Twitter: GeoffShac
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Far too many [bunkers] exist in our land. Oakmont in Pittsburgh, where the National Open will be played this year, has two hundred. Other courses famed everywhere average one hundred and fifty. From twenty to twenty-five, plus the natural obstacles are ample for any course. PERRY MAXWELL


    

Sunday
Aug242008

Bob Labbance, R.I.P.

Anthony Pioppi reports the sad news in a Golf Club Atlas post.

Saturday
Aug232008

Faldo: "The guys are really twitched up about it right now"

Poor Captain Faldo, so many players, so few picks. John Huggan weighs Faldo's options and sees Casey-Poulter with Darren Clarke stepping into a spot if either qualifies on points. 

Steve Elling talks to Faldo about where things stand:

Every panicky player with a shot at making the team, with one notable exception, is playing this week in either New Jersey or Holland.
"The guys are really twitched up about it right now," Faldo said after finishing his commentary work for the Golf Channel on Friday. "The amazing thing, now I've got Darren Clarke leading.
"Crumps, I've got probably six names, unless they can jump in -- which would obviously be the best way to make the team -- but I could have four or five players outside playing well and it looks like I have to make a blooming decision."
Randell Mell sums up the most important point from a media perspective. The thought of Monty not making the team is "flat-out depressing."
Saturday
Aug232008

"I think if we don't see a change, we'll be disappointed,"

Steve Elling considers the Barclays' move to Liberty National next year and offers this perspective from Barclays president Bob Diamond:

Last year, when Woods skipped The Barclays, the tournament was whipped in the ratings by the Little League World Series, televised on a cable outlet, ESPN. He acknowledged that was hard to stomach.  

"I think if we don't see a change, we'll be disappointed," Diamond said. "We'll see."

Saturday
Aug232008

"The helicopter was supposed to fly over the course Friday and drop 1,500 numbered golf balls."

Let's hope that these guys pull through. And let's hope that next time they rent a balloon.

One man is in critical condition and another in fair condition following a helicopter crash at a Schuylkill County golf course.

A nursing supervisor at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville says co-pilot Joseph Matteo is in critical condition. Pilot Al Roman is listed in fair condition at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

The helicopter was supposed to fly over the course Friday and drop 1,500 numbered golf balls. The person whose ball was closest to the pin would have won 50 percent of ticket sales.

The fundraiser was for Access Services, a group that helps people with disabilities.


Thursday
Aug212008

"Meanwhile the FedEx Cup remains a play for relevance via monetization and marketing, which looks especially silly every other year, when top players are more concerned about playing for God and country at the Ryder Cup."

Here I was thinking we had at least another two weeks before the FedEx Cup obituaries started rolling in and Cameron Morfit had to go and pen one before the art department could even come up with a cutesy graphic.

The FedEx Cup is stuck in a major end-of-season traffic jam. All of the individual events anyone cares about are over. In fact, judging from the breathless, parking lot stakeouts of Brett Favre, the press and public tuned out the Tiger-less Tour even during the year's final major. Paddy's PGA was no match for Brett's SUV.
And still the FedEx soldiers on despite the Olympics and an upcoming two-week break after the BMW Championship, necessitated by the Ryder Cup. Ultimately only 30 players will convene for the FedEx finale, the Tour Championship at East Lake outside Atlanta, because the smaller the field, the more "exclusive" (important) it is.
That's the idea, anyway. In reality a limited field holds limited appeal because it increases the likelihood that one hot player will run away with the tournament. It happened last year with Woods, but a mere mortal also could run away and hide with only 29 other guys chasing him. (A total of 315 players started the U.S. Amateur on Monday.)
Of course if there was a true playoff and daily eliminations at East Lake it wouldn't be so dull, would it?
Perhaps the FedEx champion won't be determined until the back nine on Sunday of the Tour Championship. That would be nice, but the rules are complicated. The Tour has arbitrarily narrowed the gap between players to start the playoffs, from 1,000 to 500 points. Every player who makes the cut at the Barclays will get 2,000 more points than he would have last year. This is meant to create more volatility up and down the standings.

The Amateur is simple. Two guys go into a match, and only one lives to play another day, sometimes after a wild momentum swing or five, which is typical of match play.
And if you had daily eliminations you would...oh continue on Cameron:
Meanwhile the FedEx Cup remains a play for relevance via monetization and marketing, which looks especially silly every other year, when top players are more concerned about playing for God and country at the Ryder Cup.

Thursday
Aug212008

"The 30-man field at the 2007 Tour Championship? It included just three names who didn't start the playoffs within the top 30."

Which word do you think we've heard more of this week: tweak or volatility?

Jim McCabe notes both in an item we'll definitely want to review once the playoff excitement has died down.

The system has been tweaked since its 2007 debut. What is more apparent than last year is a more volatile nature to the points distribution. For instance, last year only two players outside the top 120 played well enough at The Barclays to earn their way to the DBC and only two from outside the top 70 got spots into the BMW. The 30-man field at the 2007 Tour Championship? It included just three names who didn't start the playoffs within the top 30.

Thursday
Aug212008

And Then There Were Eight...

The Golfweek staff does a nice job of summing up the 3rd round NCAA Summer Match Play U.S. Amateur Championship

I haven't watched a second, any thoughts?  I can only take the sod-farm look of Pinehurst No. 2 in small doses. It's a shame to see all of that turf on such a sandy site, but hey, they've got herds to move through in under 5 hours.

And they wonder why it's slipping in most of the rankings...

Thursday
Aug212008

"That's approximately 40 percent of the primary-event sponsors."

Thanks to reader Steven T. for Bill Huffman's look at the struggles of FBR, title sponsor for the PGA Tour's Scottsdale stop. Huffman leads with this:

With America's financial sector struggling mightily, it is significant to note that 15 of 37 PGA Tour regular-season events - major championships and fall season excluded - are sponsored by banks or investment firms.
That's approximately 40 percent of the primary-event sponsors. 

And this is not good for an overpaid VP who wants to be the next severely overpaid Commish:

Rick George, the executive vice president and chief of operations for the PGA Tour, responded: "We're planning to have another great FBR Open again next year."
Asked if the PGA Tour was aware of FBR's financial struggles, George, who took over his new duties just a few months ago, said: "No, I'm not in tune with that."
Wednesday
Aug202008

"I think, finally, we are playing a good golf course"

Steve Elling reports that Vijay Singh delivered an impromptu rant on the Oakland Hills PGA setup, perhaps egged on by the modest setup and more reasonable greens at Ridgewood.

"I think, finally, we are playing a good golf course," Singh said of Ridgewood.

Ouch. Within moments, he made it doubly clear that he was both praising Ridgewood and pasting Oakland Hills.

Two things to consider when weighing Singh's considered opinion: First, he is a former PGA Championship winner, so he's not going to launch into a dated diatribe without good reason. Then again, he was credited with five-putting one of Oakland Hills' undulating greens, which Jack Nicklaus once characterized as the toughest in golf.

"From tee to green that's one of the best golf courses I have played, but it's a disgrace to have greens like that on a golf course that good," Singh said of Oakland Hills, site of multiple U.S. Opens and PGAs in years past, not to mention the 2004 Ryder Cup.

"If the members were to play the speed of the greens we played, they would all quit," he said. "I don't think there would be any members left.

"I don't know what the PGA was going at. I don't think they could ever hold another golf tournament on that course if the greens are like that."

The course underwent a tweaking and lengthening three years ago by designer Rees Jones, but the greens were essentially untouched. Maybe they should have been bulldozed, too, Singh said.

"They should get somebody to redesign those greens," he groused. "From tee to green it's one of the best golf courses you can ever play. But on the greens, it was just a disaster."
Wednesday
Aug202008

Barclay's Classic Photo Caption Help

Phil ringing the opening bell on Wall Street Wednesday, courtesy of golf.com.  I think you can do better...



Wednesday
Aug202008

“If you’re doing P&L’s these guys have done spectacularly."

There's nothing golf related in Richard Sandomir's story on ESPN firing the first warning shot in bidding on the next two Olympics games, just some beautiful businesspeak that our friends and Ponte Vedra may want to note.

“Our DNA is different than theirs,” John Skipper, ESPN’s executive vice president for content said by telephone on Tuesday. “We serve sports fans. It’s hard in our culture to fathom tape-delaying in the same way they have. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t the smart thing for them to do, but it’s not our culture. We did Euro 2008 in the afternoon. We’ve done the World Cup in the middle of the morning. We have different audiences.”
I always love the talk of culture and ESPN. They two words really are synonymous.
Skipper, who returned earlier this week from Beijing after attending the Summer Games, said NBC’s enormous success over the first 11 nights of the Games “probably forces us to change some of our calculations.”

“If you’re doing P&L’s,” he went on, referring to profits and losses, “these guys have done spectacularly. If I was holding the rights to this, this is a great time to be selling them.”

Meanwhile, the thought of golf in the Olympics prompted this positive post by Iain Carter at the BBC, with one caveat: he wants to see a better format. Who doesn't?  Gary Van Sickle at golf.com was not so kind.

Wednesday
Aug202008

Tiger's New EA Ad Spoofs Jesus Or EA Code Writers?

Seems Tiger's new EA Sports ad is not so much a tribute to Jesus, but instead as Richard Simon at The Golf Watch notes for those of us who do not play video games, it's an homage to a flaw in a previous version of the game. Though I'm with reader NRH on this one, what's with grounding the club in a hazard?


Wednesday
Aug202008

PGA Tour Shot Tracker Debut

There's a video posted at PGATour.com announcing what appears to be a new way to track players with Shotlink type information. And it's free. We'll see how much information it shares, but if it has some of ShotLink's data it ought to be a lot of fun to use.

Wednesday
Aug202008

Is Leadbetter Trying To Get Fired?

From Thomas Bonk's L.A. Times golf column:

David Leadbetter, Michelle Wie's coach, on Wie's playing strategy that has included playing PGA Tour events: "It's a shock to me and to her agents that this is happening. I don't think the family is making the right choice. There's definitely more to lose than to gain.
"I've put too much time and effort into Michelle to be able to sit by and watch this happening without saying something. If she doesn't stick to doing what's sensible, we could see one of the greatest potential talents the game has ever known going to waste."

Tuesday
Aug192008

"The document has been very well lawyered."

Adam Schupak considers groove rule change ramifications on equipment manufacturers and offers this:

One issue that equipment companies likely won’t worry about: filing a suit against the USGA.

Nauman said Acushnet won’t oppose implementation of the rule. And Ping officials – who previously battled the USGA and PGA Tour over grooves nearly two decades ago – said the USGA, while drafting the changes, took every precaution to avoid litigation.

“Let’s put it this way: The document has been very well lawyered,” Solheim said.
Tuesday
Aug192008

"The 41-year relationship between the PGA Tour and Westchester Country Club was like a good marriage gone bad."

While Bill Pennington celebrates the elegance of Tillinghast's Ridgewood, Sam Weinman files a compelling dissection of the messy decision to leave former Barclay's host Westchester. He writes for golf.com:

The 41-year relationship between the PGA Tour and Westchester Country Club was like a good marriage gone bad. There was the innocent beginning, the complacent middle years and then, finally, when the Tour's wandering eye led it to Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., the bitter, dish-throwing end.
And this does make any rational soul understand why the Tour had had enough:
Among the membership's longstanding agreements with the Tour was that during tournament week members could still play the adjacent South course, still play tennis on the courts that bordered the par-3 1st hole and still have access to the sports house that included the pros' locker room and a fitness center.

The uneasy coexistence was best encapsulated by an incident at last summer's Barclays, during which Tour player Aaron Baddeley was kicked out of the fitness center by a Westchester member who said Baddeley didn't belong there. (Westchester president Phil Halpern confirmed that an "older member" mistakenly thought the room was for members only.)

"I think what happened is that the Tour and its tournaments evolved, and what was acceptable and overlooked in the 1970s and '80s was no longer the case," says a PGA Tour official who requested anonymity. "Every host venue has evolved or been replaced, but they simply weren't of the mindset to evolve. You won't find another venue on Tour where they play tennis off the 1st hole or play the other course when the tournament's going on. I guarantee you there's not another locker room on Tour shared with members."
Tuesday
Aug192008

Van Sickle Words Hard For The Sonny

More importantly, while the SI golf writer loops for son Mike in the U.S. Amateur, he's able to deliver a solid metaphor for Dave Shedloski, but I'm not sure about the matching outfits.

Van Sickle, ranked 14th in the Golfweek Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings – and sixth among Americans – won both the Pennsylvania Open and the Pennsylvania Amateur, making him just the second man to turn the double in one year, joining Jay Sigel, who won back-to-back U.S. Amateur crowns in 1982-83. A resident of Wexford, Pa., Van Sickle also became the first amateur to win consecutive state open titles and just the third to successfully defend.

He wasn’t shabby on the national stage, either. Van Sickle birdied the final hole at the Southern Amateur at Lake Nona Country Club in Orlando to force a playoff before losing on the first extra hole to 2007 Walker Cupper Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor, Wash. He also finished third at the Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club.

Iwas fighting my swing a little bit," said Mike, 21, who enters his senior year at Marquette University. "I guess I ran out of gas."

"He was like Kenny Perry at the tail end of his hot streak," said Gary, 54, who for nearly 12 years has been a senior writer covering the PGA Tour for Sports Illustrated. "He played real well for a month or two, but it ended sort of as the Amateur began. Just no way to explain that."
Tuesday
Aug192008

The Great Playoff Debate

Via email and not appearing for all the world to see, the PGA Tour's Steve Dennis and I debate the best possible format for the pPlayoffs.

Essentially, I'm arguing for a true playoff that lets someone get hot, get to East Lake and maybe pull off a big upset. Steve wants to protect the season points leaders and crunch numbers right up to the end.

Monday
Aug182008

Sergio Will Have Two Caddies At Valhalla In Case One Just Can't Stand Him Any Longer

How about this neurotic little arrangement...

Sergio Garcia appears to want to leave nothing to chance at the Ryder Cup. Both the caddies he has been using this season could be there.
"This may well be the case," said Europe's Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills of the possibility of England's Billy Foster and South African Glen Murray both being at Valhalla. "But it is not completely signed off yet,"
The two have been job-sharing this season and splitting their slice of Garcia's earnings regardless of which caddie is on the bag.
The arrangement has worked out very well for Foster, who was at home both when the Spaniard won the Players Championship last spring and again when he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington at the PGA Championship.

Monday
Aug182008

“A more conservative approach to setups, for example, with lower rough or hole locations six steps away from the (green’s) edge rather than four."

In the August 16th Golfweek, Jim Achenbach presents a Q&A analysis of the USGA/R&A groove rule change. On the question of dissenters who question the ruling, Achenbach offers this:

Tom Wishon, founder of Tom Wishon Golf Techology, questioned the effect on big hitters. "The bomb and gougers are still going to spin it more out of the rough," he said. If the goal is to increase the penalty for being in the rough, this isn't going to do it. Two to 2 1/2 inch rough is nothing to a guy who can swing an iron at 90 to 95 m.p.h."

In the same issue and also online, Bradley Klein talks to Rees Jones (he's elated rough will be rough), Tom Fazio (as usual, has no insights) and Mike Davis about the impact of the rule change:

One thing that may change is the severity of course setups. Mike Davis, USGA senior director for rules and competitions, anticipates that in the face of the new rule, national championships probably would consider “a more conservative approach to setups, for example, with lower rough or hole locations six steps away from the (green’s) edge rather than four,” he said.