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

Perhaps there should be less emphasis on lists of "great courses" and on "toughness." Challenge is one thing. Extreme difficulty is quite another. Unfortunately, nobody likes to think his course can be taken apart by anybody, and that too often becomes the measuring stick by which courses are designed. JACK NICKLAUS




"I think it's fair to say that Shot Values and Resistance to Scoring were the likely categories that contributed to Augusta’s elevation.”

Golf Digest confirmed in a news release that the new Top 100 list will appear online April 6, listed the new entries on the list, confirmed rise of Augusta National to #1 and included this apology explanation from architecture editor Ron Whitten.

“Although the architectural changes at Augusta National have received criticism over the past few years, our panel consensus ranked it No. 1,” said Ron Whitten, Golf Digest Senior Editor of Architecture. “We evaluate seven different aspects of each course's design, and while it's hard to pinpoint individual reasons for a course’s ranking, I think it's fair to say that Shot Values and Resistance to Scoring were the likely categories that contributed to Augusta’s elevation.”

Those are probably the kindest words Ron or anyone else in his position could muster up to explain what happened.

Of course, since no one knows what Shot Values actually means and anyone...ANYONE...ANYONE can design a golf course that is Resistant to Scoring, hardly what I'd call a ringing endorsement for the new #1.


"But when Woods stood over his ball, just 15 feet from the hole, I could not see the cup."

Thinking about Tiger's putt today, I kept marveling at how dark it must have been since the photographs were so dark. Bob Harig sets the scene and explains just how difficult the conditions least for seeing the ball and the cup.


April Fool's Comes Early This Year: ANGC Vaults To No. 1 On Golf Digest's Top 100 List

Golf Digest appears to have been scooped by's discussion group where the early posters are howling at Augusta National's ascension to the No. 1 spot in the biennial Top 100 ranking.

Why is this not Golf Digest's finest ranking moment? Well for starters I devoted a solid third of my Keynote slides at the Golf Digest Panelist Summit to the butchery of Augusta National. So you can see how influential I was to the 120 or so panelists who were an otherwise dream audience to address (I'm used to architects, members and superintendents who scowl and yawn...or do both at the same time).

As the GCA readers have pointed out, the rise of ANGC to the top spot is particularly odd considering that Golf Digest has so nobly tried to reorient their panelists toward the reward of leaner and more environmentally friendly course conditioning. Augusta National certainly does not fit their ideal in any way.

Architecturally it's a head scratcher because the course is a bit of a mess. If you put today's mangled 7th hole or 11th holes on any other course, a majority of panelists would write the place off immediately. Throw in the awkward injections to the 15th and the lack of diversity in teeing grounds that discriminates against golfers between the handicaps of 18 and 4 (small audience!), and it really is hard to imagine how anyone can call this the best course in the land. Then again the serious architecture students are still badly outnumbered on the panel, so I'm not sure why I would expect architectural details to matter.

Overall I'm struck by how the list is populated with so many courses I have no desire to play. Fun appears to be an elusive quality of courses on the Digest list.

Anyway, the 2007 list for reference. I'll spare you comments for the entire list...

1 Augusta National G.C. - The Christmas tree planting is so strategic and yet so aesthetically pleasing too.

9 Fishers Island Club - Great place and no irrigation system! Go figure.

11 Oak Hill C.C. (East) - They meant 311th right?

20 Medinah C.C. (No. 3) - Rev up the dozers, about time for the bi-annual redo isn't it?

31 Riviera C.C. - Up 30 spots. Never hurts having a panelist running the joint!

32 Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (No. 2) - Serves them right for sterilizing the scrub off the property.

42 Canyata G.C. - I'm sorry, where is this?

46 Rich Harvest Links - They must have taken the artificial turf tee out finally!

47 Los Angeles C.C. (North) - After Rich Harvest and in front of Kinloch. 

53 Garden City G.C. - Wait, this is can it be ranked so high?

63 Flint Hills National G.C. - I'm sorry, where is this?

68 Stone Canyon Club - Their ads do look great!

74 Shoreacres - Again, way too much fun and full of character for this list.

83 Eagle Point G.C. - I'm not sorry, where is this?

84 Sahalee C.C. (South/North) - They're hosting a Senior major! Lucky guys.

88 Somerset Hills C.C. - Almost off the list finally, you never belonged. Too brilliant!

94 Hudson National G.C. - This still exists?


"The LPGA has long been fan-friendly."

Alan Shipnuck on the LPGA event at Papago last week:

At Papago an autograph booth was set up behind the 18th green, and even the most high-profile players signed until their fingers were numb, repeatedly thanking fans for waiting in line. Throw in reasonable pricing — a one-day pass in Phoenix cost $16 — and it's no accident that attendance was up by 24% through the first four tournaments of this year. Michelle Wie's presence had given the LPGA more than a little box-office appeal. Last Saturday, Wie had dew-sweeping duty as the third time off, at 7:56 a.m., but about 300 fans turned up to follow her, and the Wie group was chaperoned by four armed Phoenix cops.


The Donald Files: Madoff And Club Championship Exemption Edition

Deborah Soloman interviewed Donald Trump for the NY Times Sunday magazine and besides his hilarious stuff about how well his businesses are doing, there was this on Bernie Madoff and golf:

I hear you are personally acquainted with Bernie Madoff, who visited your country club in Palm Beach.

I met Madoff a number of times at Mar-a-Lago. He loved golf, and I’d also see him at my golf club, which is nearby. One time he said to me, “Why don’t you invest with me?” I said jokingly, “No thanks, I can lose my own money.”

What do you think will happen to Ruth Madoff?

The wife should be put in jail on the other side of the hallway from him. I think she’s guilty, his sons are guilty, and I think that many of the people in the firm are guilty. He had 16,000 clients, and he’s one man. What, he’s going to send out every envelope every week?

But perhaps my all time favorite Donald anecdote I actually read right over the first time through this piece. Thankfully reader Clark didn't miss this gem from Beth Ann Baldry's note on Morgan Pressel. The italics are mine (since I missed it the first time):

Morgan Pressel has stepped onto the caddie carousel. Her longtime caddie, Jon Yarbrough, told her in the offseason that he took a job on the PGA Tour. Pressel found a replacement in Dylan Vallequette, who then quit after Singapore to head for the European Tour.

So who’s the big guy on Pressel’s bag this week? Donald Trump’s caddie, Barry Cesarz. Pressel often practices at Trump International and asked Cesarz, nicknamed “The Rock,” whether he might be interested in carrying her bag for two weeks.

Cesarz agreed, even though it meant ducking out of the club championship. Trump gets a bye in the first two rounds, putting him straight into the semifinals.

“Ownership has its privileges,” Cesarz said. “I got a better offer. He understands.”

He gives himself a bye into the semis. Now that is one special man.


Cink And Others On Twitter

I'm warming to Twitter and Stewart Cink has now made me a full fledged fan with his posts. If you are on Twitter, here's his page. Just a few highlights from last week. A little instruction, a little humor, some course setup observations and general miscellany from a PGA Tour vet. Commish, you better not ban this!

  • What a waste! Played well all day then threw it away on 18. I was posing on what I thought was a perfect 7i approach. Hit the rocks.about 16 hours ago from twitterrific
  • Jason Gore's caddie trips over sprinkler head?7:57 PM Mar 28th from web
  • Teach the little ones to have fun and hit it hard. They will naturally learn to hit it straight.6:33 PM Mar 28th from twitterrific
  • Hole 8 144yds: 7iron Hole 18 142yds: SandWedge3:23 PM Mar 28th from twitterrific
  • Bay Hill is playing very tough. Rough has grown a full inch since they last cut it Tuesday. Also today was the windiest so far.3:22 PM Mar 28th from twitterrific
  • Had to play one out of the edge of water today with shoes and socks off. Thought briefly ;) about doing by Stenson impression.6:50 PM Mar 27th from twitterrific

A few others I'm following and enjoying:

Parker McLachlin
Shell Houston Open
Golf Digest


Bay Hill Final Round Pace Of Play

A scribe present says Tiger's birdie putt dropped at 7:53 ESTSean O'Hair mopped his par putt up a minute later. They teed off with Zach Johnson at 2:49 EST. Nothing like top players taking five hours.


Tiger Deserves 4.9 Million Shares In NBC/Universal For Single Handedly Saving Them Sunday

Not that those shares would get his attention, but hey, it's a gesture for making the putt and averting a disastrous Monday playoff.

From the PR folks at NBC/Universal/GE/Sheinhardt Wigs (that's for all 3 of you fellow 30 Rock watchers).

Woods Sixth Title at Bay Hill Scores Highest Event Rating in 7 Years & 23% Increase Over Last Year

NEW YORK – March 30, 2009 - NBC Sports' final round coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday (2:30-8 p.m. ET), which stretched into primetime, earned the best overnight rating for a golf event since the 2008 U.S. Open and the highest for any PGA TOUR event (excludes major championships) in more than two years (Jan. 28, 2007, Buick Invitational) according to Nielsen Media Research. The 4.9 overnight rating and 10 share was the best for the final round of Bay Hill in seven years (2002 - 5.7/11, Woods victory) and an increase of 23 percent over last year (4.0/9) which Woods also won with a birdie putt on the final hole.

The rating peaked at a 7.8/13 from 7:30-8 p.m. ET as Tiger Woods secured the one-shot victory with a birdie putt on the 18th hole as the sun was setting, his sixth Bay Hill title and first since last year’s historic U.S. Open victory.

The Bay Hill rating outperformed two of last year’s major championships: 48 percent higher than the final round of the British Open (3.3) and 75 percent greater than the final round of the PGA Championship (2.8).

Saturday’s third round coverage on NBC delivered a 2.7/6, 17% higher than last year (2.3/6).

Top metered markets for Sunday’s final round coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on NBC are as follows:
1. Fort Myers, 11.6/20
2. Orlando, 10.6/20
3. West Palm Beach, 8.8/15
4. Tampa, 7.6/15
5. Providence, 7.4/12
6. Buffalo, 7.1/13
7 Milwaukee, 6.9/13
T8. Minneapolis, 6.4/14
T8. Baltimore, 6.4/11
10. Cleveland, 6.1/11


Would Davis Be In The Masters If He Had Skipped Bay Hill!?

Below Doug Ferguson's version of his story on Davis Love narrowing missing the Masters, reader "Robopz" comments...

“I got to give Davis kudos for at least playing at Bay Hill. I guess he didn't want to "back in" to a Masters invite. If the Masters was his only consideration, the safer play for him would have been to skip Bay Hill. As it turns out, had he sat out this week he would have only dropped to #50 with a rating of 2.282... just enough to pass Oosthuizen at 2.276 and get into The Masters.

So if he goes snowboarding, he's in. He plays, misses the cut and he's out? What a world.


"Tiger is extremely smart and has a great feel for the game and would have won 60 or so tournaments with a pull cart."

When I saw that this week's SI Golf Group LLC chatfest was a four pager making War And Peace look like mass market paperback material, I dove in reluctantly. But it's a grabber from page one and easily their most entertaining yet. Guest Mike Donald delivered several cranky one-liners and the group did a nice job dissecting why NBC is pulling so far away from CBS's golf coverage.

I wholeheartedly agree with their take on the caddy-player mike subject, which was heightened yesterday by Sean O'Hair and Paul Tesori constant gabfest, culminating with the 7-iron talk on 18 where O'Hair repeated the club of choice at least three times and then checked mid-preshot routine to see if in fact it was a 7 in his hands, astutely noted by Johnny.

Evans: Sean was shaky coming down the stretch on Saturday, playing with Jason Gore. He's tinkering with his swing and getting an earful on every shot from his excellent caddie, Tesori. I don't think Tiger was in his head as much as O'Hair is struggling to "feel" what he wants to do.

Herre: Love the conversation between O'Hair and his caddie. NBC is smart to mike the caddies next week in Houston.

Dusek: I loved listening to the caddies on those last few holes. Steve Williams and Tiger in the fairway on 16, O'Hair and his man talking 7-iron vs. 8-iron on 18. NBC is doing a nice job of keeping quiet and letting the player and caddie tell the story.

Friedman: Love the colloquy between O'Hair and Tesori, as conveyed by the on-course mikes. Fun to listen in. "Don't be in a rush ... we ain't playin' any more anyway!"

Friedman: Mike, would you be comfortable if your caddie was miked?

Donald: I would not like everyone hearing me and my thoughts. Too much second guessing in the weeks after by Monday morning QBs.

Herre: I'd guess that most pros feel that way, Mike, but listening in helps us civilians better understand what's happening out there.

Bamberger: Mike, I know you were not one to have a lot of chit-chat with caddies. But from your experience, is this new, this intense conversation between caddie and player, even when the player is almost over the ball? Is Steve Williams really telling Tiger anything he doesn't already know?

Donald: I am always amazed by the banter between Phil and Bones. I know that Steve is a great caddie, but I think Tiger is extremely smart and has a great feel for the game and would have won 60 or so tournaments with a pull cart.

Later on...

Herre: Again, I really like the miked caddies, and NBC is going to push that hard in Houston. The Tour needs to get onboard running interference for NBC with the players and some of the caddies, who are sure to push back. As for which network is best, CBS has been doing a fine job for decades, but is a bit stuffy. NBC is doing all the innovating at the moment.

Morfit: I agree with Sir Herre. It's cool that NBC invited Jake to do the Bay Hill telecast seemingly on a whim. I can't see CBS allowing itself such a flier.

Donald: In this economy, everyone should do whatever it takes to make it more interesting and a good buy for the advertisers. Nascar!

And after Rick Lipsey brings up the unhealthy state of the game and the gang kicks things around a bit, Donald offers this.

Donald: Golf is going down because the courses have become too difficult and equipment is too expensive. Most golfers can't even post a real score any more.


"Even his raking of a bunker two holes later received loud applause."

John Huggan relays some epic stories from Greg Turner and others about the last time Tiger received a huge appearance fee to play in the New Zealand Open. Say what you want about IMG, but I doubt they will let this kind of stuff go on at the Australian Masters.


"Lack of amenities? We have tees, greens and fairways. That's all we need, bottom line."

Dan Bickley talks to Christina Kim about how Papago held its own in hosting the LPGA without the usual bells and whistles.


Two Weeks Of Green

Yes, we're starting the Masters coverage early here, with all due respect to this week's first ladies major, the Nabisco. After lengthy discussions with my staff, it was determined that most of the site content and daily quotes will be Masters or Augusta related. Therefore I made the executive decision to subject you to Masters green with hints of red and yellow.

I'll be posting more about what's coming up tournament week, but expect daily live blogging using CoverItLive's interactive format, daily clippings from the five newspapers remaining, and everything else you need to know to make your pool picks get you through what has the makings of an exciting week. In the mean time, notice the sidebar links to just some of the major media and official sites. More to come!

And to get us going, check out Will Hersey's short piece on why he loves Butler Cabin. I love it for slightly different reasons.


"It all came down to a shot by Pat Perez on the 18th hole at Bay Hill that cleared the rocks framing the water by about a foot."

Doug Ferguson explains how Davis Love just missed out on qualifying for the Masters. Surely there must be a better method than using the Official World Golf Ranking:

Love fell out of the top 50 in the world ranking Sunday by four-hundredths of a point, and it all came down to a shot by Pat Perez on the 18th hole at Bay Hill that cleared the rocks framing the water by about a foot.

Perez was able to play his next shot from short of the green and made bogey to tie for fourth. That gave Perez, who already was eligible for the Masters, enough points to move up to No. 48 and knock Love out of the top 50.

The field was, however, rounded out with some nice and certainly worthy international additions:

This week’s world ranking was the cutoff for the top 50 to qualify for the Masters, and four players earned invitations—Alvaro Quiros of Spain (No. 25), Prayad Marksaeng (No. 47), Mathew Goggin of Australia (No. 49) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (No. 50).

The only remaining ticket to Augusta National is to win the Shell Houston Open this week.


The New Yorker On Stanford Financial

You have to be a subscriber to read the entire piece, but Alec Wilkinson's March 9 issue profile of Allan Stanford and his alleged Ponzi Scheme really makes you wonder how so many missed (ignored?) the red flags.


Tiger Secures Largest Comeback Win And Much Needed FedEx Cup Point Boost Heading Into The Masters

Overcoming absurdly slow playing partners, too much sand raked into the bunker faces, really dated looking pitch out rough, pesky grain on nearly shot according to Johnny and Arnold, wind, rain and a grueling course setup, Tiger Woods captured his sixth Arnold Palmer Annuity Invitational to the relief of NBC executives who normally would have shipped the delayed finish off to the Golf Channel if it weren't for Tiger contending gambled and kept the final round coverage on in east coast prime time. featured Phelan Ebenhack's AP photo as well as this video of the putt. Doug Ferguson reports on the win, the third Tiger has secured on Bay Hill's 18th green.


Woods' Masters Prep Includes Brushing Up On Lost Ball Search Skills 

I was about to bang out a post suggesting Tiger can't be long for The King's event at Bay Hill, what with a family move someday to McArthur and all this hay-harvesting that can only cause a pre-Masters injury or unnecessary swing quirks.

But then I got to see him looking for his ball on 18 Sunday (photo by Fred Vuich's gallery) en route to a miraculous bogey. Now, you could say Tiger is accruing too many negative vibes while Mickelson and Ogilvy are lounging around, patting themselves on the back for skipping yet another freak show engineered by The King.

But then I realized they could be jealous. After all, look at the lost ball prep Tiger is getting under his belt. Imagine if he airmails the 12th green at Augusta and it's just a cameraman and one of those 93-year old rules officials up in the azaleas with not a clue where the ball ended up and no Bobby Clampett to come find it a few hours later?

After Saturday, Tiger will be ready for such a nightmare scenario. Thanks Arnold!

Doug Ferguson reports on the wacky Saturday, which proved once again that if you want to have a goofy setup, you better hope the wind doesn't blow!

Here's how crazy the wind can make Bay Hill: Zach Johnson started the third round nine shots out of the lead, shot a 68 and will play in the final threesome with O'Hair and Woods.

"I don't know how you're supposed to play a golf course like that," O'Hair said. "So I just think everybody tries to hang on for dear life. Sometimes bogey is not a bad score. I think bogey is almost par for some holes."


Wie Drama No Drama At All

Beth Ann Baldry explains that a simple typo/oversight led to the latest Michelle Wie drama, this time at Papago where Jiyai Shin is going for her fifth win in the last eight months. Also, it seems Lorena Ochoa doesn't appear to understand the meaning of a hazard.

Ochoa also said that the sand felt “heavy.” And “it seems like there is a lot of sand under it,” she added.

It will take a near-miracle Sunday for her to win the title for a third consecutive victory.

“Maybe tomorrow (Sunday) I won’t hit any bunkers and I’ll make putts,” she said.


3 Missing Spectators Located In Bay Hill Rough, 2 More Still Unaccounted For And Presumed Bored

From what I watched today and pick up in Doug Ferguson's round two game story, it sounds like the U.S. Open-light setup at Bay Hill is keeping The King happy. But there seem to be quite a few big names taking a pass. I wonder if he makes the connection?

Seems Jack Nicklaus has gotten the message, according to Rex Hoggard at

According to tournament director Dan Sullivan, the 2009 Memorial, played June 4-7, will feature shorter rough, two rebuilt greens and none of the furrowed bunkers that were introduced in 2006.

“Last year we made it a little more severe than the Tour was comfortable with,” Sullivan said. “Jack is very reasonable about the way he wants the golf course to perform. He is a player and he’s built the tournament and the golf course to be a fair test.”

The first step in that direction was the length of Muirfield Village’s rough. Weather permitting, Memorial officials plan to have the rough at about 3 to 3 ½ inches to begin tournament week, at least an inch shorter than it was last year.

“We paid particular attention to rough length and how the golf course was performing,” Sullivan said. “Because of the density and length it was very tough.”


"The USGA and R&A have effectively fenced in the driver and golf ball, so that there is little or no more distance to be had from equipment under the current rules and regulations."

Mike Stachura makes a strong statistical case that the golf ball can't fly any longer and asks if distance at the elite level has been capped.

If no, then how much more is left out there? We went to those who seemingly would have the most to gain from statistical displays of technology's impact on golf to see what to make of the number: the equipment industry. Their opinions, curiously, were mixed. Most believe technology's role in the future is somewhat limited, thanks to the rules.

Specifically, Wally Uihlein, CEO and Chairman of the Acushnet Company, cited "the most activist 10-year period in the history of golf ball and golf club regulation," along with "the S-Curve of invention maturity" as the primary causes for flatlining tour driving distance.

"A very 'bold and rigid' line in the sand has been effectively drawn by the game's regulatory bodies," he wrote in an e-mail to "The statistics since then speak for themselves. The USGA and R&A have effectively fenced in the driver and golf ball, so that there is little or no more distance to be had from equipment under the current rules and regulations."

So if we've drawn a line in the sand, and there is a belief among those designing, maintaining and operating courses that a slight rollback would ensure that skill is more important than equipment while making courses safer, more strategically interesting and maybe a bit faster to play, then why not rollback?

Because what's the point of drawing a line in the sand? Ah yes, to ensure skill, course safety, preservation of strategy and to help speed of play.

Oh faithful shoppers and suckers for $5 pelotas, please tell me why I'm wrong.