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

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



"I love it; I'm taking 50 percent of his earnings"

Bob Harig reminds us of a special feather in Tim Finchem's plume: the Casey Martin episode and the precedent it set for Erik Compton to receive a cart at Q-School this year.

Martin, now coaching at Oregon:

"Seriously, I'm pumped. I'm pumped because I know Erik, and he's got a serious condition that justifies this. He is seriously good. He can really, really play. It's not like some guy on some mega-pipe dream trying to get recognition. This guy is a great player who could literally play the tour for a long time. I'm ecstatic that what I went through can help somebody else out."


"How concerned is Camp Ponte Vedra about America’s financial crisis?"

Jeff Rude offers this in a column:

• How concerned is Camp Ponte Vedra about America’s financial crisis? Well, the PGA Tour is fortunate that virtually all of its title sponsors are signed through 2010 and the vast majority through 2012, said PGA Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw.
Timing is everything. So the Tour is not putting on a sad face.
“When the deepest advertising recession since the Great Depression hit in 2001-02, we renewed 21 title sponsors and signed 18 new ones in a 20-month period,” Votaw said. “We’ll come through the trouble this time because we offer fundamental value–brand building, business-to-business opportunity, positive image, charity, international growth.”

Is fundamental value different than say, value? (I'm just trying to learn!).

Also in the column his this item, which I ran by a tax attorney who chuckled and said it was definitely not accurate (others are welcome to chime in...):

• A PGA Tour player, low-ranking at that, told me that if Barack Obama is elected president, he’ll have to pay 56 percent in income taxes. And you wonder why Tour players are close to 100 percent Republican?

"One reason why the Ryder and Solheim Cups are so eagerly awaited is that both are breaks from the mind-numbing tedium that is yet another 72-hole stroke-play event."

With Seve on his mind and in his heart, John Huggan files his typically impassioned plea for a return of shotmaking. Though I think he was kind to the tours with this statement:

Of course, the unspoken realisation that card-and-pencil golf is inherently dull – stroke play only becomes watchable when it is magically transformed into match play on Sunday afternoons – is the biggest motivation behind the so-far failed Fed-Ex Cup series and the European Tour's new-fangled 'Race for Dubai' that will start in China next month.
And while the thoughts of golfers the world over are with Ballesteros as he lies in a Madrid hospital following surgery to remove a brain tumour, the most exciting golfer in living memory is just one who has expressed fears for the future of the game he loves.

"I see good swings and good players," said Seve. "But nothing that really keeps me watching television for a long time.

"Everybody has been equalised by the new clubs, the long putter, more loft on wedges. Something has to be done with the rules, otherwise golf will become more power than anything else."

He is right, of course. Until some imagination and flair is consistently injected into the presentation of the golf courses used for professional events – the recent Ryder Cup at Valhalla was a perfect example of how even a mediocre course set up properly can allow top players at least a chance to express themselves – then we are doomed to watch even the most creative individuals hacking out of long grass that exists only because of the aforementioned ball.

"Golf's symbolic legacy as an indulgence for the wealthy appears to have come back into play."

Mark Frost fills in for John Paul Newport's WSJ column spot and pens a compelling look at the evolution of golf and senses that the sport really hasn't figured out what made Scots start playing in the first place.

Then came Tiger, the next avatar. He swept away most of the last vestiges of "restriction." Golf was big business now, and money streamed in from flush and eager corporate partners. High-end daily-fee courses cropped up like weeds, offering amenities that had remained out of most players' reach. The trend culminated in the appearance of a new breed of private club that catered to the super rich -- and charged accordingly; membership as conspicuous status symbol -- that would have shocked the Old Money aristocrats of the early USGA.

Most of the money for those courses and their membership fees flowed from superheated Wall Street spigots; then greed, hubris and the stubborn human inability to see danger coming from a distance led to September 2008. Amid the economic wreckage of all this steroidal excess, the future of golf's high-flying recent past seems at best uncertain. The grand old clubs, built on sustaining cultures rooted deep in their communities, will weather any storm, but many of those daily-fee courses had already gone under; and the survivors face hard times.

Corporations will no longer have the same discretionary funds to express their affection for golf. The image of the game itself has taken a hit from these cautionary tales of executive excess. The number of amateur golfers has flat-lined and with an injured Tiger on the sidelines, so have TV ratings. A path forward can be found in the recent victory of the U.S. Ryder Cup team; a group of untested kids and seasoned veterans putting their egos aside, and playing their guts out for nothing but pride. Captain Paul Azinger borrowed a page from the Scots, who still play golf the way they've always done on their local, minimal masterpiece tracks. Their game, taken to heart, teaches discipline, equilibrium, modesty, moral rectitude and the lesson that any player forgets at their peril: Golf, like life, is a humbling game.

"With ball technology still unpoliced, one certain victim will be the par 5."

I've been giving some thought to Ron Whitten's story on the future of architecture and one of his more optimistic visions sees the par-5 disappearing from the game:

So where is golf architecture headed? Our prediction is that in the next 20 years, new courses will be wider, drier and probably scruffy around the edges. They'll feature a lot of steep, deep hazards and dramatic slopes, will be more eclectic in their bunkering and green complexes and be positively dizzying in their strategies of play.
They'll still be mostly 18 holes, but the standard of par will drop from 72 to 69. With ball technology still unpoliced, one certain victim will be the par 5. Par 4s now play as long as par 5s used to. Even the glorious 12th at Stonebrae will probably be rendered into a drive and pitch shot by some Nationwide players next March.
To be genuine three-shot holes, new par 5s would have to be 700 yards or more. It'll be impossible to have four of those on any new course, because they'd take up too much precious land and drag each round into a sixth hour. A single par 5 will suffice. The others will be called what they now really are, long par 4s.

First, it's nice to see Ron's optimistic about governing body regulation of the ball. Can't say he's off base with that one!

But do you think he's right that the par-5 is doomed and is this a good or bad thing?

Obviously I agree with the merits of sub-par 70 courses because they take less time and the game needs to downsize the amount of acreage it uses. And he is also right that it'll take 700 yards to make a true three shotter, but really, how many of those are that interesting to play?

However, wouldn't we be losing one of the great treats in the game: the reachable par-5? When the elements are in balance, is there any more exciting or interesting shot than the decision to go for a par-5 in two?


Andy Bean: How Getting My Clubs Stolen Helped My Game And How It Can Help You Too

That's how I'm envisioning the magazine instruction piece, anyway. He shot 65 Friday and hit all 18 greens in the Administaff (is that a Champions Tour major too?).

Bean's clubs, including TaylorMade irons that were one of only 10 sets of the clubs manufactured, were stolen last month at the Greater Hickory Classic in North Carolina. He turned to a makeshift set that he initially didn't expect to keep long.

"I had those clubs for four years and I wouldn't have taken anything for them," Bean said. "But to tell you the truth, I've just played some very good golf the last month."

With the new clubs the next week, Bean tied for the first-round lead and finished third at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.

"I have hit so many good shots with these new clubs, I don't think I will go back," Bean said. "You'd think about changing back to the old clubs, but I have done really well with these."

Lousy Seve News

Mike Aitken reports on Seve's turn for the worse.


Votaw Updates IGF Delegates on Olympic Golf Movement; Picks Up Killer Frequent Flyer Miles

From a press release sent out by the USGA:

Votaw Updates IGF Delegates on Olympic Golf Movement, Garners Support During World Amateur Team Championship
ADELAIDE, Australia (October 16, 2008) – The International Golf Federation Olympic Committee continues its efforts to add golf to the 2016 Olympic Games and is seeking constituent support along the way.
Last week during the World Amateur Team Championships in Adelaide, Australia, PGA TOUR executive Ty Votaw, as Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Committee, provided a progress report to IGF delegates from more than 70 countries as well as the 18-member International Golf Federation Administrative Committee. Votaw also sought assistance from the delegates, suggesting they interact with members of the International Olympic Committee from their respective countries, voice their support of the Olympic golf movement and reinforce the virtues of the game as a potential Olympic sport.
And don't forget: what a great retirement gig it would be for Peter Dawson and David Fay!
During the course of Votaw’s visit, member organizations pledged their support through future efforts as well as financial backing over the next 12 months to help defray costs of the bid. The IOC will determine in October 2009 whether to add no more than two of seven sports under consideration for the 2016 Games: golf, baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash.
“The IGF effort to promote Olympic golf will benefit significantly by maximizing the exposure it receives,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A and co-secretary of the IGF. “The World Amateur Team Championships presented an ideal forum to discuss the efforts and associated issues, and to seek backing from an international base of constituents. Ty provided vital information and was able to garner much valuable support.”
As well as a lifetime's worth of miles on Qantas!
“Considering we have just 12 months to solidify our case for golf’s immediate future as an Olympic sport, we need to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself,” said David Fay, Executive Director of the United States Golf Association and co-secretary of the IGF. “This was definitely time well spent with a valuable audience that can help to make a difference in our Olympic bid.” 
"And might I add, as a connoisseur of miles, one wonderful trip for Joan and I to pad our miles."

And you think I can't find the positive in any story?


ADT "Declines To Extend" LPGA Deal

Well, I guess this will prevent anyone from asking if ADT will be back to sponsor next year's LPGA finale...

ADT declines to extend sponsor relationship
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 16, 2008 -- The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), owner and operator of the ADT Championship event in West Palm Beach, Fla., and ADT, title sponsor of the event, jointly release the following statements in response to ADT not renewing its title sponsorship.
LPGA statement credited to LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens
The LPGA has enjoyed an excellent relationship with ADT as a title sponsor of our season-ending event since 2001, and we are tremendously grateful for ADT’s strong support and loyalty to the LPGA and our members throughout the years. While we are disappointed that ADT won’t title the event beyond 2008, we look forward to working with them to ensure the 2008 event is the most successful to date.  As it relates to the future title of this event, which features golf's most compelling format, we are having discussions with several groups for title sponsorship.
Statement credited to ADT Security Services
ADT Security Services has had a long and productive partnership with the LPGA as title sponsor of the ADT Championship. While ADT is committed to making this year’s ADT Championship the best ever, we have decided not to extend our sponsor relationship.  Over the years we have had the opportunity to work with LPGA in building a great event while hosting it in our local Palm Beach County community.
ADT maintains an excellent relationship with the LPGA and continues to be committed to our other partners including the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, the Pepsi Center in Denver as well as several Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) properties, the Home Depot Center and LA Live in Southern California and the O2 Dome in London.
ADT’s strategy is to make significant investments in growth areas of our business that are more closely aligned with meeting the needs of our customers.

How Will The Presidential Race Affect The Golf Industry?

Golfdom is sponsoring a free "webinar" by David Crow where you can find out. Here's the registration page.


Golf World Readers Choice Awards Confirm That Alabamans Have Internet Access

At least based on the posting of the top 50 public courses of readers, I think it's safe to assume someone in Alabama did a lot of clicking at, as two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail charmers top the list of reader favorites.

Here's the intro to the Golf World spread, with the private and resort listings still to come.


Here's A Guy I'm Not Rooting For...

...considering how tough college golf scholarships are to come by, anyone who plays one college event as a senior then turns pro, really is one selfish young man. Ryan Herrington reports.


"Who in their right mind would invest $50,000 in an organization that changes its CEO every year?"

No one every accused me of timeliness, but I finally got around to my October Golf Digest and their special money section. Each story had excellent points and you can access all of them here if you are behind on your reading like me. But considering yesterday's news from Winged Foot and the interesting state of club life in America in light of the financial crisis, each story has relevance, none moreso than this excerpt from Chris Millard's story was most entertaining, particularly this anecdote.

Fred Laughlin, who has long consulted with nonprofit groups on management issues, has recently begun working with the Club Managers Association of America on governance modeling for private clubs. His initial impressions of American private-club management and governance were not good. "Just awful," he says. "Mired barely in the 20th century." (See accompanying story by Davis Sezna.) How did we get here? Many of these clubs started because founders wanted to get together with friends. After a while the founders turned over management to boards, which in turn appointed presidents, who eventually hired GMs. "This happened over decades," says Laughlin. "Now we've got to a point where people are asking, 'Who's in charge?' "

It doesn't take a CFO to realize that there's something unsustainable about a 90,000-square-foot clubhouse in an age of dwindling enrollments. "A club needs to be run like a business," says Laughlin, adding that the top private clubs would rank among the top-10 percent of all businesses in the United States. Business-like thinking should extend, he says, to governance. "Who in their right mind would invest $50,000 in an organization that changes its CEO every year? Yet that's exactly what these members are doing and what these clubs are asking them to do."


Seve "Reacts Well" To Surgery

Lewine Mair files a thorough summary on Seve's biopsy-turned surgery, the latest on his morning recovery and his prospects for survival.


Judge Reduces Winged Foot East To 17-Holes

You think I'm kidding...Corey Kilgannon reports in the New York Times. But not to worry, The Donald is on the case.

Last week, a State Supreme Court judge in Westchester issued a temporary restraining order against the club, banning play on the sixth hole until further notice. Outings have been disrupted, as has competitive play among members at what has become, in effect, the most famous 17-hole championship golf course in the country.

“Everybody at Winged Foot is very surprised, and people want to fight it,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday. “I’m very surprised something couldn’t have been worked out. To close a hole, it’s a sad day for the club. I’m thinking maybe I’ll visit the gentleman. I’d love to go and mediate it.”

Mr. Pecora has suffered $14,000 in damage to his home from errant golf balls, including five broken windows this year alone, said Julius Cohn, his lawyer. He said Mr. Pecora, who moved into the house in 2003, began complaining about the errant shots in 2006, when the club cut down several trees between his house and the sixth green.

Since they cut down the trees in 2006, my client has been getting bombarded with golf balls,” he said, adding that Mr. Pecora fears for the safety of his children, ages 6 and 11, who often play in the backyard. “He has golf balls raining down on his home — his children can’t even walk on the property.”
There's a lot I could say here, but I won't. Hopefully we'll learn more about this in the coming days.
The club spent $70,000 to plant three large trees in September, but Mr. Cohn said the club refused to put up a net protecting Mr. Pecora’s house. He said golfers routinely walk onto Mr. Pecora’s property to hit a ball back onto the course.
“He has pails and pails of golf balls,” he said, adding that Mr. Pecora’s 14-year-old dog ate a golf ball last year and required emergency surgery, costing $3,344.40.

Unfortunately, this statement just doesn't fly least in the eyes of the courts. Yet another reason why the technology issue has been on the minds of architects.
William O’Shaughnessy, who owns a pair of radio stations in New Rochelle, and is a member at Winged Foot, said, “If you buy a house on a golf course, you have to assume there may be a couple of errant shots that are going to land in your yard.”
“It’s part of the charm of living on one of the most famous golf courses in the world,” he said.

"The restrictions on square grooves will bring back the old days"

Ron Whitten covers a lot of ground in his "Shape of Courses to Come" feature in the November, 2008 Golf Digest.

I think this passage speaks to the rude awakening some of the folks at the USGA are in for:

Steve Smyers, a veteran architect and member of the Executive Committee of the USGA, believes new restrictions on square grooves in golf clubs, set to go into effect at pro tour events in 2010 and apply to all by 2024, will affect course architecture in positive ways, particularly for those designing courses intended to host championships. (And because most owners dream of owning a contender, that means most new courses.)
"The restrictions on square grooves will bring back the old days," Smyers says. "Elite players will be gearing back on their swings, and going back to golf balls that spin a little more, which will reduce their distance. I've always been an advocate of big, wide fairways, but I think fairways will get narrower. Light rough will again become an integral part of the game. Hitting the fairway will again become absolutely critical. It'll be position golf as opposed to power golf."
See, here's my question. How can you position yourself on a narrow fairway? Just a question!

And if someone can name one noted player who has said he will be gearing back his swing because of the new grooves, I'm offering a first edition, signed copy of Masters of the Links.


“I just like to keep going forward.”

Doug Ferguson talks to some of Seve's greatest American rivals and ends the piece with this anecdote:

Mark Garrod, the golf correspondent for PA Sports the last three decades, remembers Ballesteros hitting one shot so far right during the '93 European Masters that he was 3 feet away from a wall with a swimming pool on the other side. The situation looked hopeless until Ballesteros saw enough of a gap in the trees that he hit pitching wedge to the fringe, then chipped in for birdie.

Garrod later asked Ballesteros about the shot, and the response is worth remembering now.

“I just like to keep going forward.”


Titleist Returning To PGA Show; Large Men In White Teaching Shoes Will Once Again Roam The Floor!

Doug Ferguson reports the wonderful news, which frees me to end my PGA Show boycott as well...oh wait, you said it's still going to be in Orlando? Scratch that...

Titleist is returning to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., for the first time in seven years. Titleist executive vice president Jerry Bellis said the return is due to the PGA shifting the show's emphasis to a more educational platform.

No manufacturer left behind!


"That means, on the apparel front, adidas will be working for Callaway in a licensee-licensor relationship."

The only reaction I had to the Taylor Made-buys-Ashworth news was that it probably made a John Ashworth-led revival of the company he started less likely, but as Robert Lohrer explains on the Styled-To-A-Tee blog, it adds to the bizarre world of Carlsbad corporate antics:

While both adidas and Ashworth are co-habitants of Carlsbad, Calif., it seemed that another giant golf company and Carlsbad mainstay, Callaway Golf, would be an ideal suitor for Ashworth. Callaway's apparel, said to be about a $60 million business at wholesale, has been successfully licensed for several seasons to Ashworth.

That means, on the apparel front, adidas will be working for Callaway in a licensee-licensor relationship.  Monday's deal, however, will likely mean that Callaway will have the right to review its contract.


"You'd think a middle-class kid who grew up on scruffy public courses might want to give something back to the game that has given him so much."

Had he asked, I could have warned Tiger that this would be the type of reaction he would get to his latest design venture. Then again, with an 8-figure design fee and seven oceanfront holes to play with, he might not care what anyone thinks!

From Alan Shipnuck's Hot List, which also gives Phil a nod for his Entourage appearance over Tiger's "cringe inducing" Today Show interview:

1. Tiger. He announced his third golf course design project, and once again it's an exclusive development for the mega-rich. You'd think a middle-class kid who grew up on scruffy public courses might want to give something back to the game that has given him so much.

You know, come to think of it, everything Tiger's doing now seems like the calculated image-enhancing stuff Phil used to do and the stuff Phil is doing now reminds me more of humorous image stuff Tiger did a few years ago.