2021 Masters Picks

When everyone else is going to the dance and you’re at home. Sorry, Rick.

It’s that time of year again.  The Azaleas and Dogwoods are blooming in Georgia (and here in the DMV my seasonal allergies are just starting to kick in), which means it’s Masters Tournament (or Toon-A-Mint if you prefer) week.  It’s the first major of the year, unlike last year when it was the last.  The usual suspects (minus Angel Cabrera who is toiling on the Argentinian-Brazilian Penal Tour) are all in place, and Jim Nantz is ready to do what he does.

Having performed the kind of deep analysis that I’m known for, I’m ready to make my picks for the week.  First, some talking points:

  1. 11 of the last 15 years and 8 of the last 10 years have seen first-time winners.  The repeat winners?  Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and some Tiger fella.
  2. This leads me to think it’ll be a first-time winner.
  3. The average winning score over the last10 years is 12 under (276).
  4. In the last 10 years, there have been 6 US winners and 4 non-US winners.
  5. Winning the Players Championship and/or the Match Play all but take you out of winning the Masters, so no go to Justin Thomas and Billy Horschel (understandable if Horschel is still exhausted from playing so much in Austin).

Picking five guys who will be your contenders for winning, I’ve come up with the following:

Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Xander Shauffele,  Sungjae Im, Daniel Berger.

Just missing: Jason Day, Tony Finau.

Guys I’m rooting for: Marc Leishman, Mackenzie Hughes, Corey Conners, Max Homa.

Spieth, Dechambeau, Rory will finish just out in that top 15-25 area.

Let’s hope that in a week we remember the tournament for great golf and not because of something else. Please.

 

 

Who Runs What; Explained

We’re now into April of 2021, and slowly, our cold winter is starting to give way to spring.  Hello, budding trees, green grass, and in a few weeks millions upon millions of cicadas will invade the area for their once-every-seventeen-year brood (i.e. sex party).  There will be pollen, and your faithful scribe will spend a good amount of the next several weeks sneezing.  It’s not COVID, it’s allergies.  Oh, and seemingly smart people will show zero clue about who runs what in professional and amateur golf.

While we here at SGIC Amalgamated Industries support freedoms and we support people using their constitutional rights, generally speaking we avoid getting involved in political issues because it’s not really why SGIC Amalgamated Industries was started.  Plus, we like to find things that unite us and not divide us which was the whole point behind this project.  Golf was, is and should always be for everyone who loves the game (and the course along with their fellow players).  But, we wanted to help provide an explainer on who runs what, so that people might actually know who is (and is not) behind certain events, given how often people lump certain terms together.  In short, if you’re going to get angry, it’s a good idea if you knew who to actually get angry at.  You’re welcome.

PGA: Professional Golfers Association. Most golf-playing countries have one.  The PGA of America is made up of club professionals (i.e. teaching professionals) who work at courses and typically focus on teaching the game to others.  The PGA of America run the PGA Championship (held this year at Kiawah Island in South Carolina), the LPGA Championship (held this year at Atlanta Athletic Club) and the US side of the Ryder Cup (held this year at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin; it was moved from 2020 due to COVID), which is held every other year between the United States and Europe.  Relocated the 2022 PGA Championship to Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The PGA was not, is not, and will not be the PGA Tour.  Two completely different organizations run by completely different people.  More on that in a moment.  Suzy Whaley is the current President of the PGA of America.  The PGA of America has nothing to do with a certain invitational tournament played in Georgia in early April (more on that later).

PGA Tour: Player-run organization that runs non-major championship golf made up of members who are touring professionals (i.e. NOT typically teaching professionals).  Phil Mickelson probably doesn’t spend 3 hours a day folding sweaters and giving hourly lessons for 4-5 hours a day (I mean, he “might” but I doubt it) and Tiger Woods isn’t doing weekly lessons with your Uncle Pete (unless your Uncle Pete is exceedingly rich and was able to convince Tiger to give him a lesson).  The Commissioner of the PGA Tour is Jay Monahan.  The LPGA Tour Commissioner is currently Mike Whan (who is leaving his position).  The PGA Tour also runs The Presidents Cup, an every-other-year team event between the United States and an International Team (made up of non-European countries).

USGA: United States Golf Association.  Organization that runs national championships (US Open, US Women’s Open, US Amateur, US Women’s Amateur among others), and is responsible for the US version of the rules of golf.  They also provide testing and approvals on playing equipment (clubs, balls) and handicapping (enabling players to sign up for an official USGA handicap using the new World Handicap System), which is designed to allow players of different abilities to have a competitive match.  Their involvement with professional golf is limited to the US Open championships (which are open to professional and amateur players) for men, women and senior men.

ANGC: Augusta National Golf Club.  Private golf club based in Augusta, Georgia typically open from October until May (they close during the summer months).  Runs every aspect of The Masters tournament (typically played in early April), along with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt event for children (typically held the Sunday before the start of the Masters Tournament).  They do not disclose their membership list, and membership is by invitation only.  However, an Internet search “could” find a membership list sorted by the State that the member lives in.  The Masters Tournament TV contract is its own entity; it is not part of any other TV contract.  CBS and ESPN are the current US rights holders; the contract is typically done only one year at a time, and ANGC signs off on any announcers covering the event (Gary McCord was removed from the CBS crew after some critical comments about the course setup).

 

 

 

The Worst Golf Movies, Not In Any Particular Order

The Judge is waiting for a better golf movie.

As a rule I don’t watch Inaugurations even though I’ve lived in the DC area for a while.  Usually I’m working, and in 2001 (Inauguration fell on a Saturday that year) I was on a flight to the west coast when George W. Bush was sworn in (I was trying to avoid bad weather).  It’s nothing political, it’s just not my bag.  I’ll probably watch some of the Inaugural address when I have the time to pay attention.

So on this Inauguration Day, since the departing and newly-sworn in POTUS both play (one a lot more than the other), I thought I’d do a deep dive of the worst golf movies.  Everyone has their top-5 or top-10.  This is a top-7 list.  Some of them you’ll recall instantly, and others you’ll have forgotten (or tried to forget) they existed.

Before I jump into the list, I thought it would be helpful if I provided my methodology in how I reviewed these films.

  • Story.  Does the plot make sense?  Does the script follow a progression?
  • Acting.  How good are the actors?
  • Golf.  Do the golf scenes look realistic?  Do the actors/actresses who are playing golf appear to know what they’re doing (if they’re playing characters who are pros/elite amateurs)?  Much like hockey films, this is an area that gets overlooked (I’m looking at you, Mighty Ducks trilogy).  The better option is to do what the producers did for the hockey film “Miracle” which is find guys who can play hockey and teach them acting (the hockey scenes are VERY good).
  • Directing.  How are the golf scenes shot?  Are there obvious continuity errors?  Do the scenes ‘look’ genuine?
  • Re-watch factor.  The best golf films can be re-watched.  Would you want to re-watch?

Again, this list is not in any particular order.  I took notes, watched films, and that’s it.  These films are all uniquely bad for reasons I’ll get into.

  1. Caddyshack II (released 1988).  This falls into how I feel about the sequels to Slap Shot (hockey people feel about Slap Shot what golfers feel about Caddyshack; notably the sequel(s) were terrible ideas).  They’re terrible, poorly conceived, horribly written and to borrow a phrase, the audience is the worse for having watched it.  Much of the original cast is gone and replaced with people who should know better.  Robert Stack as the Judge Smails and Jackie Mason as the Al Czervik is all you need to know.  Beyond terrible and not even in a “so bad it’s good” way.  Insipid.  Awful.  The best thing I can say about these films is that Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight had the decency to run away from this flaming turd of a film.  The people who made this film should apologize to anyone who’s had to sit through it.
  2. Happy Gilmore (released 1996).  I know there are people who like this film as it’s an Adam Sandler film and he has his fans.  This ain’t it, chief.  Sandler has “one” character he plays with very few exceptions (the odd drama film).  He’s playing Adam Sandler Comedic Goof.  The golf plotline is terrible and completely divorced from reality.  The continuity errors are in the dozens (obviously shot at multiple locations at different times of the year and changing for no reason).  Christopher McDonald’s ‘Shooter McGavin’ character is the only thing decent.  Again- touring pros AND a then-nascent Golf Channel bought onto this.  A poster child for failing to get the details right.
  3. Greatest Game Ever Played (released 2005).  A good book does not always make for a good movie.  The problems start with Shia Lebeouf, who is awful as the film’s lead Francis Ouimet.  His golf swing is god-awful.  It’s worse than Matt Damon’s in ‘Bagger Vance’ which is saying something.  At no point do you think he’s playing that role.  He’s just Shia Lebeouf looking like a 30-handicap chopper in period dress.  I wanted to like this film (seriously- the book is good).  It’s awful.  Shia should apologize to Stephen Dillane who is actually good.  The film makes several factual errors that go against what actually happened.
  4. The Tiger Woods Story (released 1998).  The Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie enema of golf films.  Undoubtedly some smooth-brained troglodyte wearing white shoes and a nose ring thought to greenlight this dumpster fire after his Masters win.  The lead (whose name bears not repeating) didn’t really look like Woods, and the golf scenes are awful.  It’s consistently awful.   No thought was put into this film.  It jumps around without ever actually making a point.  I had forgotten it existed until I started researching this.  I feel gross.  The script (assuming there was one) has all the emotion of a manila envelope.
  5. Who’s Your Caddy (released 2007).  If you don’t understand golf, don’t do golf films.  Not authentic.  More of a comedic vehicle.  It’s as if they thought “we have this dumpster fire of a script with comedic actors, let’s spin the wheel and find out some details….and hey let’s have them be caddies!” or something.   At some point someone is going to make a great film about caddies (Tin Cup does the role ‘some’ justice).  This…is not that film.  It’s not to say that every golf scene has to involve professionals, but if the actors are playing pros/elite amateurs they should look the part.  A good example of not good players in a great scene?  The golf scene in ‘Sideways’.  Two guys who aren’t any good but who make bad swings and look the part.  Anyone who’s played a lot of public golf can relate to Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church being in front of them and the reactions from everyone.
  6. A Gentleman’s Game (released 2002).  A 90-minute slog about adolescence and being honest.  Less a golf movie and more of an After-School Special (kids, ask your parents) with Gary Sinise.  Instead of “Timmy discovers marijuana!?!” it’s “Timmy sees the mean old man cheating and being a racist.”  Which is bad.  So don’t cheat.  Don’t be racist.  Be honest.  Don’t cheat.  Eat your vegetables and bathe daily.  Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
  7. The Squeeze (released 2015).  Directed by former ABC golf producer Terry Jastrow who is well connected in Hollywood and golf circles.  Anne Archer was part of the production.  Christopher McDonald and Jeremy Sumpter are in it.  And yet,  it’s not any good.  A good third of the film has zero relevancy to the plot (none of it remaining part of answering the basic “What’s the Story?” question).  The plot gets in its own way.  The golf scenes in the main match are well done, but the rest of the film jumps around.  When I heard about it I really thought it would be better.  It’s not.  Luckily it’s confined to Golf Channel.

So that’s it.  Seven golf films not worth your time.  Hopefully ‘someone’ can write a script for a golf movie that gets the golf parts correct and can couple that with a good story.  Movies, at their best, tell great stories.  Let’s hope so.

Yes, This Is A List Of 2022 PGA Championship Replacement Options

Not to brag or anything, but in my last blog post I predicted (correctly) that the PGA of America would move the 2022 PGA Championship away from Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.  I didn’t think it would happen this quickly (I tended to lean in the direction that John Feinstein indicated where it would be announced after Joe Biden was sworn in).

So now it’s gone, and the R&A have also indicated that they have no desire to bring any of their championships to Turnberry.

https://twitter.com/RandA/status/1348631505254440960

Pretty clear.  I don’t know if the USGA has put anything out (as of this writing they haven’t), or if there is an internal understanding that they will never pursue that option.  Honestly either one works at this point, although on some level Trump has to know that he will never see another major championship (his course in Sterling, Virginia hosted the 2017 Senior PGA Championship and his course in New Jersey hosted the 2017 US Women’s Open) at one of his courses.

So what to do with the 2022 PGA Championship?  My thoughts keep going to the idea that 2021 is going to be a ‘highly limited or no fans’ option (in which case you have options you otherwise wouldn’t have) and that Kiawah would be smart to agree to move to 2022, opening up this year.  But, the logistics then become a nightmare.  So, if you’re hosting it in May of 2022 (and Kiawah isn’t moving off of this year) and need a venue, here are my suggestions, in no particular order:

  1. Bethpage Black.  It’s very much on the PGA’s radar, and is slated to host the Ryder Cup in 2025.  In the same general area as New Jersey.  A good trial balloon for security and routing come 2025, which should be bonkers.  Going to a public course would be a good statement about accessibility of the game if that’s something the PGA of America cares about.
  2. Chambers Bay. Has the space to hold a major championship and by all accounts they don’t have the turf issues they had in 2015.  Reminder that west coast events mean a prime time finish on the east coast.  Also means thunderstorms aren’t really an issue.  Do not let anyone from the USGA on course grounds unless they buy a ticket.
  3. Riviera.  Move the Genesis Open to Sherwood for one year (which can accommodate fans), and play the PGA at Riviera.  West Coast prime time finish on a course that everyone respects.  May in California would be perfect.
  4. Hazeltine.  One of those PGA shortlist venues that has hosted PGA-run events.  May in Minnesota is a bit of a lottery weather-wise, but Minnesotans have long shown they will turn up for events.
  5. TPC Potomac.  Not sure if the PGA would ever go to a TPC network course, but it’s shown it holds up to modern pros when you look at scores from the last year of the AT&T National.  Not slated to host anything so not like nearby Congressional having to give up their course for renovations, then majors.
  6. Pebble Beach.  It “has” hosted a PGA (1977).  The ultimate in “plug and play” courses.  Long history, everyone knows the course, and west coast takes thunderstorms (and dangerous heat/humidity) out of play.

Some 2021 Golf Predictions You Probably Didn’t Ask For

I see things…

Why, hello there.  It’s New Year’s Day 2021, and we’re all still here.  Nobody’s hung over because we were all responsible and stayed home in small groups rather than going out to large parties (unless you’re rich or an elected official, in which case fill your boots on the taxpayer dime).  After an off-season of a few weeks, the 2021 PGA Tour golf season starts next week in Hawaii.  The LPGA gets things going a few weeks later in Florida (I know I say this all the time, but seriously- if you only have time to watch one tour, watch the LPGA).

I’m sure that there are those who have made predictions on every event already, and while I admire their commitment, I’m not that writer.  I just don’t have the time to keep up, and neither do you in all likelihood.  However, I’ve put together some prognostications about the game that I’ve broken down into the following categories: Professional Tours, Media/Publications/Equipment, and Local News.

PRO TOURS

One of the California West Coast events is getting moved/postponed/canceled.  The COVID situation in Southern California is beyond dire (they’re out of hospital beds and are turning away patients from hospitals).  They had to move the Rose Bowl game to Texas.  If you look at the events in La Quinta (Amex), La Jolla (Farmers Insurance) and LA (Genesis), it’s hard to see these events taking place unless there is a massive sea change in cases.  For the record, I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen and that the caseloads in California plummet and everything reverts to pre-COVID world.

We will see another fan-less West Coast swing and (unfortunately) a fan-less Masters.  This isn’t political.  COVID isn’t going to go away because of a new administration.  If 35-40% of the population keeps going around thinking that it’s some giant hoax, then nothing is going to change.

The 2022 PGA Championship is getting moved.  My out-of-the-box suggestion?  Cancel the Genesis in February and move the 2021 PGA from Kiawah to Riviera.  Then play the 2022 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.  If the PGA of America thought the 1990 event was unpleasant, playing the 2022 event where its scheduled to be held will be far worse.

A Canadian man and at least one American woman are going to win majors in 2021.

Bryson DeChambeau will win at least one event and will skip an event due to injury.

Two of the men’s major winners will be first-time winners.

Europe will retain the Ryder Cup.

At least one prominent American male player will opt out of participating in the Olympics.

MEDIA/EQUIPMENT/PUBLICATIONS

CBS and NBC will continue the trial balloon of dumping some weekend coverage onto their over-the-top streaming services (CBS All Access and Peacock respectively).  There will be complaints and ratings will be flat/down slightly.

Brandel Chamblee will say something outrageous.  It will be forgotten within 72 hours.

Golf Channel will be talking about doing another reboot or possibly pushing the majority of its programming to Peacock by the end of 2021.

CBS and NBC will add another 1-2 minutes of commercials to their weekend coverage, angering viewers.  All because they overpaid for the PGA Tour rights package (bidding against who I have no idea) for reasons that make zero sense.

Expect the legacy golf magazines to trim another 1-2 issues per year off the print editions.  And yet, there will be at least 27 subscription forms in each copy.  Their equipment issues will have the kind of conflicts of interest that would never been allowed a decade ago.

Brick and mortar stores that thrive will figure out the secret sauce that makes them a better option than online.  This will start with better size options, and better service.  My plea to the stores: make the experience of shopping in your stores better than shopping online.  Please.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve gone into a pro shop/store with money to spend and walk out because nothing they have in the store is my size, I could easily pay for a round anywhere except Pebble Beach and TPC Sawgrass.

2022 is going to be interesting because several NBC/Comcast rights deals (NHL, Premier League) come up for renewal (the NHL deal comes up after this season).  Could this open the floodgates for a consolidation of golf TV rights?  I know this seems insane, but if I told you that Fox was going to walk away from its USGA package in 2020, would you have thought I was crazy 12 months ago?

LOCAL NEWS

Rounds played in the DMV will take a slight hit when the cicadas make their once-every-17-years appearance this spring.  You’ve been warned.  Last time was in 2004 (courses without a lot of trees won’t have any issues).  The largest factor in the area will remain the weather.  If it’s favorable (we have normal rainfall, spring starts when it’s supposed to and it’s not surface of the sun hot for two months straight), then people will show up.  This area is still underserved with respect to public courses.

More of a wish, but Columbia Association will decide that they’ve done enough to screw up golf courses (they’re treading dangerously into Everything They Touch Dies territory) and turn over management of both Hobbits Glen and Fairway Hills to one of the big boys of course management (Troon, Kemper Sports, Billy Casper, ClubCorp, hell at this point might as well enlist Club Pro Guy and his fine superintendent Miguel Vega).  If anyone at CA is reading this, you have zero clue how to run a golf course and the people who actually work at your courses know this better than I do.   Actually, Columbia Association can’t really run a literal one-car parade.  They screwed up their gyms, they tried suing to prevent the annual Festival of Lights at Merriweather, and they’re doing their dead level best to continue to piss people off.

No local courses are going to close in 2021.  There was enough of a cull in 2018-2019 (and there definitely was one) and 2020 ended up being pretty good in terms of rounds played (once courses opened).   For now, all eyes are on DC as we watch to see what happens with the DC courses being redone by The Links Trust (Tom Doak and Gil Hanse working together) and eventually being managed by Troon.

Expect a hurricane, record rainfall, record heat and several other acts of God from August 23-29.  The BMW Championship is at Baltimore’s Caves Valley.  You think I’m kidding.  Not even a bit.  I’m old enough to remember the TUESDAY FINISH in 2006 at the then-FBR Open at what is now TPC Potomac.  I really hope I’m wrong on this, but history doesn’t exactly bode well.

I will play when I can, and probably maintain the kind of mediocrity that I’m famous for.  But I play fast, so there’s that.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year, and let’s all hope that in 12 months we’re remembering 2021 for the good things.

SONG OF THE DAY

This is more than 35 years old and it’s still good.  From the OG’s of Goth:

I Fixed Golf Channel. You’re Welcome

Hey Everybody! It’s New and Improved!

With the news that Golf Channel has closed their Orlando studios and relocated in Stamford, CT (just outside of New York) along with the rest of NBC’s sports programming, it’s time to take a deep dive on how to keep Golf Channel relevant in 2021 and beyond.  I had extended family call Stamford home (they’ve since passed), and by all accounts it’s a lovely town (haven’t been back in several years).

As with most things, it took a notepad, two bourbons, and an open mind.  These changes don’t require significant investment, and will provide greater depth of coverage.

Bringing Shane Bacon on board to host ‘Golf Today’ (replacing ‘Morning Drive’) is a great first step that has been universally praised (and rightly so).  Shane was easily the best part of FOX’s USGA coverage.  It helps that nearly everyone who’s met him has said he’s a great guy.  He will also be on-site at major events as part of their ‘Life From’ coverage.

However, there are additional changes that are needed.  These changes are about adapting and trying to stay ahead of the curve.  The goal should be to continue to engage the core audience but also grow their viewership.  These changes reflect what I think is an expansion on Arnold Palmer’s vision for the network, while embracing the future of television.

  1. Addition of a rules expert at all PGA/LPGA Tour event coverage.  Not just during the majors but every week; the rules person can work out of their studios in Stamford.  Think how FOX and CBS each have a rules expert for their NFL and college football coverage who works from their studio.   While they’re at it, rules officials at tournaments should be wearing wireless mics so that viewers can easily hear what’s being said.  Nothing on this side of the Atlantic will match the master of what this can look like (seriously, Nigel is a cult figure); Slugger White wishes he were Nigel Owens.
  2. Addition of a weekly program devoted to NCAA golf coverage.  If they’re going to be serious about showing the NCAA championships and a few random tournaments, start here.   A weekly 60-minute show that has tournament highlight clips, previews of upcoming events and rankings isn’t a huge ask.  This can and should help them naturally build to their NCAA tournament coverage in April and May (you already have dedicated networks for the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 so it’s just down to assembling clips).
  3. CNBC has to become their default ‘overflow’ option on weekends (I get not wanting to use it during the week when the financial markets are open).  I like ‘Shark Tank’ and ‘Undercover Boss’ reruns and I’m sure others do as well, but there’s no reason to not use CNBC as the ‘overflow’ option.  It has good market penetration and won’t be a hard-to-find channel for viewers.
  4. Peacock (premium) should be used for next-generation stuff and/or alternate feeds.  If you want to try something new or out of the box, use Peacock for it (and go commercial free).  I’ve seen other platforms have a ‘fan commentary’ option (one example- having a European fan and a US fan doing commentary during the Ryder Cup).   In short, Peacock becomes their lab, which will enhance its value as a “plus” option.
  5. Make movie night great again.  Film interviews with the crews who did ‘Caddyshack’, ‘Bagger Vance’, ‘Greatest Game’, ‘Tin Cup’, etc.  And while you’re at it, obtain the rights for ‘Dead Solid Perfect’ (you can blur out the nude scene,- just don’t blur out the ice bucket…if you know, you know).  Even better- show the films uncut after hours.  Fine; you don’t want the kids to hear the swears or see partial nudity at 8:00 p.m., but overnight go wild (BTW, this doesn’t fall under FCC ‘decency’ standards laws because it’s cable).  ESPN Classic (when it existed) did this (talk to the filmmakers) for a ton of sports films.  MLB Network and NHL Network have done this for a few baseball and hockey films.  Go back and insert blurbs on these screenings (“this clip was filmed at Shady Pines CC in June 1981” or “this clip was shot after filming because Craig Stadler stained his pants and there wasn’t backup wardrobe”).
  6. Behind The Scenes at the Ryder Cup.  I’ve seen these ‘warts and all’ documentaries done, and when they’re done well they’re fantastic.  The Netflix series “Sunderland ‘Til I Die’, the HBO “24/7 Winter Classic (the first year especially when it was the Penguins-Capitals), the HBO “Hard Knocks” and the rugby union Lions Tour behind the scenes documentaries (on YouTube) are great stuff.  NBC/Golf Channel should insist on doing one.  Bring viewers into the team rooms, into the conference rooms where the team selection is debated, and follow players, captains and assistant captains around.
  7. Movies, Part II.  Run a contest for the next great golf film similar to HBO’s ‘Project Greenlight’.  Allow submissions, and pick one to option out for production.
  8. In addition to the “Inside The PGA Tour” weekly program, now that the PGA and LPGA Tours have a relationship, there should be an “Inside The LPGA Tour” program as well that gets aired and syndicated.  I’d bet Mike Whan would agree to this in about two seconds.
  9. More of a PGA/LPGA Tour issue, but they need to get the collective stick out of their butts when it comes to users posting clips on social media.  I understand ‘but muh broadcast rights’ but allowing a user to post 2-3 clips of 60-90 seconds per day on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/TikTok should be embraced.  If the Tours want to require their social media accounts are shared along with the video, then great (better social media engagement!).  But that clip of Bryson Dechambeau having a meltdown back in the summer was spectacular.  Like it or not this is how many people ‘consume’ content.
  10.  Find someone who can do long-form interviews.  I like David Feherty, but his act has gotten stale (not just his interviews).  The person who might be best suited is now at ESPN (Scott Van Pelt), so this may be one of those ‘develop someone internally’ deals.
  11. Nine-hole versions of ‘Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf’ with two-player mixed teams.  Three holes alternate shot, three holes shamble, three holes two-person best ball.  Something that can be consolidated into a 60-minute show.  Nine holes to cut down on time commitments and allow them to film content easier.
  12. In the spirit of ESPN8 (“the ocho”) have 1-2 days a year devoted to infomercials or their older programming (Kessler’s old interviews for starters).  They brought back old episodes of ‘The Big Break’ during the shutdown; go deeper and older.  Embrace history, but continue to look to the future.

Never stop innovating.  I know 2020 was rough on people for a host of reasons, but if you’re reading this, I sincerely hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday/festive season.  I think we’re all hoping 2021 is better for everyone.  All the best.

SONG OF THE DAY

 

 

SGIC’s Rage-Fueled Guide to the 2020 Golf Digest Holiday Guide

Bourbon. It’s what’s for dinner in 2020.

Hello, friends.

Well, it’s December 2020 and as I’m writing this, the final round of the US Women’s Open is getting started.  Let that sink in for a moment.  A Monday finish for a tournament that was originally scheduled for June that was moved to December is a pretty good indicator of what 2020 was like.

I’m not wearing a mask (hey, another hot take) because I’m at home by myself (the dog doesn’t count) but I’ve got masks in my car and one in my golf bag.  Another item in the ‘things that became a thing in 2020’ column.  So golf was pretty messed up once COVID showed up.  They stopped the Players Championship after one round (and a Chainsmokers concert that became a super-spreader event), took a 3-month hiatus, canceled the Open championship, moved the USPGA from May to August, the US Open from June to September, and the Masters from April to November.  The Ryder Cup got canceled and rescheduled for 2021.  The women moved the ANA Inspiration from early April to September (Palm Springs in late summer…AWESOME) and the US Open from June to December.

Oh, and no fans at tournaments like nearly every other sport in the US.  On the one hand, last month’s Masters were devoid of the roars that make it so great.  On the other hand, Trevor and Brock weren’t screaming “MASHED POTATOES” every nine minutes after that second Michelob Ultra, so all in all it’s a win.

FOX bailed on the USGA package because they didn’t want to give up a Sunday of NFL games in September, so welcome back NBC, Golf Channel and (sound of me vomiting) Peacock (NBC’s ‘let’s put all the shit you dirt eaters love on a premium streaming site that sucks ass).  Overall this is a win for golf fans especially since Shane Bacon has joined Golf Channel (he was the best thing on FOX by a mile).  I have to admit I’m looking forward to NBC putting the Super Bowl on Peacock in a couple years just out of sheer spite while NBC shows a dog show.  But if there’s one positive to the USGA package reverting back to NBC, it’s that we now get that Yanni song playing eighty bazillion times per day.

Jack Black is REALLY happy about the USGA package going back to NBC

However, despite all of the upheaval, there is one constant.  If it’s early December, it means Golf Digest put out another holiday gift guide, presumably because they had little else to do.  They also have a ‘for the golfer who has everything‘ version, which makes zero sense because if they had everything they wouldn’t need this sponsored crap.  But, we digress.  To make this easier on both of us, I’m not including pictures of the products.  You’re not buying any of this shit, and neither am I.  So let’s get started.

UNDER ARMOUR MEN’S UA STORM EVOLUTION DAYTONA FULL ZIP

Price: $100

They say: This water-repellent jacket is engineered to adapt to changing temperatures to retain heat in the cold and release heat when the body needs to cool off. The bomber jacket design is on-trend and ultra-breathable for a comfortable fit either layered or as a simple shell.

SGIC says: To borrow from a popular saying, I think it’s time we just admit that Everything Under Armour Touches Dies.  You have college teams running from their sponsorship deals.  They tried and lost out on deals to outfit NHL and MLB teams as the official uniform supplier.  Their stock is in the toilet.  And they hitched their golf fortunes to Jordan Spieth, which looked genius in 2015 but now looks like a terrible idea.  This jacket looks perfect for suburban dads who don’t play golf.  Coming to a kids soccer game near you while dad makes sure everyone has gluten-free oranges for halftime.

SONY WH100MXM3 BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES

Price: $280

They say: Home or away, these ultra-powerful headphones are a saving grace. The noise-cancelling technology is designed to adapt to the sound where you are, so the volume will turn up or down depending on the ambient sound sensed by the headphones. A built-in mic allows for hands-free phone calls, and touch functionality allows you to control the music. The headphones’ “quick attention mode” allows you to cover the right ear to turn down the music for a moment for quick interruptions or conversations. The battery life lasts up to 30 hours.

SGIC says: Every year they put at least one pair of overpriced headphones in their guide and I don’t know why.  You’re not wearing these on the golf course.  I guess they’re great to avoid hearing your kids yell and scream while you enjoy an Adderall smoothie for breakfast.  I’ve never seen someone play wearing these things.  I know this seems crazy, but you could actually engage your playing partners in friendly banter while playing.  Wearing these on a Zoom meeting just makes you look ridiculous.  It won’t hurt.

BULLEIT BOURBON YETI OUTDOOR PACK

Price: $72

They say: The pack comes with one 740mL* bottle of Bulleit Bourbon Kentucky Straight Whiskey, one 375 mL bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey, and one 10 oz. Bulleit Branded YETI Rambler to regulate the temperature of your drink—either warm or cold.

SGIC says: The bottle of Bulleit is 750ml*, not 740ml and can be found for $25 at most liquor stores.  Do the math.  You’re getting hosed on this deal.  Having said that, Bulleit is actually decent bourbon for the price (if you’re asking, you can include Buffalo Trace as well).  I’m not advocating you use an adult sippy cup for day drinking, but if you’re going to day drink, go all in and use the giant size ones.  Drink responsibly, kids.

TED BAKER WATPP WATER BOTTLE

Price: $42

They say: This fun, leaf-covered water bottle offers a fun way to stay hydrated throughout the day. The hexagonal top is not only stylish, but it’s easier to open up. If green isn’t your color, the menswear brand has a handful of other color options with the same sophisticated silhouette.

SGIC says: I know that when I’m choosing to survive rather than die from lack of water, it had better be FUN.  Because drinking water should be FUN.  Which means I’ve been doing it all wrong my entire life!  I just drank water because I was thirsty but it was never FUN.  Seriously, $42 for a goddamn water bottle?  I can buy a dozen PROV1X’s for that right now.  Which, if you’re curious, might be a better option for someone who plays golf.  And more FUN.  Whose mouth is shaped like a hexagon?  Mine is oval, so’s yours.

LACOSTE OVAL METAL NOVAK DJOKOVIC COLLECTION SUNGLASSES

Price: $219

They say: While not a golfer, Novak Djokovic’s Capsule Collection will certainly appeal to stylish golfers. The oval shape is flattering to almost any face, while a metal double bridge and acetate rim add a uniquely upscale look and feel. It’s a lightweight pair of shades that can be worn almost anywhere

SGIC says: $200+ for sunglasses that look like they’re from the Joe Biden aviators collection.  Best worn for when you want to throw a temper tantrum at the US Open and get defaulted after telling people COVID is fake and then getting it.  They look like the sunglasses Guy Who Owns a Boat wears at the yacht club.  Ideally matched with a quarter zip sweater worn or tied over his popped collar polo shirt.  Get a 10% discount if your name is Todd.

SWINGJUICE FORE LONE SLEEVE SWEATSHIRT UGLY SWEATER

Price: $45 and whatever shroud of dignity you had left.

They say: Get in the holiday spirit with this golf sweatshirt inspired by the ugly Christmas sweater trend. The super-soft cotton crewneck is warm but has a lightweight feel, making it easy to layer with. The festive design paired with the affordable price point make this a worthy gift for the golfer on your list—even if that golfer is you.

SGIC says: To quote Al Czervik, this looks like the kind of sweater that should come with a free bowl of soup (to spill on this abomination), or at the very least some iron covers and maybe a ball retriever.   Dark green with FORE written in giant letters on the chest.  Gimme two of these (one to shit on, the other to cover it up with).  I mean, if you wear this do people think you’re special in the ‘good for you, you cut your meat’ kind of way?  And can we please pump the brakes on ugly sweaters?  It’s been five-plus years for this fad.  Oh, and if you ever see me wearing this monstrosity, you can safely assume I’ve been concussed and/or taken hostage.

TRUE LINKSWEAR SHOE BAG

Price: $45

They say: Even if you’re not a shoe bag kind of golfer, this bag from True Linkswear will come in handy. In addition to a place to put your golf shoes, it has a valuables pouch, tablet sleeve and organized compartments inside the water-resistant zip bag. For organized and disheveled golfers alike, it’s an effective way to keep everything you need tidy and together.

SGIC says: This isn’t terrible.  I keep my golf shoes in a cinch sack (the kind with the straps so you can wear it like a backpack) and I’m happy with my cinch sack.  But for someone else, this isn’t a bad gift option.  Less than $50, and it’s useful.  Unlike other options they’ve ‘selected’.  Having said that, a tablet sleeve?  Really?  Who takes their iPad with them when they play?

SONOS MOVE PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER

Price: $399

They say: Whether providing the tunes on the course or entertaining at home, this powerful Bluetooth speaker is virtually indestructible—and it sounds great. The shock-resistant case will survive any drops or bumps, and it’s built to survive extreme temperatures and any inclement weather. The charging base is simple to connect to and powers the speaker as it’s in use. It’s a strong gift idea for the golfer who values quality-sounding music—and also needs a portable speaker built with some forgiving qualities.

SGIC says: $400 for a speaker?  We’re in a full-blown economic crisis but yeah, the average golfer is throwing down four c-notes on a speaker.  You could buy a new disco stick (i.e. driver), or this thing.  I bought She Who Is Really In Charge a Bluetooth speaker for $120 a few years ago, and it gets a heavy workout when we’re out on the deck enjoying cocktails with the dog (and it has fantastic sound).  Of course, the assholes who buy this are taking it with them on the course, because they’re the exact people who want to share their awful taste in music with everyone else.

ALFRED GIRAUD FRENCH MALT WHISKY HERITAGE BY ALFRED GIRAUD

Price: $155

They say: Give the whisky drinker in your life something new to try with this limited-production French malt. For a personalized touch you can add custom engraving for $40 to make this gift a true memento.

SGIC says: So for $195 you can get the boss a bottle of French whisky that says “eat shit you rotten bastard” on it (but engraved).  Or, spend $10 on a small bottle (otherwise known as a Mickey) of Olde Oscelot bourbon with a taped sticky note that says “eat shit” on it.  I know where I come down on this.  The French make fantastic wine, great champagne and I’d trust their cognac, but not sure about whisky.  Just saying.  I could give you dozens of better whisky options than this.

TRX SLAM BALL

Price: $45

They say: A slam ball is a simple-yet-dynamic add to any home gym setup. It’s helpful for working on explosive power or mixing up ab routines without requiring too much space. A thoughtful gift for the fitness-minded golfer on your list, or the golfer who needs a less destructive way to relieve tension at the end of the round.

SGIC says: Perfect for when you go full Bryson Dechambeau and commit to his ridiculous eating and training habits.  When that first bout of roid rage hits, you can throw this through a wall and then start crying.  Lovely.  Fact: 90% of people who buy this thing will never actually use it.  If you want one, wait another year and start hitting yard sales.  Five bucks cash money.

SEAMUS DRIFTWOOD HERRINGBONE POUCHES

Price: $65

They say: Handmade to order, these pouches are great for holding the little things on the course—tees, ball markers, a golf ball or two—but they’re are also an excellent place to store a facemask between wears. The regal green herringbone tweed bag is lined with fleece and pulls closed with leather cut cords. It’s also customizable to add initials, a name or a small icon.

SGIC says: You know what is even better is a Crown Royal bag.  It’s the official accessory pouch of SGIC Amalgamated Industries.  You can find one of these for around $25-$30, and you have the added bonus of a bottle of good utility whiskey.  It even comes in a box for easy gift wrapping.  What’s not to love?  A tumbler of Crown and Coke is one of my go-to drinking options.   No, I’m not an alcoholic because I don’t need to attend meetings.  I just drink.  A Crown Royal pouch will hold a sleeve of balls and enough tees, divot repair tools, ball-markers and whatever else you use.  And it’s purple, which means it’s classy.

$30 for the best accessory bag there is. With a bottle of Crown Royal included.

LULULEMON EVOLUTION LONG SLEEVE POLO

Price: $98

They say: For all the golfers** who discovered and now swear by the Lululemon ABC Pant ($128), this long sleeve polo is a great next step into the Lululemon golf apparel collection. It’s made with anti-stink technology and sweat-wicking fabric to keep things fresh, has enough stretch for activity without losing its shape and comes in five easy-to-match-with color options.

SGIC says: **does not include anyone who can’t fit into their limited size range so suck rocks if you’re not rail-thin.  I have a raft of issues with this gong show of a company.  Least of which, they don’t know shit about golf and how golf clothing can and should function.  Their photo shoots that purport to be people playing golf are hilariously bad.  This shirt doesn’t appear to be able to be tucked in, and the sleeves look terrible.  Again- does anyone at this goat rodeo company actually play golf?

MUGGO TEMPERATURE CONTROL MUG

Price: $128

They say: Set the exact temperature you want for your coffee in 10 minutes with this smart mug. A rechargeable battery pops into the bottom of the leak-resistant travel mug, so your coffee will never get too cold on the course or on the go.

SGIC says:  If I can’t drink my coffee at 125.43 degrees Fahrenheit then someone’s hearing about it.  The people at 7-11 and Royal Farms better be reading this.  Last time at Royal Farms my coffee was over 130 degrees.  I WANNA SPEAK TO THE MANAGER.  Maybe if you actually…oh, I don’t know…DRANK YOUR COFFEE this wouldn’t be an issue.  Save $100 and buy a Yeti tumbler.  It maintains the temperature pretty well.  I use one (they don’t pay me, I bought mine like everyone else).

FOOTJOY X SMATHERS & BRANSON NEEDLEPOINT BELT

Price: $175

They say: This hand-stitched needlepoint belt is vintage, luxe and a great gift for golfers who appreciate a fine attention to detail. Available in green, blue or gray, the belt is finished with a solid brass buckle and Italian leather lining.

SGIC says: When Judge Smails invites you to drop by the yacht club, this is the belt you need.  It’s the belt Spalding uses to tie off his arm to shoot heroin, so you know that’s quality.  It says “trust fund kid” in the most obnoxious way.  Perfect for summer soirees at your dad’s place in the Hamptons while listening to Yacht Rock ironically.  Seriously, $175 for a goddamn belt?  That, or showing up with not one but TWO bottles of Kim Crawford rose.  Their commercials are laughable.  They sell what others call ‘cougar juice’ that no serious wine drinker would be caught dead anywhere near them.  Walking out of your local bodega in yoga pants holding up a bottle of this swill like you discovered oxygen is hilarious.

NIKE DRI-FIT UV WOMENS GOLF TOP

Price: $40

They say: An ultra-versatile basic, this Nike women’s top has all the performance elements she needs for golf—moisture management, UVA sun protection and a stretch fabric—with a soft cotton feel and relaxed fit that’ll go with everything.

SGIC says: I’m not sure how or why, but when did women’s golf shirts become collar-less?  Otherwise, this is not bad.  Decent price point, not gaudy.  Most of the women I know who play (most of whom can beat your ass any day they feel like it so don’t act like you’re better than them- you’re not) prefer collared shirts, but other than that I can’t really make fun of it.  It’s almost reasonable.

JONES CLASSIC STAND BAG

Price: $190

They say: You can’t go wrong with a classic stand bag like this one from Jones Sports Co. The single strap golf bag is made with a durable nylon material, has eight pockets and weighs just five pounds. The deep green colorway is a refreshing change from the traditional black and gray golf bags we see all too often.

SGIC says: You can buy better, lighter and cheaper.  Sun Mountain and Ping make fantastic bags and have a double strap for easy carrying if you’re not ready to join the Push Cart Mafia.  Hell, even my old Titleist carry bag is lighter than that and it’s 8 years old.  Five pounds really isn’t bragging.  It looks like the generic golf bag they use in print ads when they don’t want to have to edit out a manufacturer’s name.

LINKSOUL GAITER GIFT BOX

Price: $65

They say: A cozy way to stay warm and add a little protection this season, these LinkSoul gaiters are made from the same ultra-soft material the brand uses to make its popular cloud T-shirts. While gaiters are not recommended by the CDC as a facemask, it’s great to wear over an approved mask or provide coverage if you’re in a pinch.

SGIC says: Gaiters in a gift box are a nice ‘2020 in a box’ option even if they don’t offer much in terms of protection.  They’re not bad when it’s cooler, however.

JAMESON COLD BREW WITH HOLIDAY SIPS BOX

Price: $67

They say: This Jameson Cold Brew gift set is the perfect antidote to everything 2020 has thrown our way. Tasty on the rocks or in a cocktail this Irish Whiskey is infused with coffee flavors that might change your coffee order for good. It also comes with candies inspired by classic holiday cocktails to add a sweet-yet-boozy touch to gift giving this year.

SGIC says: I’m going to run for President in 2024 solely on an agenda of eliminating this kind of shit.  A bottle of Jameson is $25 and not for anything, but it’s great utility Irish whiskey (I say this from experience; most utility whiskeys like Jameson, Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Dewar’s White Label are fine options).  I don’t need or want coffee messing up my Jameson.  Best way to drink Jameson?  Pour some in a glass.  Add a few ice cubes.  Maybe a lime/lemon wedge.  That’s it.  If I see a place offering a Jameson Chocolate Martini I will show up with a flame thrower.  Stop it.  Quit trying to put things in whiskey.  We figured whiskey out centuries ago.  Basically, this is overpriced whiskey for people who don’t like whiskey.  So you’re paying $40 for mediocre coffee.  Buy a box of ProV1’s and a bottle of Jameson for what this runs.

PUMA POP TOP MINI BLUETOOTH SPEAKER

Price: $40

They say: The extremely affordable price point of this speaker ($40) makes it an easy last minute gift for golfers this holiday season. Available in black or white, the mini golf speaker attaches to a golf bag and delivers quality sound. It’s also got a built-in ball marker and bottle opener to make sure you have everything you need to have a good time on the course.

SGIC says: Perfect for saying to the people in your group “I don’t care about pace of play; I’m out here to take forever to play while listening to John Tesh or Creed” which is really something.  At least it’s not overpriced.

CORKCICLE COOLER BAG:

Price: $130

They say: Store 12 cans in this padded cooler backpack to make sure you never run out of drinks. The synthetic leather bag is a stylish-yet-subtle way to BYOB comfortably.

SGIC says:  For $130 it should come with someone carrying it around.  Great, now BIG COOLER is trying to gouge people along with seemingly every other industry.  If you’re a Costco member they sell a really nice cooler bag for $10 and it has a shoulder strap.  It’s not synthetic leather, but put the $120 in your pocket and call it a win.  For $120 you can fill that bad boy with some locally-made beer.  Winning!

NIKE REPEL MENS SYNTHETIC FILL GOLF JACKET

Price: $160

They say: or those chilly-but-not-freezing rounds, this insulated shirt-jacket should do the trick. It’s a water-repellent jacket that’s lightweight and breathable with insulated material that stays warm even when wet. The versatile collar creates a business-casual look when folded down or can provide additional warmth when turned up and secured with the button closure.

SGIC says:  It looks like a puffer vest and the 1977 vinyl jacket got married and spawned in the back of a 1975 AMC Pacer.  This was the byproduct.  It’s brown.  Who exactly thought we needed to see this thing in shit brown?  It’s ugly.  If it had the Members Only shoulder epaulets it would at least have the cheesy thing going.  It doesn’t, so you’re paying $160 for a butt-ugly jacket.  One-way plane ticket to North Korea not included.

TOMMY JOHN COOL COTTON BOXER BRIEF

Price: $36

They say: These briefs featuring a snowman playing golf were too fun not to mention. The whimsical pattern is festive without going overboard, and the cool cotton fabric is ultra comfortable. It’s a go-to pair of briefs with a stay-put waistband that guys will appreciate.

SGIC says: We’ve had 300,000 people die of COVID, but hey- my underpants are fun (but not ‘too’ fun) so we’re all good!  I’ve been wearing underpants most of my life, and I’ve never had an issue with waistband technology.  I put them on and generally, they tend to stay on all by themselves.  I achieve this by purchasing the right size, but that’s just me.  But for $36 I’m glad they stay put.  Can we talk about their commercials?  In what universe to people just parade around the house in their underpants and nothing else?  Is there some kind of secret society that gets together and just hangs around in their underpants like it’s not a big deal?

BRAZYN MORPH ALPHA FOAM ROLLER

Price: $70

They say: Foam rollers are an excellent tool for golfers to warm up or cool down muscles, but they tend to be a little too bulky to carry around. Brazyn aims to make foam rollers a little more portable with this collapsible tool. Fully expanded, the roller is 5.5 inches in diameter but will collapse flat to about two inches thick.

SGIC says:  Finally, we’ve figured out foam roller technology.  Let me wipe that giant collection of flop sweat off my forehead and dance around in my underpants as we celebrate this monumental achievement.  I’ve never seen someone at a golf course use a foam roller, and I’ve seen some incredibly weird shit.  Is this one of those private club things, like the blue water that’s used to clean combs and stuff in the men’s locker room?  If you’re using a foam roller at home, is this ‘really’ a problem that you’d need a $70 foam roller?

JACK BLACK MR FRESH SET

Price: $40

They say: Whether the clubhouse is closed or you just need to freshen up on the go, this set from Jack Black is ultra-useful to have on hand. The All-Over Spray and Wipes will leave you feeling clean and hydrated without a shower. And when you finally find one, the All-Over wash can be used on the hair, face or body to provide deep clean without stripping essential moisture.

SGIC says:  $40 for goddamn wipes and some body wash.  Does the body wash come in a ramekin?  Can I get this personalized as a gift for another $20?  If you REALLY cared, wouldn’t you just jump in the pond like Carl Spackler and wash up?  Natural spring would be good for you, Carl.  Doesn’t everyone work from home now?  Just go home and take a shower like an adult (and take a beer with you).  Seriously, I can’t begin to properly extol the virtues of a Shower Beer.  It doesn’t have to be some fancy IPA.  It actually works best if it’s shitty beer.  Open the beer, get the water going, jump in, and drink up.  It feels so wrong, but it’s so right.  Trust me.

LULULEMON WOMENS ON THE FLY JOGGER

Price: $118

They say: A fan favorite on or off the course, these comfortable joggers are made with breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics, an athletic four-way stretch and an upscale design.

SGIC says: $118 for sweatpants.  SWEATPANTS.  Not trousers, not slacks, not a pair of dark jeans.  SWEATPANTS.  Dropping over $115 on pants that say “you’ve given up all hope” should be a warning sign.  Never mind that 90% of people who will spend $118 on these will never jog or do yoga.  But they’ll watch 10 hours of Netflix in one setting.  It’s like Bunny Calvin from ‘The Wire’ correctly describing the brown paper bag; the perfect vessel for hiding your beer so you can drink in public.  It’s the Great Compromise.

PALM GOLF CO LAZY PALM BEANIE

Price: $22

They say: This minimalist beanie is cozy and stylish. Available in a ton of colors, the simple Palm logo will remind you of warmer days to come.

SGIC says: They’re toques, not beanies.  A beanie should have propellers on it.  A toque (or ski hat) is what you wear during the cold weather.  For just over 20 bucks this isn’t bad.  A toque is a component of playing in the winter months.  Get a good one.  A toque.

FLECHA AZUL ANEJO

Price: “Starts” at $108

They say: Golf and tequila fans will love this brand co-founded by Abraham Ancer. The Anejo is aged for 18 months in American oak bourbon barrels and has an ultra-smooth finish with hints of maple, caramel and cinnamon.

SGIC says:  $108 (and up) for tequila made by a guy with as many PGA Tour wins as I have?  And it’s twice as much as Patron (which is really good)?  Sign me up.  This celebrity-name-brand alcohol racket is really something.  It’s one thing when it’s an actual A-list celebrity (see George Clooney and his Casamigos brand tequila), but a guy who’s never won on the PGA Tour is hawking a 3-figure bottle of tequila takes some serious cojones.  I mean, if Phil wants to roll out Tequila For Wellness, then have at it.  I’m honestly surprised Nicklaus or Norman haven’t done this yet.  Not for anything, but if you’re a Costco member, their Silver ‘Kirkland’ tequila is $20 for a huge bottle, and for $20 it’s a fantastic value and good drinking tequila.

BOSS ITALIAN MADE SLIDES

Price: $88

They say: Made in Italy, these sporty slides have a contoured foot bed that will provide relief post-round without sacrificing support. Available in a variety of colors ranging from bright oranges to a luxe black and gold, the Boss logo is a stylish statement-maker to fit any style.

SGIC says:  Made in Italy “and” they’re sporty.  Not enough footwear is sporty.  More things should be described as being sporty.  That gaping head wound you just got…sporty!  The liver damage…sporty!  That snap-hook on 14…sporty!  Never mind comfortable (which these won’t be unless you have relatively narrow feet).  Never mind adjustable (they’re not).  These slides (otherwise known as shower shoes), go great with a $300 Supreme hoodie and those $120 sweatpants.  On the other hand, if Dustin Johnson was wearing these does he slip and fall on the stairs before his first round at Augusta a few years back?  I think not.

ADIDAS CODE CHAOS 2K AEROREADY POLO SHIRT

Price $65

They say: Non-shoulder seams allow for a roomy swing and the lightweight fabric is partially made with recycled polyester for a sustainable performance top that’s easy to pair with. This shirt also appeared in the newly released PGA TOUR 2K21 video game, but gamer or not, it’s a polo golfers will love.

SGIC says:  Comes in navy blue so you can pair with a pair of navy pants and join your Dustin Johnson cosplay group.

TOVOLO GOLF BALL ICE MOLDS

Price: $15

They say: A small-yet-thoughtful gift for your golf friends, these molds make golf-ball-shaped ice that will melt slowly to avoid watering down your drink. It’s a simple tool that will go a long way for those who appreciate savoring a good drink.

SGIC says: Is there any industry that doesn’t try to push its way into the Christmas buying season?  Now we’ve got Big Ice coming in hard and fast.  Golf-ball shaped ice?  This is ROUND.  Repeat.  Round.  It’s a ball of ice.  It’s one big giant ball rather than a few cubes, but we can’t have that, because Big Ice has to get a taste of the action.

ECCO MENS STREET RETRO GOLF SHOES

Price $150

They say: These leather street-shoe-inspired golf shoes are more than just a stylish accessory. The ECCO Hydromax treatment is water-repellent, the high-tech grip system covers 800 traction angles, and the textile collar adds cushioning for all-day comfort.

SGIC says: Please, for the love of everything good, can someone please tell ECCO to start making their shoes in widths?  Seriously.  They make some of the best shoes you can buy…if you have an average width foot.  I don’t, so as much as I’d like to buy ECCO, I can’t.  I mean, I could spend a bunch of money to keep Big Ice and Big Sweatpant flushed with money, but when it comes to buying golf shoes I have 2-3 options at best.

B.DRADDY KYLE PULLOVER

Price: $160

They say: This pullover can be dressed up or down easy, and it’s made with Peruvian Pima Cotton, so the soft feel might be akin to your favorite sweatshirt. The four-button placket has horn buttons for a sophisticated finish to the on-trend striped top.

SGIC says:  Of course it’s named after Kyle.  Peruvian cotton, bitches!  None of that inferior cotton!  Somewhere, there’s a guy named Kyle Draddy who hasn’t worked a day in his life and never will courtesy of his trust fund.  Kyle has opinions about things.  Kyle is wearing this pullover, and having mastered pulling it over his head, he decrees that he is, in fact, the smartest Kyle in the history of Kyles.  Kyle belongs to daddy’s private club somewhere in the Hamptons and has been 86’d from over a dozen bars.  I think if you wear this sweater, you automatically are required to change your name to Kyle.  Or Todd.

HOLIDAY SONG

This remains the gold standard.  I refuse to acknowledge that someone has covered this.  Enjoy your holidays.

 

 

 

No Laying Up-Strapped (Baltimore)

Now that it’s after Labor Day, I’ve put my white suits away and the eyes of golf turns to…the US Open because  2020.  It’ll be weird with no fans, but it’s still a National Open.

I’m very late to this, but last fall I discovered the No Laying Up guys were more than just being funny on Twitter and the hosts of one of the better (if not the best) golf podcast.  I found their YouTube channel, and as they say, that was that.  They have a bunch of content on their channel, but the best of the bunch are their Tourist Sauce travelogues and their ‘Strapped’ travel series geared towards golf on a budget in areas that aren’t always in those obvious areas you look at for a golf vacation.

The concept of ‘Strapped’ (for those who haven’t watched) is that two of the guys (Randy and Neil) have to play three rounds and spend two nights in a city for $500 (not counting airfare and a rental car) or less.  As great as it would be to have the means to do some of the locations they’ve done in their ‘Tourist Sauce‘ series (Scotland, Ireland, Australia/New Zealand, Carolinas, California), ‘Strapped’ is much more budget-friendly and approachable.  The areas that they’ve done ‘Strapped’ episodes in include the following:

-Louisiana

-Iowa

-Reno

-Baltimore

-Northeast US (during the fall)

-Southern California

-Peoria, IL

Not exactly the usual golf-centric destinations, but there’s a reminder in each episode that the people who love this game aren’t always your private club types.  Watching each episode, you get the sense (intentionally or not) that they aren’t the stars, but rather, it’s the people.  The local pro at Forest Park and KVV in Baltimore being but one example.  In fact, as I’ve long argued, the soul of the game remains the people who change their shoes in the parking lot.  The Push Cart Mafia types, the folks who play a $2.00 Nassau, and tons of other regular folks (like me) who just hope for one more round with a breeze in our back on a sunny day.  People that make the game what it is, even if professional golf went away.  There would still be people at the grass roots level doing good work every day.

I found the ‘Strapped’ Baltimore episodes on YouTube around Christmas, and it was a revelation.  At first I was angry because this was the kind of production I wanted to do but don’t have the ability to do, yet it was the kind of deep dive I wanted to be able to do when I started this website, and these guys just drank my milkshake AND my bourbon.   Then I became blown away at how talented they are at doing these shows.  And they’re decent guys (I probably relate to Randy (the taller of the two) the most).  I’ve linked to all three episodes with the briefest of explanations (no spoilers).  One last thing; their use of drone video is outstanding.  The content belongs to No Laying Up.  If I have one critique, it’s that they stop using Airbnb.

Part One: They fly into Baltimore, hit Lexington Market for crab cakes, and play at Forest Park (one of five city courses).  The people who work at Forest Park are all aces in my book.

Part Two: They play at Rocky Point (Baltimore County course right on the Chesapeake Bay) with ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenberg (who lives in Baltimore), talk about The Wire, eat steamed crabs and drink Natty Boh (think Old Style in Chicago or Iron City in Pittsburgh) at KVV’s house with some Berger Cookies for dessert.  Rocky Point is everything public golf should be.  Haven’t played it in several years but it’s very much on my ‘must go play’ list to do a proper review.

 

Part Three: They play at Greystone (part of Baltimore County golf and used to be on Golfweek’s ‘Best You Can Play’ list) with Kevin Van Valkenberg, talk about The Wire some more (if you haven’t seen it and you have HBO…go do that right now) then go for barbecue pork sandwiches.  You can read my review of Greystone here.  I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t do the pit beef thing at Chaps (where every travel host seems to end up) or any of the other pit beef stands (note- pit beef is a VERY Baltimore thing; it doesn’t exist in MoCo, PG or Frederick counties).  Nothing against Chaps but Pioneer Pit Beef in Catonsville is the official pit beef stand for SGIC Enterprises.  It’s where the elite meet to eat.

No Laying Up’s website is here, and they have merchandise for sale and a fairly active online community (I’m part of it although I’m not that active lately for several reasons that aren’t important).  They have crowd-sourced suggestions on additional episodes.  If they’re asking, Detroit, Atlanta and my hometown of Toronto would all be fantastic options.  If you have Stadium on your cable system they’ve been running some of their content.

A Modest FedEx Cup Proposal

Just imagine what’s possible.

Another PGA Tour season is almost done; after 11 months, a global pandemic, a cancellation of the Open Championship and moving every major around, we’re at the FedEx Cup Tour Championship.

The format last year that’s being carried over this year is that Dustin Johnson starts the tournament with a 10 shot lead over the guy who finishes 30th.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shake my head and pretend that this isn’t really the case.  Of all of the hair-brained ideas to come from professional golf, this might be the dumbest.  Why is it that sports I love do the stupidest things on the earth (looking at you, Superleague and your “sure we’ll take free pizzas from a horrible chain as payment for sponsorship” galaxy brain idea)?

To put it as mildly as I can, this goes against everything sports are supposed to be about.  What next- give Usain Bolt a 10-meter head start because he’s the defending 100 meter champion?  Give the team with the best regular season a 7-point lead to start the Super Bowl?  The team with the most regular season points gets a 1-goal lead to start in every game of the Stanley Cup Final?  I mean, what the actual hell are we talking about?  What’s wrong with you people?

Don’t worry; your faithful scribe has a solution that would treat the FedEx Cup Tour Championship like a real championship; one that balances rewarding regular season performance and require a player to lift their game.  Reward regular season performance, and have a final one-day winner take all conclusion that a casual fan can understand.  Like any championship, the hard work is getting to that final.  So we’re going to start with the final round being it’s own entity.  Like the Super Bowl.  Simple enough?

The top 30 getting into the Tour Championship is a good number; there isn’t any need to play around with that.  I even like finishing on Labor Day weekend with the finale on Monday (when people are off work; ideally the Tour can push so that they ‘own’ Labor Day).  Ideally the Tour would look to have the final round on the West Coast for an east coast prime-time finish every other year (non-Ryder Cup years).  Courses on the West Coast?  Riviera is the obvious choice, but if Chambers Bay is in better shape that’s a second option.  I get using East Lake for Ryder Cup years (especially when the US has to fly to Europe as this will cut down on travel time).  While we’re at it, the Chicago area should have a permanent slot on the Tour.

The question becomes this- how do you reward season-long excellence while maintaining the integrity of the competition?  The same way other sports do it; by seeding and providing other advantages that maintain the integrity of the competition.

My Modest Proposal

So with that being said, let me explain how a five-round (Thursday-Monday) championship would work in a way that would provide a satisfying finale, reward year-round performance and give you a simple, easy-to-identify champion.  You start with the top 30 playing three rounds of stroke play; the top 16 get into the fourth round (if there’s a tie for 16th you have a playoff), and then you have one day of match play with the 16 going down to 8 with that final round being a one-and-done entity of itself.  In other words, getting to a championship and having one day to win or lose with everyone starting the final round at 0.

Under my Tour Championship Final proposal, the top seed gets the following advantages as a reward for his season-long excellence and being the top seed.

  1. He gets to pick his tee time for the first three rounds and who he plays with.  Maybe he likes to go out early.  Maybe he wants an early-late-late (he gets to pick).  Maybe he wants to take advantage of potential weather or play with someone he’s comfortable with.  Call it home field advantage.  He has to declare the day before each round so he can pick and choose and give himself the optimal time and opponent.  Not a bad reward.
  2. He’s guaranteed to get into the semi-final Sunday round of 16 so even if his game goes to pot during the first three qualifying rounds, he has that second chance (other playoff formats allow the top seeds a ‘double elimination’ of sorts).  There’s your tangible reward for regular season excellence; a second chance.  Those are two big carrots that don’t turn the competition into a farce but provide a tangible reward for that year-long excellence.

The round of sixteen are seeded based on their first three rounds (your top seed going in would be seeded based on his performance, but if he otherwise didn’t qualify he’d be seeded 16th).  Eight matches of match play.  Winners go to the Final.  Losers are done.  Sudden death playoffs if tied after 18 holes.  It’s something of a different strategy from stroke play, but designed to force players to think differently for one day.

The eight players who win their matches go to the Championship/Grand Final.  One round for everything.  Four twosomes; playing partners and order are drawn at random out of a hat.  Everything resets for the Championship or Grand Final round.  One round.  One day.  Low score (stroke play) is your Tour/FedEx Cup champion.  Tie?  Sudden-death playoff.  You now have a true Championship Final.  What you did before to get there matters not; it’s the player who’s the best on the day who wins.   Much like the Super Bowl, Final Four championship, and NBA/NHL/MLB Game 7’s.  It’s not what you did before, it’s what you do on the day.  Nobody starts the day having to sit on a lead or trying to come from behind.  One round.  Low score wins.  Much like other sports, you had to battle to get into the playoffs and continue to advance.  You finished in the top 15/16 of the field after three rounds and beat someone in a match play environment to get to the Championship Final.

The average sports fan couldn’t explain the FedEx Cup, nor could most golf fans.  The average sports fan can easily understand “one round, winner take all” events.  You’ve competed all year, and everything you did goes out the window.  No head start, no being able to play conservatively to protect a lead.  Under my proposal, winning the FedEx Cup Championship Final would also earn the winner a 10-year exemption (up from five), a lifetime exemption to the Players Championship, and a guaranteed spot in next year’s playoffs (the first round only).  These are all PGA Tour-controlled entities so you’re not having to ask the USGA or PGA of America to get involved.

Having eight players provides NBC or CBS plenty of coverage options so you aren’t just focused on one group and reduces the likelihood of not having any name players.  Oh, and no commercials for the last 90 minutes.

Hopefully the Tour decides to adopt this format and give fans a real Championship.

Adieu, FOX. It’s About Time

Not Coming To a Golf Tournament Near You

Late Sunday night the Associated Press reported that Fox was walking away from it’s 12 year USGA rights deal starting this year, with NBC/Golf Channel picking up the rights.  For viewers, this means that the US Open (which Fox was already advertising for this year’s event that was moved to September) will be on NBC.  It’s not clear who will pick up early-round coverage for Thursday and Fridays; Golf Channel would make a ton of sense, but they also have NBCSN as a viable alternative.

The USGA’s press release spells out the details.  Sort of.  Doesn’t really indicate how many hours will be on Golf Channel or NBC, but we digress.

I’ve been critical of Fox for a host of reasons.  I’m old enough to remember when they won US free-to-air rights for the NHL back in the mid 1990’s and gave viewers…glow pucks and animated characters.  I kid you not.  Who thought any of this made sense?

You “could” make the argument that the Fox Glowing Puck was a precursor to the ProTracer/Top-Tracer technology that should be as common as watching in HD.  I won’t.  Because the puck is black, and it’s on a white ice surface.  Not hard to follow if you have eyes.  Just watch where the players go.  Easy.

I was very critical of their 2015 and 2016 US Open coverage and deservedly so because it was terrible.  I don’t blame Fox as much as I do the USGA, who (based on multiple articles) seemed to want to go to Fox when the previous rights deal expired in 2014.  The USGA wanted this.  They wanted a broadcaster who had never covered the sport to cover the country’s national championship as their first broadcast.  It wasn’t as if Fox was covering the PGA Tour (or even a pro tour of some kind).

They brought in Joe Buck, who had never called golf before and never really improved (as I’ve said, if were doing 8-10 tournaments a year covering the PGA and/or LPGA Tour maybe it works better, but when he sees these players one week a year it’s always going to be problematic).  Greg Norman was their first analyst (smart, knows the game but couldn’t translate that into being that 18th hole analyst).  They flooded the air with people who had never worked together before on one of the two biggest viewing tournaments of the year.  They were unwilling to cover the controversy over Dustin Johnson’s ball moving in 2016 despite pros going after the USGA on social media(and were unwilling to call out the USGA’s incompetence in course setup in 2015, 2016 and 2018).  These are all self-inflicted wounds.

Sidebar: Joe Buck did several cameos on the IFC show “Brockmire” and he was outstanding and came off as a guy you’d totally want to hang out with.  If he brought that persona to his baseball and football coverage it would help a ton.  He was funny and he was able to throw a few good barbs out there.  If you’re looking for a show to binge-watch you could do worse.  Hank Azaria is hilarious.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Oakmont 2016 and Shinnecock 2018 should have been easy, but the USGA’s motto of “hold my beer while we fix that problem that didn’t exist” came into play.

Having said that, they did bring about some real change on the production side:

  1. The continuous leaderboard bug on weekend coverage or at the very least Sundays should become a permanent staple.  CBS and NBC have to make this part of their coverage on a weekly basis.
  2. Pro Tracer technology.  At first I wasn’t sure about this, but it works and doesn’t detract from the coverage.  Unlike hockey it doesn’t clutter the screen.  It adds to it.
  3. Drones.  I remember watching Fox’s initial coverage of the 2014 Franklin Templeton Shootout and being excited about the use of drones.  Full credit to the lads at No Laying Up who use drones extremely well.  Again, it very much adds to the viewing experience.
  4. Uninterrupted coverage during the last hour.  The Masters has long been the gold standard because they don’t clog up the viewing experience with an enema of commercials.  It’s a clean broadcast free of junk which serves the viewer well.

“If” I were NBC, here’s some things I’d do that would demonstrate a real understanding of how to take the good things that Fox did, and improve upon them.  Time to teach an old dog some new tricks.

  1. Use Mike Tirico as your studio host, and bring back Johnny Miller in some kind of a role for the US Open only.  He’s done this for horse racing and occasionally for their NHL coverage.
  2. Pro Tracer needs to be on every hole all four rounds.  Period.
  3. Use NBCSN for an alternate feed during weekend late day coverage.  They did this at the 2014 Ryder Cup.  Don’t need announcers.  Just show golf.  Doesn’t sound like this is the plan according to Jeremy Schilling.  If Peacock were to take this on then it could be a nice “add on” option.
  4. Adapt and use a leaderboard bug during the final round and leave it.
  5. Drones should be part of their overall coverage.  Follow the Fox blueprint on their usage.  The question everyone at NBC/Golf Channel should be asking is “how do we improve our coverage?” and ask this every day.

The only potential issue that I can see (from 2021 onward) is their Stanley Cup Final coverage running into the golf (especially for any west coast events, like in 2021 and 2023) which means that the Saturday/Sunday are going to be tricky options (even if you go to an afternoon start you have overtime as a potential issue).  Especially next year (2021 at Torrey Pines) if the NHL starts late and runs past the early June finish that they’ve had in 2018 and 2019 (finishing before June 10th) and/or if the NHL adds teams to their playoffs.

Coming Soon to Peacock (hopefully not)!

Overall I think this is a good move but we won’t know until September when it’s US Open time.

 

 

 

 

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