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

Celebrated as Ben's reign has been both by the golf and nongolfing public throughout the world--for after his comeback from his near-fatal accident Ben became a human interest story and a powerfully popular figure for thousands who "never swung a tee"--we are probably still too closest to his separate triumphs, still too bedazzled by his commanding, combative, concentric personality, to appreciate how phenomenal he has been over a period of years purely and simply as a golfer. In the years to come, I am sure, the sports public, looking back at his record, will be struck by awe and disbelief that any one man could have played so well so regularly.   HERBERT WARREN WIND on Ben Hogan




Nothing That A Fairway Couldn't Cure

WGCAmExLogo05.gifThe PGA Tour's finest are still slamming the 18th at Harding Park, a perfectly fine hole...with a fairway. Yes, the trees hugging the lake off the tee are not idea, but under normal setup conditions adequate fairway width makes it more than fair. But with the AmEx setup, someone decided to buffer the lake with rough in an apparent attempt to make the hole play longer (or closer to the tent village eerily resembling the cool-looking Denver International main terminal).

From Joe Stiglich in the Monterey County Herald:

 Howell arrived at 18 -- which bends left around Lake Merced and leaves little fairway to land a drive -- tied with Montgomerie. But he found the trees on his tee shot and bogeyed.

On Thursday, Woods said the tee box needed to be moved to the right. Calcavecchia's opinion was more sharp Friday.

"I don't want to say anything bad about the hole, but it's the worst one on the course," he said. "... It just doesn't really fit the rest of the course, in my opinion. Neither does the green."

The green is also not as bad as the players say. Frankly, it's one of the few interesting ones on the course, with a rightside catch basin that looks better this week because it's buried in rough.

This episode displays how faulty setup work only can't be detected and explained by today's players. (Or maybe they don't want to criticize the Tour staff?).  



Daly Unplugged

John Daly after round 2 of the WGC event at Harding Park:

Q. Tiger came in here with a turtle neck and a vest and Colin Montgomerie is wearing a sweater. You played in short sleeves today.

JOHN DALY: You put both of them on the scale and they'll weigh just about what I weigh right now. I'm a lot warmer than they are (laughter).

Q. When is the last time you played with Monty?

JOHN DALY: It's been a while. It's been a while since I played with Colin.

Q. Do you enjoy his company?

JOHN DALY: Yeah, we always chat it up a little bit.

Q. About what?

JOHN DALY: Whatever (laughter). Sometimes it's golf. I mean, both of us have had plenty of divorces so we can always talk about that (laughter). I've had a lot more than he has.


Kann on WGC's

Kraig Kann tactfully criticizes the World Golf Championship concept and it's failure to do much more than further separate the "Haves and Have Nots."  Though Kann can get overly enthusiastic at times on air, he demonstrates (again) a knack for quality constructive criticism. And The Golf Channel web site provides yet another reminder that it's doing...a heck of a job. ;) Interesting that a television channel has a more complete and active web presence than the print world, isn't it?


Faldo Q&A

An SF Chronicle Q&A with Nick Faldo talking about his announcing work.


Ostler Column On Harding's 18th

harding 18.jpgThanks to reader Scott for this heads up on Scott Ostler's column about the par-4 18th at Harding. No mention by any player of the goofy-narrow fairway contouring.

Actually, no one really quite explains that it's a goofy setup and not the hole's fault.

This tee shot view was taken a year ago, before someone brought the rough in on the left, oh, at least 20 yards.


Erin Hills...No Signature Hole

Here's a nice story on Erin Hills and its hopes of landing a U.S. Open. Well, the story seemed well-informed until reaching this point:

Designers Dana Fry, Michael Hurdzan and Ron Whitten have done some brilliant bunkering around the greens and fairways. Lang and general manager Steve Trattner also had some input into the overall course design.

Rather interestingly, while the dropoffs, undulations, rough and wetlands come into play on just about every hole, very little earth was moved on the course. On 14 of the 18 holes, not a single shovel of dirt has been turned.

The course has no signature hole. All of the holes qualify for that distinction in their own ways.


Harding Day 1

Boy, the par-4 18th sure looked great during day one of the AmEx World Championship. I loved how the 25 yards of rough between the lake and fairway really tempts the player to cut the corner!

The player has to try to fit their ball into what, 22 yards of width resting at an angle from the tee?

And they wonder why the guys flog it out there with little regard for strategy.

Here's Doug Ferguson's Round 1 story.  And Ron Whitten's rave review of the renovation.


Hensby on Captain Player

Mark Hensby: "I'm not saying Gary [Player] was a bad captain, but he didn't know the players well enough and the personalities well enough and pick the teams well enough."

He wasn't bad, but...

"To me, the communication wasn't great all week. Our team gelled very well but I feel a lot of players weren't put together who should have been together.

"If he'd picked the teams better, we would have had a better chance."

Hensby threw his support behind assistant captain Ian Baker-Finch, implying the popular Queenslander should have had more influence.

"The team would have been better off if Ian had had more say," he said.

So his picks were bad, he didn't know the players, communication was lousy and he didn't listen to his assistant captain. Other than that, Hensby thinks Player did a heck of a job.


Trump National Victim?

Jay Coffin reports that longtime LPGA official Barb Trammell has resigned after 18 years, and he indicates that the slow play debacle at Trump National may have helped to push her out the door.

Trammell, 47, had been with the LPGA since 1987; the last major championship she did not attend was the 1991 U.S. Women's Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. She was at the Office Depot Championship last week at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles, where the course got mixed reviews – good for its scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, bad because of logistics that hindered gallery movement and contributed to rounds that lasted at least six hours for most players. The first day, 60 rulings were requested and officials had difficulty arriving quickly because of the course's routing.


Harding Numbers

golfobserver copy.jpgHere is the link to my column looking at the renovation of Harding Park, with some questions about how $16 million was spent to rebuild an existing course.

More On Wie

Here's more on Michelle Wie's announcement, starting with Doug Ferguson's AP story, Chris Lewis at and Lawrence Donegan from Harding Park. Wie is still planning to go to Stanford. Tiger offered this on his Stanford experience:

"I think you [miss out] on several things by not going to college, the most obvious being educational," Woods said. "The things I learned at Stanford were just phenomenal, and the people I got the chance to talk to, like Condoleezza Rice, and all the guys in the business department - they influenced my life so dramatically."

Rubenstein On Measuring Devices

Lorne Rubenstein writes about distance measuring devices and reader email he has received on the subject.

The light is this and this only, as I concluded in my Globe and Mail column: "See, feel and swing: That's the fast way to play."

I believe it's also the best way to play, the most rewarding way to play, and the most enjoyable way to play.

I support the right of any golfer who wants one to use a distance-measuring gizmo. Lasers are here to stay, any some readers will call me a loser for not loving a laser. Let 'em have it. I don't want it.



Wie Turns Pro

A story on Michelle Wie's press conference:

Michelle Wie, the teen golf phenom, announced today that she would turn professional at a press conference at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Wie, who will turn 16 on October 11, also pledged to donate $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

"I am grateful to be in a position to be able to lend a hand to the victims of Hurricane Katrina," Wie continued. "Turning professional affords me the ability to give back to those in need. Watching other Americans suffer the indignities that this storm has caused really drove home my desire to reach out."

And besides charity, turning pro finally allows her to take the latest equipment that she was deprived of as an amateur:

Wie will tee off at the Samsung World Championship next week in Palm Desert, Calif. playing Nike Golf’s new Sasquatch driver and fairway woods, joining Justin Leonard and K.J. Choi as some of the first to put golf’s latest advancements in club technology into play. Her affinity toward Nike Golf’s equipment, including the new Nike One Platinum golf ball, extends to Nike’s innovative performance apparel and footwear, which she will wear exclusively on Tour.

 As she has been, for the last two years.


Rangefinder Counterpoint

Vartan Kupelian punches holes in the theory that distance measuring devices will slow up (err speed up!) play, as their makers and the USGA's David Fay have insisted.

 One point continues to be left out in these counterpoint arguments. Well, two actually.

One, the speed of play increase theory assumes that a majority of golfers would actually purchase the devices. They won't. Not at $200 plus.

Also, there are not studies I'm aware of proving (or even hinting) that pace of play increased when all golfers in a tournament round had access too these devices (compared to a day without them).


7,086: Short

Ron Kroichik offers a hole-by-hole preview of Harding Park. The headline for the story: "Harding might be short but it's big on challenge." That's right, 7,086 yards in heavy air has become short. Damn those workout programs!

PGA Tour officials hope rail-thin fairways, thick rough, slick greens and rows of cypress trees will present a suitable challenge. It's entirely possible the players will overpower Harding and post low, low, low numbers. Or maybe the refurbished 80-year-old layout will quiet skeptics and produce a winner at, say, 10-under-par.

Because, after all, resistance to scoring is the mark of a great design.

Seve's joke about fairways eventually disappearing is looking more prophetic every day. 


Line 'Em Up

Jim Achenbach says the caddie alignment rule has to go.


Wie Announcement...Preview Stories

Damon Hack in the NY Times and Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian preview Michelle Wie's big announcement.

I bet she's emotional tonight, her final as a semi-professional. No more having to wear miscellaneous brands to pretend to be an amateur pretending to respect USGA rules. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. 


Need To Be A Goat To Walk This Course

Thanks to reader Steve for this gem to welcome me back to civilization. Just when I had given up hope that Tour players would ever criticize a lousy venue again. Annika, via Robyn Norwood in the LA Times.

"I think logistically this course does not set up for a competition like this," Annika Sorenstam said after finishing tied for ninth with a final-round 70.

With its tight fairways, multi-tiered layout, narrow cart paths and few shortcuts between holes, the Trump course in Rancho Palos Verdes proved difficult to navigate despite its lavishness.

Players searching for balls in the thick brush or waiting for officials to arrive to make rulings contributed to rounds lasting as long as six hours.

That, plus a 3 1/2 -hour fog delay Saturday, produced the first non-playoff Monday finish on the tour since 1999, though players said ocean views made the waits more bearable.

Sorenstam said not only rules officials, but fans as well, found it difficult to move from hole to hole.

"You pretty much have to be a goat to walk this course," she said.

And after her thanks for the community support:

"Maybe we need to find a flat course in the neighborhood."

Harding Park Scoring Watch

hardingpark18.jpgLet the number crunching begin! Alan Shipnuck in SI (subscription req.) talks to Sandy Tatum about this week's World Championship at Harding Park.  The focus is on the winning score and how the course will be perceived for a possible USGA event (even though we know they don't care about winning scores, nope).

Here's the key portion of Shipnuck's story:

"It's a nice old-style course," says PGA Tour vet Joe Ogilvie, who shot even par during a recent corporate outing at Harding. "It has a good routing. I like the big, old cypress trees. It's nice to be able to think your way around a course."

Glad you enjoyed it, Joe, but cut to the chase -- is this little muni good enough to host a $7.5 million World Golf Championship extravaganza? "Well, I think it ought to be fine," says Ogilvie.

Hmmmm, not exactly a ringing endorsement. Ogilvie's Tour colleague Kevin Sutherland played Harding about a year ago, shooting one under par in a casual round with friends. Sutherland's assessment? "It's a beautiful course," he says. "I thought it was very fair."

Uh-oh. In Tour parlance fair is a code word for easy. Mount Juliet, in Kilkenny, Ireland, is considered exceptionally fair. That's where Tiger Woods went 25 under on his way to winning the 2002 AmEx and where a victorious Ernie Els shot 18 under last year. Scores like that will do nothing to enhance the stature of the new Harding Park, and everyone associated with the course hopes to avoid a birdie bonanza.

"I think eight under is a realistic winning score," says Tatum, who while president of the USGA oversaw the Massacre at Winged Foot in 1974, when seven over par won the U.S. Open. "I would hope it's not more than 10."

This is not about vanity but viability. Going forward, Harding is slated to host the AmEx every three years, but there is an understanding that the Tour will cut and run if Harding's playability or conditioning is deemed subpar. San Francisco officials also have their sights set on a USGA championship. Last year Mayor Gavin Newsom wrote to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., formally requesting that Harding host the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. Newsom was rebuffed -- the '09 Women's Open was instead awarded to Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. -- but discussions are ongoing about future Opens at Harding. Tatum's ultimate dream is to land not only the Women's Open but also the big enchilada, the men's Open. These grand ambitions add even more frisson to how Harding will be received this week. "You bet it's an audition," says Tatum, "not only for more WGCs but also for the USGA."



More Greatest Reviews

A couple of more conflicting takes on The Greatest Game Ever Played: Mike Clark in USA Today and Roger Ebert.