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
  • 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

Putting is the department of golf which...lends itself to experimentation and the exploitation of pet theories.  HARRY VARDON

 

   

Tuesday
Nov012016

Martha Burk On LPGAers Backing Trump Bedminster: "They’re acting like good little girls and remaining mute"

Martha knows how to turn on the charm offensive, doesn't she?

Hootie Johnson's favorite bayonet target is pushing hard for the USGA to pull the 2017 U.S. Women's Open from Trump Bedminster. The USGA has not changed its position today date.

Writing a commentary for Huffington Post, Burk explains the dynamics involved for the many who will not know the USGA from the LPGA. And in her inimitable way, manages to push the boundaries of truthfulness and offend sensibilities that will not do much for the cause.

But the USGA refuses to budge. One reason may be the players themselves. Most if not all of them are members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and they’re acting like good little girls and remaining mute, or saying they don’t see a problem with playing their most important tournament at a course owned by the country’s leading misogynist.

To be clear, as the governing body of golf, the USGA, not the LPGA, is the Decider when it comes to where the Women’s Open is played. Technically the LPGA has no say. But without players there would be no tournament. So while the women can’t make the decision about location, they can make a decision individually — or better, collectively — not to participate.

It seems short-sighted to suggest players should boycott the most significant event on their calendar, particularly one where the site is chosen by an outside organization. Players have enough to worry about in getting a small ball into a hole without having to take a stand against someone who still, may, win the nation's highest office a week from today.

Trump has reportedly guaranteed that he will cover any monetary losses on the event, a tiny price for a billionaire to pay to buy legitimacy from an organization that ought to care more about its own reputation.

But it’s clear the USGA is at the core a boys club willing to exploit the women for monetary gain.

It’s way past time for the USGA to stand up for the players instead of standing down in favor of profits over principles.

Of course we know that (A) the chances of the host offering to cover losses is highly unlikely (B) the USGA typically loses money on the U.S. Women's Open.

It’s also time for the LPGA to stand up against the male mindset that the women are secondary.

None of these women got where they are today by being shrinking violets on the course. But they’ve no doubt had to bend to the will of the guys who run golf when it comes to decisions about their career prospects, which in this case means sacrificing personal integrity if they continue to stay silent. We’ve all heard the expression “Well behaved women seldom make history.”

I'm not sure those are the issues in play here, but she's certainly entitled to that view.

For me, the issue facing the USGA is very simple: will Donald Trump overshadow a national championship that still could be moved? If he's elected President he will be too busy. However, if he's not elected and continues a public presence inspired by the campaign, his past comments and high profile will potentially impact the most important women's golf tournament of the year.

We discussed this and more last week on Morning Drive. The panel hosted by Gary Williams featured Beth Ann Nichols, Ron Sirak, Matt Adams and yours truly. We followed an interview by Williams of USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, whose case for moving the Women's Open from Trump Bedminster is very different and far more convincing than Burks' (not that Martha set much of a bar).

The full interview with Brennan and roundtable discussion:

 

Monday
Oct312016

Reminder: 30 For 30 On John Daly Debuts 

Directors David Terry Fine and Gabe Spitzer do an superb job covering Daly’s rise and fall(s), his redemption at The Open in St. Andrews in 1995, and his various emotional and alcohol struggles. But the film goes beyond the expected Daly saga stuff we might have forgotten thanks to cooperations and opening up from Daly his ownself.

The film debuts at 8 pm ET Tuesday, November 1. For Cubs and Indians fans busy with Game 6, there is a repeat at 2:30 am ET November 2.

 

 

The full trailer:

Monday
Oct312016

State Of The Game Podcast 69: Catching Up

Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and myself decided we'd been away so long that we needed to just catch up on a few topics, vent on a few others and resolve absolutely nothing.

Happy listening!

Or happy MP3 downloading.

Or iTunes.

Or below:

 

Monday
Oct312016

Cypress Point Hosting...A College Golf Tournament Again

Golfweek's Brentley Romine explains the format and how it came to be that Stanford is hosting a college golf tournament at the ultra-exclusive Cypress Point.

Considering that most of elite clubs do not open their doors to tournaments and some actually sell memberships to universities, it's great to see Cypress Point opening its doors to college golf for the second time. Coupled with the higher-profile East Lake Cup, it's a nice week for college golf.

Social media posts from the teams has been pretty much non-existent, but this recent image shows the bunkers looking as great as they did in MacKenzie's day, with nice fringy fescue edges.

Monday
Oct312016

Shriners Open Oversold, PGA Tour Can't Offer Vouchers!

It would have been so much more fun if they'd just offered 40 FedExCup points to the first 12 takers electing not to tee up in Vegas this week.

Instead, reports Steve Karp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the PGA Tour will play a 144 player field instead of the petitioned-but-not-duly-noted 132-player total due. With an at-best sunrise-to-sunset window of 7 am to 5 pm and speed of play lethargic these days, the tournament has no chance of finishing the first two rounds on time.

With that in mind, the Shriners Open petitioned the tour in December to reduce the tournament field from 144 to 132 players in hopes of not having play spill over to the following day. The tour agreed, but a clerical error failed to have the reduction to 132 put into the tour’s computer. So when players and agents started looking into playing Las Vegas, it was with a 144-player field in mind.

“They realized the mistake, but at that point there was nothing they can do,” Lindsey said. “We’re the fifth event next year, and we are playing in November again (Nov. 2 to 5). But we will have 132 in the field for 2017.”

Monday
Oct312016

"At Bay Hill, moving on after Arnie isn't easy"

Here's a nice update from Golf World's Tim Rosaforte, who talks to the folks at Bay Hill, where the late Arnold Palmer's presence remains, only adding to the difficulty of saying goodbye to The King.

Rosaforte writes of how the club and lodge will carry on the Palmer legacy:

It will be the job of Palmer’s daughter Amy and his son-in-law Roy Saunders, the resort’s vice president, to make sure the legacy continues.

Making future decisions that must be made that much harder are the broken hearts left behind. “Everybody feels the same way,” Amy told me Sunday. “They feel like they’ve lost a friend.”

The time of year that Palmer was most visible at Bay Hill was early winter. When he came back for the season, immersed in preparations for the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, regular guests and members pretty much knew where Palmer could be found for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Roy Saunders recalled how Palmer would greet everybody “as if they were an old friend,” how he would “put down a fork to sign an autograph.”

In glancing at the social media posts of Palmer Halloween constumes, most inexplicably seem to include plus-fours. Thankfully, the Byrd family got all of the key details for son Jackson's tribute:

Monday
Oct312016

Randall Stephenson's Influence On Dallas, Golf

Profiled by David Gelles and Michael J. de la Merced in a compelling New York Times profile Randall Stevenson, AT&T's CEO, as scrutiny of the proposed purchase of Time Warner begins.

Stephenson is all in on golf and Dallas, something that seemed apparent last week and is made clear in the story:

Upon assuming the role, Mr. Stephenson did something unexpected: He moved the company headquarters about 300 miles north, to Dallas from San Antonio, a decision he called in a recent interview “the hardest I’ve made as C.E.O.”

But the reasons were simple. “First and foremost, to get our people access to great airports,” he said. (Dallas has two international airports.) Also, he said, Dallas had one of the best labor markets in the country for engineers, sales personnel and managers.

Less than a decade later, AT&T has made a big impact on the city. AT&T is the lead sponsor of the Dallas Cowboys’ futuristic football stadium, and has its name on the city’s main performing arts center.

“It’s been amazing for Dallas,” Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, said in an email. “The jobs. The improvement downtown.”

Among Mr. Stephenson’s favored new projects is the development of the Trinity Forest Golf Club, which is designed to lure a big golf tournament back to Dallas.

He professes to be bad at the game himself — “I stink,” he said recently — although he has a 13 handicap, according to the United States Golf Association. But it’s a “thinking man’s game,” he said. “When you spend three or four hours walking 18 holes, you get to know somebody.”

Sunday
Oct302016

The HSBC-WGC, 72-Hole Stroke Play Oversaturation & An East Lake Cup-Inspired Alernative

The World Golf Championship concept brings an international together four times a year, including the PGA Tour's lone match play event, so it's hard to criticize a concept forcing the best players in the world to show up.

HSBC pours a lot of money in golf, generates discussion about the industry of golf with its business forum, and wants to see the game expanded beyond its current borders, so it seems unfair to blame a company going above and beyond the normal sponsors.

And top players did show up in Shanghai at the end of a year when they've been asked to play even more weeks than normal, so there is no way they can be criticized.

Yet in trying to watch the WGC-HSBC Champions, won in resounding fashion by Hideki Matsuyama for his third PGA Tour win, there may be no finer example of the oversaturated product that is elite professional golf. A limited field, no-cut rankings and cash extravaganza watched by few people in person or on television is the product of...too much "product."

The recent analysis suggesting oversaturation and over-extension of the NFL and Premier League should serve as a reminder that unless a pro golf tournament this time of year has something fresh and entertaining to offer the fan base, it should not be played. Too many events are serving the needs of players, executives and sponsors, and needlessly denying the fans a chance to be entertained.

Consider this week's 72-hole, no-cut WGC-HSBC. To say it was lifeless would be an insult to life. The competing Sanderson Farms PGA Tour stop in Mississippi offered a more compelling event because the players, who genuinely need these dollars and points to retain their tour status before the next re-shuffle, appeared more engaged. The event exuded a certain small-town charm lacking in Shanghai. (Left-hander Cody Gribble won and added his name to the list of emerging young players.)

And it's not as if alternatives are unavailable.

This week's collegiate East Lake Cup, while obviously a made-for-TV event highlighting top Division I teams, at least promises to entertain thanks to the team match play format. What if the WGC-HSBC did something similar, offering two or three days of stroke play to determine an individual winner and to make some seedings. But instead of binding players as a team by their country, allowing them to play for a corporate alliance?

Might we stand a better chance of watching and being entertained by seeing Team Nike featuring Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey and Jhonattan Vegas, taking on Team Srixon with Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox and J.B. Holmes.

Team Callaway's Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed and Thomas Pieters could take on Team Taylor Made's Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Daniel Berger in another early tournament match? And why relegate it to manufacturers? If the RBC-endorsees are going to get appearance fees elsewhere on the schedule, let them field a team based on having enough players high enough in the world ranking.

Some sort of twist on existing formats are presumably squelched in the name of FedExCup points and world ranking points prioritization, which reminds us once again: too often professional golf tournaments are played at the pleasure of the golfers, executives and sponsors, and not for the fans.

Is it any wonder so few were paying attention this week, even with a leaderboard like this?

Saturday
Oct292016

Pebble Beach: High Schoolers Find Thousands Of Golf Balls On Ocean Floor

KSBW's Caitlin Conrad highlights the great work done by two Monterey area high school students and outdoor enthusiasts who discovered how many golf balls are polluting the Carmel Bay sea floor, including rubber-core balls dating back to the 1980s. When presented with the findings by Alex Weber and Jack Johnston, the Pebble Beach Company responded in fine fashion, with plans to be more aggressive with sea floor clean up and making a contribution to help the two students further their marine science education.

From Conrad's story...

Mathes said Pebble Beach Company was unaware of the pile up in the cove until the teens brought it to their attention.

“You know we’ve had decades of scientific researchers, recreational divers out off the coast and no one has brought this to our attention, it’s really these two students who have discovered something, and we are really quite proud of them,” Mathes said.

Weber said Pebble Beach Company is doing a good job stepping-up to the task of removing the balls but she said she was surprised no one knew about the problem earlier.

“It is almost common sense, like you should understand that if you’re hitting a golf ball off a cliff into the ocean, it’s going to end up under the water,” she said.

The Pebble Beach Company gave each of the students $500 scholarships to The Island School, a high-school marine science and sustainability-based study abroad program in the Bahamas. They are funding the rest through this GoFundMe page.

Their video showing the Pacific floor next to the course. Warning, it's disturbing!

Friday
Oct282016

Q&A With Acushnet COO David Maher

Today marked the initial public offering of Acushnet, makers of noted brands Titleist and Footjoy.

Longtime CEO Wally Uihlein rang the opening bell, flanked by many luminaries, including Butch Harmon, Jim Nantz, FILA chairman Gene Yoon, NYSE president Tom Farley and Brad Faxon. Also joining Uihlein on stage to the left in the image posted were Acushnet employees Diane Medeiros and Carlos Botelho who have been with the company for 51 and 44 years respectively.

The company COO, David Maher, who took that position in June, spoke from the New York Stock Exchange today about the IPO and future.

GS: You’ve been with the company since 1991, how would you describe the mood as Acushnet heads in this new direction?

DM: First and foremost, we like our brands to be front and center and our associate base really stays below the radar. Today they popped up above the radar and I think it was a great day for our associates. They’ve built some enduring brands and a very enduring business with the eyes of Wall Street gazing upon them they’re rightfully very, very proud. [The opening bell ringing] was simulcast to our plants in New Bedford and Thailand and around the world, so first and foremost a day of great pride for the folks of the Acushnet company.

GS: Going forward will we hear more about the associates, the renowned loyalty of Acushnet employees and how many of your products are still made in the United States?

DM: We’ll certainly need to be more transparent for financial reasons. We like to focus the attention placed upon us on our products, moreso than the people behind the products. But without question we’re going to have a broader and more transparent face to at least the financial community. We do believe, we’ve been around 80 years or so, and the Titleist ball has been number one in golf since 1949 and Footjoy has been the number one shoe in golf for six or seven decades. Our intent and our thoughts as we think about the future, we’ve got a proven and differentiated business model, number one. Our business has been built around dedicated golfers. There are eight million of them in the world and they account for about 70% of the total golf spend. Our focus is very clear as we think about the future under new ownership and we don’t expect to change that.

GS: What does an Acushnet IPO mean to your customers or does it mean anything to them?

DM: We hope not, we hope they think of us through our products and through the experiences they have with our products. Understandably many will also link the initial public offering with our company, but first and foremost we will make sure our interaction with them is as good as it’s always been and is only going to get better. As we think about the future, two certainties will be we know we need to continue to bring innovative new products to market and we know we need to continue to enrich and build upon the experiences we give dedicated golfers with our products. That truly is our focus. Insiders of the game and business will get a different view of the company because you’ll look at us through the public company lens but our hope is to continue to impress and earn the trust and loyalty of dedicated golfers with our product and the ways we interact with them.

GS: What is your position on the state of golf?

DM: We’ve talked about this a lot over the last few weeks as we’ve positioned the company and obviously there has been a lot of commentary about the industry over that time. It started in the 80s with the build a course a day where we went from 12,900 courses to 15,900 courses in the United States. It accelerated with the arrival of deep-pocket sporting goods companies when Nike and Adidas arrived, giving further validity to the potential size of the golf business. You had the retail expansion as big public companies joined the retail business and expanded their footprint. So you had three forces. Big buildup of golf course supply, a big buildup of golf retail supply and more OEM’s in the space.

Predicated on that, with the way ratings are spiking, call it the “Tiger Effect”, it’s only a matter of time before the golf population grows. Number one. And then I think what we’ve realized is that it prompted us to think about our business, we’ve done well in good times and we’ve done well in tough times in part because of our focus on the dedicated golfer. But the correction that’s played out, we’ve seen, accelerated by the sub-prime crisis in ’08 and ’09 exposed some of the tenuous nature of our industry. And over the last five years you’ve seen that correction. We’re dealing with a contraction of golf courses, 100 to 150 a year over the last several years. We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in retail square footage, from Sports Authority to Edwin Watts to Golfsmith the last several weeks, and we’ve seen some changes to the OEM landscape as Nike’s made a shift in the way they’re thinking about golf and as Adidas is looking to sell Taylor Made.

We see that as a necessary correction that is resulting in an improved set of industry fundamentals. So those that are left standing, whether it’s the golf courses or the OEM’s or the retail players will be operating in an environment that is just a whole lot more healthy than it had been over the last several years. We see that correction as probably 70 or 80 yards downfield, it’s got a little geographic bent to it and it’s probably further along in some areas more than others and largely that issue is primarily a U.S. issue. The rest of the world, where we transact our business, it’s been a whole lot more stable which, as a global company, has allowed us to weather the storm of that contraction.

But what we have seen, and this year is a good example as despite some pretty rigorous turmoil at retail, our sales are up. Our dedicated golfer is resilient, they continue to be engaged, but we are dealing with some obvious contraction at retail, and what that means for manufacturers is a reduction in the inventory you have in the marketplace which, yes, causes a little bit of short term pain. But longer term we feel good about the purchase behavior of our dedicated target audience.

GS: Will becoming a publicly traded company put more pressure on Acushnet to expedite and increase new product launches?

DM: It’s something we’ve talked about a lot the last several weeks as we were presenting the future plans of the company. Really our launch cadence begins with the dedicated golfer. It really is in sync with their replacement cycles. In clubs we tend to run every couple of years and with balls the same. Footwear is a little bit different. It’s a little more accelerated because that’s as much a fashion play. But the cadence of footwear is different than equipment.

We don’t have any intent to change that. It takes us a while. To think about this industry and what it takes to bring measurably improved product to market, it takes resources. We spend more money than any of our competitors on R&D. It takes time, there is an incubation period to bring meaningful performance benefits to the market. So we really like that launch cadence we’re on and we packaged it to the investor community as a competitive edge and they agree.

Do we think we are going to accelerate the timing of our launch cycles? I think that would be a road to ruin for us.

GS: The target range of the offering price was missed, should we read something into that?

DM: No, that’s left in the hands of the bankers and traders. We go tell our story to investors and we frame the industry in its rightful lens. But really, the valuation, you put out a projection, that falls in the hands of the bankers and traders, so that really has no effect on us. We enter the world a public company today and are committed to what we’ve said all along that we’re a company dedicated to delivering long term growth with great reliability and predictability, so that doesn’t change.

GS: Is Wally Uihlein is committed to staying on as CEO for two more years?

DM: As Wally would say, as long as he can add value Wally’s going to be here. Unless we kick him out. But no, Wally’s been a very active part of this process and has no plans to exit any time soon. He’s a remarkable leader and visionary, and he’d be quick to point out too that his proudest accomplishment is the team he’s built behind him. We feel real good about Wally’s place and outlook and more importantly he feels really good about the many talented folks behind him.

GS: The symbol for Acushnet GOLF, how was that not taken?!

DM: Years ago it was Golfsmith when they were traded on NASDAQ. What else could we be called!

Thursday
Oct272016

Acushnet (GOLF) IPO Sets $17 Share Price

My eyes start glazing over reading these IPO statements and forecasts, especially given the track record of analysts, so here goes with a few copy and paste jobs on Acushnet's (Titleist/Footjoy) raising of $329 million on a $17 share price, below the projected range of $21 to $24/$435 million.

Analyst Eric Volkman at Motley Fool offered this take:

Meanwhile, Acushnet Holdings' fairly static top line and the high level of indebtedness would worry me if I were an investor. I'm also not really a fan of equity cash-outs, as the driving motivation of this activity is to put money in the hands of existing shareholders, not raise funds for the business.

Don Dion at Seeking Alpha had this to say:

Declining revenue and tough market for golf manufactures make us pass on investing in this upcoming IPO.

The fact that company insiders are selling 100% of the shares and that Fila Korea will have majoring voting power are additional detractors.

Its current valuation also looks like quite a significant mark-up from Fila Korea's 2011 purchase price.

While we do hear the deal is oversubscribed, we suggest investors play golf but avoid the GOLF IPO.

Thursday
Oct272016

When Golf Pros Push Back: Steven Bowditch Edition

Sean Zak at Golf.com backed up his case that Steven Bowditch made an extraordinarily large amount of money (Nearly $500k) given some historically poor play on the PGA Tour.

Nothing about the item was personal, but given the sensitive nature of pro golfers, who are coddled by the tour to believe they are doing the Lord's work, Zak received social slaps from giants in the game who apparently hold tour cards, notes Michael Shamburger at The Big Lead.

Steve Wheatcroft, Andres Gonzales, Colt Knost and Hudson Swafford all expressed their dismay, while an all-out blackout threat came from Graham DeLaet, who, while suffering through the yips this summer, blew off all writers at the Rio Games.

And I can tell you, none of us have been the same since.

Anyway, maybe Zak should have moved the dollar amount and easy-WGC money up higher in his item to not bury the lede exposing Tim Finchem's grand vision for rewarding something worse than mediocrity. Zak, because he's a nice fellow, actually portrayed it as good news in trying to find some silver lining in Bowditch's season:

Bowditch was 3.209 strokes worse than the field average in the 55 rounds he recorded last year. Robert Allenby finished 184th in strokes gained, albeit in 14 fewer rounds, but lost just 1.95 strokes per round. So the second-worst golfer, strokes gained-wise, was still a stroke better per round than Bowditch was. Just one player in the ShotLink era (David Gossett in ’04—sorry, David!) finished a season with a worse average. Those 3.209 strokes lost per round looks like this.

Alas, there was some good news among all the gloominess. Bowditch still managed to earn $458,891 last season, good for 158th on the money list -- a far cry from his 185th-best form.

Bowditch’s Tour wins in 2014 and '15 earned him spots in the no-cut WGCs that ensure a paycheck. Those three starts alone helped him rake in a cumulative $158,500, slightly more than 34% of his season earnings.

Bowditch took to Twitter to push back:


DeLaet's threat mentions something about a sit down, something (A) players rarely do anyway (B) no one but maybe some Canadian press, are dying to do with DeLaet:

 

Thursday
Oct272016

Video: The Taylor Labourne Shot Has Copycats

And why not?

Just when we thought the art of trick shottery was dying, there appears to be a new generation of copycats inspired by Taylor Labourne's gem. With Sportscenter and others running with Taylor's shot, the expected samplers...

Joshua Kelly, aka HoleIn1TrickShots:


Joris Golf representing the younger set...

Max Hilty representing the Gilmore demo...

Wednesday
Oct262016

Trinity Forest Opening Photos, A Few Course Glimpses

G.J. McCarthy's photo gallery for the Dallas Morning News offers a few more glimpses of the new Trinity Forest course in Dallas. Designed by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, the course was built on a 400-acre landfill and sports a $150,000 initiation fee.

From the sounds of Bill Nichols' story on the opener, the course has gotten more private than was outlined in the original scope but remains the home course for SMU's golf teams. Architectural details, beyond being so starkly links-like and rustic, are pretty sparse.

The layout measures 7,300 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 71 with 11 par-4s, four par-3s and three par-5s. Three holes cross a deep ravine, and three others have split fairways. Most of the greens are slightly elevated with tightly mowed surrounding areas.

This Instagram image from Jordan Spieth gives a sense of the course location and scale:

You’re looking at the future home of the @ATTByronNelson! See you on the new track in 2018. #Dallas #ATTAthlete

A photo posted by Jordan Spieth (@jordanspieth) on

 

Wednesday
Oct262016

"The PGA Tour Sells Golf To China"

Not very well. At least, based on the insights from Scott Cendrowski who filed two features for Fortune as the tour arrives with the HSBC WGC in Shanghai.

Cendrowski's secondary feature looks at playing golf in China, but worth carving our a few reading minutes is the feature on PGA Tour efforts to start a satellite tour and the hopes of developing a great player in country unfriendly to golf.

Cendrowski notes that growth in China was largely the dream of a PGA Tour looking for new sponsorship, new players and playing opportunities despite the government's hostility toward the game (and human rights, and bloggers, and many things that democracy lovers cherish). So far, things haven't gone so great on the macro level. And as for the micro, aka PGA Tour China...

This year, continuing uncertainty forced PGA Tour China to announce its schedule just a couple of weeks in advance. Only 12 tournaments were scheduled; a 13th was added midseason. “It’s tough to find courses to work with us,” says Shao, the Chinese golf promoter. The head of a course in the lush southern province of Yunnan, who asked not to be named because he was nervous about local authorities’ reactions, said his club was now marketing golf as a fitness movement, to keep the government at bay. “The tough time in the past one or two years has prompted everyone to reflect,” he says.

Fun times, all in the name of the g word!

Wednesday
Oct262016

Video: The Taylor Labourne Trick Shot

Davis Park Golf Course instructor Taylor Laybourne pulls off one so absurd, so indescribable (H/T Alex Myers) that it can only be named after the purveyor his ownself.

Wild:






Tuesday
Oct252016

"Who Is Hall Of Fame Worthy?"

The induction of Davis Love and Ian Woosnam raised the question from some: who is World Golf Hall Of Fame worthy?

Jaime Diaz of Golf World praises the hall for its new criteria and opening the door to worthy players based on the way the game has changed.

There is no doubt the WGHOF has set minimum victory requirement that is lower than what had unofficially been imposed. But it had to. While 15 lifetime victories seemed like a pittance when the game’s giants—several with more than 60 victories and in some cases double-digit majors—were being inducted, it’s also become clear that winning 15 times in the post-1975 era is a greater achievement than it would have been before, much like a .280 lifetime batting average is now more worthy of a spot in Cooperstown.

Recognizing the greatness in players who were stalwarts but didn’t win as much as the very best helps one understand the immense challenge of the game. Lowering standards increases appreciation, and keeps up the supply of candidates. It’s all good.

The hall continues to struggle with people who made contributions to the game in areas other than competitively. Tom Weiskopf was hugely influential as a television commentator and architect. And we know architects have struggled to gain respect from the hall, with people who made great contributions having not been recognized while Robert Trent Jones, whose positive impact becomes less understandable by the year, is in.

Also disconcerting is the even more backroom, old boys vibe to the selection process that only has two media members and decides who is HOF worthy in secrecy. Other sports HOF's succeed in part because the public knows who is eligible and even debates the merits of candidates.

Tuesday
Oct252016

Trinity Forest To Host Nelson Year Earlier Than Planned

The Coore-Crenshaw design, opening this weekend and reportedly considered a potential future major venue, will host the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson. That is a year earlier than expected, ending the PGA Tour's run at Las Colinas (since 1983) this upcoming season.

Art Stricklin reports the announcement will be made Wednesday with Jordan Spieth, PGA Tour EVP Andy Pazder.

Salesmanship Club officials said the early move came about for two reasons: The club and the Tour came to an agreement with the Four Seasons Resorts owner, Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, to get out of the contract early and the Tour's agronomy staff has signed off on when the course could host its first professional event.

Translation: they couldn't get away from TPC Las Colinas fast enough.

You can see a few Trinity Forest images at their official site.

Tuesday
Oct252016

Three Senators Call For USGA To Leave Trump Bedminster

An unbylined USA Today story first reported the letter to the USGA. It's from Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to USGA executive director and CEO Mike Davis.

The topic: the 2017 U.S. Women's Open.

“The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament,” the Senators wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. “In declining future association with a brand that degrades women, the USGA and LPGA have an opportunity to make clear to the world, and most especially young Americans, that our nation will not tolerate nor do business with any company that condones or excuses action that constitutes sexual assault.”

The USGA does not want any part of the subject, in part for very obvious reasons: becoming part of the 2016 presidential election or upsetting a soon-to-be-president.

"During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all. We have reiterated for more than a year that we do not share his views, and that is still true,” the statement read. “With the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open less than a year away, our focus is still on conducting an excellent championship for the players, the spectators, the fans, and the volunteers."

“Beyond that,” Driscoll wrote in an email, “we simply will not comment on politics.”

Given that the players are not crying out to leave the venue and that Trump stands a chance of being elected, there is no incentive for the USGA to intervene at this time. However, where things get interesting: if Trump maintains a high-profile role post-election should he not be elected. If he somehow overshadows the biggest women's golf tournament on the planet, that would be unfortunate at best.

Tuesday
Oct252016

Rory's Got A New Driver, But About Those Shoes...

Lots of attention has been given to Rory McIlroy using Taylor Made woods at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai starting tomorrow, and rightfully so given his influence and prowess off the tee.

Steve Hennessey with the details here at GolfDigest.com.

But of far more interest to me is the Nike shoe McIlroy is debuting. The actual shoe look and design doesn't move any needles here, but the sole has the potential to be groundbreaking if it passes two tests: player and greenkeeper.

From McIlroy's point of view the traction is there. Now we await the reaction from greenkeepers and how the sole impacts putting surfaces.

G.C. Digital with the details of Nike's new "Lunar Control Vapor."

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve played golf in spiked footwear, and up until two years ago those spikes were metal,” he is quoted on Nike's website. “Through its drive to innovate and bring the sport to new places, Nike has created a new traction system that provides me with a stable base to push off the ground and deliver the distance I need off the tee.”

Nike says the sole was inspired by the tread on snowmobiles. The upper is lightweight microfiber with a two-year waterproof guarantee.

The shoe, explained here at Nike's site, will be available in the United States in limited colors via the Nike+ App on Nov. 22, with a wider release slated for November 25th.