Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

On two-shot holes it is highly desirable in many cases to compel the player to place his tee shot so that his shot to the green may be clear, and if not properly placed, the shot to the green may to some extent be blind. DONALD ROSS




"My perception was that finally, unfortunately, the monumental factor of what he was about to accomplish penetrated that isolation he was in, that now he's thinking that he's got to get the ball down in two to win the Open."

There are a couple of stellar Tom Watson-almost-wins-the-Open follow ups to read, starting with Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times. You know I'd rather see a Cher concert than read another golf-is-a-metaphor for life column, but Friedman put a fresh spin on a familiar topic after watching the final round on Armed Forces television in Afghanistan.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with. Also, pro golfers, unlike baseball, football or basketball players, have no fixed salaries. They eat what they kill. If they score well, they make money. If they don’t, they don’t make money. I wonder what the average N.B.A. player’s free-throw shooting percentage would be if he had to make free throws to get paid the way golfers have to make three-foot putts?

This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.”

So Tom Watson got a brutal lesson in golf that he’ll never forget, but he gave us all an incredible lesson in possibilities — one we’ll never forget.

And John Strege catches up with Sandy Tatum, who uttered the quote at the top of this post. Here's just part of what Watson's pal and the former USGA President had to say.

Tatum did not stay to watch the playoff. "It was going to be too painful," he said.

In the midst of his improbable run at the Claret Jug, Watson was asked how he thought Tatum was handling it. "I think Sandy will have a heart attack," Watson replied.

Tatum sent Watson an email on Tuesday. He wrote in part: "While I cannot begin to express how what I saw affected me, a heart attack would have been much easier to handle...Thanks for giving me four days, absent two plays with the putter, on Cloud Nine."


Golfweek: Greenbrier To Fill Schedule Spot

If this turns out to be true, a very nice move for the tour and an upgrade architecturally over the Buick, but I'm not so sure about the West Virginia market compared to Detroit.

Thoughts on how this facility would work as a tour stop?


"Woods ramping up TOUR schedule ahead of Playoffs"

Doug Ferguson analyzes Tiger's decision to play three weeks in a row and it's fun to see how his story was treated by the different websites. Particularly since it makes only passing reference to the FedEx Cup (the last time Tiger played three straight weeks)

See if you can guess which version of Ferguson's story was posted on!

Woods ramps up for homestretch

Woods ramping up TOUR schedule ahead of Playoffs

Woods ramps up play heading for homestretch



Via's E60, we learn Anna Rawson's prescriptions for healing the LPGA Tour. These almost make you feel sorry for Carolyn Bivens. Almost:

Every player should tee off to her favorite song at the beginning of the tournament and have it played again when she approaches the 18th green. Major League Baseball teams play music as batters approach the plate and it's great. Fans connect with players for their music and it builds anticipation. I don't think our golfers would have a problem with this because nowadays who doesn't practice with their iPod on?

Exactly. Your ipod is on and only you can hear it. Just the way most of us like it.

Plus, it would help me on the tee; the forced quiet is nerve-racking, so hearing music will help break the tension.

Well at least she's thinking big picture here and not about herself.

For each tournament, I would have a fashion designer create a piece of clothing or accessory for the trophy ceremony. For the LPGA Championship, we could have a jacket specially made by Donna Karan. For the Kraft Nabisco, a gown designed by Vera Wang. For the P&G Northwest Arkansas Championship, CoverGirl could give the winner a makeover before the presentation. Whether the designer item is a gown, jacket, skirt or piece of jewelry, after signing her scorecard the winner would be taken to hair and makeup (cover that white forehead!) and fitted by a tailor for the ceremony (with the last six groups in the final round pre-fitted the night before so the size would be ready).

Okay that's not so bad actually. But I think we may be aiming high with Vera and Donna. May have to settle for Marty Hackel or the Golfweek blonds.


Oh boy....

Until further notice, all decisions should be made from a marketing perspective. That idea might sound crazy to some, but I say let's have that discussion when LPGA players reach the point where they can be accused of being over-marketed, overpaid or over-exposed.

I thought they just fired the last Commissioner in part for emphasizing marketing over golf?


Every group should be miked up and followed by its own camera crew, not a hard or expensive thing to do in this era of cheap, portable devices that can send images and audio around the globe in an instant.

No problema! The networks will agree that's not hard nor expensive. It's merely impossible!


“I lost 30 pounds after last season thinking I was going to work out and get better. I got worse.”

I'm smelling a golf magazine instruction spread by Carl Pettersson: How dieting ruined my game and how McDonald's can help you get your mojo back.

Ron Green Jr. reports on Carl's claim that weight loss ruined his game:

After winning the Wyndham Championship last year, his victory dinner included a stop at McDonald's on the drive home.

Then he was off the fast food for a while.

“I'm back there now,” Pettersson said, smiling.


Kleenex Alert: Jack Has Only 40 Courses Under Construction

Darren Rovell writes that Jack Nicklaus was on CNBC today "to talk about his new branding alliance with designer David Chu and Howard Milstein" and was asked about his design business:

Nicklaus: “Right at the present time, we have 40 golf courses under construction, which is down. We normally have about 60. We have been 120 or 130 golf courses under contract, as you’re going through zoning or financing or whatever they might be. So our business is still there. Yes, it is a slowdown. A big slowdown. And I think that golf course design at this present time is a luxury –- certainly not something that somebody does every day. We still have a business...In China, golf is just exploding. China is probably our key market today.”



Brave Strangers

Only Tiger could lure the attention shy Bob Seger out for a round of golf. I'm guessing their Buick Open pro-am round will be a classier affair than last year's Kid Rock-John Daly fiasco.


“The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of a traditional V-groove design.”

Bowl and Grass flesh out the notion that Bomb and Gouge golf might not be impacted by the groove rule change because most irons already had conforming grooves and their well-paid brat handlers haven't had U-groove on their mind before looking at a 22-yard wide fairway and saying "screw it, let's hit driver."

Not exactly a newsflash from the city, but the next part of the post is.

In a self-admitted lede-bury, Bowl reveals that some newly submitted clubs appeared to be technically conforming but were rejected because they still produced too much spin for the USGA's taste buds. However, because of broad language focusing on the reduction of spin, the clubs were ruled non-conforming.

He drops this, gulp, bombshell along with the incorrectly dated USGA memo that could mean "World War III."

I'll admit we're burying the lead here but the news just came across my desk as I was typing this, a notice sent to manufacturers today (click thumbnail to read the notice) makes it pretty clear that any enhancements not covered by the new rule but affecting spin will not be tolerated. Indeed, in its haste to get the word out, the USGA couldn’t get the month right on the official announcement. Nevertheless, the new language, attached here, reiterates the idea of the intent of the rule, namely: “The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of a traditional V-groove design.” That very easily could mean there won’t be any meaningful innovation in grooves or face pattern that might enhance spin production ever again.

(Let me just note for the millionth time how sad it is that the USGA is fixated on producing an effect from rough, which has historically been almost always an artificial tool introduced to offset unregulated distance advances.)

Either way, as Bowl notes, the memo is tidying up what appears to be a loop-hole in the original "Notice to Manufacturers" and is sure to fuel claims that the USGA is reserving the right to make it up as they go. And while I didn't agree with the tour policy board members who wanted to delay the implementation of the rule, you have to figure this latest development could make their "rush-job" claims more credible.


"As far as the fan base goes, a rising tide of interest lifts all ships."

Steve Elling raises a question I'm sure many of us will be asking as the U.S. Senior Open tees off the week after the Senior Open Championship and during the Women's Open Championship. Who is doing the scheduling for these fledgling tours?

Last week, the Senior British Open was staged in England. This week, the over-50 crowd plays in the U.S. Senior Open in the States, which is not only counter-intuitive, but counter-productive. Majors in successive weeks on different continents? That's almost as dunderheaded as the women's schedule-makers. The first three women's majors of 2009 were staged the week before the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open on the men's tour, all but guaranteeing that they would pass as overlooked and under-reported. Compare notes, people. As far as the fan base goes, a rising tide of interest lifts all ships.


"Those fat old guys riding around in golf carts and chomping cigars on the Champions tour are playing for more money than the LPGA players. That's demeaning to female athletes!" 

After months of behind the scenes investigation and source cultivation while reporting for Golf Magazine, Alan Shipnuck tackles the not-to-delicate question of Wilhelmina Models entering golf and selling sex appeal as a way of generating attention for the LPGA Tour. More importantly, this gives another chance to soak up the hits from the inevitable hot babe photo galleries. Synergy baby!

The W7 was born last year when Wilhelmina Models, the global beauty factory that counts Rebecca Romijn, Fergie and countless runway glamazons as clients, decided to break into women's golf. The inspiration came when Dieter Esch, then the Wilhelmina chairman and now a company consultant, attended an LPGA tournament in Florida. "Like many people, I had certain stereotypes of LPGA players," Esch says. "I was surprised to discover how many of the players were young and athletic and attractive and very personable. To be honest, the tour has done a pretty pathetic job marketing its product, and I knew we could do much, much better."


Olson's Bank Shot Ace

Thanks to reader Tim for spotting a posting of Leif Olson's incredible hole-in-one last week's Canadian Open, now on YouTube.


"In what has to be one of the craziest rulings I’ve ever witnessed on the PGA Tour..."

Bob Weeks says the latest bizarre rules incident involving grounded clubs and intent was driven by viewer phone calls, despite the claims of tournament officials otherwise. That it happened to Mike Weir at the Canadian Open only adds to the intrigue.

Yesterday, Weir was in a strange situation on the 18th hole. After placing his ball on a good lie on the edge of a divot (lift, clean and cheat, don’t ya know) in the fairway and getting ready to hit his shot, the ball toppled over into the hole. Initially Weir was assessed a one-shot penalty. Then later, after reviewing the tape of the situation, he was cleared and his par was turned into a birdie.

Then today, after he was called off the course by the rain delay, officials told him they wanted to review it again. Remarkably, the four was turned back into a five because Weir may have cause the ball to move.

So what would cause the Tour to suddenly re-visit the situation after it had been finalized the night before? Television viewers, that’s who. According to two different sources, the Tour received a flurry of phone calls form arm-chair rules officials who lambasted the decision that was made after seeing the situation on television. They referred to Rule 18-2A which says something about the player being guilty until proven innocent in such a situation. Now the only reason these folks with too much time on their hands called in was because Weir was being given wall-to-wall coverage by CBS. If he’d been some lower-profile golfer, the situation would never have been on tv and he might have been cleared. Of course, it also works the other way -- if he wasn't on tv, he might not have had the initial help which gave him the birdie.


Armed With Modern Equipment, Watson Unable To Defeat His Old Geezer Peers At Sunningdale

The premise goes something like this: Tom Watson would not have been competitive at Turnberry had he not been armed with modern technology. Big driver head, Pro-V1, new hip, etc...

True. If he'd shown up with his Ram 3-wood and a balata ball, he probably would not have made the cut!

Actually, the number of what-if's is too long to contemplate, but that didn't stop Mike Stachura from stating "it was his use of modern technology that may have been just as significant in his near victory.

Watson's whip-crackin' swing may seem to hardly have mellowed with age, but let's not suggest that he's playing exactly the way he did 20 or 30 years ago just because he's getting more Omega 3s in his diet, is still as crafty as a boomtown gambler and is sporting an artificial hip that's 58 years younger than the rest of his body (but more on that later). No, you're leaving out one key detail. It's not like the man was tearing his way through all the young bucks at the British Open with a persimmon driver and a forged muscle-back 1-iron. Fact is, modern equipment technology played no small part in helping Watson compete with men half his age.

I guess to accept this premise you'd have to contemplate the possibility of someone showing up with a retro set. And that's not going to happen, so can we really credit any portion of his success to his modern clubs?

This seems to be one of those "all relative deals."

Then again, if you armed the rest of the field with 70s equipment there might not have even been a playoff. Maybe the old coot would have won by 10 because the new stuff had made modern golfers less skilled?

In other words, maybe technology actually prevented his true skill from showing and let the young guys keep up with Old Tom?


Norman Fades In Senior Open Championship Despite Chrissie's "Different Thought Process" Instillation Efforts

Loren Roberts won the Senior Open Championship after Greg Norman faded following Saturday's 64. Earlier in the week, The Australian's Patrick Smith took Norman to task for suggesting that ex-wife Laura somehow cost him some majors.

He was asked this: "Had Chrissie been in your life 20 years ago would you have won some of those that got away?"

Norman replied: "Chrissie would have instilled a different thought process and I would have said the answer would probably be 'yes'."

Laura's thought processes must have been pretty good during his 88 international tournament victories and his two British Open wins but, apparently, she just got ornery at the Masters, the US Open and the US PGA.

Like the 1986 PGA when Bob Tway holed out from a bunker on the 18th. Bloody Laura. Or the US Open the same year when Norman shot a final-round 75 after leading. The bitch. Then a year later Larry Mize holes out from hell on the 11th, second hole of a play-off for the Masters. Quit playing with his mind, woman. Or in the 1989 British Open playoff when he whacked the ball dead into a fairway bunker. Damn you Laura.

If Laura had this much power over the man as he built a business empire, then she really did earn her multi-million dollar divorce settlement, no?

And what does it say about Chrissie's thought process techniques that Norman had to cut staff recently?


"There's no pretence. That's what I love most about the game over here. 'Let's go play.'"

John Huggan talks to Tom Watson about the Open, Scotland and how he loves the more respectful youth of Scotland.

Indeed, it wasn't until 1981 – by which time he had won three Opens in Scotland – that Watson, finally saw the light, courtesy of his close friend, Sandy Tatum, a former president of the United States Golf Association.

"Although I'm a Yank and always will be, I clearly love being in Scotland," says Watson. "And I clearly love links golf. And I love playing links golf with people who love it. It was Sandy who first got me feeling that way, though. Just before the Open at Sandwich in '81 I played Ballybunion in Ireland (where he was club captain in 2000] for the first time. Then we went to Prestwick, Troon and up to Royal Dornoch. Playing those courses was the beginning of me understanding what it was all about. I wasn't even playing particularly well at that time, but it all gave me a new appreciation. Seeing links golf through Sandy's eyes was a learning experience for me. To that extent, I will always be grateful to him."


That, however, is just about as close as Watson gets to grumpiness when in these parts. The rest of his time here is spent wallowing in something not far removed from utter contentment. This is a man who, in so many ways, fits right into our environment. Ask him what he enjoys most about Scotland and a lengthy list spills haphazardly from his lips.

"I like the nature of the people," he says. "I like the way golf is played. I haven't driven for a few years, but I feel comfortable on the left side. And yes, I've queued for fish and chips. I love haggis, too. But grouse is a different story! I play fast; the Scots play fast. 'Let's get on with it.' There's no pretence. That's what I love most about the game over here. 'Let's go play.'"


Calc: Nine In A Row!

John Nicholson of AP reports that Mark Calcavecchia broke the tour record for consecutive birdies Saturday, breaking one of the more incredible tour feats and quite possible the most impossible-to-guess trivia answer ever:

Calcavecchia broke the record set by Bob Goalby in his 1961 St. Petersburg Open victory and matched by Fuzzy Zoeller (1976 Quad Cities Open), Dewey Arnette (1987 Buick Open), Edward Fryatt (2000 Doral-Ryder Open), J.P. Hayes (2002 Bob Hope Classic) and Jerry Kelly (2003 Las Vegas Invitational). Hayes played alongside Calcavecchia on Saturday.

There will be detractors who will say it shouldn't count because they played preferred lies, but nine in a row anywhere--even touching the ball--is amazing. It's amazing in a four-man scramble!


"Going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players."

Robert Thompson notes Tim Finchem's remarks about a possible "flex" schedule concept and considers how it could impact the Canadian Open.

Here are his comments, which were news to me. Has anyone seen him talk about this elsewhere?

Q. I was just wondering how much discussion has been held so far about the possible change of date.

TIM FINCHEM: Well, we talk about dates all the time with every tournament, so a fair amount. You know, I think as I believe I said publicly, one of the things we're looking at in the mid term, which would be after our television agreements are renewed, which are currently through '12, so starting in '13, is going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players.

And I think that would be particularly beneficial, potentially, for this week because we've got a tournament that it would be good for this tournament to be able to reach more players with what's going on this week, and why this is a tournament staged at the level it currently is.

I can't swear we're going to go to that. There are a lot of issues with it. There are some down sides to some weeks, but it's something we're looking very carefully at. We've had some very preliminary discussion with the RCGA and the RBC. We'll be talking about that more over the next 6 months. But that is certainly something we'll look at going forward as a possibility.


Seve Again Vows To Be At St. Andrews

Poignant comments in this unbylined report:

He said: "With putting, Ihave to make a mark on the ball then use it to line up the putter. I've also lost the perception of distance for long putts.

"But if things go normally, which Ihope they will, Iwill be there at the Open to say goodbye and thank you for what you have done throughout the years."

He added: "Probably some people will feel sorry for me and maybe cry, but Ifeel happy. I am a very lucky person because throughout life Ihave had so many great moments. Ifeel Ihave lived two or three lives."


Golfweek: Next Buick Open To Be The Last

Adam Schupak with the scoop, the event was 51. He also includes word that the PGA Tour will be announcing a new event with sponsor the week after. Now that is pretty incredible in this economy.


MacKenzie And Wikipedia

If you read my Sharp Park story in Golf World--I know many of you have studied it and already cut it out for your scrapbooks--you'll know that Brent Plater, the primary environmentalist and San Francisco State lecturer lobbying for its closure "for the good of the game" is suggesting that Alister MacKenzie created a faulty design and furthermore, there is none of it left, so the course should go.

(I know, don't even begin to ask things like, how would he know the design is faulty if he was not alive back then and none of it is left today to study.)

Mr. Plater has repeated this claim many times by citing Daniel Wexler's book, even appearing to repeat his claims under the name Arnold Palmer below Curt Sampson's story posted at (the misspelling of "McKenzie" is the same mistake in his early writings on Sharp Park and to me. Now, we architectural junkies bicker over MacKenzie's spelling, but the a in Mac is never an issue, it's that dreaded upper or lower case k).

Thanks to Mr. Plater's redundant message of MacKenzie's mistaken work at Sharp Park, I'm guessing that this hilarious modification to MacKenzie's Wikipedia page was the work of those hoping to see the course closed. Obviously the reference is totally out of context with the rest of the biographical sketch and will be edited out probably by the end of the week, so I'm offering a screen-capture and a copy-pasted version of the text for you to see just what kind of mudslinging the proponents of saving Sharp Park are dealing with.

(click on image to enlarge)

Here's the text, unedited. Not exactly a graceful or appropriate or accurate transition.

MacKenzie worked in an era before large scale earth moving became a major factor in golf course construction, and his designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature of the original site. He is admired for producing holes that offer an ideal balance of risk and reward, and for designing golf courses that challenge yet also accommodate players with a range of skills. The Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica has little resemblance to the initial design. Golf historian Daniel Wexler’s book “The Missing Links”: “Following the early 1930s deluge that washed several of (the course’s holes) out to sea, a massive berm was constructed (largely upon land once occupied by holes three and seven) to prevent history from repeating itself. The subsequent rerouting of the county road and reconfiguring of the lakeside holes has further muddled things so that today only a handful of holes run consistent with MacKenzie’s originals, and no appreciable trace of his strategy remains in play.”