Geeked on Golf


Wilson & Me

On the heels of its 100th Anniversary celebration in 2014, Wilson Golf has come out of the gates strongly this year (click here to read the CDGA magazine article re: Wilson’s 100th).  The company continues to rebound from the rocky road of the not-too-distant past, receiving praise for its equipment, signing new additions to its tour staff, engaging its retail partners, and launching consumer marketing initiatives like Gear Up.  Tim Clarke’s recent appearance on Morning Drive from the PGA Demo Day further signals Wilson’s resurgence.


Click to Watch Video

I have always been a Wilson guy at heart.  I started with Wilson Golf clubs, and I suspect that that is where I will finish.  As Wilson has had its ups and downs, I have watched with interest even when I was not playing golf.  This post is not so much about Wilson’s comeback story.  That story is better told by My Golf Spy’s John Barba in his fantastic 3 part series on the brand:

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

This post is about my personal experience with Wilson, the company and the brand.

First, the company:

There have been periods in my career when I was consulting, and doing a fair amount of networking to research companies I admired.  Even though I wasn’t playing much golf at the time, I wanted to learn more about Wilson Golf.  Executives from Wilson were gracious enough to share their time and business insights with me.  Having been the leader of several turnarounds myself, I know how demanding the job is on one’s time.  In particular, I am still struck that Tom Gruger was that generous with a stranger, in spite of his tremendous workload.

After sending Tom a presentation I made for fun (I already admitted to my nerdiness) on potential marketing strategy and tactics, he was kind enough to invite me to his office for a meeting.  (click here to see my 2008 strategy deck)  It was a thrill to visit Wilson’s headquarters, and our conversation was very interesting.  We discussed the ongoing efforts to leverage digital media to enhance the Wilson Golf brand, as well as the opportunities inherent in effectively conducting e-commerce.  Tom also shared some of the macro challenges associated with managing a global brand with outsourced manufacturing, various retail partners, and fierce competitors with deep pockets.

These looks behind the curtain were highlights for me.  Suffice it to say, that Tom is one of the good guys in my book, and they deserve continued success.

Now, the brand:

I grew up in golf with Wilson.  The head pro at Old Elm Club during my caddie days, Don Wegrzyn, was on the Wilson staff and the golf shop was always stocked with the newest equipment.  Several of Old Elm’s best players carried Wilson Staff irons, and they just looked right to me.  The W/S shield, the red & black, the shiny forged metal, the classic shapes – all tremendously appealing to my eye.


The mosaic above provides a tour through all of my Wilson gear, some of which I have just recently re-acquired.  Of course, Wilson has always been an iron brand to me, and so my three sets of Wilson irons are the prizes within my collection.

  • The first set of clubs I ever bought for myself with my caddie money were the 1987 Wilson Staff Fluid Feels.  Those were the clubs that I played throughout the meat of my competitive junior golf days.
  • My second set, purchased right before I quit playing golf for close to 20 years, were the 1991 Wilson Staff FG-51 Tour Blades.
  • When I came back to the game recently, I found a used set of 2009 Wilson Staff Pi7s – my first ever set of non-blade irons.
  • I have mixed in various Wilson wedges, including the classic R90, and a Gooseneck 1-iron over the years as well.

Now that I have gathered up all of these clubs, as well as several of my old persimmon woods, I intend to tune them up and put them back into rotation in my bag to satisfy a recent “throwback” urge.  Full disclosure, my current everyday irons are not Wilson for the first time in my life.  The clubs are great, but it is a bit strange, and I suspect that I will ultimately switch back.

Heading into the 2015 season, I can’t help but notice the symmetry between my journey in and out of the game, and Wilson’s recent history.  We both wandered away from our roots, and now we are both finding our way back.  While I continue my comeback to this game I love, I’ll be cheerleading Wilson’s comeback as well.  After all, you can’t beat a great comeback story.

Do you have a Wilson story?  I’d love to read it.  Comment away…




Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


Journey Along the Shores – Part 2 (The Land)

We kicked off the 2015 season with our first Greens Committee meeting this week.  Improvement projects are beginning to line up and preparations are being planned.  I’ll share the details of that progress once spring arrives and we get underway.

For now, let’s take a step back in perspective to examine what the Canal Shores property is, and conceptually, what it might become.

Canal Shores is not just a golf course.  It is a 35 acre multi-use green space on the banks of the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River.  It spans Wilmette and Evanston, and several streets cut across it.  It is surrounded primarily by residential property, but it winds through the neighborhoods in a unique fashion.  Canal Shores is much more an integrated part of its neighborhood than a typical golf course in a residential property.

Canal Shores was established in 1919, and although its boundaries have changed, it remains largely intact.

The land is mostly flat, with some subtle undulation.  There are a variety of trees, both in age and species.  The combination of wooded areas and the shape of the property make it feel generally narrow.

For purposes of closer examination, Canal Shores breaks down into the following sections, from north to south:

Section A – Sheridan to Linden – The north end of the course is bordered by Sheridan Road.  Across the canal lies the Baha’i House of Worship, and across Sheridan Road is Wilmette’s Gilson Park.  This section contains 2 golf holes.


Section B – Linden to Maple – This section is bordered by residential area, and contains 2 golf holes.


Section C – Maple to Isabella – This is the southern-most section of the Wilmette portion of the property.  It is bordered by a residential area and contains 3 golf holes.


Section D – Isabella to Central – This is northern-most section of the Evanston portion of the property.  It is bordered to the east by Evanston Hospital.  The Purple Line “El” tracks cut through it.  There are 3 golf holes in this section.


Section E – Central to Lincoln – This section contains the clubhouse, parking lot and maintenance shed.  It is bordered to the east by the Central Street “El” station and tracks, and it contains 3 golf holes.


Section F – Lincoln to Noyes – This southern section is the largest.  It is bordered to the east by residential area and Leahy Park.  It is bordered on the southwest by the Metra North Line tracks.  Across Green Bay Road from the train tracks is the Ladd Arboretum.  It contains 5 golf holes.


In coming posts, we’ll dive into each of these sections more deeply, exploring unique features.

More to come…

More Journey Along the Shores posts:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf



A comprehensive collection of links to golf course architecture and history videos

It is exciting to see increased discussion of golf course architecture on Golf Channel and other televised golf coverage, with Matt Ginella and Geoff Shackelford leading the way.  Perhaps some day, we will see the GCA show I argued for in this previous post – The Art of Course.

In the meantime, this video link archive has been created to be a resource for all those who want in-depth exploration of golf courses, architecture and history.  Many thanks to my collaborator Kyle Truax (on Twitter @TheTruArchitect) for his extensive contributions to this archive.

A few words about the format and structure of the archive: Wherever possible, a playlist on my YouTube channel has been created for each subject, and can be played right from this page.  Links to videos from sources other than YouTube have also been provided, with hyperlinks in the video titles.

With proliferation of GCA-related videos, the original single page format was getting to be a bit unruly.  I split the archive into three parts.


All golf course specific video links have now been moved to the GeekedOnGolf Global Guide.


This page features architect interviews, presentations, etc. that are not course specific to a single course.  See the Architect videos here…


This page features the Golf Channel architecture features, as well as videos from other commentators and architecture enthusiasts.  See the Commentators videos here…

If you have any clips to add, please feel free to tweet them me at @JasonWay1493 or leave them here in the comments.  Enjoy!




Copyright 2019 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


Golf Shots – An Interview with Photographer Evan Schiller

PebbleBeach18P26A quick look at my Twitter or Instagram feeds reveals that I love looking at pictures of golf courses.  Sadly, I am quite terrible at taking good pictures of the beautiful courses I get to play.  That is why I am so grateful for talented people like Evan Schiller.

In addition to being one of my favorite photographers, Evan is also a gracious and generous man.  After patiently responding to my ongoing inquiries about his work, he wisely suggested that we conduct a virtual interview.  Shared here with some of his photos are insights about the practice of his craft.  Hope you enjoy.

(Although it is selling quickly, there are a few copies of Evan’s 2015 Golf Shots Calendar available here, along with his other work.)


How did you get into the profession?

To make a somewhat long story short…my parents gave me what is an equivalent these days to a point and shoot when I was about 8…I just started taking photos of everything, especially on our vacations…..about 17 years laters, I was playing the 9th hole of The Stadium Course at PGA WEST in 1986 and as we walked down the fairway in the early morning the scene was breathtaking.  My friend and I had just played in the California Open in August in the Palm Spring area..yes, a bit hot.  I wished I had a camera with me to capture it.  No cell phones in those days.  Upon returning home I purchased a camera and started taking it with me on trips.  I would give the photos to friends and hang them on my wall.  Several years later while working as an assistant professional at Westchester Country Club a friend of mine said I should put some of the photos in the pro shop and sell them.  Well,…..I did and here we are.  One thing lead to another and I was off and running.

Describe your process for capturing the perfect shot.

This is a bit long, but I think it speaks to what you are asking. Where I shoot depends on which holes are most photogenic, of course.  However, I usually try to scout the course beforehand to look beyond that.  I want to see nuances and anticipate light patterns on specific holes so that I know where to stand for the critical moment when the sun rises and sets. I’ve captured beautiful shots without scouting the course, but it’s not ideal.  Why?  Because of the light.  It takes some time to understand the timing and angle of the sun’s rays on each fairway and green.  Taking the time to consider this can make the difference between capturing a good shot and a great one.

Let’s take Pebble Beach for instance. I know from experience that I must capture #8 and #18 as soon as the sun comes over the mountains or the sun will be too high and the light less than optimal.  I might position myself behind the 8th green in a cherry picker well before sunrise so I’m ready for the opportunity at first light. Not to say I won’t get a good shot after sunrise, but the hole won’t show me its best.

From my scouting preparation, I know that from the 8th hole I can head to the 6th and 7th because it takes longer for the sun to appropriately light those holes.  If I’ve done my prep well, I’ll have noticed that the light on #9 and #10 is likely better in the late afternoon and that the 7th hole faces almost due south so it photographs well in morning and afternoon light, although I prefer the evening!

Once I’ve identified the holes and times I want to shoot, I turn my attention to composing the shot, keeping in mind that it might be viewed on a computer screen, in a magazine, a book or as a framed print.  I always intend to create a shot where everything flows and is of interest, while keeping in mind balance and eye appeal.  So while it’s not a rule, I generally don’t photograph from the middle of a fairway. Unless there’s something interesting at play like a fairway bunker or shadow, it’s not the most intriguing shot.

So preparing to photograph a course is more than a logistical run-through.  It’s an opportunity to see beyond just looking.  It’s seeing with my imagination to anticipate the flow of light and capture its shimmer within finite time frames.

This may be where the art of photography lies.

What is your most memorable moment while working on a shoot?  

Wow, that’s a tough one!!  See below when I write about shooting the 7th at Pebble Beach.  A couple other times were when I was first asked to go photograph The Masters for Golf Digest and The Masters Journal and, the week before asked to shoot the course for Golf Magazine.  Now that I think of it, in 2001 I was asked by a notable publisher if I wanted to be the photographer of a book entitled “Golf Courses of Hawaii”.  Not knowing at the moment what was required of course I said yes.  Well, I soon found out that it would require me to go to Hawaii for about 8 – 10 weeks to photograph 40 golf courses….At the time I thought I was in heaven but still alive!!  I ended up making two trips to Hawaii and spending a total of about 9 weeks there shooting….tough duty.

What are the Top 3 courses you want to shoot?

Another good one. I’m assuming this means courses I have not photographed before?  Off the top of my head Cabot Links, Barndougle Dunes in Tasmania looks amazing, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and if I could add one more it would be Sand Hills in Nebraska.

How do you know when you have hit the sweet spot and captured a special picture?  

It’s usually the convergence of a series of events.  A great hole / shot / beauty….great light and cloud formations.  And, I just know it.  Things are different now with digital cameras and backs.  Ten years ago when I was shooting film you didn’t know what you had until you got the film back.  Now you know instantaneously when you look at the image in the back of the camera.  For instance, the attached, which by the way was shot with film.  It’s a photo of the 7th at Pebble Beach.  I had arrived about two hours before sunset and sat around waiting on an overcast day….hoping for the marine layer to break.  I never know when that special moment will occur, I can try and anticipate it based on past experiences and be ready if and when it does.  So, I waited almost two hours for this shot and just before the sunset there was a break in the clouds by the horizon and the sun came out for less than two minutes and I was able to capture a few shots.  I could even say this was one of the more memorable shots because of the place and the fact this has been one of my most popular images ever.  It also appeared on the cover of the 2010 US Open Magazine which was play at Pebble Beach.


What do you love about practicing your craft?  

Many things…first of all, I have the opportunity to travel to some amazing places and courses and not only photograph them, but sometimes play them.  I meet so many wonderful people along the way as well.  I love to share my images and experiences of shooting because often times I am out on a golf course when other people are not.  Usually very early or late.  I also love the adventure (scouting courses, shooting from lifts and helicopters and recently with drones and being out early in the morning when the sunrises…. and the creativity of it all, looking and seeing what’s the best angle for shooting the hole…I never know what’s going to happen or what I’ll find along the way and I like that…I like being surprised.

Who is your favorite golf course architect, and why?  

Tough to choose one there, so many architects are doing such great work, many of whom we are only now getting to know.

What are your favorite courses to play?

This is probably the easiest question.  Royal County Down, Fishers Island, Punta Espada and Pacific Dunes.

When you’re not taking pictures, what are you doing? 

My wife and I have also made numerous trips to Africa and have become fundraisers for the conservation of Big Cats.  We’ve done several fundraisers over the past few years for Panthera ( and The Big Cats Initiative. (  We love Africa and I’ve taken thousands of photos during our trips.

I’m also a golf professional and coach with Extraordinary Golf. ( and, love to hang out and photograph our three cats.

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Additional Geeked On Golf Interviews:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf



“As beautiful as trees are, and as fond as you and I are of them, we still must not lose sight of the fact that there is a limited place for them in golf. We must not allow our sentiments to crowd out the real intent of a golf course, that of providing fair playing conditions. If it in any way interferes with a properly played stroke, I think the tree is an unfair hazard and should not be allowed to stand.”
– Donald Ross, from Golf Has Never Failed Me

First things first – I love trees.  They are magical to me.  Growing up on Chicago’s North Shore and finally settling in Evanston, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by big, old trees all my life.  Time spent hiking in the woods of northern Michigan is second in enjoyment for me only to golf.

My tree-hugging tendencies having been disclosed, I have to agree with Mr. Ross 100%.  On many golf courses, over-planting and invasiveness of trees are a detractor – they create turf health issues, add to maintenance costs, hinder playability, and block sight-lines.  Further, when trees are overgrown, true specimens are not allowed to stand out, reducing aesthetic pleasure.


What a shame it would be if the beauty of these specimens at Crystal Downs was lost in an overgrown tree line. (photo by Jon Cavalier)

In spite of high-profile tree removal victories such as at Oakmont, architects and superintendents are often saddled in their work by club memberships that apparently don’t know the difference in function and intent between a golf course and an arboretum.  To illustrate what they deal with, a superintendent friend of mine was confronted by a club member while overseeing tree removal and accused of “raping the golf course”.  The restoration of that same course, which included substantial tree removal, has subsequently been lauded by the members as an unequivocal success.

As the sunlight can better reach the turf once the trees are thinned, so is this page intended as an attempt to shine a light that gets through to tree-ignorant golfers.  Architects and superintendents are invited to share their tree removal before-and-after photos and I will keep them organized.  Hopefully, by creating such a resource with visual proof of the improvements, we can raise awareness and make the lives of GCAs and Supers a bit easier.

Photos and commentary can be submitted to me at or via Twitter @jasonway1493.



Arguably, Oakmont was the original spark that got clubs to stop planting trees haphazardly, and start thinking about what proper tree management looked like for them.  Obviously, the outcome at Oakmont is at the far end of the tree removal spectrum, but the impact of what Superintendent Mark Kuhns did starting in 1993 with support of key members continues to reach far beyond the boundaries of their property.


Click here to watch the Golf Channel story – How Oakmont Turned Back the Clock


The most amazing transformation that I have personally witnessed through tree removal is at Essex County Club.  Before my first play of ECC, I studied up and saw pictures.  The course I encountered in 2015 was not the same as the one in the photos.  The Essex County membership and Superintendent Eric Richardson were already well on their way down the tree removal road, and they keep going.  I have been back to play annually, and every time I visit, my jaw hits the ground again.

Following are before-and-after photos provided to me by Eric illustrating the extent of commitment that ECC has to bringing out the uniqueness of Donald Ross’s New England masterwork.

(click on images to enlarge)

The rock hill that is the central feature of the property, as seen from the 1st fairway:

From the 10th fairway, revealing the hillside:

From the 11th tee, uncovering the hill behind the green:

Looking back to the 12th tee, the drive plays blind over the hill:

From the 12th fairway looking back, with the movement of the land and skyline revealed:

From the 15th tee, with trees replaced by Ross mounds to separate 15 from 16 fairway:

Before, during and after removal of trees on 17, uncovering the wild topography on which this short par-4 is built:

The view back toward 12 from the 18th tee, set on the hill top:

From the 18th tee, looking down the fairway as it tumbles between the hills:


The club where I grew up caddying has undergone an incredible transformation.  The collaboration of architects Drew Rogers and Dave Zinkand, General Manager Kevin Marion, and Superintendent Curtis James has dramatically opened up the property so that the work of Harry Colt and Donald Ross can truly shine.  It is not the course of my youth, and all the better for it.  If I can ever pin Curtis down, there will be photos to come…


(click on mosaic images to enlarge)


2013-2014 Restoration by Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design.

Broadstone2 Broadstone1


2015 tree removal performed by Superintendent Brian Bossert as a continuation of a 2013 renovation by Jim Nagle of Forse Design. (Learn more about the project here)


2008 Restoration by Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design



Tree removal performed by grounds staff, video courtesy of Deputy Course Manager Graeme Roberts.



Renovation work by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Meade.



1999-2000 Restoration by Bruce Hepner and Renaissance Golf Design (full course review on


2007-2008 Restoration by Mike Benkusky.  – According to Mike, more than 500 more trees have been removed since the renovation was completed, and the membership continues to love the new look and playability of the course.

Photos courtesy of Superintendent Michael Vessely, who continues to polish this special Langford & Moreau 9-holer.


2014 Restoration by Infinite Variety Golf Design and Patrice Boissonnas (more pics and information at



2007 Renovation by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Meade.



2013 – 2014 restoration of this Langford & Moreau gem by Jim Nagle of Forse Design. Before pic courtesy of Scott LaPlant.


2015 off-season tree removal performed by Course Manager Grant Peters



2009-2010 Restoration by Hanse Golf Course Design with Geoff Shackelford (see the LinksGems Tour here)


December 2017 Tweet from the Lulu team (@lulucountryclub).  Superintendent Matthew Stout and his crew have been doing tremendous work polishing up this Donald Ross gem.


July 2015 tweet from the Meadow Club Grounds Dept. (@meadow1927). In collaboration with Mike DeVries, Superintendent Sean Tully and his staff are bringing out every bit of beauty from this architectural treasure.

MeadowClub-BeforeAfter.jpg OAK HILL COUNTRY CLUB

June 2016 Tweet from Superintendent Jeff Corcoran (@ohccturf1), before and after pictures of #15 on the West course.



The title of tree management’s greatest champion goes to Dunlop White.  Not only was he integral in the restoration of Old Town Club, which included significant tree removal, but he is also the keeper of the best set of resources on the subject that I found.  Visit Dunlop’s website here.


2007 – 2014 Restoration by Keith Foster (before photo from Gib Carpenter’s wonderful article on, after photo by Evan Schiller from course renovation timeline on

Photos posted to Twitter by Graylyn Loomis (@grayloomis).


Tree removal directed by Superintendent Adam Garr.  This video illustrates perfectly the necessity for proactive tree management to ensure turf health (for more information, check out Adam’s PHCC Greens blog).


2014 tree removal pics courtesy of RV member Steve Demers (on Twitter @LuckyDemers).


August 2015 tweet from the Ridgewood Grounds Dept (@RCC_Grounds).  Beautiful work across the board by Superintendent Todd Raisch and his staff.



May 2015 Tweet from Superintendent Andrew Boyle (@Boyle_turf) highlighting OCCM work, which included improved tree management.


2006-2007 Restoration by Gil Hanse and George Bahto, with subsequent additional tree removal. (pre- and post-restoration photos from course review on  For more on Sleepy Hollow, see the LinksGems Photo Tour here.



Renovation by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Meade.  The opening up of the property that resulted from the tree removal allowed for the combination and creation of new holes (click images for slideshow).


December 2017 Tweet from the Dept. of Agronomy (@TPCPG).  Superintendent Steffie Saffrit revealing the beautiful movement of the land more fully.



Under the direction of Bruce Hepner, Superintendent Mike Bremmer and his crew have been peeling away the layers of overgrowth for 7+ years.  According to Mike, “We are finally getting to the point after 750 removals where parts of the course come to light after falling one tree.  Before we had to remove what felt like 100 to see progress.”  More on Mike’s work at


  • Recent Tree Removal Update by Chris Tritabaugh, Superintendent at Hazeltine National – This post from the club’s blog details reasoning and strategy behind selective off-season tree removal in preparation for the 2015 season, and 2016 Ryder Cup matches.
  • Timber! by Golf Course Architect Jeff Brauer – This column from Golf Course Industry Magazine makes a case for the benefits of thoughtful tree removal.
  • A Tree Removal Before-and-After thread on GolfClubAtlas, showing other wonderful examples of the visual impacts.
  • Why Oakmont Waged a War on Trees from the Wall Street Journal in the the run-up to the 2016 U.S. Open.
  • Below the Trees by Dunlop White, a wonderful opinion piece on GolfClubAtlas, packed with historical perspective, information, and a nice dose of sarcasm.
  • A Tree Removal List by state was created in this thread on GolfClubAtlas, and although never completed, does contain interesting removal stats.



Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


New Year’s Shift

Having a day-at-a-time paradigm, the whole New Year’s thing doesn’t typically do it for me.  It has been a long time since I made a New Year’s resolution.  My wife’s enthusiasm for the holiday is influencing me this year, and even though there are still no resolutions forthcoming, I do feel compelled to share a shift I am making for 2015.

Upon reflection, last year was particularly challenging.  It was over-full, chaotic, and grindy at many times.  In my golf game, my work, and my life, I spent more time trying to make it happen than I did showing up with my best and letting it happen.  In my experience, that approach rarely yields the best results and often leads to burnout.

Toward the end of the year, I felt a shift taking place that I am carrying over into this year – in golf, in work, and in life.

I first noticed the shift in my off-season golf practice.  Focus on the game plan my coach gave me increased.  As my fitness and mechanics improve, my swing is beginning to feel natural and authentic.  I have stripped away mental clutter.  My strengths are engaged and powerful, on-target shots seem to be flowing through me. The experience has both a quality of a glimpse of the best of my past and the even higher potential for my future.

Therein lies my 2015 shift.  No more tight-gripped pressing to make it all happen through force of will.  Instead in this year, amidst the fullness and challenge of golf and life, I will keep a simple focus on my strengths and let my best performance flow.  Should be an exciting year.




Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf