Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

Every hole must have individuality and be sound. Often it is necessary to get from one section to another over ground which is not suited to the easiest construction, but that troublesome hole must be made to stand right up in meeting with the others, and if it has not got anything about it that might make it respectable, it has got to have quality knocked into it until it can hold its head up in polite society.  A.W. TILLINGHAST

 

  

Tuesday
Sep152009

“The players were dictating how long it was going to take to play a round, and we felt that was unacceptable.”

They're finally going to do something about slow play! They, being the Ladies Golf Union, governing body of the women's game in Great Britain and Ireland.

“Rounds were starting to get over 5-5 hours and, sometimes in the worst-case scenario, it was touching on six hours,” said Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of operations. “The players were dictating how long it was going to take to play a round, and we felt that was unacceptable.”

Their solution? A four checkpoint system (I believe that's one more than the USGA progressive pace of play program):

During last year’s British Girls’ Championship, Simpson and her team undertook a trial by implementing a new system that involved four checkpoints being set up around the course. Clocks were placed at these locations and players were made aware of what time their group was expected to reach those points by having it printed on pin sheets.

The system proved so successful that it has been in operation at all of the LGU’s events this year.

“The check points are normally at the fourth, ninth, 14th and 18th holes and the times we are looking for them to get round is usually about four hours and 20 minutes in stroke-play and three hours and 40 minutes for match-play, taking into account weather conditions and the course set-up,” added Simpson.

Tuesday
Sep152009

"In terms of where the competition fits into the modern sports firmament, many fans and observers–present company included–don’t exactly know what to make of it."

I knew there was a purpose for the rain at Merion: it gave Rob Matre's b&w shots a little more ambiance.

Tom Dunne files a typically thoughtful look at the Walker Cup and tries to detect why there seemed to be a little less enthusiasm for the event, and he offers a counterpoint to John Huggan's take on the USGA and diversity.

And in terms of where the competition fits into the modern sports firmament, many fans and observers–present company included–don’t exactly know what to make of it.

There are a couple of reasons for this bewilderment. The first is that amateurism itself is in a steep and steady decline. This is a time in which people can get excited about the potential of Tiger Woods someday winning an Olympic gold medal without so much as a nod to the irony of that scenario. There is so much money on the pro tours today that most top talents leap for it at the first opportunity. You can’t blame them for that, but the result is a dilution of the amateur ranks so extreme that an event like the Walker Cup becomes something like a collegiate all-star game, a senior prom for guys like Rickie Fowler and Brian Harman, who have probably already turned pro by the time of this writing.

Tuesday
Sep152009

"He's now sixth in total driving for the season."

Hank Haney, making his case for Tiger's game in an interview with Alan Shipnuck:

"Everyone likes to peck at Tiger about his driving," he said. "He's now sixth in total driving for the season. It's hard to get much better than that. And what no one ever points out is that his stats are skewed because he only plays the really hard golf courses with really penal setups. At Kapalua" -- which Woods skips -- "it's literally impossible to miss a fairway. There's a bunch of other easy setups he never plays. You take the guys who don't play all the majors and invitationals and maybe not all of the playoff events, and it's a totally different Tour in some ways, but Tiger's numbers are still way up there."

Monday
Sep142009

Why PGA Tour Players Should Think Twice Before Tweeting, Volume 49

John Daly, who owns a restaurant in Memphis where one of his employees was shot in the parking lot:

That's nice, and he is in our thoughts and prayers too. And...oh no, you left it at that John, didn't you? Oh no.

Monday
Sep142009

Tiger Takes Day Off; Falls In FedEx Cup Standings *

Now, I know the team at PGATOUR.com is doing their job and doing it amazingly well to keep on top of FedEx Cup scenarios, but look at this disaster of points breakdowns, scenarios, permutations and other nonsense.

Look, I get it that you want to reward the season and playoff play. But the most recent points reset really undermines that argument. If you have to gerrymand the FedEx Cup finish, then it'll never be taken seriously. Never!

Why are all these tough-guy, free-wheeling, free-market loving gamblers associated with the PGA Tour so afraid of old-fashioned, head-to-head, no points stuff, true playoff play at East Lake? Would it be too stressful?

Monday
Sep142009

"According to a tour executive, players were in unanimous agreement with the move."

Ron Sirak reports on a couple of LPGA events lowering their purses. Great to see the players and executives not hung up on "value dynamics" or whatever they call it.

Weather the storm, keep your sponsors happy and hopefully the goodwill pays off down the road when times aren't so lean.

See why I'd never get my MBA.

Monday
Sep142009

"He expects savings of $1 million-plus."

That's David Fay, talking to Golfweek's Adam Schupak about scaling back the grants program.

Never too early to start cutting to compensate for the massive revenue hit in 2013!

Monday
Sep142009

Everybody Get Ready To Hate Ray Romano...

And not because he isn't funny or a great guy. No, it's merely the thought of 8 million airings of the same Golf Channel promo between now and the next Haney Project's airing...

“We are very excited for Ray Romano to be joining the Golf Channel family,” said Tom Stathakes, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming, production and operations. “The first season of The Haney Project was a giant success for us. With Ray’s sense of humor and dedication to improving his golf game, we are confident season two will be bigger than ever.”

Looks like Haney's first priority will be fixing the homage-to-Ben-Crane-pre-shot-routine. I say he takes some hints from this guy.

Monday
Sep142009

"It will work, it will absolutely work."

Joe Logan talks to Mike Davis after the Walker Cup at Merion and asks how the week went, though no talk about how pace of play would work with a full field on a cramped course full of short par-4s. Not that the Walker Cup would help answer those questions.

For some fans at the Walker Cup, where crowds ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 each day, one question they came away with is whether Merion can accommodate upwards of 10 times that for the Open.   Not Davis.

"First of all, it’s not 10 times," he said. "And believe it or not, there is a lot of room for grandstands.  We will have some challenges moving crowds, but you can seat crowds on the course.  It will work, it will absolutely work."

If anything, added Davis, Merion has better potential for viewing than some other Open venues, such as Winged Foot.  "All the greens sit up in the air there, and there are trees around every one of them and we can’t get grandstands around many of them," said Davis. 

Still, Davis noted that Merion will be a "small Open," with maybe 25,000 spectators each day.  But they knew that before they picked it for ’13.

Monday
Sep142009

"Right there it wouldn't pass Architecture 101"

Len Ziehm talks to a few players about Cog Hill and it's interesting to see how guys are getting more specific in their analysis of what makes something poor for tournament play.

''I got here for the pro-am and got the same yardage on all the par-3s. Right there it wouldn't pass Architecture 101,'' Mickelson said.

He has a point. The par-3s measured 228, 244, 221 and 218 in the BMW setup. Not much variety there.

And this from Sean O'Hair and Jim Furyk about the green complexes at U.S. Open speeds:

''It would be a little ridiculous,'' he said. ''These greens are way too undulated for a U.S. Open golf course. The greens didn't play that fast, but they were firm. The U.S. Open style is to have them at 11 or 12 [on the stimpmeter]. If they played that speed here, this course would be unplayable.''

Jim Furyk said Dubsdread ''could definitely hold a major'' but felt O'Hair had a point. ''The setup we had was a little mellow,'' Furyk said. ''The greens weren't all that firm. If they were, they could become unplayable. This is one of those venues that you don't worry if it's tough enough. The worry you have is, 'Have we made it unplayable?'''

Buried was this about the future of Chicago venues...

Tiger Woods thinks a public course would best fit the Olympic spirit, meaning Cog Hill and Harborside -- attractively located within the Chicago city limits -- might have an edge. Medinah is said to be in line for the 2018 PGA Championship, which would rule out hosting a U.S. Open the year before. Olympia Fields appears more likely to get the U.S. Amateur in 2015 as the highlight of the club's 100th anniversary.

I'm not sure why a 2018 PGA in Chicago would rule out an Open there in 2017, unless the PGA moves first? Because sales-wise, won't a U.S. Open kill a PGA?

Either way, knowing how much everyone adores Medinah--particularly all of the contractors who made money reconstructing it over the last two decades--we can only hope and pray they return for another PGA. Fingers crossed!

Sunday
Sep132009

Tiger Wins; Playoffs Take Week Off To Let Fans Ponder Points Permutation Possibilities 

I tell ya, the drama of wondering how these beancounters keep up with the shifts in points had me watching tennis. Maybe we can get a camera inside the ShotLink trailer, because that's where the numbers crunching probably goes on and where the real FedEx Cup drama lies. Anyway...

Let's get the good news out of the way: they won't be tinkering with Cog Hill after Tiger's 62, says Tim Cronin, who talked to Frank Jemsek. Well, at least "not until the bank loan’s paid off.”

With another lame points reshuffle and a runaway win, those who actually watched the BMW tell me there was quite a thrilling finish, thanks in large part to the importance of the top 30 getting into East Lake getting into next year's majors.

First, Bob Harig on Tiger and all of the hard work not paying off.

So despite his holding a 1,504-point lead over Steve Stricker heading to East Lake -- a tournament victory in the playoffs is worth 2,500 points -- Woods' total will be reduced to a 250-point lead, and all 30 players in the field will have a mathematical shot at the $10 million bonus paid to the FedEx Cup winner. The top five, however, are assured of winning the title if they win the Tour Championship.

"That's just our new system," Woods said of the 3-year-old points race, which has been changed every year. "Last year Vijay [Singh] hit his first tee shot and it was already over. The tour wants to have excitement at the last event and that's ultimately what has happened with this new format. … That certainly builds some excitement, and that's different from the last few years."

Steve Elling writes about the non-Tiger drama on the finishing hole involving Brandt Snedeker:

He ran the par putt 40 inches past the hole and then lipped out the crucial bogey putt that would have sent him to Atlanta, where last-place money will be worth around $120,000 and players are guaranteed spots in the first three majors of 2010. Worse, he then drew gasps from the crowd when he hurriedly lipped out a tap-in from 18 inches and finished with a triple-bogey.

"I just yipped it," he said of the bogey effort. "A full-out yip."

While waiting for Snedeker outside the scoring trailer, somebody happened to look in a nearby garbage can. There, atop the pile, was an autographed Bridgestone ball signed by Snedeker himself, which surely wasn't a good sign. He either ditched it himself, or whatever tournament volunteer he handed it to as a souvenir afterward didn't want it.

Harig notes this:

On the 18th hole, Snedeker was in 28th place in the projected points, and he asked NBC's Roger Maltbie what he needed in order to stay in the top 30 after having to lay up in front of the pond.
"I thought I had to make par and he told me bogey would get in," Snedeker said. "Shouldn't have affected me. Shows you how weak mentally I am. Shows you what I need to work on. We'll work on it and we'll be back next year."

Sunday
Sep132009

"If it is ever to be a color-blind game for the masses, golf still has a long way to go."

The USA coasted to a Walker Cup win at Merion Sunday, and while it was fun to study the course, it's hard to fathom how the East course can host a modern day major.

Before that, John Huggan couldn't help but notice the gallery and commented on the aura of the Cup:

Twice last week I took a cab from downtown Philadelphia to Merion. On neither occasion had the driver -- one a black American, the other an Indian immigrant -- heard of either the club or the ongoing matches. Of course, there was nothing obvious to help them in that regard. The first sign I see for "Walker Cup" or "Merion GC" will also be the next.

So it is that, the perpetuation of what some proudly call tradition might also be interpreted as standing by, ostrich-like, as the wider world flashes by. Laughably, just about the only mention of change I heard at Merion was the possibility of extending the next Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen (another wonderful venue) from two days to three. Strange that; there was me thinking the event already lasts a whole week -- a five-day cocktail party with two days of golf thrown in. But I digress.

Over the last decade or so, golf has been seen to make strenuous efforts to become more diverse. The First Tee program, to name but one such body, has attempted to introduce the game to an audience that is not overwhelmingly Caucasian. For that, they are to be congratulated. But, judging by the last two days of my life, none of it is working. Nor do many within golf's smugly self-perpetuating establishment seem to care that blue blood and black skin remain so shamefully segregated within the country club world.

If it is ever to be a color-blind game for the masses, golf still has a long way to go.

As for the golf course, on television it was hard not to look at all of the intimate settings and wonder how in today's game the course can host a major. Not necessarily for the reasons Mike Stachura touched on related to the golf ball going way too far, but instead, logistically.

In a game where players back off shots at the faintest audible passing of gas or wait to hit until a group nearby plays, it's very difficult to see how the field will get around Merion before the sun sets. Throw in driveable short par-4s (including the 10th, where half the field starts Thursday and Friday), and maybe the USGA should forget about limiting the galleries and start thinking about limiting the 2013 U.S. Open field.

Saturday
Sep122009

Woods Fires 62 At Cog Hill; Open Doctor May Need To Make A House Call

After Saturday's round, I think a pro-bono touch up is in order. No?

Friday
Sep112009

Los Angeles Country Club To Host 2017 Walker Cup

Announced today at soggy Merion, where the weather will not be replicated in L.A. in September 2017. Good news for fans, bad news for players hoping for 5 cashmere sweaters. This will be the club's third USGA event, the second Walker Cup to be played in California and the first on a George Thomas design.

Thursday
Sep102009

In The Mood For Merion?

Walker Cup play starts Saturday and there are plenty of stories to get you excited.

Ron Balicki says Merion is making quite the impression, with the rough apparently way up. Oh joy.

Joe Logan writes about the resurrection of the course in recent years and the story is accompanied by an astounding Steven Szurlej image (and it's not from behind a green!).

Golf Club Atlas features an interview with Captain Buddy Marucci about his home course and you won't really glean much since he sounds like he was in a cranky mood or speaking in a foreign tongue, requiring translation. But the photos are great.

Asher Wildman on the GB&I team praying for wind. Meanwhile, here's a video looking at the GB&I team. Subtitles would have been nice.

Sean Martin catches up with a 2007 Walker Cup hero who will be watching this weekend while he plays a Hooters Tour event.

Eric Soderstrom reveals some of the gear that the U.S. team has been supplied with.

4. Each player also received five Walker Cup cashmere sweaters, among all the other uniform staples (shirts, shorts, pants, rain gear, hats, golf bag, etc.)

3. Then there were the two pairs of golf shoes.

2. Socks.

1. And (drumroll, please) Polo boxer shorts with stitched-in Walker Cup logos.

And just in case you were wondering about TV times, here they are. GC from 4-6 EST both Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday
Sep102009

"Similar to most"

Steve Elling asks Geoff Ogilvy whether his opening 68 was inspired by playing the pro-am with Rees Jones, fresh off another Reestorization at Cog Hill. Ogilvy asked Twitterers for questions to pass on to Rees but sadly, did not use my contribution (How does he get all of his bunkers to look the same?).

They did talk design, or at least, Rees did.

Apparently, Jones didn't ask for much feedback. If he had, Ogilvy, one of the most glib players in the global game, might have set Jones back on his heels a bit. After his round, Ogilvy was asked by a Chicago scribe about where the course ranked as far as Jones' re-dos.

"Similar to most," Ogilvy said, evasively.

Never knew the talkative Aussie was this coy. Um, can we get a more qualitative assessment? "I don't know how you answer that, without ... I don't want to answer," he said. "Bethpage is obviously his best. From what I hear about what that was like before he got there, it was a horror show. Now it's really, really good. This is somewhere in the middle.

"I don't dislike it. I think there is a lot of stuff that's improved. I don't know if I like this one better than the old one, but it's not like this one looks bad."

I believe that is what's termed "damning with faint praise."

Thursday
Sep102009

Rory: A Call Would Have Been Nice!

Granted, he didn't play too well the last few weeks but unlike Adam Scott, Rory Sabbatini has won this year on the PGA Tour and was the first player bumped off the Presidents Cup points list. Still, Captain Norman didn't have time to drop a dime. Bob Harig reports on the first round leader in Chicago:

Sabbatini, who was bumped out of one of the 10 automatic spots at the final qualifying tournament when South Korea's Y.E. Yang won the PGA Championship, was under consideration for one of the two spots that went to Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Australia's Adam Scott.

"There was not a single conversation or a single phone call, period -- from anybody," Sabbatini said Thursday at the BMW Championship, where he shot 66 to tie for the first-round lead with Steve Marino.

"You could say I was a little disappointed."

Speaking of Captain Norman, Tim Rosaforte flew with the Shark and bride to the Presidents Cup press conference and never confirms whether the couple was on their fourth or fifth bottle of Greg Norman Reserve Shiraz when Chrissie picked Adam Scott's name out of a hat.

Wednesday
Sep092009

Shocker: Players Exhausted As Playoff Stretch Nears Next Confusing Point Reset

The idea of playing the playoffs so soon after the PGA Championship has never made sense both because of the sheer volume of starts required in a short window, but also because it competes with so many sports at their peak (football opening, U.S. Open tennis, pennant chase baseball). And as Thomas Bonk writes, the players are already speaking up that this year's run is not going to be repeated if they have any say.

Bonk also suggests we're on the eve of another FedEx Cup points controversy as fans--and probably some players--realize there's yet another points reset looming, which of course is far less gimmicky then just having a straight-up, man-to-man, beancounter-free shootout at East Lake!

The points through Cog Hill are redone at the Tour Championship and new ones are handed out based on how you stand after the first three playoff events. Now, even if Stricker stays in first place in the points standings and even protects his 909-point lead over Woods, it's going to shrink at Atlanta: No. 1 starts over with 2,500 points at Atlanta, and No. 2 starts with 2,250. So, conceivably, if Woods stays in second and Slocum stays in third place in points at the end of this week -- and even though Woods currently leads him by 1,841 points ? Woods' lead over Slocum at Atlanta will shrink to 250 points.

Wednesday
Sep092009

"An 'ambitious' course in Russia costs at least $100 million"

Thanks to reader Jim for Ilya Khrennikov's story on upscale golf course construction continuing in Russia despite dire economic news. This caught my eye in the context of golf in the Olympics, since Jack Nicklaus is one of the proponents for using the Olympics to grow the game worldwide, and yet is behind some of these outlandishly expensive designs:

An "ambitious" course in Russia costs at least $100 million, including real estate, Kustikov said in an interview in the ornate clubhouse at Pestovo, Protcion's 18-hole complex 30 kilometers north of Moscow. Pestovo, which opened in 2007, cost $120 million and increased the value of surrounding property as much as 20-fold, Kustikov said.

Now I understand the price of the golf course is embedded in that figure with many other expenses, but we're still talking about entirely unrealistic dollar figures if you expect anyone to build courses to introduce new players. And that's not even addressing whether they're any fun to play or reasonable to maintain.

Wednesday
Sep092009

"I know the USGA wants to go to middle America in 2017"

Teddy Greenstein looks at Cog Hill's chances of luring the U.S. Open and I thought this statement by Mike Davis had to be well received in Tulsa and that little town near Erin Hills.

"I know the USGA wants to go to middle America in 2017," Davis said, adding Cog Hill is one of eight potential venues. "Most are in the upper Midwest."

The exception is Southern Hills, in Tulsa, Okla., which hosted last month's U.S. Amateur. But the favorite is Erin Hills, a 3-year-old facility 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee that already has hosted the 2008 Women's Amateur Public Links and has been awarded the 2011 U.S. Amateur.

This also intrigued me...

The biggest negative, Davis said, is that Cog Hill hosts a PGA Tour event. Davis called that "a big concern" and said Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines work around that because the venues play differently in February than in June.

Davis went so far as to say that had the USGA known that Congressional Country Club would begin hosting an annual Tour event (Tiger Woods' AT & T National), it might not have awarded the Washington D.C.-area course the 2011 U.S. Open.

 Hey, it's not too late to hold it against them.