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

If we examine courses in general, we shall find that wherever the modifications of the ground have been so inwrought as to seem inevitably a part of their surroundings, not only are they liable to manifest beauty, but we can be relatively sure the work promises to endure.
MAX BEHR

 

   

Monday
Aug152005

President's Picks 

presidents cup.jpgDo the President's Cup Captain's picks make a statement about the depth of American golf?

Mind you, these are all great players. But U.S. Captain Jack Nicklaus basically had this group of players to choose from (Captain's picks in italics):

Justin Leonard
Zach Johnson
Chad Campbell
Ted Purdy
Fred Couples
Joe Ogilvie
Bart Bryant
Again, all fine players, great patriots, devoted husbands, wonderful humanitarians, etc.  But consider Gary Player's options:
Peter Lonard
Shigeki Maruyama
K.J. Choi
Stephen Ames
Geoff Ogilvy
Steve Elkington
Rory Sabbatini
Trevor Immelman
Based on recent play, Ogilvy and Sabbatini would be tough to pass up, while Elkington's record in the Cup would have made him a fine choice. Lonard and Immelman aren't exactly slouches, though Immelman was way down the points list.

Truth be told, the only reason I post this is to generate some enthusiasm for the President's Cup. Right now, it's tough to even think about sitting down and watching Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for more than ten minutes.

Monday
Aug152005

Just 60 Minutes?

pga_t1_logo.jpgNow posted is my Golfobserver column on the PGA of America's antics as well as the Walker Cup excitement. cbs.jpg

Gary Van Sickle also writes about the PGA and CBS. He calls them greedy. And you thought I was tough?  I merely implied they were greedy!

Monday
Aug152005

2005 PGA Stats

The final PGA stat package is posted. Warning, it's a PDF file.  The USGA will be jealous. The "Cost of Rough" at Baltusrol was .489 compared to .363 at Pinehurst. Well, there's always next year!

Monday
Aug152005

More Monday PGA Reads

Jeff Rude has more one-liners from Charles Barkley.  Golfobserver's Peter McCleery beats the magazines to the punch and gets to say I told you so after years of warning that a major would not finish on Sunday.  Steve Elling looks at Tiger's epic year in the majors and reports on the 14 players who made the cut in all four majors.2005 pga logo.jpg

George Kimball in the Boston Herald writes about Steve Elkington's sunday shirt reminiscent of his 1995 final day garb and the backdrop on Larry King's set.   Sally Jenkins writes about the ugly play on Sunday at Baltusrol.

Here's a Reuters story on Mickelson's request to move Sunday times up.

David Whitley in the Orlando Sentinel blasts the PGA and likens Sunday refusal to move times up to the infamous "Heidi" episode at NBC.  Michael Hiestand in the USA Today picks up where Rudy Martzke left off...writing press releases for the networks.

Sunday
Aug142005

It Is High, It Is Far, It Is...in the Rough

nyt-paper.gifSelena Roberts in the New York Times (reg. required) writes about flogging at Baltusrol and quotes yours truly on the subject.

Somehow golf has gotten to the point where inaccuracy isn't punitive because distance is so highly rewarded. A 330-yard drive into the rough, plus a wedge to the green, is far more attractive to a player than a 280-yard poke and a 5-iron to the pin.

But is might always right? There is an aberration on the leader board in Steve Elkington, who was in a tie with Thomas Bjorn for second place when the storms blew across Baltusrol last night. Elkington is the amiable Aussie with a caddie nicknamed Gypsy and a driving distance that ranks him 132nd on the PGA Tour. But his fairway accuracy is No. 14 at Baltusrol. He is not an equipment aficionado like Mickelson and Love or an all-consumed workout fiend like Woods and Singh.

"I couldn't be like Vijay," Elkington told Australian reporters last week. "I admire what he does, but I bet he doesn't even know where the light switches are at home."

In other words, Elkington has a life. But he occupied the space among the leaders as an anomaly. More and more, players like Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Love overpower their errors to find success. "I don't blame them," said Geoff Shackelford, author of "The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back," when reached by telephone yesterday. "Over the course of four rounds, it's a wise thing to do. Power is more important."

It has become an obsession. It's all about the equipment and computer analysis, the balls and the Launch Monitor, which, in essence, is a time-lapse X-ray of a swing to determine factors like ball spin and carry distance in order to match a player to the optimum club.

"Players have picked up 30 or 40 yards on their drives using it," Shackelford said.

What else are players using? Power cravings in any sport can lead to boundary pushing of the chemical kind. There is no whisper of a steroid problem inside the P.G.A., but there is also no drug testing. So how does anyone truly know surges in distance are all about technology and not about the designer steroid THG?
Of course we know golfers aren't on steroids, but still, Roberts brings up the point many of us are wondering. How long before such substances do become a part of the new look power game?


Sunday
Aug142005

Some Monday PGA Reads

Lawrence Donegan's Monday story in The Guardian has some fun notes on the tournament that hasn't ended. Damon Hack in the NY Times provides a diplomatic take on the PGA debacle.  Bob Harig at ESPN isn't so kind, but also isn't has brutal as he could have been. Dave Anderson sums the whole mess up as only a Pulitzer winner can.

Just to not overdo the PGA stuff, Richard Oliver in the San Antonio Express-News writes about how the Texas Open may be impacted by the new Tour television contract. Eh, okay, back to the PGA. What was I thinking?

All of the transcripts for the week are here. Here's Tiger Woods. And Steve Elkington.  And Phil Mickelson's press conference, though I couldn't seem to find the part where he was asked about the starting time call. Am I delusional?

Sunday
Aug142005

Walker Cup Summary

walker cup logo.gifThe Walker Cup transcripts for the winning U.S. team. The Walker Cup summary. And none of it does justice to the event.

What fun to watch golf on such a classy old layout.

Just a shame it was up against the PGA (way to go USGA!). Congrats to the both teams for such great play and sportsmanship.  I'll never forget running in between rooms (TiVo people will understand) to watch the PGA and the Walker Cup unfolding!

**Update: Golfweek's Alistair Tait writes about the Walker Cup and recounts the key moments.

Sunday
Aug142005

Haigh Press Conference

The art of the non-answer, by Kerry Haigh:

Q. This is for Kerry or Andy. Is it the situation that CBS dictates that the last pairing goes off at 3:00, and when you have a situation when you see that the weather is going to be poor, could that not be have been brought forward to 2:00 PM, or is it a stipulation that you must finish at 6:45 for television?

KERRY HAIGH: I think we had for about almost a year that we had agreed on the finish times, and published that in all of the schedules for everyone involved were set for 7:00. The forecast all week long has been for scattered storms and chance of storms and lightning. As we know, we've been very fortunate up until now with storms that could come at any time basically during the afternoon.

Q. Just as a follow up to that, I didn't hear a clear answer on that; is that dictated by television or does the PGA dictate that in terms of the final tee time for 3:00?

KERRY HAIGH: We certainly talked with CBS and I guess mutually agreed on what is an appropriate finish time.

Q. Did that conversation happen at a certain point today where you sat down and said, we have this forecast, and therefore we will make or not make this decision? Was that a meeting that happened today?

KERRY HAIGH: No. As I say, we agreed on the start times and we've looked at the weather basically throughout the week and kept the plan that has been all along.

Q. Truth be told, the weather forecast was far worse today than for any time of the week. There was just a chance of scattered showers early in the week and today every forecast I saw on The Weather Channel and locally were pretty certain it was going to happen.

KERRY HAIGH: The forecast was, I think, there was more of a chance of scattered showers but they were still scattered. If you look further to the south, they have had no activity at all, and we were within four or five miles of missing it ourselves. So I think the forecast was very accurate, that it was certainly very scattered. We were just unfortunate that it came too close and right on top of it.

Q. Let's see if he can drive this nail with a different hammer. You conduct a number of championships, some of which are not televised. If you were in like circumstance with a non televised championship, and you knew the details that you had today, would you err on the side of caution and adjust your time so that you didn't carry your championship over into the next day?

KERRY HAIGH: That's a good question. But no, I think we would have probably had we made all of our arrangements for a 7:00 finish and with all of the people and parties involved, we would have kept it the same.

Q. Not to belabor this anymore but Phil Mickelson was asked about this and he said he asked to have the tee times moved up. Is that accurate and were you part of that conversation? KERRY HAIGH: I'm not aware of that.

Q. Just to make sure we have this clear, there was no discussion today with CBS about moving the tee times up?

KERRY HAIGH: There was no discussion, no.

Q. Just to make sure we have this clear, there was no discussion today with CBS about moving the tee times up?

KERRY HAIGH: There was no discussion, no.

Q. Just on going back to this again, just so I know, who ultimately has the authority to change the tee time? Is it you or is it CBS?

KERRY HAIGH: The PGA of America.


Sunday
Aug142005

For What It's Worth...

...During the Golf Channel's 30 minute show between Sunday's TNT and CBS coverage, Rich Lerner of The Golf Channel asked the PGA's Roger Warren about moving PGA Championship tee times up an hour to ensure the round was finished.

weather_warning1998_256.jpgWarren claimed that the forecast was too sketchy to make such a concrete move. But it's hard not to imagine that had they teed off earlier, the round might have finished before the weather arrived. CBS would have come on the air with the last group teeing off, and at the worst, finished a little early.

So just remember, there are several hundred very bitter writers sitting in a New Jersey tent, armed with laptops, ready to pounce. A Monday finish fiasco has been long overdue at golf's majors, because giving the networks a strong prime time lead in has taken a priority to finishing rounds at a reasonable hour.

And as I type, Phil Mickelson is being asked by a scribbler and he's choosing his words very carefully, pointing out that they finished in the dark yesterday and that alone should have been reason to move the times up a bit.

Saturday
Aug132005

Sunday PGA Reads

Sure looked like a lovely day at Baltusrol! It was stuffy here in the Home of the Homeless. I actually had to turn on the ceiling fan this afternoon. Still didn't help me ward off the nap. So what exactly did Phil do on 15?

Anyway, GolfDigest.com's Brian Wacker leads with weather talk and has other notes in his "postcard" from the PGA.   Gary Van Sickle at SI handicaps the finish and says Baltusrol is the big winner this week.

2005 pga logo.jpgGolfonline's Tom Mackin catches up with Billy Farrell, son of longtime Baltusrol head pro who was making a rare visit to the club. He also writes about the Wolffe brothers, Rick and Stuart, who produced the Tillinghast books along with Bob Trebus.

AP has several notes on the event, including the story behind John Daly's move to a wedge and the cell phone ban. Damon Hack writes about Tiger's missed opportunity 66.

And here's a weather by the hour forecast site, one of many that the assembled inkslingers will be watching anxiously tomorrow. Nice forecast. If you were playing here in LA or in the Pacific Northwest...ah, I won't go there.


Saturday
Aug132005

Walker Cup Sunday

Here's the AP story on the U.S. and its 1-point lead in the Walker Cup. And the official site also has news, notes and Sunday times.

walker cup logo.gif I hate to be picky, but if you are going to go to the trouble to send four NBC announcers and a large crew to Chicago, maybe we can get more than 90 minutes of golf coverage? Especially when you're scheduled for two hours!?

Some helicopter flyovers would be nice too. Nonetheless, the course looks neat.

Oh, and according to someone on site, Fred Ridley talked about C.B. Macdonald's design during the opening ceremony. Again, not to be picky, but the course they are playing this week is Raynor redesign of Macdonald's. 

Saturday
Aug132005

Tiger on Saturday

Thankfully, someone asked the question a lot of us were probably wondering about: for the second day in a row Tiger tried (unsuccessfully) to hit an easy 3-wood into 17, with dreadful results.

Q. What was your yardage on 17? What's the difference between 3 wood or 2 iron?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's 274 and I can't carry 2 iron 274 downwind uphill. If it was flat, I'd probably hit 2 iron but since it's uphill, I can't. So I have to hit some kind of choke up cut 3 wood to the front. It was 274 to the front, or 290 to the hole, stays downwind, as hot as it is, the ball is flying forever. I tried to start the ball to the left trees, cut them, hit some kind of banana ball and I actually pulled it.

Q. Given that set of conditions, any thought to laying up and giving yourself...

TIGER WOODS: Why? No. (Laughter).

Q. You're a good wedge player.

TIGER WOODS: No. I needed 3.
Hmmm...4 would've worked too.

He also confirms hitting 17 iron into 18 for the second day in a row.

Speaking of the finishing hole, I think it played about as easy as a par-5 ever has in a major:
18     4.4177     Eagles: 11     Birdies: 124     Pars: 94     Bogies: 8     Others: 0

Saturday
Aug132005

Crane On the Clock

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutions Glenn Sheeley looks at the slow play issue. Ben Crane says the rumors that he reads the Bible scriptures stuffed into his yardage book are are "absurd." But Friday at Baltusrol, Crane put on this absurd display:

  • Time to hit tee shot.. 52 seconds
  • Time to hit approach........ 1:34
  • Time to hit first putt...... 1:18
And John Daly, same hole, same day:

  • John Daly Tee shot.............. 19 seconds
  • Approach shot..........12 seconds
  • First putt............ 16 seconds

Saturday
Aug132005

The Newfangled Bubba

mickelson trucker hat.jpgIt's a miracle that Steve Elling's Saturday lead made it by the Orlando Sentinel editor determined to "protect their readers":

Eat my dust, y'all.

The newfangled Bubba of the 87th PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson, again showed up Friday sporting the new lid he trotted out for the first time this week, a trucker-style cap with a mesh back. The way its mojo is working, if Mickelson can bum a dip of chaw from David Duval or a Marlboro from John Daly, find some flip-flops with spikes and cut the sleeves off his shirt, he might just collect his second major championship.

This being New Jersey, it won't be hard to find a rusted-out Trans Am with a Dale Jr. bumper sticker, either. How long does it take to grow a mullet or get a name embossed on a leather belt?

Friday
Aug122005

Saturday PGA Notes

2005 pga logo.jpgI was about to point out what a great job TNT was doing until the quadruple commercial break stretch as Tiger was playing 18 in round 2.  At least the announcing was sharp, restrained and insightful...though there was Bobby Clampett's 62 prediction for Tiger's Saturday round.  It was a long, hot day.

Speaking of the heat, it was 74 today here in the Home of the Homeless. FYI, my hometown borders two-time PGA site Riviera. Not as nice as 95 and humid New Jersey or Tulsa, the PGA site in 2007.

GolfDigest.com’s Brian Wacker files a postcard with some fun anecdotes. Cameron Morfit files a notes column for Golfonline.   Tom Mackin writes about Joe Damiano, Jersey guy and Stuart Appleby’s caddie.

Tiger is asked about the bad break on 17 and the 7-iron into 18. He ends it with a funny one-liner.

An Irish Examiner story story on Darren Clarke not playing in the Seve Cup, with denials that he is avoiding Captain Monty. John Huggan writes about Sean O'Hair for The Guardian.  And SI's Chris Lewis makes his case for the PGA as the best.

The course played much easier during round 2 (70.53). Here’s the PGA's only course stats page but by the time you look at this they’ll probably have round 3 in place (the PGA web site doesn't break down stats by round. Other stats seem to be unavailable.

Finally, Mike Penner writes in the LA Times that Comcast’s Outdoor Life Network is making a strong bid for the NHL. What does this have to do with golf? The up-and-coming network is apparently looking to raise its profile. Perhaps golf will be next on its list?

Friday
Aug122005

Just Another Golf Course!?

Walker Cup Great Britain/Ireland's Gary Wolstenholme:

Q. Can you tell us your impressions of Chicago Golf and the way you play?

GARY WOLSTENHOLME: I would say that the way things are going nowadays, we've got players that are competing in the states and colleges on a regular basis, plus the rest of us all competed abroad on a regular basis as well. So, this is just another golf course. As far as the way that it plays, the fairways are very soft. Obviously, I'm not sure that's probably the way it was initially intended. I think they would have liked to have a bit of run on fairways to create more of a test in that respect. We're used to playing virtually every type of golf course there is to play. This is just the way it's playing at the moment. It's pretty much drop and stop.

Friday
Aug122005

Best of Barkley**

Courtesy of TNT, the best of Charles Barkley. (Minus the "uh, oh, don't zoom in" comment after Woods hit his waterball on the 4th):

Barkley on close friend Tiger Woods and the extremely hot weather during the tournament: "It must be hot out there because Tiger is in great shape and he is sweating. When skinny people sweat, you know it's hot. I sent him a text (message) today to wish him good luck but I guess it didn't work"

Barkley on who is in better shape between he and Woods: "Well he has a six pack and I have a keg...and I would never want to have just six beers."

Barkley on the physical strain that golfing takes on his body: "I came to the realization a couple months ago that I am fat. If you get tired from walking - and that's all that golf is - then you are officially fat."

Barkley on his recent performance at the American Century Celebrity Championship , in which he finished directly behind Cheryl Ladd and Chris Webber: "It's embarrassing. If you are a man and you can't beat girls or the smart kids, you shouldn't be playing...I'm retiring from golf. I'm not going to play again."
**Update: Damon Hack's Saturday notes column in the New York Times looks at Barkley, and quotes him saying that if Phil Mickelson worked out like Tiger or Vijay, he'd be much better.

Friday
Aug122005

Walker Cup Is Here

ChicagoGolfClub 7.jpgThe Chicago Tribune's Joel Boyd wonders if college coaches, by recruiting so many foreign players, have hurt the the U.S. in Walker Cup play: "It's no coincidence that at the same time U.S. colleges started to recruit top foreign amateurs en masse, the tables turned in the Walker Cup."

Or maybe foreign players are more complete because they haven't grown up playing only the American way?

Ben Voelker has posted some great Chicago Golf Club photos on Golf Club Atlas as the Raynor-Macdonald course is set up for the Walker Cup.  And here's a March Golfdom story by editor Larry Aylward on Jon Jennings, Chicago's superintendent and one of the true class-acts in golf.

This will take you to the Golf Channel Walker Cup page.  TV Times: Saturday 8/13 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM ET TGC, Sunday 8/14 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM ET TGC.

Friday
Aug122005

Jenkins: How much longer and tighter can courses get?

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post (reg req.) looks at Baltusrol and wonders what's becoming of major championship setups.

Woods's struggle at Baltusrol begs a question, and it's a question that governing bodies of golf have avoided thus far, but which they are going to have to face head on at some point soon. How long can they continue to protect golf courses against burgeoning technology? It's an issue that Woods has helped to force, with his length and ability to make a world-class course look like miniature golf. More and more, courses are gimmicked-up in an attempt to preserve par and control scoring. Even Augusta National is adding 155 yards to its length.

Some courses, according to Woods, have become so tricked up that they resemble "elephant burial grounds." But at a certain point, we are going to run out of ways to manipulate the acreage. What then? How much longer and tighter can courses become without completely distorting them, and the basic values of golf? The most sensible solution is to impose limits on technology, or to use a softer covered, standardized ball that won't travel as far. So far, the ruling bodies have declined to look at such solutions, because it would mean two different standards.

The equipment companies say they don't want pros playing one game, and amateurs playing another. But the reality is that we're already doing that now. How many amateurs can play a 650-yard par 5? When we gin up a tournament venue so dramatically, make it as brutal as it can be for one week, we create another standard. Isn't it easier to control the balls and clubs, than to stretch courses or distort them beyond recognition, until virtually half the field is eliminated on the first tee? Baltusrol is playing fairly -- barely.

Woods's opening round was the fault of his own errant swings. But we're seeing a suggestion here of what happens when the landscape is continually manipulated. Make a course too long, and you eliminate shorter ball strikers. Make it too narrow, and it becomes leveling and the ability of a Woods is totally negated. Either way, it neutralizes skill level -- which is exactly the opposite of what tournament golf should do.
Jenkins raises a question I hope to someday a governing body will contemplate: at what point is a fairway too narrow? Is it 20 yards? 15? 10? The width of a ball?

Thursday
Aug112005

New Look, New Features

Yes, I've officially entered the blogosphere.

Please bear with me as I try to adjust to the new look and figure out how to publish the archive of past posts (if possible). This should allow for posting more often and for those wired into the whole RSS thing to be notified of posts.

You'll notice now that there's a comments section after posts. This could prove useful and interesting assuming the comments will be posted to add insights to stories posted, or to offer additional links, or to correct my mistakes. Or it could require registration, monitoring, etc... Hopefully not.

Thanks for your patience and thanks for checking in. And feel free to comment below on the new format.