Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

There may possibly be some reader whose golf life has been so insulated and isolated that he or she does not know what is meant by the verb to yip. What it means is to be so overwhelmed by grotesque fear of missing a short putt as to lose control of the putter. That loss of control can take two basic forms: inability to move the putter at all, which was the affliction Ben Hogan suffered at the end of his career; or the putter, as if in the hands of demons, wildly stabs at the ball.
SANDY TATUM ("recovering yipper")




Panelist Summit Reports?

Come on you Golf Digest panelists, write up your thoughts, observations and memories of the first-ever panelist summit. Email them in, post in the comments here, we want to hear about it! And no more of these phone calls and cryptic emails informing me that my Golfobserver column was not far off.

Over on Golf Club Atlas, panelist attendee Bill Schulz writes about Jack Nicklaus's comments on Augusta (an identical description was shared to me by another panelist):

Nicklaus received a loud applause from the group when he criticized the recent changes at Augusta National.  He said that he does not recognize the current course and that the original design features of the wide fairways with strategic angles of attack are being deleted.  I think he cited the extremely narrow 7th hole as one such example.

Nicklaus made these criticisms of Augusta National and the earlier comments I repeated regarding Shadow Creek with the architect of these projects, Tom Fazio, standing in the back of the room.  But I do not feel Nickalus was being disrespectful, just speaking his mind.


Moonah Madness

This sounds familiar (thanks to reader Michael for this):

The Australian PGA Tour has fined its own chairman, Wayne Grady, as the fallout over Moonah Links continued yesterday on the final day of the Australian Open.

Grady was fined an undisclosed sum over his verbal spray directed at Australian Golf Union executive director Colin Phillips on Friday. At least three other players — Stephen Leaney, Stuart Appleby and Craig Parry — are also to be fined for their criticisms of the course and the AGU, which runs the Open.

The fines come from the tour's tournament director Andrew Langford-Jones.

"Obviously 'Grades' committed a breach of our code of conduct," said the tour's general manager, Gus Seebeck, yesterday. "As our chairman he knows he carries extra responsibility to stay within that code. The comments that were made were not meant for public consumption, but they were overheard by certain people, unfortunately, and they were of a personal nature.

"Grades knows this, but it's a closed shop now, and it's between Wayne and Colin to patch up their personal issues."

Grady's attack came during the furore over the state of the 12th green on Friday, when Peter O'Malley's ball blew off the green in high winds. Phillips was the tournament director, and this was his last assignment after 27 years in charge of the AGU.

Doesn't this boil down to the same thing? Today's players are not eloquent when it comes to explaining why setups are over-the-top, and governing bodies either (A) don't have much idea what they are doing when it comes to course preparation in inclement weather, or (B) are trying to produce a "respectable" winning score in the face of major changes in the sport?

Moonah course architect Peter Thomson responded to the player complaints, and it leaves me wondering if the golfing great has spent just a bit too much time sitting around the Royal and Ancient clubhouse listening to clueless administrators commiserating about the spoiled modern pro. From Martin Blake's story:

Thomson responded wryly when I asked: "Do you think some of these players spend so much time in the U.S., where they are pampered and looked after so much with course preparation and everything else, that when they come home and it gets a bit tough they don't react well?

"I'm impressed with your opinion . . . I know that is what everybody else thinks," he replied.

"But, as a side issue, it has struck me that it would be a very sad day if the players were able to select the courses on which they wanted to play.

"The R&A would not have a bar of that, nor would the USGA. In fact, for the last 50 years of my lifetime, the USGA has been responsible for making courses so difficult that people take three irons off the tee.

"But neither the R&A nor the USGA buckle when they get a bit of criticism. I would like to think our championship joins that category.

"In order to convince the world that we have a championship that matches the big two, we have to have a comparable course. That's what this is."

Trying to mimic the USGA and R&A course setup strategies probably isn't the wisest thing to do these days. But based on the player feedback, I'd say the AGU succeeded in one respect.


An Eco-Signature Design

Remember, I merely copy and paste this stuff:

Jumeirah Golf Estates is set to become one of the world’s most prestigious golfing and residential communities. Located in the Jebel Ali district on the south side of Emirates Highway, opposite Jumeirah Village, it lies approximately 22km south west of Dubai city centre.

Jumeirah Golf Estates will boast four environmentally themed 18-hole courses - Fire, Earth, Water and Wind - that mirror the elements of nature and integrate with distinct gated communities, featuring a variety of investment opportunities, world class amenities and premier services. Jumeirah Golf Estates draws on the remarkable talents of some of the game’s most famous names – among them, Greg Norman, the legendary ‘Great White Shark’, and the 2004 world number one, Vijay Singh.

As part of Phase A of the project, Greg Norman will personally be involved in the creation of two Eco-Signature courses, which focus on eco-friendly principles and practices and feature flora and fauna that are indigenous to the region. These two courses, Fire and Earth, will be the first two Eco-Signature courses ever designed by Greg Norman Golf Course Design exclusively for Nakheel.


Where's the R.I.P. Ball?

This summer Lawrence Donegan wrote about a rolled back ball that a manufacturer distributed to certain people. As you may recall, it was stamped "R.I.P. Distance" on one side and "This is the ball Jack wants you to hit" on the other.

Now, the manufacturers haven't submitted the requested rolled balls to the USGA for their ball study, but one of them was able to make this ball and stamp it facetiously? Go figure.


What Happened At The Australia Open?

Since those of us in the States did not get to see the Australian Open this year on The Golf Channel, it's hard to tell from accounts whether the players just don't like playing in wind, or the Moonah Links was poorly set up. Or a bit of both.

Here's one commentary defending the setup, and Peter Thomson, Moonah's architect, chimes in

He also warned against allowing the players to dictate where the tournament is played, saying the R&A (controller of the British Open) and USGA (in charge of US Open) would never bow to the wishes of its competitors.

"I don't think they need any sympathy," Thomson said. "In real championship circumstances it ought to put them to their highest possible test of skill.

"One of the side issues of the criticism, it struck me, is that it would be a very sad day when the players are able to select the course on which they want to play. The R&A wouldn't have a bar of that, nor would the USGA.

"The USGA doesn't buckle when it gets a bit of criticism nor does the R&A. I would like to think our championship joins that category of championship. They are the ultimate, the big two.

But as usual, it appears the design was not the problem. 

"I don't have a problem with the course, I don't think it is bad or anything," [Peter] Lonard said.

"I don't know whether it is set up perfectly. But if you compare it to the Open courses we play, very few of them have greens where (the ball) will run off the edge and run 40 yards away."


Huggan on Baker-Finch

John Huggan profiles one of the game's class acts, Ian Baker Finch, with quotes from Mike Clayton.

Speaking of Clayton, here's his third round Australian Open report.


Arjun Atwal: Another Anti-technology Anarchist

From one of my favorites, the Sunday Indian Express:

Q: Let’s talk a little bit about what’s changing with your game. Is technology doing something to your game like it’s doing to tennis, or with cricket — what’s happening with golf?

ARJUN ATWAL: Well, with golf, you know, they’re actually going a little overboard with the distance. Distance meaning the golf ball is going a lot longer when you hit it than it did 20 years ago, or maybe even 10 years ago. What that does is make old-style golf courses like the RCGC obsolete. They’ve become too short, not challenging enough. Anyway, today’s players work out a lot; they’re much, much stronger than players before. And you’ve got equipment which is far superior. But they can only go so far with the golf ball. I think Jack Nicklaus, who is the greatest player that ever played, has put up a point to the USGA and the RNA, which are the governing boards of golf around the world, that you must now put a limit. And I think he’s right. Otherwise they’ll be building 8,000 yard golf-courses and only the long hitters will survive. Shot-making ability will go from the game.

20/20 Report

Sounds like the Golf 20/20 summit was so thrilling that they are going to make it a biannual meeting. Actually, everyone's just sick of playing The Slammer and the Squire Course once a year.

This, from Ron Sirak's report in Golf World, was a shocker:

In a separate report, Frank Thomas of Frankly Consulting released results of a survey of 14,420 U.S. golfers that showed most want to play shorter courses and that the average male overestimates how far he hits his tee shots by 30 yards. The study also indicated time, cost and difficulty were the most common reasons people don't play more golf.


Tour TV Deal Perspectives

A few weeks removed from Tim Finchem's impactful press conference and it appears some perspective has set in. First there was this quote from Greg Norman, Chairman Emeritus of Finchem's Fans:  

The PGA Tour plays things close to the chest. You really don't know what's going on until [Tim] Finchem decides to say something and then when he says something he really doesn't tell you anyway.

And Ron Sirak puts the PGA Tour's network problems this way:

...tour players should volunteer to freeze purses for the duration of the next TV contract, which will go into effect in 2007, and agree to play each tour event at least once during that four-year cycle.Golf simply has priced itself out of the market with the networks, and schedule manipulation will not make that reality go away.

Skins Drive Watch

Once a great event because it was played on unusual looking designs and featuring the biggest names in the game, how does the Skins Game hope to muster excitement these days?

Wondering if Annika will outdrive Fred Funk.

That's what a gimpy Tiger Woods and others are curious to see, as these stories explain here and here.

And if you were curious where they are playing--shocking you can't remember, I know--the Skins returns one more thrilling time around that lovely Indio sod farm known as Trilogy. Here's my 2004 Skins Game obituary in case you missed it and wanted a copy for your scrapbook.


The Art of Course Setup, Vol. 467

From the wild and wacky Australian Open:

Stephen Leaney refused to sign his card for a 74 in protest and was disqualified.

He had a bogey and playing partner Peter O'Malley had a triple-bogey at the par-3 12th, prompting tournament officials to start lightly watering the green for every subsequent group to negate the impact of the strong northerly wind.

O'Malley had a par putt of less than a meter that was caught in a wind gust and rolled three meters past the pin. After he marked and replaced the ball, it rolled further from the hole. He asked officials if he could replace the ball again, but the request was disallowed.

"You can imagine how we felt," said Leaney. "We'd got the rules officials over to make a decision and then they recognize what was going on and water it."

O'Malley, who made the cut at 4-over, declined to comment.


Clayton On Australian Open**

Mike Clayton weighs in on the Australian Open first round and Mark Hensby antics. Wish it was on The Golf Channel.

**Update: Here is Mike's second round report.  


Not So Silly Season?

Chris Lewis at points out that there is still a lot of great golf to be watched, which, amidst all of the schedule-reduction talk might make one wonder if this is more of a statement about the PGA Tour. After all, there are two tournaments this week I'd actually like to watch (Casio and Australia), yet the big names are at the Grand Slam and Skins (double yawn).

Part of the allure with Japan is the Michelle Wie quest-to-make-a-cut-thing, but in both cases, there is something nice about getting to see golf in another part of the world. To see how people dress, how the players behave, how the grass is maintained, etc...  The PGA Tour is a bit too repetitive week to week. Same setups, similar architecture, same comments from announcers (excluding Faldo-Azinger weeks).

And as Lewis points out, Q-School is next week, which has an entirely different feel to it.

Though I feel a bit slimy watching Q-School, believing that it's something that should be done behind closed doors. Like child birth.


More Hensby

Peter Krupka and Brent ReadIn describe Mark Hensby's latest press conference as "riveting." This time, Hensby talked about life on the PGA Tour, but managed not to disparage any all-time greats.

Hensby, who has taken his world ranking to No.30, said he didn't have any friends on tour anyway and described the USPGA Tour as a lonely place and claimed it was afflicted by back-biting and double-talk.

"Everybody talks about everybody behind their back anyway," Hensby said. "At the end of the day you have your family and you have your job and you go and do it. Players don't care. They say 'good shot' and most of them don't give a shit. That's the way it is.

"If you try to tell me guys genuinely say 'good shot' because it's a good shot, you're kidding me.

"At the end of the day you have your friends at home. You have acquaintances, the guys I don't mind hanging out with. The true friends, you don't have too many of them, not on tour anyway."


The Wandering Golfer

Looking for that dynamic television show to liven up the post Thanksgiving dinner conversation? Well why not cue up The Fine Living Network at 9 p.m. EST or again at 12 a.m. EST for The Wandering Golfer. This week's show is their Riviera edition featuring yours truly, along with segments on Jaime Diaz and Lance Ten Broeck.


Someone Forgot To Be Thankful!

Mark Hensby just took himself off of Greg Norman and Peter Thomson's Christmas card lists. I wouldn't blame them either.



Donegan On Distance Debate

Lawrence Donegan weighs in from the UK on the USGA/R&A ball "study."

What hasn't happened, however, is the arrival at the R&A's clubhouse in St Andrews of a package containing the "rolled back" balls from the manufacturers. A spokesman for Titleist, the world's biggest ball manufacturer, said yesterday he had no idea when the prototype balls would be delivered.

The fact is it would take the manufacturers very little time and effort to produce such experimental balls yet they have chosen not to bother, both for sound commercial and tactical reasons. After all, why co-operate with any experiment which could result in a paradigm shift which would turn a billion-dollar market on its head, thereby endangering profits? The calculation is that the R&A will respond the way it has responded over the last decade as technological advances in equipment have undermined the history and traditions of the game - by doing nothing.

Such thinking is understandable, but for once it might be mistaken. In the past the governing bodies had neither the spine or the financial wherewithal to legislate the introduction of a new ball, but that may no longer be the case. Changes to the R&A's corporate structure have left it more financially able to take on any legal challenge from the manufacturer. Backed by the weight of public opinion, not to mention Tiger Woods, the organisation might be more inclined to accept such a challenge, not least because it now has a leadership more interested defending what is important ( the world's great courses and the integrity of the game) as opposed to what is not (silly rules about dress codes and such like).

Surprise, surprise, no manufacturers have turned in sample "rolled back" balls. Some like Titleist said they would cooperate (this is from AP story posted on

Titleist chief Wally Uihlein called the research project "more of an intellectual exercise than emotional and attitudinal bits and bites.'' But to drive home his argument that it isn't just the ball, he said Titleist would supply the USGA a ball and a club specification that would produce rollbacks.



Achenbach: Targets On Their Backs

Thanks to reader John for the heads up on Jim Achenbach's new column where he spells out the plight of those beleaguered victims -- I know, you're thinking Katrina -- the USGA Executive Committee.

With verbal bullets from the Battle of the Ball flying around, perhaps we should pray for both the critics who shoot and the USGA officials who receive. Sadly, all who wear blue blazers might as well have targets on their backs.

Pray? I wonder if Jim might have written a different piece if he had heard the latest spin coming out of Far Hills: it's the grooves, stupid.

Yes that's right, David Fay recently suggested in a speech to the International Association of Golf Administrators that the real, unappreciated equipment problem in golf is grooves.

Well, the 80s are very cool these days. And what could be more 1980s than square grooves. (This subject will be taken more seriously and explored on a slow news day during the holidays...I know you can't wait.)

Mr. Fay tested the groove uh, spin at the Sports Illustrated State of the Game roundtable earlier this year, and it's just the kind of Orwellian rationalization you would expect from, say, a D.C. lobbyist. In this case, the message was likely crafted by those experts on all things Royal and Ancient, Powell-Tate, housed somewhere on K Street.

Anyway, back to Achenbach:

In upcoming months, the USGA will find itself under unprecedented scrutiny in regard to golf ball distance regulations. A growing lobby is arguing strenuously that today's ball goes too far. Meanwhile, defenders of the modern ball are fighting back with equally tough rhetoric.

Those with a warlike persuasion might characterize the USGA as being under heavy fire. Call it the Battle of the Ball.

And this: 

Some observers are predicting the USGA will roll back the distance of the golf ball in 2006.

Others say it won't happen. They believe the USGA will draw another, more distinct, line in the sand. They expect this one to strictly limit any further increase in distance because of ball design or materials.

Ah, now that would make sense. Because after all, the Joint Statement of Principles has to be giving the USGA a huge headache. After all, there's no grey area in that excellent document.

Their very own darn memo demands action. For an explanation, check out this post.

But a move to slap on some language about ball design or materials, now that would muddy the waters nicely.


Points Race Mess?

Doug Ferguson writes about the debacle that the 2006 LPGA points race will be, at least in the context of the 2005 season.

Annika Sorenstam had the trophy at her side and spoke of her 10-win season. Had this been 2006, the $1 million payoff would have been decided between Michele Redman and Soo-Yun Kang in extra holes.

"I'm just glad it's 2005, that's all I can say," Sorenstam said.

Note from Tim Finchem to personal assistant #3: make sure Dick Ebersol does not see this story.


Nationwide Irony

nationwide logo.jpgDid anyone else notice what was printed on the page following Ryan Herrington's November 11 Golf World piece detailing Sean Murphy's questions about the the Nationwide Tour's lack of a retirement pension?

That's right, a Nationwide "Life is on your side" ad with a reminder that "Life comes at you fast." (Hint, hint, sign up for one of our retirement programs.)

The next page features a photo of this year's 20 Nationwide graduates.