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

The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST

 

  

Friday
Jul102009

Padraig Taking Career Inspiration From Howard Hughes **

Absolutely do not miss Karl MacGinty's setup and interview with Padraig Harrington about making swing changes after winning two straight majors.

Q: Are great sportsmen different to the rest of us? Can we only try and imagine what they, or you, do?

PH: It's complicated to explain what's going on. I'm trying to understand the whole process (of playing golf) so that I can control it. I wouldn't be able to accept performing without knowing why. I don't think I'd enjoy winning if I didn't know why I was winning. I think the ultimate satisfaction of winning is understanding how I got there. While I admire sporting achievement, I pay very little respect to somebody who wins without knowing why.

Q: Like the guy who smashes the balls up in pool and some go in?

PH: No. No. Actually it's the opposite. It would be the guy who gets in on the pool table; has the perfect cueing action and clears everything up but has no understanding of what he's doing.

Q: Who, for example?

PH: I'm not going to give you examples but I am all the time trying to figure out, do people understand what they're doing?

Q: Like Maradona?

PH: Yeah. I've very little time for wasted talent and very little time for the talent that has no understanding of why they do what they do. If somebody's best in the world at something and they can't explain in detail why they were there, I wouldn't be interested.

And here I thought most great athletes were successful because they didn't have a clue what made them so good!

Q: Can that be damaging?

PH: Howard Hughes. As a 14-year-old kid, he got his dad to buy him a sports car so he could pull it apart. He spent a month breaking it down bit-by-bit and then putting it all back together. Well, that's me with my golf game.

Howard also spent the last few years of his life locked up in the Desert Inn wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes.

Damaging? Oh you be the judge.

Friday
Jul102009

Turnberry Rough Crop Peaking In Time For Open!

John Huggan confirms Padraig Harrington's recent observation that it was sprouting. Oddly, my Scottish sources say there hasn't been an inordinate amount of rain in that time. Must be those balmy nights!

Huggan on the prospects of finally seeing some links golf after Loch Lomand and other green swampy slogs the last few months:

Any prospect of bouncy, seaside golf will have to wait until next week's Open at Turnberry, even if early reports on the length of the rough and the greenness of the Ayrshire resort's fairways offer little hope of balls spending as much time on the ground as they ideally should.

And...

Watch out for an almost endless stream of hybrids and long irons off too many of Turnberry's tees.

Sadly, all of the above will -- yet again -- reduce the field to playing a bastardized version of links golf, one where hack-out rough replaces the couple of inches of semi that is enough to promote both temptation and doubt in the minds of even the best players. If that is so, we are going to be treated to the depressing sight of a missed fairway being inevitably followed by a big heave-ho back into play then a wedge to the green from 90 yards or so. In other words, the U.S. Open all over again.

Come to think of it, maybe everyone should just have stayed in America after all.

Friday
Jul102009

"If these players today want to go back to being the red-headed step child, and getting kicked around by the PGA Tour, just getting the scraps, and not having a pension, then, yeah, buy out Carolyn."

Don't miss Randell Mell's GolfChannel.com piece featuring Hollis Stacy's vitriolic take on the current players for ousting her pal Carolyn Bivens. Mell reports that Stacy flew to the the Women's Open from Denver to try and talk players out of their decision.

“This is a big, big mistake,” Stacy said. “Unfortunately, these players are naive, and they’re wrong. They need to be called out.”

Stacy believes the new business model Bivens created is smart and valuable and would build the tour a stronger financial future, even with Bivens struggling to renew sponsors and find new ones.

“In the nine hours it took me to fly here, I’ve gone through the whole spectrum of emotions, from being really upset to being bewildered and then sad, and finally to thinking, `Are these kids stupid?’” Stacy said. “It breaks my heart.”

Gee I'm sure they were really receptive to your message with that attitude!

You're stupid! I'm calling you out!

I think I know why Bivens and Stacy are friends.

Still, Stacy, a business consultant and friend to Bivens, says the tour has already gone from barely covering its operational costs to a profitable business, even in these difficult financial times. She blames the sponsorship issues solely on the economy.

“I lived on the tour for 26 years, and we were always struggling,” Stacy said. “Carolyn wasn’t hired to be liked. She was hired to build the brand and make money and she’s doing that. She’s building the brand globally.

“If these players today want to go back to being the red-headed step child, and getting kicked around by the PGA Tour, just getting the scraps, and not having a pension, then, yeah, buy out Carolyn. But it’s a big, big mistake. I don’t think these players understand we’ve had former players die near poverty.

“I’m behind Carolyn. She’s tough. She’s had to be tough. Women have been taken advantage of for years.

“People who work for me, I don’t want them playing nice. I want them representing the best interests of the players.”

Unfortunately, women being taken advantage of is not what this is about.

For all of Bivens' dreams--many of which were quite noble--playing opportunities remain the most important thing for a professional golfer. Not the brand, not the health care, not the Oscars, not the pension and not interacting with fans.

Male or female, old geezer or teenager, they want to play golf. And Bivens' stubbornness was positioning them to play a whole lot less.

In other Bivens news, Paul Rogers filed this thoughtful analysis just before news broke of her resignation yesterday. Well until he quotes me. Alan Shipnuck says it came down to hubris but does think there was "inherent sexism" may have played a role in her downfall.

 

Thursday
Jul092009

"Missed short putt, got a buried lie in bunker face coming in. not bad, almost great."

Guess that's the extent of dad's day one account (caddying is exhausting!).

Mike Van Sickle is right on the bubble after opening -1 at the Deere, should make for some interesting online tracking Friday. Besides being a great story, I'll do anything to not ponder a possible Lee Janzen win.

Thursday
Jul092009

LPGA Already Posts Craigslist Ad

While Alan Bastable finds one candidate already throwing her visor into the mix (Jan Stephenson), I was looking around Craigslist's job ads for the C-level gig I've always deserved and after working through most of the southeast, finally caved and went through the Florida ads.

You have to give the LPGA Tour points for already getting this ad up on Craigslist. For people who didn't want to overshadow the U.S. Open, they sure work fast!

(click on image to enlarge)

Thursday
Jul092009

"Yet another fable from the region immortalized by the brush strokes of Paul Cezanne, the Cannes Film Festival and the topless beaches of St. Tropez?"

Pretty much yes. Disappointingly, Bloomberg's A. Craig Copetas profiles Vidauban, the "world's coolest golf course" that "doesn’t have a name" but is called Vidauban throughout the piece. This supposed mystery course is supposedly impossible to get on and even harder to find, but it seems pretty easy to locate after a quick Google search. Thanks to all of the readers who sent this and I would agree with a couple of you who wondered what the real story is here.

Thursday
Jul092009

Carolyn, We Hardly Knew Ya Could Last As Long As Ya Did

GolfDigest.com's Ron Sirak was first to break it, and Beth Ann Baldry at Golfweek.com wasn't too far behind.

The Brand Lady is done. I'm shocked. Shocked that it took so long for this day to come.

Sirak says:

"The letter was a death sentence," one source within the LPGA told GolfDigest.com. "No confidence by the players is a dagger in her heart," said a second source, this one involved in tournament ownership.
Bivens has 18 months left on the three-year contract extension she signed at the beginning of 2008. Her salary, according to LPGA tax filings, is $500,000 a year. According to a source in tournament management, a general agreement with Bivens on financial terms was reached late Wednesday.

The only remaining questions surround when Bivens leaves office and how her departure is framed. "She's gone. It's just a question of whether it's a firing or a resignation," said one veteran player, a Bivens supporter. "And she doesn't deserve any of it."

Thursday
Jul092009

LPGA Issues Non-Denial Denial

SI's Ryan Reiterman says the LPGA Tour is privately refuting any Brand Lady buyout talk, and gets this statement:

"As we've said throughout the week, we want all of those interested in women's professional golf to focus on the play here at the U.S. Women's Open, which has started today and will conclude this weekend when the 2009 champion is crowned. Out of respect to the USGA and the amazing work that they've done and continue to do in producing and hosting this great event, we will not respond to media reports on internal matters related to the LPGA business. The LPGA players, staff and Board care deeply about our Tour, and we're all working hard to achieve the same long-term objective to grow our Tour. We look forward to a great week of golf."

Thursday
Jul092009

Spike Bar To The Donald: Stop (Again!)

The Internet Sports Writer of the Year has now (twice) told The Donald to forget about his course planned for very environmentally sensitive land. I expect The Donald to be protesting that ISWOTY award any day now. You go Hoppy:

Though there is little sign of activity at the Donald Trump International Golf Links at Balmedie, near Aberdeen, that does not mean that work has stopped, according to Neil Hobday, the project manager. "When we got outline planning permission last November we were given 40 conditions that have to be purified before we could put a shovel in the ground" Hobday said. "That is what we are doing now - trying to purify these conditions.

"We are not behind schedule though we are not ahead of it either. We are going through a transparent process. We are optimistic that we will be in the dirt in April 2010 and the opening date will be 2012.

"We have not been affected at all by the current economic situation," Hobday continued. "Mr Trump is in a strong cash situation. Everything has been paid for in cash. There is no mortgage on this project. I assure you Mr Trump is in an acquisition mode."

Though a friend made the valid point that Trump's project would be good news economically for a depressed part of the country, it did little to reduce one's feelings of concern at this project. Golf did not need another course in 2008, one, furthermore, set in an area of outstanding natural beauty much enjoyed by everyone. And it does not need one now, however on schedule it is and even though one year down the line, it looks more of a reality than it did.

Thursday
Jul092009

Report: Bivens Buy Out Negotiations Commence; Replacement Search Already Underway

Just as she received a vote of confidence from two Hall of Famers as Garry Smits reports, Sports Business Daily says that buyout talks have begun and a headhunter is already making calls to potential LPGA Commissioner replacements. Here's an AP summary of the SBD story for those who are not subscribers.

Wednesday
Jul082009

JT Pitching Golf Memoir

And he's only 28 years old! But he has played the last two Golf Digest Break 100 deals, which, based on the time it took to play, actually makes JT the golfer feel 52.

Amy Wilkinson reports:

Literary agent David Viglian, who has represented celebs like Clay Aiken and Shannon Doherty, recently sent editors a proposal for a memoir-like work in which JT recounts his many rounds of golf and who he’s teed off with.

It’s no secret Justin’s a big fan of the game, having been introduced to it by stepfather Paul Harless. “I can go on any golf course, anywhere. I can go on a golf course in Abu Dhabi and feel like I’m back home. That’s what I love about it,” he told Entertainment Tonight.

Wednesday
Jul082009

"I don't know nothing about the history of golf"

Mike Aitken adds to the Boo-Weekley-should-not-talk-golf files. Reporting from the Scottish Open:

In the course of conversation, Weekley asked the Aberdonian if he was playing in the following week's major. "I kind of put my foot in my mouth there," recalled the man named after Yogi Bear's sidekick.

This week the American was sitting beside Sandy Lyle in the players' lounge – the only Scot ever to win at Augusta – and was surprised to learn he was a past Masters' champion.

"I don't know nothing about the history of golf," confessed the game's favourite country bumpkin. "I was sitting in there yesterday with Sandy Lyle and never even knew he won the Masters (in 1988]. Seriously, I don't keep up with golf."

Wednesday
Jul082009

"It's nonstop. You can't lose your luggage."

Nice story by Bob Harig on the Deere Classic's $300,000 investment in a chartered jet paying off, with 22 players using it to fly to Turnberry this year. The last year before the jet, they had 2 Open contestants tee it up. And they don't lose luggage of not hugely fat people.

It didn't take Mark Calcavecchia long to see the benefits of such an arrangement. Calc, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 1989 British title at Royal Troon, had a nightmare trip to Carnoustie two years ago.

"None of my stuff showed up until Wednesday," Calcavecchia said. "Clubs, clothes, nothing. Absolutely zero. I had to go find some clothes. Not that I'm hugely fat, but when you're looking for double XL stuff over in Scotland, you'd think there were no fat guys anywhere near there. It was a struggle to find something to wear.

"So this is awesome. It's nonstop. You can't lose your luggage. It's a nice plane, everybody has a good time. The food is awesome. It's kind of a no-brainer."

Wednesday
Jul082009

"We’re not sure whether she crushes the grapes with her feet or wedges, or melts them out of their skins with her icy stares."

Before we get to that gem, Jim Achenbach is tired of the Brand Lady resignation talk.

Still, this Bivens bashing is a raw deal. With the LPGA caught in the crunch of a severe commercial downturn that has handcuffed most current or potential tournament sponsors, this is not the time to publicly undress Bivens. The bad judgment of the LPGA players who requested her resignation was exceeded only by their bad timing.

His Golfweek colleague Jim McCabe wasn't so forgiving, particularly after Cristie Kerr's refusal to speak...except that winemaking.

Winemaking? The sour one herself makes sweet nectar? Shock of shocks, sort of like finding out that John Daly is really a pate and sparkling water guy.

We’re not sure whether she crushes the grapes with her feet or wedges, or melts them out of their skins with her icy stares. Nor do we know whether she prefers white or under-par red, but this is an intriguing development in golf. It brings to 1,639 the number of players who are now making their own wine.

Bob Lentz talks to Lorena Ochoa about the situation and previews the Open.

Steve Elling features several interesting remarks from Dottie Pepper including this:

At the moment, Bivens is not predisposed to be deposed, though most believe it's an inevitability.

"I think it's now a matter of when [Bivens is ousted]," said Dottie Pepper, a longtime LPGA star and now an analyst for multiple broadcast networks. "This is pretty much the ultimate vote of no-confidence. Frankly, something needs to be done."

He also buries this intriguing item:

As bad as Bivens' moves have backfired, the players deserve huge catcalls for failing to speak up about their role in the insurrection -- although it should be noted that the LPGA is exerting pressure to silence the criticism.

A highly placed industry source said Wednesday that rising star Tseng was given written notice from the tour before her Tuesday press session, asking that she not answer questions about Bivens' status.

I wonder how that notice worked? Probably something simple, flowery and on a lawyer's stationery.

Speaking of Pepper, she penned these Open preview thoughts. I particularly liked her nominations of Salem CC and Pasatiempo as possible future venues. Not so sure about the Oak Hill nod.

Wednesday
Jul082009

Golfers Around The World Pay Tribute To King Of Pop

Nice catch by Bob Smiley...

Wednesday
Jul082009

Stevie Shedding His Bib

Sounds like a children's story, and in a sense, it is.

Bob Carney reports that Golf Digest/Golf World receives weekly letters like the two he posts about Woods bagman Steve Williams and his 18th hole bib-shedding act.

Carney says the tour doesn't really want to pick a fight with Stevie, and after this video, can you blame them?

Wednesday
Jul082009

Sirak Tweets: No Bivens At Saucon Valley

Maybe the wisest move she's made in a while.

Wednesday
Jul082009

"He’s started referring to next week’s extravaganza as — deep breath now — the ‘British Open,’ for heaven’s sake."

Derek Lawrenson searches for deep hidden meaning in Ian Poulter's Tweeting and also notes this:

That 15ft putt at Birkdale was actually the last time Poulter was seen in action on British soil. Never mind those spelling mistakes. Here’s something worth feeling horrified about: the lad has spent so long in America he’s started referring to next week’s extravaganza as — deep breath now — the ‘British Open,’ for heaven’s sake.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, would probably be well within his rights to take the Claret Jug back off him if he started any winner’s speech with those words.

Wednesday
Jul082009

"Somewhere along the way, we have lost the relationship that is essential between sponsors and the LPGA."

Not a lot of positive coverage for the Brand Lady, and the theme is pretty consistent: sponsor relations stink.

Richard Oliver talks to Wendy Ward who has plenty of interesting things to say, including this:

“I am a business major; however, I am not a business professional,” said Ward, who earned a business management degree from Arizona State in 1995. “I play golf for a living. But one of the key responsibilities as a professional golfer is to maintain relationships with my sponsors. If we don't keep the sponsors happy, then we lose their interest.”

Lorne Rubenstein checks in with one of the healthier LPGA events--the Canadian Women's Open--and talks to Tournament Owners Association president Gail Graham. She explains how the Bivens put-up-shut-up approach isn't working.

Jill Painter says it's time for Bivens to go.

Bivens just doesn't get it.

She was the first female commissioner of the LPGA Tour, and Bivens didn't seize it. She's made one puzzling move after another and reportedly now is completely unyielding in negotiations with tour sponsors. The tour has lost seven tournaments since 2007. Even the PGA Tour has lost sponsors in this troubled economy but has managed to remain viable.

Earlier this year, the LPGA announced a new tournament in Los Angeles, and Bivens was in Beverly Hills for a news conference with a handful of foreign media. None of the major Los Angeles news outlets, including television stations, newspapers or Web sites, were invited to attend.

It was a puzzling omission.

Wow, and here I just assumed my invite was lost in the mail.

Len Shapiro continues the theme, talking to Kris Tschetter:

"The mistake she made is that she walked in and said 'this is what we're going to do,' and she did not get a lot of people on her side," Tschetter said. "Tournament directors didn't like her because they felt she was telling them 'my way or the highway.' Someone else might have been wiser to go a little slower with it. She was not as willing to be creative as these economic times probably would have called for.

"The bottom line is we want to play tournaments. My goodness, some of these younger girls are probably thinking we're only going to have 10 events [in the U.S.] next year. The players are thinking we've got to do whatever it takes to get this thing right. I understand both sides of it. But you just hear too many tournament directors and sponsors saying she's too hard to deal with."

And finally, Dave Seanor envisions a world where the PGA Tour or IMG take over the struggling LPGA Tour. Heaven help us.

Wednesday
Jul082009

Saucon Valley's Environmental Stewardship

Back in April Ron Whitten wrote about Saucon Valley winning the 2008 National Private and overall prize of the 2008 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award. Hopefully NBC will talk a bit about this during this weekend's U.S. Women's Open telecast.