Open app, it's essentially the same as the excellent IBM-crafted Masters phone app.

There is also a Twitter page for those who like getting their news that way. Hopefully the plugs for "tickets available" will end soon.

And if you haven't signed up for the USGA's Architecture Archive, you're missing out on a couple of new Bethpage aerials posted. Actually, the course looks very similar today. But it is fun to see the nuanced strategy of the old 18th hole. It wouldn't matter much in today's game, then again, neither does the current hole.


"According to a Titleist official, the company is trying to persuade the Tour to hold off on its plans to adopt a condition of competition that would require new groove cross-sections"

Remember a few weeks ago when Greg Norman mentioned rumors that the groove rule change was in doubt? You had to figure the Shark wasn't just throwing that out for attention.

Adam Barr reports that Titleist/Acushnet is trying to convince the PGA Tour to postpone their planned 2010 adoption of a condition of competition requiring conforming grooves in response to the USGA/R&A decision.

Still, all the major manufacturers claim to be ready to proceed with the effective date for the condition of competition the Tour wants to adopt, which is Jan. 1. (Beyond the Tour, the rule would apply to any club manufactured after that date, but clubs made before then will be permissible for use for recreational players until 2024.) Even so, Titleist is asking the Tour to push the rule implementation date back a year because of the intricacies of fitting players under the new groove rules.

None of the major manufacturers would speak on the record for this story. But sources close to the situation have said that the refitting process will be much more complicated than switching out some “old” wedges for new ones. It has been suggested that the performance of wedges with new grooves might even require swing changes, which could lead to the use of a different ball model and, in turn, encourage a driver switch. In other words, the ripple effect of the groove rule could be felt throughout the entire bag. That has some manufacturers and players thinking they need more time to experiment and adjust than the post-season stretch usually reserved for incorporating such new equipment.

So much work drama! Over some grooves. Who knew?

So these big, all knowing manufacturers can't keep up with the USGA now?

“Some manufacturers have said they’re not going to be ready [for the change],” said PGA Tour player Brett Quigley, a member of the Player Advisory Committee. “[But] there’s also the argument that players won’t test until they have to. So why wait another year until 2011? Guys still won’t bother to do it.”

This is really funny:

Of course, players these days won’t stand for any loss of yardage off the tee from the new generation of higher-spinning balls, said the ball manufacturer source. That will be the chief engineering challenge, he said.