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

A New Yorker showed up at Austin Country Club one day. He said he’d heard about this famous teacher, this Penick fellow. I asked, “What can I do for you?”  “If you’re such a great teacher, teach me how to get out of sand traps,” the New Yorker said. “Not so fast,” I said. “I can teach you how to get out of sand traps. But I’m not going to do it until I teach you how to avoid getting into them in the first place.” HARVEY PENICK




They Love Shaughnessy

From the Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:

Jerry Kelly was not in the mood for chit-chat, so the PGA Tour veteran was succinct and to the point when asked for his opinion on Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.

"It's a great golf course and I don't think we play any better on Tour, period," Kelly said after his pro-am round on Wednesday.

And this:

"This is one of the top-five golf courses on the PGA Tour already after just one practice round," said Andrew Magee. "You hear all the rumblings in the locker room and on the driving range and the players are saying this is the kind of golf course we all think we should be playing every week on Tour. This is just fabulous.

"It's just got long holes, short holes, views, trees, dogleg rights, dogleg lefts, it's got a real versatile mix of holes. It's just a beautiful place."

"It seems like you are going to have to have all of your wits about you here," said former PGA champion Jeff Sluman. "It's a shotmaker's golf course, for sure. It's not one of those courses where you can smash it and grab it. If we could play something like this every week, it would be unbelievable."

The premium this week will be on keeping the ball in fairways that have been pinched to an average of 26 to 28 yards wide. Once finding the short grass, players must then hit approach shots to greens that are tiny by PGA Tour standards.

"You have to really drive your ball straight here," said Magee. "Nobody who hits it off the fairway is going to play well this week. You have to hit it straight, you have to hit it below the hole. The greens are fast and it's just a classic golf course. It's a very fair course, but it's just tough."

"You hit it in the rough and I would say from any more than 150 yards out you are not going to be able to get to the greens," added DiMarco. "Fairway is premium this week. The greens are sneaky quick. You get on the wrong side and they can be really fast. It's playing tough."

Now, I don’t want to pick on these guys because they’ve really only seen the horribly shallow modern form of narrow fairway and high rough golf. You know, tightrope walking golf. The kind that's supposed to put a premium on ball striking and ends up turning things into a putting contest.

Anyway, wouldn’t it be neat to hear of just one course where the players say something like this:

"Placement off the tee is at a premium this week. The greens really ask you to place your tee shot depending on the hole location. There isn't much rough, but because the bunkers are such nasty hazards, you don't know what kind of lie you might get. So you really have to be careful flirting with the hazards."


No Balls Yet

Thomas Bonk writes in the LA Times that after the USGA sent letters to 35 golf ball manufacturers for shorter-flying prototype balls, the early results are in.

Here's an update: Nothing.

That's right. Nothing has happened. Nearly five months later, not one ball from a single company has shown up at the doorstep of Dick Rugge, senior technical director of the U.S. Golf Assn.

Rugge, who said "eight or nine" of the companies said they would honor the USGA's request and that he expected the rest to do the same, isn't shocked that the needle has failed to move even an inch.

"It takes a while," he said of the process. "It doesn't surprise me. They said they would [submit prototypes], so I believe they will."

Huh. It was widely reported in July that Titleist "complied with a request by the USGA and submitted balls that travel shorter distances than current models."

Since all the manufacturers who said they would cooperate apparently haven’t submitted balls yet, perhaps they've lost the USGA's address? (That’s Box 708, Far Hills, NJ, 07931, attn: Dick Rugge).

Well, the USGA can always test some of the "Distance R.I.P." balls that "Jack wants you to play." I just can't imagine which company made those.


Struggling Champions

Golfweek's Jeff Rude looks at the struggles of recent U.S. Amateur champions and talks to Ricky Barnes.


Solheim Cup Hype

Ron Sirak writes about all of the scenarios and potential glory for the European's at this week's Solheim Cup. Bet this is the first time you heard the Solheim Cup was being played this week.


Spyglass: The Best Venue In All Of Pebble Beach

Ken Ottmar in the Monterey County Herald apparently wants to turn those First Tee kids into former golfers. Why do I know this?. Because he says they should play Spyglass Hill instead of Old Del Monte for the First Tee Open. Sadly, some of the Champions Tour geezers agreed with him.

Bayonet was too hard. Del Monte, too easy.

So here's my suggestion to the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which runs the First Tee Open of Pebble Beach: Next year, rotate not with either one of those courses but instead choose what is truly the best venue in all of Pebble Beach.

Spyglass Hill.

Stop laughing and think about this for a minute. Truly the best venue in all of Pebble Beach?  Wish I could say I make this stuff up. But I merely copy and paste.

Maybe he meant it's the best venue that's not Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Poppy Hills, Peter Hay...oh sorry.

Here's the case for Spyglass... 

The numbers don't exactly tell the whole story. After the first round of the First Tee Open, Del Monte played slightly tougher than Pebble Beach -- 71.538 to 71.359. It relinquished 10 rounds under 70, but also had two rounds over 80.

In a complete reversal, Del Monte became easier in the second round, playing to a 71.487 with zero rounds over 80.



Ranking Rock Bottom

It's official. They've run out of rankings. Golf Digest ranks the best golfers in Washington D.C. Warning to small children or those with a low tolerance for &*%^$##@: way too many photos of politicians in shorts, straw hats and anklet socks talking about how politics would be more efficient if our fine Congressmen and women were able to play more golf.


Ballyneal Article

Thanks to reader Joe for this David Holland article on Rupert O'Neal's Ballyneal, a Tom Doak design 3 hours outside of Denver on the way to the Sand Hills of Nebraska. I think I'm touring the course in October and hope it is as promising as it looks. The long predicted "Prairie Trail" of courses in the Sand Hills region is finally happening.


Canadian Open Blues

Jeff Mingay points out that (yet again) a governing body has not placed enough importance on architecture, thus undermining their event.


Fans Perception of Technology

Rick Arnett at received an "avalanche of e-mails dared to oppose my stance on golf being the most honest sport.” He writes that “the responses made me wonder if I'm completely unaware of the public sentiment regarding the game” because many “mirrored this comment":

You dummy! Golf's cheating is embedded in the sport like no other. It lies in the "technology." All the cheaters race to get the next "edge" in equipment others do not possess. The cheating has gotten so extreme that venerable golf courses are rendered obsolete. You are too close to the sport, dummy!

Arnett goes on to recite the usual there’s no going back and so be it if some courses are as obsolete as old Stadiums argument. Fortunately, the USGA, R&A and PGA of America believe their overall credibility, ratings and championship results are greatly improved by going to classically designed venues. And the PGA Tour does not have nearly as many course options as people think, so the "we'll just go to the 8,000 yard courses" argument isn't feasible.

Anyway, here’s the interesting thing to note. A majority of Arnett’s readers perceive that an excessive embrace of technology is viewed as cheating.

Remember what Tim Finchem warned in 2003 should this perception become reality.

"There is some point--nobody knows where it is--when the amateur player feels divorced and really doesn't appreciate the game at this level, just because it's so different that it doesn't become particularly relevant. The second thing is, if everybody is driving every par 4, it's not particularly interesting to watch.

"We are anxious, because we are continuing to see some distance enhancements in a short period of time. Unless something happens, we may have to move to-ward bifurcating the equipment specs for amateurs and professionals. In that case, we would be more involved."

Looking at the driving distance increases in recent weeks along with plenty of behind-the-scenes feedback via ShotLink, you wonder if Finchem will act. Or perhaps he just has too much on his plate with the TV negotiations. But isn't fan perception key to the negotiations? 

To his credit, Arnett does go on to suggest that the Tour needs to have a drug policy. It’s almost unthinkable that they don’t have one.


This Week's Driving Distance Jump

We're now at 20 players averaging over 300 yards for the PGA Tour season. That's up from 17 last week. 15 the week before. 


Fo shizzle, I-ka-zizzle

woodland hills 8.jpgFor those watching the various golf events of late, you might be wondering after the 3 millionth airing of the Snoop Dogg-Lee Iaccoca Chrysler ad, that the course they are playing is Woodland Hills Country Club in (where else) Woodland Hills, California.

You know the ad by now. It's sandwiched between those 60 second Greatest Piano Solo spots that remind Tim Finchem he has a lot of work to do on the new TV deal. The punchline of the ad:

You know, I'm not too sure what you just said. Now everybody gets a great deal," Iacocca says in the spot.

"Fo shizzle, I-ka-zizzle," Snoop Dog replies.

Were you like me, thinking Iacocca couldn’t possibly need the money and yet Snoops to this level?

Well, don't I feel like a jerk after reading an article about it:

Iacocca is donating the money Chrysler is paying him to do these spots to a foundation he set up to battle diabetes, the disease which killed his wife. USA Today reports that Snoop Dogg told Iacocca during the filming that he has a brother with diabetes, and said he admired what Iacocca is doing.

"He's just a good kid," Iacocca told USA Today about his co-star. "I didn't understand half the things he was telling me, but it was fun."


Newport Awaiting Wie...Already

2006logo.gifChris Baldwin at Travelgolf writes that they're already excited about the arrival of Michelle Wie in Newport...for the 2006 U.S. Women's Open. Though her expected appearance can't be promoted because she is currently an amateur.

Yes, the biggest reason for all this fuss is not included in the advertising blitz. With Wie still holding onto her amateur status, she's not used in any United States Golf Association promotions. Instead, the signs tout Annika Sorenstam, Grace Park and even virtually forgotten oldies Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster. So Wie is unseen, but definitely not unspoken about in Newport.

That'll change in October.  


Norman Lends His Chopper

Greg Norman lends his helicopter to support the New Orleans relief effort.


Hannigan on Amateur Status

golfobserver copy.jpgFrank Hannigan's latest column looks at the recent USGA/R&A Amateur Status change:

The recently announced liberalization of the Rules of Amateur Status is a classic example of the kind of thinking you get when people in power lust to exercise their power but don't know what they are doing.

Oh but this is more than a USGA bashing column, Hannigan points out something rather shocking, even when you think you've seen every USGA boondoggle.

The method of administering golf's version of affirmative action is a typical USGA cop-out in that the Association will neither pay for anything (even though it has a quarter billion dollar surplus) nor manage anything.

Instead, the burden has been lateraled over to the state and regional golf Associations, entities such as the Chicago District Golf Association and the Florida Golf Association.

According to the USGA's solemn press release, any amateur golfer can accept expenses to any golf competition provided the money is laundered through one of the associations.

As of Monday, the USGA had not issued any guidelines to the associations. It has not told them what to expect and what to do and whether they, the local bodies, have any role other than as accountants.

You would think they might run this by the local associations before announcing it. You know, in case they didn't want to do the USGA's dirty (paper) work.

Hannigan, who has long believed college golfers on scholarships should not be eligible for USGA amateur events, makes this suggestion:

The Amateur Public Links championship could again mean something other than being a means of entry into the Masters by a simple if dramatic step: deny entry to anybody who has played on a college golf team during the prior year. It would also be desirable to ban juniors — or at least those who attend or advertise "golf academies" linked to secondary schools.


Suttons and Toms Helping Out

Chris Lewis at SI on the efforts of David Toms and Hal Sutton to help hurricane Katrina victims.


Lupica On Presidents Cup

presidents cup.jpgMike Lupica says the Presidents Cup is better than the Ryder Cup.


I know, I know, even the suggestion that what was invented as another made-for-TV special event is better than the event it blatantly ripped off is something that is supposed to make old Ryder spin in his grave—though probably not the kind of spin you'd get with modern technology.

But I'm right about this.

Ah, the humility.


He goes on to present two utterly ridiculous reasons: the star power of the International team, starting with Ernie Els (oops). And the star power of captains Nicklaus and Player.


It's The Only Way You Lear

Thanks to reader Josh for this from the Telegraph. Writing about Colin Montgomerie:

Design is something the Scot has become more interested in. He said: "This is the first course in the UK which has my signature and for it to be in Ayrshire, just 10 miles up the road from where I first played golf, is really special.

"This is something I very much enjoy. To see this project from the start to completion in two years will be remarkable.

"I've been involved in dozens of courses all over the world now and we are ever expanding. I've played enough bad courses and enough bad holes in my time to know what is good and what I want.

"I've spoken to players past and present about golf course design. It's the only way you learn."


Kelly Gibson

Melanie Hauser talks to New Orleans resident and Tour player Kelly Gibson.


West Coast Swing Impact?

Larry Bohannon says the Tour's possible move to an emphasized fall finish will make it tougher for the West Coast Swing to attract star players.


Rational Exuberance

golfobserver copy.jpgLorne Rubenstein looks at some of the recent reactions to heroic shots and feels they're great for a game that has recently seen less emotion from players. Or perhaps, where we've seen more hostility from players when their fellow players (over?)react to shots.