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

I have always felt that Riviera Country Club has one of the greatest golf courses in the country. When I was on the tour in the 30s and 40s, wining the L.A. Open, especially at Riviera, was considered as important as a major.
BYRON NELSON

 

  

Wednesday
Jul122017

It's A Wild And Zany Press Center At Trump Bedminster!

I'm very happy to be at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open starting Thursday where the controversies will extend to who should have won the daily photo caption contest and whether Keith Pelley will sport the red or blue frames.

But reading these two extreme takes from the U.S. Women's Open press sessions at Trump Bedminster has me agreeing with neither writer and wishing there was a more reasonable middle ground.

Steve Eubanks in Global Golf Post says the questions of USGA officials and players explains why "they hate us" (us being the media).

Every player and official who came in for interviews on Tuesday was hit with the same battery of questions. Do you think this championship should have been moved because of President Trump’s statements about women? What do you think of President Trump? Is it appropriate that our women’s national championship is held at a Trump property? Do you think the president should stay away from this event? One reporter even asked a couple of players and USGA officials what their position was on sexual assault.

And writing a column about it!

Besides filing a column asking the President to stay away from the U.S. Women's Open, Christine Brennan of USA Today pressed the USGA on its sexual assault policy in a lingering-aftermath question tied to President Trump's infamous Access Hollywood tape.

But when you’re in business with Donald Trump, the man who appeared on the infamous Access Hollywood videotape bragging that he could sexually assault women without having to worry about the ramifications, your values start to fade.

Your principles waver. Your admirable efforts to try to attract women and girls to a game with a long history of discriminatory and exclusionary practices run head-long into your need to prostrate yourself at Trump’s feet.

And so, in what was a truly remarkable moment in sports news conference lore, three supposed leaders of the USGA sat dumbfounded, unable to utter even one word against sexual assault, while the fourth, a spokeswoman, said the foursome was there to talk about “the golf competition,” but would be happy to discuss the “important question …afterwards.”

Afterwards turned into one hour, then two. Finally, nearly three hours later, a spokesman emailed this to me:

“The USGA has a longstanding policy on harassment. This policy governs not only the conduct of our employees, but safeguards staff, players and fans at all USGA events. Our Staff Code of Conduct prohibits any workplace harassment, including but not limited to, sexual harassment or sexual assault.”

While I'm sure few can agree that a few of the questions were within reason given the public interest in President Trump, but trying to pin the USGA down on sexual assault seems strong too.

I do think we can agree in the humor of learning this from Eubanks:

The Washington Post and Politico have an entire front row of seats in the media center. The former never sends more than one reporter to this event (if any) and the latter (according to officials on site) has never covered a women’s golf event.

Tuesday
Jul112017

Eye On Design: Drainage & Catch Basins, Sexier Than You Think

Talking drainage is not as sexy as consideration of short par-4s, Redans and other important design features. Yet, like a young chef learning about farming and ingredients, my appreciation for golf architecture evolved to another level of sophistication when I was educated about how architect's drain their designs.*

With the links season approaching at the Scottish, Open, Senior Open and Women's Open Championships, it's a perfect time to consider the importance of drainage for turfgrass conditions, but also in understanding why we respond to lay-of-the-land design versus man-made courses.

In a nutshell, the master architects who brought golf to inhospitable places recognized that drainage was essential to growing grass. As the art of golf architecture evolved, they also understood the importance of providing natural playing conditions for the golfer. In other words, they disguised function with form and made the walk seem natural.

Take Seth Raynor and Pete Dye. Two architects who presented very artificial, sometimes harsh and very engineered designs. Yet golfers respond to Raynor courses more in spite of all that man-made engineering because the walk in the park element is so much more enjoyable and seemingly natural in spots.

The single biggest difference between a great links or a masterful design and one that seems sound but feels engineered? How water is moved off of the playing surface. Raynor was a master of surface drainage. So was Billy Bell, the co-hort of George Thomas who had to build courses in odd environments.

The master architects camouflaged this important function via swales and crowned greens that influenced play, while also moving water so the superintendent could grow grass. The less-careful architect relies on catch basins to grab water and move it underground, leaving odd bowl-shaped areas with visible drains and surrounding divots.

That is the distinction I'm hoping to make in this latest installment of Eye On Design.** 

 

*Dave Axland, Dan Proctor and Ben Crenshaw were my primary educators.

**This was taped prior to the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where I anticipated returning to the sea of catch basins installed during construction. I'm pleased to say that the course has seen many upgrades since those days, but especially in eliminating unsightly modern drainage methods in favor of more nature-inspired ones. Well done to all involved in improving this element of the course.

Tuesday
Jul112017

Bloomberg: ClubCorp Sale A Positive Sign For Golf Industry

Bloomberg's Taylor Cromwell considers the ClubCorp sale for $1.1. billion and says it's a positive statement about the core golfer market stabilizing.

He writes:

More broadly, golf has seen a resurgence in so-called avid players, those who play at least 25 rounds on a regulation course per year. The number rose to 8.8 million last year, up 400,000 from 2015, according to the National Golf Foundation. Avid players are critical to the health of the sport because they account for 80 percent of industry spending.

The challenge now is rebuilding with more realistic aspirations.

Several analysts are quoted saying the market correction days have peaked. Thoughts?

Tuesday
Jul112017

U.S. Women's Open: "Davis' absence a big miss for women's golf"

USGA Executive Directors have long taken a back seat at the U.S. Women's Open for reasons both reasonable and odd, but as Randall Mell writes for GolfChannel.com, the Tuesday U.S. Women's Open absense of both USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and President Diana Murphy at Trump Bedminster was hard to miss. Especially with USGA headquarters literally down the street and players facing non-golf questions.

Mell writes:

Yes, Davis doesn’t always make an appearance at this annual women’s news conference, which is troubling enough in itself, but his absence Tuesday was especially glaring.

Davis’ last appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open annual USGA news conference was 2014, but this one demanded his square jaw, even if he was only going to deflect, block or dodge, like all the players he left to answer the hard questions.

Funny thing, though. While Davis didn’t have to dodge any hardballs Tuesday, he’s the one who got the black eye.

“It's probably been several years since he has been here,” USGA public services director Beth Major said of the news conference’s makeup. “I know this is the team assembled last year. We are being consistent with the same team.”

Tuesday
Jul112017

Chubby And Westwood In "Shock" Split

Players and agents split all the time and no one blinks an eye. But the shock of finding out Lee Westwood is in a legal dispute with longtime ten-percenter Chubby Chandler ends a loyalty era. As the younger generations is increasingly steered in ominous directions by agents hostile to everyone not writing them a check, Chandler is a former player turned businessman who has always had a good sense for his clients. In this case, he a loyal horse in Westwood and it's sad to see them split.

But as James Corrigan reports on the duo's long term partnership for The Telegraph, and says Westwood is off to IMG.

Westwood was believed to be shareholder in ISM and his departure is clearly a blow for the Manchester-based company, which remains one of the biggest players in the market, despite losing players of the calibre of Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Matt Fitzpatrick. Westwood was clearly one ISM’s marquee names, boasting on-course earnings of approximately£50 million and off-course income estimated to be more than £5 million per year.

Europe’s second is an almost certainty  to be a future Ryder Cup captain, with 2020 his stated year of choice. His main handler at IMG is likely to be the much respected, Guy Kinnings, who is global co-managing director of the golf division.

Tuesday
Jul112017

Getting In The Mood For Birkdale: Thomson Wins '54 Open

To kick off the countdown to Birkdale '17, this Open footage from the past shows us 24-year-old Peter Thomson posing for the Claret Jug, one of five victories.

This Sky Sports piece is a nice wrap-up of Thomson's win.

A few things to note about the course: exposed sand in the dunes, the galleries going where they please (apparently), and how stark the difference between fairway and green cuts.

There's also a brief glimpse of putting master Bobby Locke. Enjoy!

Tuesday
Jul112017

Poll: Does a lead analyst need to have a major on the résumé?

With Johnny Miller back for another year, as he revealed to us in Golfweek, the game has another year of its version of McEnroe or Barkley.

It does not appear that there is yet a Johnny-like successor in the wings, with only Fox's Paul Azinger matching Johnny's level of frank, often critical commentary. Nick Faldo, lead man at CBS, also has his moments too but Johnny is clearly a special talent who still works at the job. And even better, works at not getting too close to players so that he can analyze bluntly.

As a two-time major winner, Miller does have a perceived advantage that someone like Brandel Chamblee does not enjoy as merely someone who played the PGA Tour.

But as a viewer, does the major championship winning gravitas matter compared to the quality of commentary?

The poll:

Does a lead analyst need to have a major on the résumé?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday
Jul112017

Poll Results: Keep The Anchoring Ban, Small Majority Says

There are still a few counties who haven't sent in their votes, but over 800 of you have spoken and as of this hour my efforts to rescind the anchoring ban were shot down.

A slim majority of you say keep the ban. If I'd been a betting man, given the displeasure I hear about the ban on anchoring, I would have bet on a 60% majority saying abandon the ban in the 2019 rules re-write.

But I dare say the people have spoken, and I must say that given the difficulty of enforcing the ban (as evidenced by Bernhard Langer's current technique), this seemed an easy way out. So I find it fascinating that so many of you did not agree with taking the easy way out. Point taken!

Monday
Jul102017

Scottish Open: Dundonald Links Flyover 1 to 18 

I won't lie: Dundonald has not been the most exciting Scottish Open venue in recent years. Granted, Gullane, Royal Aberdeen and Castle Stuart are very special places on name alone.

But after watching this Dundonald Links flyover from the first to the last, I'm much more excited about seeing this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. As we discussed on Morning Drive today, no tournament has made a faster rise over the last few years than this one thanks to a combination of sponsor, quality venues and younger players getting over their links antipathy (and a few older ones like Phil and Henrik showing this can be a great pre-Open prep).

I arrive Thursday to take in the action and as you know by now, this is a Golf Channel and NBC combo platter, with GC coverage starting at 5:30 am ET Thursday. Weekend coverage by NBC starts at 12:30 PM ET.

The flyovers:

 

Monday
Jul102017

Video: Hanse Previews 3rd Hole of Pinehurst Short Course

The Short Course at Pinehurst is coming and this preview by Gil Hanse of the third hole should whet your appetite if you're headed there this fall!

Monday
Jul102017

Roundup: The President Will Be At The U.S. Women's Open!

There are many ways to look at this and I've long been of the mindset that Donald Trump as President would overshadow the women's best golfers as they tackle Trump Bedminster.

But unless he drives his cart on a green during play as he did a few weeks ago at Bedminster, I'm increasingly of the view that he will show up, get too much attention, but ultimately bring some new eyeballs to women's golf. Maybe it's a fantasy, but hey, stranger things have happened in this crazy game

AP’s Tom Canavan sets up the women's U.S. Women's Open at Trump Bedminster and the various ramifications for all involved.

"When we came here, this was all about coming to a great golf course and playing the greatest championship in women's golf," USGA executive director and chief executive Mike Davis said at a media day in May. "The USGA, since its founding in 1894, has never been involved with politics. Our focus is solely on the game of golf."

Whether that decision draws protest remains to be seen.

Ron Sirak discussed on Morning Drive that players wish the President would stay away and even one who is a confidant of the President told him to stay away.

Christine Brennan reports for USA Today that after comments two years ago about Mexicans, followed by a statement from golf organizations, then-candidate Trump threatened to sue the USGA if they moved this U.S. Women's Open. Mike Davis had the fun task of informing the Executive Committee.

Davis informed the USGA executive committee about Trump’s threat on a conference call about two years ago, just as Trump was beginning his successful campaign for president, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the USGA has not publicly discussed the matter.

Davis, who told the group he and other USGA officials had met with Trump, told the executive committee, “We can’t get out of this. He’s going to sue us,” according to the person.

Davis declined comment but later supplied this statement that will no doubt be looked at by the PGA of America, (increasingly concerned?) hosts of the 2022 PGA at Trump Bedminster.

Davis added later in a statement to USA TODAY Sports: “As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment. We are excited that our U.S. Women’s Open Championship week has begun and are focused on providing the ultimate test of golf for the best female players in the world.”

The Palm Beach Post's Kristina Webb confirms that flight plans have been made to ensure safe airspace travels for the President.

The president will head to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster on Friday and return to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, according to a new notice to pilots posted Monday morning by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Coverage begins Thursday on FS1, with big Fox taking on weekend duties. Strap in!

Monday
Jul102017

Johnny! Back For Another Year And Other Pre-Birkdale Insights

In the July issue of Golfweek magazine I speak to Johnny Miller about a variety of topics, from his win at Birkdale, to Seve, to the 70s and his future at NBC.

The unedited full version is now posted at Golfweek.com.

And while it's at the end, Johnny did make news by saying he is back for another year.

A separate story on that.

Monday
Jul102017

Considering The Chances Of Another Major At Chambers Bay 

For anyone hosting a major or thinking of doing so, Tony Dear's Links piece is worth a read given the high-profile Chambers Bay experiment.

As the story notes, it succeeded on the financial and ratings front, but agronomically left a scar that is now being rectified by a creative conversion to poa greens.

Since June 2015, Johnson has increased cultural inputs (mowing, rolling, fertilizer, pesticide, water) to favor annual bluegrass establishment, and is seeding the greens with the only commercially available annual bluegrass turf—Poa reptans Two-Putt. “The good news,” he says, “is that it establishes pretty well. The bad news is that its prolific seedhead production in the first year or so gives the greens that blotchy appearance.”

Johnson has also begun saving and analyzing clipping yields from the greens in an effort to monitor growth and make better decisions on when to cut, seed, fertilize, and irrigate. “Every-day play is our focus as a public course,” he says. “I want smooth greens as well as consistent speed and firmness.”

On the financial side, Chambers continued the trend of public-access venues raking in more money for the USGA (we won't know how Erin Hills fared for a while):

According to its Annual Report, USGA revenue from its Open championships (U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Women’s Open) in 2016, when the U.S. Open was played at Oakmont, was $53.3m. In 2015, it was $64.3m. 

The irony in all of this is that Chambers would make a great PGA Championship venue...in August. May? Not so much. Though still certainly doable and capable of bringing big energy and bigger West Coast ratings.

Sunday
Jul092017

Glad Cliff Wasn't Around To See This One, Files: WSJ Edition

Clifford Roberts did not suffer fools gladly, or mistakes, or anything involving imperfection.

So something tells me that the longtime Augusta National Chairman would not have been pleased at this Wall Street Journal mistake and correction in a story on Sergio sporting the green jacket at Wimbledon. Thanks to reader John for the item:

Sunday
Jul092017

Punters: Pre-Open Championship Karma Watch, Poulter Edition

Nothing against the four players who made it through the Open Qualifying Series at the Greenbrier Classic, and nothing against the series itself, but punters with karma hunches may want to check out this James Corrigan Telegraph story on Ian Poulter making it to Royal Birkdale by playing the Woburn qualifier.

Besides taking the local qualifying angle at a course he knows well--once one of the great features of The Open and now relegated to this last event due to the Open Qualifying Series--Poulter did this in a year he finished second at The Players. And the year The Open returns to the site of a second place finish.

“Obviously going back after what happened will be special. I honestly thought I had that 15-foot putt on the last to maybe win or to get in a play-off and then my Irish friend decided to go bananas on the last five holes.

“But still, it was a great week, my best in a major. After I finished, [his wife] Katie told me she was pregnant with Lily [the third of their four children], so it was happy days. Birkdale is my favourite Open venue.”

Just saying he's worth a look for a nice each way wager at 100-1...

Sunday
Jul092017

ClubCorp Sells After All: For $1.1 Billion To Apollo Global

Reuters' Greg Roumeliotis reports that the publicly-traded company owning 206 clubs and serving over 400,000 members, including at Mission Hills and Firestone, has sold to Apollo Global Management.

It's an all-cash, $1.1 billion deal netting shareholders $17.12 a share, a 31% premium over Friday's closing price. 

DallasNews.com's business writer Paul O'Donnell noted this:

Sunday's announcement comes about three months after ClubCorp's board said it would not seek a sale. Longtime CEO Eric Affeldt announced at the same time that he would be retiring. A month later, the company added two new directors at the behest of activist investor FrontFour Capital Group LLC, which had been critical of ClubCorp's management.

Sunday
Jul092017

Rahm Wins Irish Open, Lexi Rule Surfaces Too

After a temperamental U.S. Open, Jon Rahm once again showed he can put rough weeks behind him by dominating the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

This quote from Alistair Tait's Golfweek account suggests someone is very confident heading into The Open, and his updated odds reflect similar confidence from punters.

“That makes two for two, shooting 65 in the final round,” Rahm said. “Obviously, it’s a very different tournament here for me. I’ve been saying I haven’t played my best golf, and today, for 15 holes, I played the best golf I can ever play on the golf course with the weather that we had. Obviously, the bonus of holing out on four was great, but man, this is a nice feeling.”

The round was highlighted by a hole-out at the fourth.

As for the ball mark issue and changes in the rules, here is Tait's account with this from rules official Andy McFee on why the rules are more forgiving:

“One of the points in the new decision is that the outcome depends a lot on what the player says and his explanation of the events,” McFee said. “Jon said: ‘I knew I marked it to the side and then I was trying to make an effort to put it back to the side.’ He’s definitely made the effort.

“We’re talking about the difference between the ball being lifted at 10 o’clock on the ball marker and put back at 11 o’clock which is not a problem.

“The new decision the R&A and USGA crafted, with the full knowledge from the PGA Tour and ourselves, is all about trying to eliminate these fine margins and get to a position where if a player has made a reasonable judgement then the game will accept it if it’s slightly wrong.

This screen grab shows his ball was closer to the hole and not in the same location:

In other news, the Irish Open will again play at a links next year, heading to the newer of two courses at Ballyliffin. Liam Kelly reports.

Friday
Jul072017

Poll: Should The Governing Bodies Drop The Anchoring Ban?

Bernhard Langer's recent brush with anchoring at the U.S. Senior Open prompted a pre-round visit with rules officials from the USGA. There was also overwhelming outrage on social media and coverage from Fox Sports addressing concerns of a possible rules violation. The issue summed up here by Brandel Chamblee, who coverage this week may have prompted the latest response:


At the very least, Langer is taking things right up to the edge of the anchoring ban. At the worst, he's openly resisting the rule knowing that the genteel world of golf would never actually prosecute a player of his caliber.

This all prompted an unusual Friday news dump with statements from Langer, fellow Champions Tour long putter user Scott McCarron and the USGA. Here is what was said:

The "integrity" language here from the USGA would suggest that actually enforcing the rule is now almost impossible given the introduction of intent.  With this in mind and knowing there are seniors whose golfing lives were made miserable by not being able to anchor, perhaps it's time to drop a rule that will not be enforced?

The SI/Golf.com gang contemplated massaging or changing the rule in this week's discussion that included caddie John Wood.

Given the potential rules changes for 2019, should the governing bodies consider abandoning a rule that started in 2016 after much debate?

The poll and your votes please:

As part of the rules revisions, should the governing bodies drop the anchoring ban?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Friday
Jul072017

Padraig Is Moving Closer To A Full-Time Happy Gilmore Swing

Luke Kerr-Dineen at For The Win is seeing genius here and maybe he's right, but I'm not sure we've ever seen a multiple major-winner's move evolve like this, unless you count the more seamless Gary Player walk-through.

Here's Padraig Harrington at the Irish Open today, sporting the move on-course that he's been doing on the range for a while now.

More disconcerting is the footwork on the backswing than the through swing, no?

The link in case the embedded European Tour video won't play

Today:

 

 

Friday
Jul072017

Video: Tom Watson Remembers Sandy Tatum

On what would have been former USGA President Sandy Tatum's 97th birthday, Tom Watson voices this video tribute.

Posted on social by the USGA and at their website. And YouTube.

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