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

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON

 

  

Sunday
Oct222017

Video: Thornberry Hits Field Goal Shot In Front Of Full House

This is a remarkable shot on three levels:

A) Hitting a football (well) with a golf club is quite difficult without hurting yourself.

B) Doing so in front of a full stadium with your collegiate peers is no easy bargain.

C) Having the audacity to pull off a little Chi Chi sword-return-to-its-sheathing.

Nicely done NCAA men's individual champ and recent Walker Cupper Braden Thornberry pulling this off at halftime of the Ole Miss home loss to LSU (Kevin Casey with more details here at Golfweek.com):

 

Saturday
Oct212017

Video: McCarron's Drop Hits Club, Club Gets Hit

Ouch...

 

Thursday
Oct192017

Video: Thomas Shows How Today's Pros Can Handle Stymies

Every time we talk stymies in a pro match play so many of you are concerned about the agronomic impact, but as Justin Thomas demonstrated at the inaugural CJ Cup in Korea, a dreadful skeech mark was no obstacle!

@justinthomas34 can do it all.

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Thursday
Oct192017

Colonial Likely Searching For A Sponsor Again...

Mac Engel reports for the Star-Telegram on a likely early departure for Dean & DeLuca after two years sponsoring the historic Colonial. The food company has four years left on its contract.

Engel obtained a letter to members signed by club president Rob Doby.

“While certainly disappointing, it is not a situation that we as a Membership and Staff are unfamiliar with,” Doby wrote.

The board is scheduled to meet with Dean & DeLuca representatives as early as Thursday about potentially renegotiating the terms of the contract, but at this point the club is preparing to look elsewhere for a title sponsor.

A PGA Tour statement said the Dean & DeLuca is still the sponsor as far as they are concerned but that they are in conversations.

Engel shares several other interesting details, including this:

The PGA wants a little more than $11 million per year from a sponsor for this event, which, per multiple sources, effectively eliminates several companies from landing Colonial. The price tag is roughly $3 million too rich for many companies.

Losing a sponsorship here leaves two Texas stops searching for a sponsor as the 2017-18 schedule is already underway. The Houston Open has yet to secure a sponsor after Shell ended their long run.

Thursday
Oct192017

Video Roundup: Stymies Versus Backstopping

In this week's Golfweek digital and now posted online, Brentley Romine and I debate the men's pro golf backstopping practice.

On Twitter, I've gotten a very frequent reply that goes like this: you want the stymie back but you are offended when players leave a ball down (in a form of silent, possibly creepy collusion that does not protect the field.)

Yes. I am offended by backstopping and hope we return the stymie to match play.

Because in match play, golf would be faster and far more confrontational if players could clean their ball, then leave it down the rest of the way to the hole. Foursomes, four-balls, individual matches, you name it would all have occasional moments of social-media-friendly drama. Virality, baby!

But backstopping suggests an element of rule-bending and collusion that can only damage perceptions of a clubby sport that is generally very honest, but does strike some as too fraternal at times.

The stymie is only interesting in match play, where we never see backstopping occur. Furthermore, a ball stymied by a match play opponent is an overtly hostile gesture, while backstopping is a mysteriously complacent act of notifying the competition that you are willing to assist them, free of charge.

For those who are not familiar with the stymie's place in the game and not owners of Bobby Jones' Golf Is My Game (1960), I can at least steer you to some video thanks to the wonders of YouTube.

Graphic viewing warning: these clips are all in black and white while involving evidence of people playing the game (well) prior to the year 2000.

First up, check out Sam Snead beating Johnny Palmer in the 1949 PGA at Belmont. At the :28 second mark watch how Snead tries to stymie Palmer, to no avail. The complete opposite of backstopping. 


Next, check out Charles Coe vs Nick Chapman at the :20 mark for a fantastic stymie and one that would freak out today's backstoppers in the 1951 British Amateur final, one of the last played with stymies in effect:

Also in 1951, the USA retained the Walker Cup in spite of a delicious stymie situation viewable at the 1:22 mark. The sun has continued to rise in the east since. 

At the :15 second mark of this 1948 PGA Championship highlight reel--when the event was still contested at match play--Ben Hogan is stymied and you can just feel Hogan’s enthusiasm as he pulls out wedge on a green. But what great entertainment and competitive edge this brought to the proceedings!

And at the 1933 Ryder Cup highlights, go to the 1:28 mark for a delicious reminder that the stymie was once part of the Ryder Cup, and dream of the possibilities today before remembering that we live in a golf culture where the players seek to help their friends, not clash competitive with them.

Wednesday
Oct182017

Royal Birkdale Gets Jordan Spieth's Driving Iron

Because of course there is no club that better recalls Jordan Spieth's epic 2017 Open Championship win, even if he was not satisfied with his shot from Birkdale's range. It was the driving iron that took center stage and no one who watched the scene unfold will ever forget it.

Since it's the club he used to hit the recovery setting up an epic unplayable lie-bogey and eventual win over Matt Kuchar, Spieth admirably donated it to Royal Birkdale. They received the club today, to go with their incredible clubhouse collection of memorabilia from past champions.

(Todd Lewis took us on a rare tour during this year's Open and I can concur after a tour from former club champion Ethan Davies that it's as good a display of historic clubs as any in golf.)

The question remains, does Spieth's drop warrant a plaque? I say yes, even if only the driving range attendants will be the only ones who see it!

Wednesday
Oct182017

NPR Questions Trump National LA's $5 Million To Charity

National Public Radio reporter Tom Dreisbach and the "Embedded" team explained his inquiry into Trump National LA's website claim that it has given $5 million to charitable causes (thanks reader Carl).

Now, the $800,000 that NPR was able to account for is a pretty nice number compared to many golf courses and should be admired.

But, when your course namesake is President of the United States and the claim is highlighted in bright lights, with a link explaining how to request charitable contributions from the course, the scrutiny is understandable.

Apparently much of the discrepancy involves the claiming of Trump National LA's range as open space.

DREISBACH: What we were able to account for is about $800,000 in donations - far short of that $5 million number. Now, the Trump Organization did not make any contact with us. They refused to answer any phone calls, emails. And one possibility is that they are claiming a conservation easement, which is a sort of controversial tax break that you can take. Basically, The Trump Organization said that their driving range, they were going to preserve it as open space in perpetuity. It's sort of a way of preserving open space and habitat, but in fact, as one charity expert told me, the driving range is still a driving range, so it doesn't really pass the smell test in terms of a charitable gift.

Wednesday
Oct182017

They're Back...Sort Of, The Costco Kirkland Is Back In Some Form

Thanks to all who sent the GolfWRX post identifying the latest Costco "Kirkland" ball to be offered for sale, just as the CEO promised in January. The original drew great attention and reviews and after selling out, has become a much-demanded cult classic.

While they are billing it as the same ball with "Hot List" branding, the current iteration is only for sale to Costco members, with a 2-order-per-membership limit and no certainty the latest ball is the same as the last (given that it was likely a one-off production run of old Taylor Made cores).

Nonetheless, it spices up discussions about the ball, adds more intrigue to the lawsuits and whether this is a legitimate contender in the golf ball market, as some originals proved to be, or just an occasional stunt.

Here they are Costco members...

Wednesday
Oct182017

Firefighting Mid-Am Champ's Masters Dream: A Practice Round With Tiger Woods

Not that Tiger ever sets goals for injury return on such things, but the older, maybe more sentimental and "making progress" Woods might just relish the chance to fulfill the dream of U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Parziale. After all, it would mean Woods was even well enough to play The Masters.

From Doug Ferguson's story on the Massachusetts firefighter who won the U.S. Mid-Amateur last week, earning him berths into the Masters and U.S. Open:

Parziale was 9 when he watched the Masters for the first time and saw Woods break 20 records on his way to a 12-shot victory. He was 16 when Woods won a World Golf Championship at Capital City Club, the very place where Parziale realized so many of his golf dreams.

So when asked if he could play a practice round at the Masters with one person, Parziale didn’t hesitate.

“Tiger, and there’s not even a close second,” he said. “I play golf because of Tiger Woods. I was the perfect age to see him.”

Wednesday
Oct182017

Bones Will Eventually Work A Mickelson Grouping

Golf World's John Strege catches up with Jim "Bones" Mackay about his first summer working for NBC/Golf Channel and gets rave reviews from producer Tommy Roy.

Besides sharing some insights into surprises about the on-course reporting gig, Bones addresses Strege's question that many have asked: will Bones cover his old boss, Phil Mickelson?

Mackay has not yet been assigned a grouping with Mickelson in it, notwithstanding the fact that from a golf fan’s viewpoint, it would qualify as must-see TV, to resurrect an old NBC slogan. Roy has not ruled it out in the future. “I think the day will come when enough time has passed to do it,” Roy said.

His concern in the near term is the potential for a distraction caused by the vocal few in a crowd who consider “mashed potatoes” imperative to a tournament sound track and might be inspired to weigh in on the Mickelson-Mackay parting.

“One thing we want to be cognizant of is that we don’t want to put anybody in a bad spot,” Mackay said.

Wednesday
Oct182017

BFF As Caddies More Than A Trend Now

After seeing Tyrell Hatton win two European Tour events in a row with best friend forever Jonathan Bell, Tim Rosaforte says the BFF on the bag movement is "more of a trend." Hatton follows Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day as a top player moving to a BFF.

The players also have a consistent reply for questions about the move.

It’s more of a trend than a coincidence that three top-20 players, all in their 20s, parted ways with their caddies this year and put one of their BFFs on the bag. Rory McIlroy was the first, trading out J.P. Fitzgerald for childhood mate Harry Diamond at the WGC-Bridgestone in August, saying “sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice a professional one.”

Remember, it's about being able to talk music...

That’s an understatement. As Hatton noted after winning the Dunhill, “It’s good fun having Jonathan on the bag.” Sometimes that’s all it takes, having somebody the same age who you can relate to, somebody that listens to the same music and somebody who simply represents a change."

Tuesday
Oct172017

Ridley: "We will take whatever action, whatever course of action is necessary to protect the integrity of Augusta National.”

Brentley Romine reports on a media call with new Masters chairman Fred Ridley was asked about the golf course in the face of most distance gains since the last round of changes.

After saying something vague about the Jones design philsophy ("strategy and skill were equal components in how the golf course should be played"), he issued this strong statement:

“We will take whatever action, whatever course of action is necessary to protect the integrity of Augusta National golf course,” Ridley said.

Now that could mean many things. Given that the club has planted trees, introduced longer fairway cuts pushed toward tees and added numerous back tees, more lengthening is about all the club can turn to without further damaging the Jones approach.

Jones and MacKenzie's very clearly stated design goals for Augusta National are already hanging by a thread, and with a consulting architect who doesn't practice strategic design or even the art of respecting those who practiced the art before him, it appears there is only one course of action that will work: restricting driving distance.

Restoring width and removing recently planted trees, as Michael Bamberger wrote in this suggestion list piece, would also be nice but they won't addres the simple fact that the strategy has been rendered less interesting by modern driving distances.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Drone Flyover Of The Horse Course At The Prairie Club

It's been a few years since Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, myself and a fun cast of characters created the Horse Course at The Prairie Club, so it was nice to see the 10-hole par-3 course finally get the drone treatment its setting deserves. Especially now as the game opens its very closed mind to par-3 courses, the concept of H-O-R-S-E golf will hopefully get a little more attention.

And given the difficulty of maintaining prairie bunkers, it's especially neat to see how well they've evolved. Thanks Patrick Koenig for the great shots.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Happy Birthday: The Open Turns 157

The day consisted of 36 holes, three trips around the 12-hole Prestwick designed by Old Tom Morris. The Earl of Eglinton sponsored the event featuring eight professional golfers, including Willie Park Sr., Andrew Strath, Robert Andrew, George Brown, Charlie Hunter, Alexander Smith, William Steel and of course, Old Tom. Some competitors seen in identical lumberjack shirts given to some to mask what might have been deemed inappropriate attire. Apparently lumberjack was the new tweed.

Josh Morris summarizes the event for Golf History Today and Kevin Cook's Tommy's Honour re-created the events quite nicely. But in a nutshell, Park Sr. edged Old Tom by two strokes in a nail biter and professional tournament golf was born!

Sheila Walker on Old Tom kicking off the proceedings...

And while there is no film, we do at least have this final Open at Prestwick in 1925 to sense what Prestwick means to the game and what a golf tournament looked like long ago--warning, people walk in lines and the sacred through lines!

The anniversary is a nice reminder that tournament golf owes much to the efforts of those first eight who teed it up sixty-five years prior to this:

The plaque commemorating the old first hole...

And so it began...157 years ago today - The Open Championship!

A post shared by Travelling the Fairways (@travellingthefairways) on

Monday
Oct162017

Hank Likes What He Sees In Tiger's Swing

Tiger shares a swing video featuring driver and his old instructor, Hank Haney, chimed in with a positive review.

That’s a swing he could win with, it’s not across the line and stuck inside coming down, a little stiff looking but it’s good enough

The Tweet in case you don't believe me:


Even better, the cautious approach from agent Mark Steinberg sounds like Team Tiger has learned from past mistakes, offering just enough reason to be optimistic but not committing to a comeback timetable.

From Bob Harig's ESPN.com exclusive on Tiger getting the go-ahead to be a full time golfer again.

"He got a nice report and is allowed to proceed," Steinberg said. "He can do as much as he needs to do. Tiger is going to take this very, very slowly. This is good, but he plans to do it the right way."

We discussed on Morning Drive that the signs point to all positives, but I understand, we've seen this movie before. However, the rhythm and audacity to post clips suggests this is a different.

Monday
Oct162017

Wanda Group Courses Declared Illegal By Chinese Government

Gabriel Wildau reports for the Financial Times on the Chinese government has declared "illegal" two golf courses owned by the powerful Dalian Wanda Group.

The FT storys says this is part of "a campaign against luxury and waste ahead of a Communist party gathering that begins in Beijing this week" and continues the trend of high profile attacks on golf in China. Given the Wanda Group's international standing, even if the move is targeting the group for non-golf reasons, it appears to be yet another blow for the game in China.

The move is a blow to Wanda’s tourism and entertainment ambitions as the group seeks to diversify from shopping malls. The government of Fusong county in China’s northeastern province of Jilin has revoked permission for the two courses there, according to a notice dated October 1 seen by the Financial Times.

Wanda is one of a group of privately owned conglomerates, including HNA Group, Anbang Insurance Group, and Fosun International, that have come under scrutiny in recent months, with a particular focus on their overseas acquisitions. Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin tumbled from his position as China’s richest man, according to the country’s best-known rich list released last week, falling to fifth place in this year’s Hurun ranking.

The ChangBaishan International Resort facilities cited include one 18-hole Jack Nicklaus course and 36-holes of Robert Trent Jones designed golf. Also on site are several thousand hotel rooms, including a Sheraton, Hyatt, Westin and Holiday Inn(s).

Golf photographer Patrick Lim kindly shared some images he shot of the courses and facilities, which I think better illustrates the significance of the closures.




Monday
Oct162017

U.S. Women's Mid-Am Needs Volunteers At Champions GC

With the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur moved to Champions in Houston after hurricane Irma caused damage at the original venue (Quail Creek in Florida), the short-notice move requires volunteers.

For those in the Houston area, it's a great chance to hang out at legendary facility and help an amateur event and the Texas Golf Association, which is helping take on some of the responsibilities for the event November 9-16th could use volunteers.

Here is their Tweet and the link to their registration page.

Monday
Oct162017

Chairman Ridley On Distance: “We’re interested in that issue"

While not kicking the door wide open or sharing his views, it sounds like new Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley isn't quite shying away from the issue either.

From Doug Ferguson's AP interview with Ridley discussing several topics related to The Masters.

He also was reserved about how the club felt about the distance the modern professional is hitting the golf ball, referring only to a good relationship with golf’s two governing bodies, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient.

“We’re interested in that issue,” he said. “It’s not my place to talk about what’s good and not good for the game. I might have opinions, but I’m not the person to talk about it. What I can talk about is what’s good for Augusta National and our golf course. Going back to the guiding principles, again, I believe that the philosophies that Jones and (Alister) MacKenzie established here are timeless.”

His predecessor, now-Chairman Emeritus Billy Payne, never seemed entirely comfortable talking about the impact on the course. It seems reasonable to surmise, however, that no one at Augusta National is pleased to have fairways mown toward tees and to be spending more money on possible back tees locations. But what will they do?

I also thought this was of note (and admirable) related to the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock...

He was not directly in charge of the golf course, but “I was the president, so the buck stops there.”

Monday
Oct162017

Welcome Statement From New Masters Chairman Ridley

A new era in Augusta begins today as Fred Ridley becomes seventh chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters:

Sunday
Oct152017

Tiger Up To The Driver: "Making Progress"

Someone is feeling pretty good about himself these days! The swing rhythm is especially nice, as is the length of the backswing. Even better, someone has the itch again!

Great to see:

Making Progress

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