Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

Golf is an open exhibition of overweening ambition, courage deflated by stupidity, skill soured by a whiff of arrogance...these humiliations are the essence of the game.



Q&A With Bob Smiley

Bob Smiley is a television writer moonlighting in the world of golf literature, producing an entertaining new book on his pursuit to watch every hole Tiger Woods played in 2008.

Released today by HarperCollins, Follow The Roar is a fresh and decidedly novel approach to the genre of golf books where an author takes us inside the ropes for a year. Smiley was mostly outside the ropes and media centers (explaining his clear eyes and thin physique), yet he captures so many entertaining moments in Tiger's epic half-season.

The impressively produced book features end sheets with all of Bob's tickets along with a lavish photo insert that includes several indelible images taken by some of the best in the business.

Bob hosts his own blog here, and kindly answered a few questions about the book.

GEOFF: The idea for Follow The Roar really started with an email from an reader?

BOB: It really did.  During the 2nd round of last year's Target (now Chevron) World Challenge, I decided to dive into Tiger's mob for the day and write about the experience.  I'd seen Tiger play at Riviera a couple times, but never from start to finish.  I stuck with him from the second he stepped out of his beige Buick Enclave until he signed his card for a tournament-record 62.  The piece triggered a wave of response from golf fans who had braved crowds to see Tiger and loved reliving the experience or those who had never seen him in person and wished they'd been there.  Buried in the emails was a woman who asked me whether I would be following Tiger the whole year.  It was a ridiculous idea.  Until I realized it was a brilliant idea.

GEOFF: And when did the book deal come into play?

BOB:  Twenty-four hours before Tiger began his season.  I was up early and starting to pack for the trip to the Buick Invitational in January when the news came through that HarperCollins had made an offer on my book proposal to help me do this.  I would have gone to San Diego with or without a deal and chronicled the tournament.  But the following week Tiger would be in Dubai, and that would have been a little tough without some outside help.

GEOFF: An accountant friend had you not making it past July without going broke. I take it you were the one person grateful for Tiger's knee needing major surgery? Or would you rather have continued on?

BOB:  Well my mom thought my airfare budget was way off since, in her mind, Tiger would be letting me travel with him for free on his jet by the end of the year.  But no, I would always have loved to have seen more.  I'd love to know how Tiger would have navigated the wind and rain during the first two rounds of the British Open.  That said, he went out with such a finish at the U.S. Open that it's hard to imagine that even he could top it.  

GEOFF: In most instances you were covering him without the aid of a press credential?

BOB: The only press pass I ever received was in Dubai of all places.  And only then because I was surfing around the tournament's website, found an online application for a credential and hit send.  But I'm not a reporter by anyone's definition.  From the beginning, Follow The Roar was always intended to be an everyman's adventure with Tiger and his world.  I wanted every reader to start pick up the book and think, "this could be me."  

GEOFF: Do you think it made your quest more uniquely informed because you were viewing him outside the ropes and without the pleasure of free food accompanied by depressing lunch room discussions about the demise of newspapers?

BOB: Inside the ropes or out, most reporters aren't walking 18 holes with any one group.  It's just not a good use of their time.  What that meant for me was there were shots Tiger hit and things he said throughout the season that I know no other writer witnessed or wrote about but I. Being on the outside also meant being free from any journalistic pressure to be impartial and civil.  My feelings about Tiger over the course of the year ran the gamut from disdain to adoration and back again.  

GEOFF: Was there a favorite character you encountered along the way?

BOB: In Tucson, I had an extra ticket and put it on Craigslist for free, the one rule being that whoever took it had to follow Tiger and Tiger only with me for the day. No complaining, no long beer lines, no bathroom breaks.  It ended up going to a tough Tucson taxi driver who gave me a free ride to the tourney and broke the ice by showing me the gun he had hidden away in his glove compartment.  

GEOFF: Any brushes with Stevie?

BOB:  Nothing a little facial constructive surgery didn't heal.  

GEOFF: Have you sent a copy to Tiger? 

BOB: The supremely naive part of me would like to believe that Tiger will bounce out of bed one morning this week, drive to the bookstore and buy it.  The realistic part of me knows that Tiger Woods is so powerful that he probably saw a finished copy before I did. 

GEOFF:  Anything you'd like to ask the big guy?

BOB: Plenty. But my guess is that given the opportunity to spend time with the greatest golfer ever, our conversation would quickly devolve into me making swings with an imaginary club and asking him what in the world I'm doing wrong.  


FedEx Fix Tabled For "Further Review and Discussion"

Steve Elling blogs that the disastrous FedEx Cup fix expected to be green-lit this week by the PGA Tour Policy Board hit a snag: the PGA Tour Policy Board. 

All along, some tour officials and players expressed doubts that the complete framework could be hammered out by Monday, but the tour needs to implement the plan before the start of the 2009 season since the regular-season points awarded for individual tournaments stand to be affected. 

“While the proposed framework was favorably received by the Policy Board, no action was taken pending further review and discussion with sponsors, network media partners and players,” tour communications chief Ty Votaw said in a statement Monday night. “The Policy Board will reconvene via teleconference, at which time final approval will be sought. Final action is expected prior to Thanksgiving.”

The board received the idea of reduced fields and a system rigged to protect those big free-market loving stars so favorably, they tabled it for more discussion.  

Commissioner Pelosi, errrr...Finchem, makes $5 million a year to not bring these things to the table without the necessary votes. Of course the mavericks who stepped up here are not exactly going out on a limb. Reduced fields upset the rank-and-file and make for lousy television since they produce an unusually high number of runaway winners (tune into a WGC for evidence of that). You'd just like to think the Commissioner would realize that before presenting a plan.

But worse than that blind spot is the decision to ignore momentum building for a bold Tour Championship conclusion. If ever there was a time to take a chance--dismal ratings, nervous sponsors, two straight FedEx flops--isn't this it? 


"He has probably put more steps on this ground at this stage of development than any architect we've dealt with"

In Jerry Potter's story on Tiger's press conference to launch The Cliffs, he shares this from developer Jim Anthony:

Woods said he was able to walk about three months after surgery, and Anthony said his early visits to the site left him worried. "He has probably put more steps on this ground at this stage of development than any architect we've dealt with," said Anthony, who has courses built by Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio.

That's not really saying much. Those three, walking a site? Without cameras? Right.


Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony offers a nice overview of today's ceremony, which is telecast at 9 EST on Golf Channel.

Obviously of most interest to this website is Pete Dye's induction, followed closely by Herbert Warren Wind's overdue entry into the HOF.

Michael Hurdan writes about Dye here in a piece for, while Jaime Diaz offers this perspective in the December Golf Digest.

Jerry Tarde calls Wind the American Darwin in this December Golf Digest editor's letter. I just can't believe how clean his office was. (Photo from



"In the first two hours of the final round, six different players were in the projected No. 125 slot, the position needed to keep a full card for next year."

Steve Elling on the incredible scenarios that played out this week for the Top 125 bubble boys, including Martin Laird, Shane Bertsch, Jeff Overton and Jason Gore.

Scottish rookie Martin Laird, who began the week at No. 126, eked past Shane Bertsch, who missed the cut after starting the week at No. 124. All the former had to do was make a crucial eight-footer for par on the final hole, knowing full well that he was surely dead in the Disney World swamp water if he didn't.

After the putt dropped, he buried his face in a hand and stared the grass. It was a mix of relief with a smidge of uncertainty, since he thought he had blown it with a three-putt on the 12th and another bogey on the 16th.

"I honestly didn't know," said Laird, who finished in a four-way for 21st. "I still thought it would be close. But I knew if I missed it, I had zero chance." 



“Everybody’s on board and the sponsors are very excited"

Bob Harig confirms the likely FedEx Cup fixes and boy is the fix in.

The highlights: The overall champion will not be determined before the Tour Championship, it will be nearly impossible for a major championship winner not to qualify for the season-ending event featuring 30 players, the overall point distribution will be greatly simplified and field sizes for playoff events will be reduced.

Ahhh yes: win a major and that means smooth sailing through the playoffs. Uh, I'm just wondering if anyone has thought about such a scenario perhaps encouraging said major winner to take a few playoff event weeks off? I know, I know, there I go again wondering about things that could never possibly occur. 

But if you were looking for a one-day, or even a one-tournament shootout for the $10 million top prize? It's not going to happen.

"This year, we made the regular season mean hardly anything," said PGA Tour veteran Steve Flesch, a member of the tour's Players Advisory Council, which met this week at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. "Golf has always been about who has had the best year, not who had the best four weeks.

"We had to make a conscious decision, are we going to make the playoffs for four weeks or who has the best year? I'm happy with the changes they've made. They're letting the regular season [points] carry all the way to the Tour Championship." 


Meanwhile, Brian Hewitt talks to Zach Johnson and apparently the FedEx Cup Hewitt watched was different than the bore the rest of us tolerated the last two years.

The FedEx Cup debuted in 2007 and was a success due, in large part, to exciting finishes in its four-event Playoff series and the fact that Tiger Woods won the $10 million first prize.

Uh, if it was a success how come they had to revamp it?

The Tour has been said to be trying to find a way to guarantee that the big prize will still be undetermined before the Tour Championship starts. There is also a desire to re-tweak the system so that certain top players make it to the top 30 at the Tour Championship. This year nine players, including Ryder Cup star J.B. Holmes and two-time major winner Padraig Harrington, began the Playoffs in the top 30 but dropped out of the top 30 before the Tour Championship, in part, because of the increased volatility.

Bad playoff play must not go unrewarded!

The other issue the Tour has been wrestling with is a way to give more players a chance at the $10 million first prize when they arrive at East Lake in Atlanta for the Tour Championship.

“Everybody’s on board and the sponsors are very excited,” Johnson said.

I tell you, the excitement is palpable.


“I’m trying to sell [stuff]. So get out of the way.”

Josh Peter reports on John Daly moving into OJ territory. Let's just hope his visits to Las Vegas turn out better than OJ's. 


HSBC Final Round Airing Sunday Night

As exciting as the PGA Tour and Nationwide events were Sunday, that impressive leaderboard at the HSBC event in China was even more attractive until rain delayed Sunday's final round.

Word comes from the Golf Channel has scrambled to work out the details to bring us the final round of the HSBC tonight, Sunday, following the broadcast of the Nationwide Tour Championship with only a 30 minute interruption for the Sprint Postgame. My cable listings are a disaster, but it appears the start will be pretty soon.

And if the leaderboard doesn't excite you, it's worth recording just to hear the weird crowd reactions and fireworks explosions. If only Monty were playing...


The Donald To Take The Mrs. To Scotland For Her First Site Visit

Auslan Cramb of the Telegraph writes...wait, who cares what he's writing when they run a photo like this to accompany the story. Is he a troll doll?


Compton Makes The Cut!

Truly one of the more amazing accomplishments the PGA Tour has seen in a long time. Playing in (what I believe) is his second serious event since his second transplant, Erik Compton makes the cut at the Children's Miracle Network event in advance of next week's second round of Q-school. Steve Elling writes:

Making a series of clutch putts down the stretch, Compton shot a 4-under 68 in the second round and made the 36-hole cut by two shots, moving into a tie for 51st, 10 shots behind leader Scott Verplank.

Verplank plays with an insulin pump on his belt, but that's kid stuff compared with the increasingly impressive Compton resume.

"It's amazing," said Spain's Alejandro Canizares, who was paired with Compton the first two days and finished 1 over to miss the cut. "It takes a lot of courage. Hopefully he plays a little better on the weekend and gets lucky." 



"Starting in April 2009, precise limits will be set on how porous a competition ball's cover stock can be"

And you thought the USGA had done something...keep dreaming.

Reader Scott passed along this piece by Chris Hardwick looking at the impact technology has had on bowling. The sport has never been easier to play but it doesn't seem to be translating to a healthy game. So they are turning back the clock just a bit for competition but altering ball specs.

It turns out that the sport's governing body, the United States Bowling Congress, is just as worried as I am. In Greendale, Wisconsin, at a climate-controlled facility that was almost certainly well-stocked with funnel cakes, the USBC deployed a 7-foot-tall robot named Harry. Armed with laser guides, hydraulics, and a mechanical arm, Harry's job was to bowl with the precision of a machine. As an engineer controlled release points, axis tilt, speed, and rotation, 23 sensors along the lane measured things like position and velocity. The goal, according to the USBC, was "to strike a better balance between player skill and technology." I am pretty sure the "strike" pun was intended.

The results, released earlier this year, were undeniable: Bowling ball composition had to be reined in. Starting in April 2009, precise limits will be set on how porous a competition ball's cover stock can be, standardizing how it adheres to the lane. Technology will be hobbled for the sake of the game.

As a purist of the sport, I'm grateful for the change. We should have to earn our marks the way our daddies (or, at least, mine) did: with hard rubber balls on wood, a hot lamp over the scoring table burning our hands and faces, and watered-down American beer lubricating each frame until we go home smelling like an ashtray in a chemical plant. "Keep yer got-damn science off mah balls!" we'll cry, and life will be good and pure and true.


Another Serial Hole-In-Onester

Thanks to reader Michael for this story on central Illinois Curt Hocker. We know how well the last one hole-in-one specialist story turned out.

Curt Hocker is on a roll. Five rolls, to be exact. Just ask anyone at the El Paso Golf Club, where the 22-year-old has recorded five holes-in-one in the last week, including two on Saturday. In this year alone, Hocker has seven aces, five on par-4s, and two other double eagles.


"They kind of jammed it down our throats"

John Hawkins gives us a few more details on the FedEx Cup fix, and while we're back to just one points reset compared to what was reported yesterday, it's still not even close to the change any fan could ask for. It remains unimaginative and devoid of any personality. But at least they really fleshed out the ideas with the players:

When the 16-man Player Advisory Council gathered on a teleconference Tuesday to discuss changes in the format, it quickly realized the tour, as is often the case, already had determined a plan of action and wouldn't be holding a forum to solicit new ideas, which many of these guys definitely have.

"They kind of jammed it down our throats," said one veteran. Added Tom Pernice Jr., who has served on both the PAC and PGA Tour Policy Board: "It sounded like Tim [commissioner Finchem] and his staff had decided which direction they're going to go." When I relayed Pernice's thoughts to Joe Ogilvie, a board member whom many players consider their strongest voice of reason, he replied, "I would say Tom is pretty accurate on that."

Just one big happy family.

Time for some common sense. "Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he had 20 million people watching 'The Apprentice' and the winner was given a $175,000 job for one year," Ogilvie says. "We've got 2.2 million people watching and the winner gets $10 million. We've got to turn this thing into an event. The golf tournament would still be the focus, but we're almost too traditionalistic in the way we go about things."

I think that's a nice way of saying unimaginative.

Anyway, here's the "fix":

The tour's '09 proposal, if you still care, is to move the regular-season realignment back three weeks, meaning the adjustment of point totals would occur before the start of the Tour Championship.

Hawkins concludes:

Otherwise, what was conceived two years ago as the tour's big-bang finish will remain a hamburger on a bun in a steakhouse where the shrimp cocktail costs $80. No mustard, no ketchup, no cause for excitement, no reason to put off mowing the lawn until after Woods finishes birdie-birdie-birdie to beat Mr. Underdog, 1 up. Call it what you want, but until someone grabs the dynamite, or even a handful of firecrackers, the playoff series can't be described as anything more than a proverbial work in progress. 



"The restructuring was all one-sided"

Bill Huffman reveals that the Thunderbirds have been doing some serious renegotiation to keep FBR as sponsor of the Phoenix tour event.

Two different sources close to the Thunderbirds told me a new deal was recently brokered between FBR and the Thunderbirds that reduces FBR's overall financial commitment to the tournament "by millions." And the restructuring was all one-sided, with FBR telling the Thunderbirds it would walk if they didn't accept the terms.

According to those sources, FBR is going to keep its commitment to the tournament on several fronts. It will be the title sponsor and pick up TV costs, but it has reduced its charitable contributions significantly. And, as previously reported by the Tribune, FBR also will cut back on its entertainment commitment, which means the corporate hospitality, the pro-am and Tuesday night dinner.


Telegraph: "Scientists find secret of perfect golf swing"

Take that, golf magazines!

Reader Michael passed along Caroline Gammell's Telegraph exclusive on the news we've all been waiting for: scientists discovering the perfect golf swing secret.

The key is knowing at exactly what stage of the swing you should exert the maximum force, according to research.

Hmmm...that's helpful.

Using a complex mathematical equation, Professor Robin Sharp from the Department of Mechanical, Medical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Surrey, has calculated which parts of the upper body should be used at what stage.

Breaking with conventional thinking, his study suggests that the wrists are not as important as the way a golfer uses their arms.

His research also concludes that height is not as advantageous as previously thought, with short people able to hit a ball almost as far as their taller competitors if they use the right technique.

Verne Troyer will be relieved.

Prof Sharp studied three professional golfers from the 1968 Ryder Cup - Bernard Hunt, Geoffrey Hunt and Guy Wolstenholme - whose swing action was photographed on a high speed camera.

Guess footage of Dai Rees wasn't available. Boy and that was a great Ryder Cup team. Too bad they didn't play one in '68 or that Wolstenholme never played in a Ryder Cup!


USGA Locks Up Holtgrieve For 2011 Walker Cup, Rendering Buddy Marucci A Lame Duck

Ron Balicki reports that the blue coats got their man for 2011, even though they still have the '09 Walker Cup to play. Maybe Jim Holtgrieve was eyed for an Obama cabinet post and they had to pin him down? Either way, he's going to consult everyone's new favorite captain, Paul Azinger.

“I’m definitely going to tap into the knowledge and experience of past (Walker Cup) captains and even try to talk with Paul Azinger at some point,” said Holtgrieve, who was named Nov. 3 by the U.S. Golf Association to serve as America’s captain for the ’11 Walker Cup. “I want their input on what to look for, what to expect and just how they approached things in general.”

And David Fay on the timing:

"We talked about it and everyone was very committed (to selecting Holtgrieve),” Fay said. “When we made the decision that he was our choice, we saw no reason not to put it out (to the public). I mean, it’s no state secret. He was our man, so why wait?”

If we could only get them to decide on the results of that ball study with such vision!


"I think it's bad for the sport that so many print people are no longer covering it."

Neil Sagebiel at the Armchair Golf blog interviews's Bob Harig about a variety of issues including the impact of fewer newspaper reporters covering golf:

ARMCHAIR GOLF: One of the latest casualties in the golf writing ranks was Thomas Bonk of the L.A. Times. Where do you see this thing heading as a golf writer?

BOB HARIG: It's bleak right now. I think it's bad for the sport that so many print people are no longer covering it. Newspapers still have tremendous reach and they have all decided that they don't need to cover golf. Their attitude is people can get the information elsewhere. Well then, you're telling them to go elsewhere – or forcing them to. If you don't cover it with your own guy, human nature says that you're going to give it less attention. So there is a medium that's not getting covered. I don't think it's good for the sport at all. I think they want as many voices and as many publications covering them as possible. You also have probably the most popular athlete in any sport and they choose to ignore it except for getting by with the bare minimum. 


PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Fix Looks To Make BCS, Chase Look Positively Brilliant

Rex Hoggard reports that the PGA Tour has come up with its FedEx Cup fix and as you might imagine, it's pitiful on a level that even a conoisseur of unimaginative Tour initiatives finds astonishing.

Most agreed the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup needed fixing after the second edition of the circuit’s playoffs produced another anticlimactic finish and a Tour Championship without the likes of Padraig Harrington. At the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, players got a glimpse at the Tour’s possible solution.

Well, actually many said it needed fixing after year one and a few others noted that it was broken before the even started. Nonetheless, there is some good news. The playoffs will start at the top 125 instead of the top 144, which only about 400 writers suggested never made sense. Hoggard says points will be "recalibrated" just like in previous years.

Now remember the Harrington reference by Hoggard. It's driving this madness.

The top 90 after the playoff opener would advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship, down from 120, followed by the top 60, down from 70, earning spots at the BMW Championship.

The top 30 points earners will advance to the Tour Championship, and the points will be reset to assure that all 30 players have a mathematical chance to win the season-long race.

“It’s a nice medium between what we had in 2007 and 2008,” said Zach Johnson, one of four player directors on the Policy Board.

Oh yes, it's medium.

So you read that right. They are proposing not one, but two points resets! You know, because fans have been clamoring for even more number-crunching and countless explanations from Dan Hicks. Oh and more graphics too!

While the plan seems to be a work in progress, many PAC members didn’t expect much to change before the final version is submitted to the Policy Board.

“It seems like (the Tour) always comes to us with ‘X’ and we talk about it and suggest ‘Y,’ but they never really consider ‘Y,’” said one longtime PAC member who requested he not be identified.

A head-to-head, winner-take-all shootout, possibly a match-play event between the top players after the Tour Championship, had been suggested but was not part of the Tour’s proposal.

“That really doesn’t work, because TV and the sponsors don’t want to see Brett Quigley playing Omar Uresti for the championship,’’ Quigley said. “You just never know with match play. They want the top players.”

First of all, the winner-take-all concepts as proposed by yours truly, or the more recent idea picking up steam, never called for match play.  Instead, it has been suggested ad nauseum that a final day with 4 or 8 players teeing it up with $10 million on the line might attract just a bit of attention. So if the final day group is determined by the final FedEx Cup points tally, the chances of a Quigley-Uresti showdown is pretty slim, but let's say that happens and there is $10 million on the line. Who cares? They are playing for $10 million!

Yet here we are in year three and the PGA Tour brass is tacking on more complicated points permuations and getting even further away from a true playoff. Can someone please tell me how all of these free-marketeering, independent contracting, survival-of-the-fittest Darwinists, macho lovers of democratic competition, can be so terrified of a true playoff?

I know, I know, so we can get the stars like Harrington to East Lake, even if he misses two cuts. Brilliant.


"Anywhere between 0.2 and 0.3"

Since Thomas Bonk's Monday golf column was eliminated as part of the L.A. Times' hunt for irrelevance, we no longer get the weekend television ratings. Of course, Golf Channel's are almost never reported, even by Bonk, but Doug Ferguson managed to slip in this number in a story on the Fall Series:

Really, there should be no surprises in the Fall Series because the players who might be expected to win aren’t playing. Of the seven multiple winners on tour this year, none has teed it up in America since the Tour Championship.

That doesn’t mean the Fall Series is a waste of time—certainly not to those scrambling to keep their jobs.

Sure, television ratings are abysmal (anywhere between 0.2 and 0.3), which is to be expected during football season. Then again, they weren’t that much better a few years ago when these tournaments were the final stops on the way to the Tour Championship.


"Drop your putter, dig your cell phone out of your golf bag, and call 1.877.9NM.GIFT."

I would not have believed this one if not for Ryan Herrington's item in this week's Golf World Bunker. There's selling out, there's whoring out and then there's another indescribable level of unfathomable desperation as evidenced from item in the new Neiman Marcus catalog...

Jack Nicklaus Custom Backyard Course Package

Go ahead, re-read it. Yes, THE Jack Nicklaus, Golfer of the Century turned world-renowned course designer. Yep, your very own custom-designed three-hole course. Uh-huh, for your backyard. Jack will study topography, aerial photos, and landscape maps for the site, then send his team to survey the property. He'll create a formal design plan and color renderings for up to three holes and a practice area, depending on the size of your back forty. Your construction crew builds from it, with supervision from Jack's world-class design team (the same team pursued by premier club owners worldwide). Now to sink the winning putt; when your course is finished, the Golden Bear himself will stop by to play the first round with you, personally. More? He'll sign his club and ball for your collection and throw in a custom set of Nicklaus clubs, including a personalized bag.

Drop your putter, dig your cell phone out of your golf bag, and call 1.877.9NM.GIFT.

Jack Nicklaus Custom Backyard Course Package
Price Beginning at $1,000,000.00*
*Construction and site preparation costs not included.

For $1,000,000 you get some plans and a site visit? So, how is that different from a normal Nicklaus design?

No word yet on whether Neiman's new favorite customer will be buying one of these for Todd.