Category: On Tour (page 1 of 6)

Monday After The US Open Hot Topics

So after roughly 80 bazillion picks of who will/won’t/might/maybe contend at this week’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, the winner was Brooks Koepka, otherwise known as the same guy who won last year.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a week of smooth sailing.  Traffic (who knew that summer traffic in a summer destination was going to be an issue other than the millions of people who live/work/vacation in the area), course set-up, and a host of other issues got everyone riled up.  Rather than offer my opinions, I’m ceding the floor to Golf Twitter to argue the issues of the week.

Issue: Phil Mickelson’s attempt at playing polo on 13 on Saturday was a disgrace and he should have been DQ on the spot and drawn & quartered.  Or he was making a comment about the course conditions.  Let’s go to the evidence.

For: He deliberately hit a moving ball to keep it from running off the green!

Against: The USGA gave him a 2-stroke penalty as prescribed by the rules.

For: Several players weren’t exactly happy with this.  They typically don’t sound off en masse unless something goes completely off the rails (see Johnson, Dustin in 2016).

Against: He’s Phil Mickelson.  It was his birthday!  Fans love the guy!  Fans don’t care what the haters think.

For: Oh, so the rules don’t apply to beloved players.  His explanation was…well, you watch it.

Against: He wasn’t going to win so what’s the big deal?  Shut up!  Phil’s awesome!

For: Have you heard of protecting the field?

Against: Dummy says what?

For: He should have done the honorable thing and WD on Saturday night.

Against: He offered to and the USGA said no.  Says his wife Amy.

Resolved: We disagree.  Brendan Porath has a pretty smart take here.  I also think John Feinstein gets it right (his words, not mine):

Here are two things that are crystal clear: First, Mickelson embarrassed himself with his sprint, spin and putt while his bogey putt was still rolling. Second, the USGA, already having a bad day because of the way Shinnecock Hills was set up, embarrassed itself further by not disqualifying Mickelson the instant he smugly told the media his act was intentional.

Issue: The USGA’s course set-up went off the rails.  Again.

For: When you look at every foul-up or controversy at a men’s US Open, the problem can be traced back to course set-up.  Golf Channel certainly didn’t mince words.

Against: It’s the National Championship!  It’s supposed to be hard!  Who wants to see someone win with 20 under as a score?

For: The USGA admitted that they lost the course on Saturday and several players agreed.

Against: Oh great, now the players are turning into snowflakes because the course is a bit difficult.  Why not just get rid of all the rough and give everyone a trophy?  I want it harder!

For: The greens were dead.  Again.  After pinkie-swearing that there would not be a repeat of 2004.  They lost them in 2016, 2015, 2014.  Merion was lambasted in 2013.

Against: US Open is supposed to be hard. HULK SMASH.  Put bears in the fairway and land sharks in the rough.  MUST MAKE HARD.  What- they can’t play in wind anymore?  Winning score should be 20 over par so that us regular golfers can relate!

For:  It was windier than they expected.  In an area that is known to be windy.  Apparently with all this technology they literally can’t forecast wind a day in advance.

Against: It’s the National Championship, not some random tournament.

For: You can create a difficult challenge without stressing out greens.

Against: NO YOU CAN’T.  They should be stimping out at 20.  I WANT CARNAGE!!!

For: The Masters, Open Championship and USPGA manage course set-up without turning greens into parking lots.

Against: Did I stutter?  I WANT CARNAGE!  Tears, blood, and everything unfair.  It’s our national championship and it should be hard!

For: It already is.

Against: No it’s not.  I want a literal bloodbath.  I want a 79 to be the low score of the week.  I want to see scores in the 100’s.  9,000 yard courses, bunkers with poisonous snakes, 5-yard wide fairways.  AHHHHH!

For:  In that case they should just change the putting surfaces to concrete.

Against: Now you’re talking!

Resolved: Somewhere between last year’s event and this year, the USGA can and should create a difficult test that involves something more than lightning-fast greens.  Luckily they should not need to do much to Pebble Beach for 2019.

Issue: Fans at the US Open behave inappropriately.

For: You don’t see this in Augusta or at the Open Championship.

Against: Mashed Potatoes! Dilly Dilly!

For: This isn’t the Ryder Cup.

Against: U!S!A!  Hey look it’s Poulter….boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

For: Maybe a few less beers.

Against: Baba Booey!  Look at me everyone!

For: Seriously…can you not?

Against: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Killjoy.  Stop being a hater, broheim.

Resolved: The 2024 Ryder Cup is going to be a gong show.

Issue: Fox completed their 4th US Open so only 8 more years of this.

For: Their production and their technical advances are outstanding.

Against: Joe Buck.

For: Shane Bacon was outstanding.

Against: The Bill Hemmer interview during the 2nd round was a special kind of tone-deaf stupidity you only get from Fox.

For: Brad Faxon was outstanding.  Not flashy, but does a solid job of telling the viewer something they probably don’t know.

Against: Picking up player-caddie discussions are great. Fan discussions about their…ahem…partners isn’t.  Who thought this was a good idea?

For: Mike Davis appeared at the end of the 3rd round and took the hit for the course setup.

Against: Seriously.  Get rid of Joe Buck.  While you’re at it, tell Paul Azinger to drop the Grumpy Old Man bit.

Resolved: If Fox feels like they need him around, push Buck into a host role (think Bob Costas when NBC had the US Open) and find a competent 18th hole tower announcer.  Maybe Shane Bacon is the answer, maybe he’s not.  Think beyond the norm.  Some people are good at golf. Buck isn’t.  It’s been four years of USGA events; he’s not going to get better.  It’s just not his thing.

SONG OF THE DAY

30 years ago today I went with some friends to see Depeche Mode at the Rose Bowl in California.  Good times, minus the five couples around me who broke up (including the couple I went with), and two people projectile vomiting in the sink of the men’s washroom.   Enjoy.

 

The Crossover of Crossovers- Stanley Cup Playoff Games on Golf Channel (a helpful explainer)

2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir dropping the puck at a Leafs-Flyers playoff game in 2003. This really happened.

Lost amid Patrick Reed winning The Masters on Sunday night (along with the coveted Green Jacket, $1.98 million in prize money, and the chance to have the 2019 Champions Dinner catered by McDonalds, Hardees and Domino’s) was the conclusion of the NHL regular season and the announcement of first round playoff dates/times and TV (Boston had a makeup game with Florida that finalized the pairings; otherwise the regular season was supposed to have ended on Saturday the 7th).

NBC, unlike the other network that shows golf (CBS), has managed to intertwine its afternoon NHL coverage successfully; the Sunday afternoon regular season games end on time and they’re able to transition over to golf coverage with minimal delay (unlike CBS’ college basketball coverage during the PGA Tour West Coast swing which ran late every single weekend).  Let’s just pretend that their 2007 decision to dump out of a Conference Final playoff game to show a horse racing pregame show never happened.  I point this out because if you take a look at the NHL schedule for the first round, you notice that two games are slated to air on Golf Channel (both games on April 18; New Jersey/Tampa followed by Anaheim/San Jose).  This is real; it’s not some delayed April Fool’s Day joke.

I suppose it’s similar to how NCAA basketball fans feel when they have to look for TruTV.

NHL fans have gotten used to NBC putting games on USA Network and CNBC in the first/second round, but Golf Channel’s deployment is a new thing.  While there are many hockey fans who watch golf (and vice versa), many people many not know what (or why, for that matter) Golf Channel is and why it exists.  It went on the air in January of 1995, founded by the late Arnold Palmer (sort of like if Gordie Howe started the NHL Network).  It was acquired by NBC/Comcast several years ago.  Golf Channel has never deviated from showing golf (other than endless airings of either Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore, Bagger Vance, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Bobby Jones/Strokes of Genius or The Squeeze).

While there are many differences between the PGA, LPGA, Champions (Senior), European Tours and the NHL, there are some similarities.  So in the interest of helping fellow hockey fans who may be curious about Golf Channel and the similarities between golf and hockey, I humbly offer an a primer.  You’re welcome.

Point of Contention Hockey Golf
Annoying old man who spends too much time hanging around much to the annoyance of most people who wish he’d do it less Don Cherry Donald Trump
Movie that fans can quote pretty much verbatim that made a horrible sequel nobody wants to acknowledge Slap Shot Caddyshack
Movie with dozens of inaccuracies people love to hate Youngblood Happy Gilmore
Annoying guy with a checkered past named Patrick Patrick Kane Patrick Reed
Beloved player who can’t win the country’s most important event and has failed repeatedly on a grand and tragic scale Alex Ovechkin Phil Mickelson
Studio Analyst that drives most fans off the wall Mike Milbury Brandel Chamblee
Rules Concept that exists that nobody understands Goaltender Interference Anchoring the putter
Rule that will immediately start an argument Getting Rid of Fighting Rolling the Ball Back
Annoying Analytics that a lot of fans wish people would shut up about Corsi/Fenwick/PDO Strokes Gained
Crossover figure who plays the other sport very well NHL Official Garret Rank Mike Weir, Graham DaLaet
Lightning Rod Game Analyst “shut up about it” go-to phrase Pierre McGuire “When I was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins…” Johnny Miller “In 1973 at Oakmont when I shot my 63”
Phrase you hear that makes you want to stab your eyes out “Respect the Game” “Protect the Field”
Annoying Team Competition that really brings out the worst in fans Olympics Ryder Cup
Catch phrase from a main announcer you hate “WAFFLEBOARD!” “Hello Friends”
Played-out rivalry no serious fan cares about Ovechkin/Crosby Tiger/Phil
Potential International Rivalry Connor McDavid/Auston Matthews Patrick Reed/Rory McIlroy
Annoying Fan Behavior #1 Lower Bowl fan on cell phone waving at camera BABA BOOEY, DILLY DILLY, MASHED POTATOES.
Annoying Fan Behavior #2 Throwing things on the ice Calling to report a rules violation
Beloved analyst with crossover appeal Bob McKenzie David Feherty
Schtick you want to see fired into the sun Multiple outdoor games in a season Big Break
Variation from the game that inspires passions on both sides 3 on 3, 4 on 4 Match play, 2-man team golf
Hated figure running the game Gary Bettman The USGA
Best Trophy Stanley Cup Claret Jug
Amateur jerk move Beer league player with a tinted visor 20-handicapper with a pro staff bag
Asshole amateur tactic Ringers Sandbaggers

 

Time To Take Out The Trash

These guys don’t want you to be a drunk asshole. So don’t.

The 2018 Golf Season hasn’t started for your faithful scribe because of multiple issues that I’m choosing to keep private for now (you can DM me on Twitter if you really want to know).  This Winter That Will Not End is part of it.  Having said that, for the pro tours it’s been full speed ahead.  The list of winners on the PGA and LPGA Tours has been flat out impressive.  Ratings are up, the game is in pretty good stead as we had for the first majors of 2018 (this week in Rancho Mirage, and next week at Augusta).

Unfortunately, we have to talk about a problem.  Golfweek was the first to bring it up on a major platform a couple weeks ago, and again in this past weekend’s WGC Dell Matchplay we had an incident with a fan yelling in James Hahn’s backswing, and his reaction was what you might expect.

The problem is the golf fan who is equal parts over-served and over-entitled.

It’s bad enough when this so-called fan shows up at the Ryder Cup with a witches’ brew of faux-patriotism, intoxication and entitlement while consumed with the idea that screaming random crap in someone’s backswing is somehow acceptable (it’s not).  For this to become a weekly occurrence (almost every week this is happening) is beyond inexcusable.

It didn’t start with recent Ryder Cups.  We have John Daly’s fans to thank; it started out with them yelling “YOUUUDAMANNNN” as he’d unleash some gargantuan drive.  And if that was the end of it, we wouldn’t be here.  Unsatisfied with that simple bit of boorishness, it morphed into Howard Stern show time, with people yelling “BABABOOEY” (the nickname for show producer Gary Dell’abate).  Then people just started yelling random crap (Mashed Potatoes being particularly popular), and it’s devolved to where we are now; a game of going one step further than the previous batch of idiots.

It’s one thing when it happens at the Waste Management Open (that event is a bit different and I’ve taken a “it is what it is” approach; players feel the same way), but it’s become a regular occurrence that lost its humor or novelty a long time ago.

When our drunk golf bro got on Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic, the answer should have been having the tournament host (that being Jack Nicklaus) give the guy the heave-ho.  Or have Jack say something along the lines of “don’t act like a jerk at my event” if you will.  Tiger doing the same at his event at Riviera would go a long way.

The price of a ticket entitles you to watch the best players in the world do what they do.  It does not entitle you to disrupt other fans and yell in their backswing, or heckle them.  This is golf, and it’s different.

What’s funny is that you don’t see this idiot at LPGA events, which for that reason alone makes them more watchable.  The crowds are more knowledgeable and there to see great golf (I’ll admit I haven’t watched that much of the Champions Tour so I can’t comment).

So the PGA Tour has to start policing fans.  It’s sad that we’re at this point, but we are.  The thing about golf is that players police themselves, and for years fans could be counted on to do the same.  This isn’t the case anymore.  The Tour is going to have to start tossing people.  Use CCTV footage.  Marshals should be able to identify the guilty and send the guilty packing.  Tickets should have verbiage that explains this policy and that they should expect to see it enforced.

Rory McIlroy suggested limiting alcohol sales would be a good idea (don’t disagree), but there’s nothing stopping Golf Bro from getting his (and it always his) load on in the parking lot.  Having said that, the overall idea of monitoring the obviously over-served would do everyone a favor (start with ensuring they have a sober ride home).

Still disagree?  You don’t see any of this at the Masters, and you hear the roars for great shots.  See the difference?  A roar when someone hits a great shot isn’t a bad thing.  Talking trash to a player or distracting them in their backswing is pure garbage.  Nobody is going to watch the Masters next weekend and think that some golf bro yelling ‘MASHED POTATOES’ in someone’s backswing is something they need.

SONG OF THE DAY

11 days until the start of the playoffs.  This number from The Arkells…oh hell yes.

 

When You Are The Slow Play Problem

Last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open should have been remembered for Tiger Woods returning to competitive golf and posting a better-than-expected finish in the top 30 and Jason Day winning in a 6-hole playoff that finished on Monday due to darkness on Sunday night.  Unfortunately, what most die-hard types are talking about are the beyond-ridiculous four minutes and ten seconds it took for JB Holmes to play his second shot on 18 on Sunday.

You read this correctly; it took JB four minutes and ten seconds to play one shot.  For the record, if someone I got stuck playing with pulled this, they’re getting left behind.

Golf already has a litany of issues; adding a televised slow play meltdown at a time when CBS was cutting into their coverage of the Grammy Awards was at best terrible.  When Jim Nantz calls you out on live TV (he might have had an early dinner reservation for all I know, but still) for slow play, there’s a problem never mind all the people who wanted to watch the Grammy Awards getting pissed His fellow tour pros called him out on Twitter (calling him in his face en masse afterwards would have been preferable).  The final threesome took six hours to finish and finished more than a hole and a half behind the group in front of them (at most public courses you’d have the marshal/player assistant/golf police drop the hammer).  People wonder why slow play is a problem; it’s because people see this on TV and when they go to their local course they do the same crap (glacial pace of play, taking forever to read a green when putting, etc.).

Making matters worse, Holmes responded with something along the lines of not knowing he had a homework assignment due.  He didn’t know how long he was taking was his actual excuse, which is some straight up bad etiquette.  Again, pull this at any public course and the other people in your group and the marshal/ranger is going to light you up (and they should).

The solution is simple; the rules say it’s 40 seconds to pull a club and complete your shot.  Two warnings, then a stroke penalty.  Anything longer than 60 seconds is an automatic stroke penalty.  Three stroke penalties in a tournament and it’s an automatic DQ.  Two DQ’s in a season and you’re ineligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.  Three and you lose your card and are ineligible for sponsor exemptions.  Make Ready Golf mandatory for PGA Tour events.  I’d go so far as to set a daily time par based on the course, weather conditions, and how early/late the player goes out and make finishing outside a threshold of the time par a stroke penalty.  Until you start hitting players where it hurts (on their scorecard, making them ineligible for playoffs and losing their Tour card), you’ll see the same crap every week.

SONG OF THE DAY

NOW IS THE TIME ON SPROCKETS WHEN WE DANCE.

Your 2018 Majors (and other) Predictions

Your faithful scribe, hard at work.

Now that 2017 is in the rear view mirror and everyone looks at the 2018 season, it’s time to make some (likely wrong) predictions.  First, let’s take a look at my 2017 majors predictions.

NOT Better Than Most.

 

Event My Prediction Actual Winner
Masters Phil Mickelson Sergio Garcia
US Open Rory McIlroy Brooks Koepka
Open Championship Shane Lowry Jordan Spieth
USPGA Championship Dustin Johnson Justin Thomas
ANA Inspiration Christina Kim Ryu So-Yeon
US Womens Open Brooke Henderson Sung Hyun Park
LPGA Championship A. Jutanugarn Danielle Kang
Womens Open Championship Gerina Piller In-Kyung (IK) Kim
Evian Championship Lydia Ko Anna Nordqvist

That’s pretty bad.  In fact, it’s downright terrible.  I wasn’t remotely close.  As much as I’d like to run from this, I can’t.  I could sit here and wallow in my failure and go crawl into a hole to cry softly, or I could knock back a few drinks and take another stab at things.  As with other things, I’m choosing the option involving drinking.  To borrow an old line, the use of these picks as the means for making a wager is, at best, foolhardy and at worst plain stupid.

Masters Tournament:

The “root for the story” pick: Either Rory McIlroy or Tiger.  McIlroy needs a green jacket to complete the career grand slam and Tiger in the hunt on Sunday would move the needle unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory.  For the record, I don’t know what to think about Tiger’s latest comeback, because frankly we’ve heard this same stuff before.  As of this writing he hasn’t hit a ball in anger in 2018 yet so I’ve no clue about this comeback.

The thinking man’s pick: Dustin Johnson can overpower this course (or anywhere else, really) unlike anything we’ve seen.  If he’s healthy and his putter is working he’s the favorite.  What happened last year (getting injured and having to WD) was incredibly unlucky.  If Jason Day is healthy (and that’s a HUGE if) he’s got the game to win here.

My pick: Six first-time winners in the last seven years (which underlines how hard it is to win a major with so many very good players out there).  I think this continues in 2018 and Jon Rahm wins.  He has the length and I like his short game.  First timers often struggle.  This will be his second Masters.

US Open (Shinnecock):

The “root for the story” pick: Phil Mickelson. Another ‘should have’ from the last time they were here.  The USGA managed to cock up the course by being unable to read a weather forecast and turned the greens into concrete.  They have an entire year to properly set up a golf course for the national championship and manage to screw up more often than not.  If he’s in contention and wins this is THE story of 2018 unless Tiger wins Augusta by 10, and the other majors by 5+ strokes.  It completes the career grand slam for him and gives him the ultimate sendoff.

The thinking man’s pick: Jordan Spieth.  Wind won’t bother him and he’s already won a US Open on a similar course.

My pick:  Your previous winners at Shinnecock are Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Retief Goosen.  Not bombers but guys who can think their way around a course.  I’m going to go out on a big ass limb and predict either Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler (I think this is the year he finally wins a major).

Open Championship (Carnoustie):

The “root for the story” pick: Either Sergio (should have won in 2007), Tommy Fleetwood or Ian Poulter.

The thinking man’s pick: Justin Rose.  He’s got the game to win, and he was probably unlucky to have not won in Augusta last year.  Paul Casey seems to have found his game.

My pick: Your previous winners at Carnoustie are Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, so the sample size is really difficult.  The weather is always a factor; bad weather on the first two days can easily knock out half the field so it’s really a bit of a lottery.  Having said that, the R&A don’t get worked up about protecting par.  If the winning score is 17 under then fine; if the wind blows and it’s 5 over, then that’s okay as well.  A lot of first-time winners of recent memory and a lot of Americans winning, but not at Carnoustie.  I think this continues.  I think it’ll be a non-US first-timer that wins.  Rafa Cabrera Bello has the length, he played well last year at Birkdale.

US PGA Championship (Bellrieve):

The root for the story pick: Jordan Spieth needs a US PGA Championship to complete the career grand slam.

The thinking man’s pick: Rickie Fowler is way overdue.  Patrick Reed fits the profile of a young American first-time winner and I think he’ll contend.

My pick: First-time major winners galore.  This will be the last US PGA Championship held in August (thankfully); and of course they’re going into the St. Louis area (so expect horrible heat, humidity and likely thunderstorms).  I’ve advocated that the PGA get the hell out of middle America and look West, but they don’t seem to be able to do this.  I’m going with Charley Hoffman who will come out of a competitive and muddled pack to eke out a win.

RYDER CUP:

Unlike a certain writer who thinks we’re into some gilded age of American dominance, I’m not ready to hang the bunting just yet.  The ugly truth is that it’s been 25 years since an US team won in Europe.  I think Europe wins a very closely contested Ryder Cup.

 

 

The 2017 SGIC Plays Santa Awards You Didn’t Want

Screw cookies and milk. I prefer bourbon. And a dozen ProV1’s.

What a year it’s been in golf.  Until things went completely sideways for me, I was set to make my personal goal of playing in every month of a calendar year (so I’ll have to settle for 10 months).  Sergio won a major, Lexi got robbed of one through a call-in rules violation, Jordan Spieth won a crazy Open Championship, Justin Thomas won a major and the FedEx Cup, the US won the Presidents Cup, Lexi won the CME Race to the Globe, and there’s optimism of another comeback from Tiger Woods (he fired his coach last night so there’s that).

Breakfast of Champions. Accept no substitutes.

If it’s late December and close to Christmas, it’s time for my annual Single Golfer In Cart (SGIC) plays Santa day!  Unfortunately I can’t claim it has the cult following of Drew Magary’s annual Haters Guide To The Williams Sonoma Catalog.

After having given this much thought (a few glasses of whiskey), I’ve put on my Santa costume while Santa is delivering presents to good boys and girls and have decided to grant some wishes throughout the world of golf (a mix of local folks in the DMV and on the pro tours).  These gifts aren’t returnable, by the way.  Suck it up.

For Jason Day you’re getting a copy of “Pace of Play and You” which I’d politely suggest you put to use.  I know you’ve had a rough year but you make early 2000’s Sergio Garcia look fast.

For Golf Channel, Santa is giving you the rights to air “Dead Solid Perfect” which remains the finest golf movie ever made.  Every time I have to see Matt Damon or Shia Leboeuf swing a golf club I fear for my own swing.  And seriously, can you air these films unedited?  You’re a cable channel so you’re not under some FCC bullshit decency coda.  Please.

Lake Presidential Golf Club, you’re getting improved playing conditions.  I know you made some improvements but some trusted spies say it’s still not great.  Earn that top-10 “best you can play’ ranking Golfweek keeps giving you.

Phil Mickelson, Santa has decided to give you that US Open win you keep asking for as long as you agree to go immediately into the booth when you finish playing and agree to be the same candid self you are now.

Golfweek Magazine, I’m getting you a new crop of raters.  Your “best you can play” lists are fairly stagnant.  Also, start showing actual reviews and speak to the methodology.

Worthington Manor Golf Course, Santa is giving you intermediate rough.  Use it.  You’re a great track, but seriously- embrace intermediate rough.

The LPGA was very good this year so you’re getting a few things.   Santa is getting you your own video game.  Also, some of your tournaments are getting new formats (a 6-hole event, a 2-player team event, a Stableford event, and a match play event or two).  Lastly, you’re getting a partnership with Top Golf to help get young people exposed to your products.

Timbers at Troy golf course, Santa is giving you improved drainage.  Your course still drains at the rate an 85-year old man pees.  The new bunkers look great.  Do something about the drainage.  I’ve played there on dry mornings when we haven’t had rain for 2 weeks and it’ll still be squishy fairways.  Or stop overwatering.  Seriously.  Do something about it.

The PGA Tour is getting a map of the DMV from Santa.  You’ll notice Virginia, DC and Maryland.  Look at the population, average income, and ask yourselves why you insist on jobbing this area as often as you do.  I mean, the LPGA doesn’t get closer than Williamsburg or Atlantic City.  The area event has constantly been plagued by a litany of issues, and yet every year people show up in large numbers.

The Guys Who Call In To Report Rules Violations are getting a lump of coal, a beating with a bag of hammers and a kick in the groin.  Stop it.  You’re not a rules official, so just stick to watching.

Brandel Chamblee is getting his own “hot talk” or talking head show from Santa.  First guest is Jason Duffner.  I don’t mind Brandel being a bit of a bomb thrower; it’s better than everyone unafraid to have a controversial opinion.

The USGA and the R&A are both getting pocket dictionaries from Santa.  If you turn to the page I’ve flagged, please read the definition for the word Bifurcation.  Study it.  Memorize it.  Live it.  Roll back the ball for the US Open and Open Championship.  The women don’t need this, nor do 99% of golfers.  And while you’re doing that, we’re getting rid of the OB rule for us mortals.  Play it as a lateral hazard.  No more walking back and hitting 3 from the tee.

Last, and certainly not least, Santa is giving local courses a short winter, a good growing season, and a 2018 playing season that runs into December.  And for all of the marshals, teaching professionals, superintendents and their staffs, Santa wishes all of you a very Merry Christmas (or the holiday of your choosing) and a prosperous 2018.

SONG OF THE DAY

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame continues to ignore some highly influential bands and everything that came out of the 80’s New Wave era.  Duran Duran, The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, and Depeche Mode hold up incredibly well.  Three decades later you still have kids ‘discovering’ this music.  At some point they’re going to run out of mediocre old white dude bands and start to induct the New Wave era bands.  Now would be an ideal time.

Where I Break Down the Quiet Feet Infomercial

With much of Golf Twitter having a school cafeteria food fight over the pissing match between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner, we go live to their ongoing feud:

To borrow a phrase from the Brits, their feud is really the stuff of handbags at 10 paces.  Either drop the mitts and settle it that way, or zip it.  I thought so.

Of a more pressing nature is another installment of my multi-part series on old Golf Channel infomercials.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s were an interesting time for Golf (and Golf Channel).  They didn’t have early-round PGA Tour rights, and hadn’t yet decided we needed to see Tin Cup, Bagger Vance, Caddyshack, and The Greatest Game Ever Played (at some point Michael Breed is going to break down the swings of Matt Damon and Shia LeBoeuf for the gong shows that they are).  And when you’re on 24 hours a day, you need filler (didn’t have Feherty either).  Which meant Infomercials, which I will watch because they’re never not accidentally hilarious.  I’ve started a series of these here and here for your reading pleasure (along with my Magnum Opus here).

For those of you unaware, Brandel Chamblee isn’t just a talking head.  He spent several years on the PGA Tour and won an event so the “he never played the game” tripe that some serve up at him is unfair (and if you think it’s easy to get on Tour please remove your head from your rectum).  He also made an infomercial, and it’s something.  So today, we pay tribute and break down The Quiet Feet infomercial.  As always, my sincere thanks for the inspiration to my spirit animal Down Goes Brown.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

0:13: The PowerPoint 1997 graphics are awesome.  I’ve only sat through about 12,000 meetings that had PowerPoint 1997 decks.  If I start having bad flashbacks, this is why.

0:17: Why hello there, Brandel.  Double pleated slacks, a shirt that would fit me (so on him it’s only about 3 sizes too small) and a fantastic head of hair.  Am I the only one that thinks he needs to grow a mustache?

0:28: WTH?  Is this golf after hours or something?

0:45: Cross-branding with the folks at Golftec, and a teaching professional who probably has his own system and routine (my routine is a heavy diet of bourbon and painkillers which explains why I have a 10.4 index and nobody asks me for help on their golf swing).

1:10: If you were playing a casual round and some guy in your group put this thing on of their own free will, you’re questioning a lot of your decisions, right?

1:18: Hi Brandel!  Looking good mate!  You totally do not sound like you’re reading this off of cue cards.  Not one iota.  Nope.

1:42: Close-up time.  I’m not saying he’s half in the bag, but if this were me I’d be completely in the bag by this point because these other two have the personality of a desk lamp.

2:22: Wardrobe change, and they’re outdoors now.   We’re using kids as props for this thing?  Really?

2:54: I’m picturing the cue card people getting blackout drunk.  Look, if you needed this 50 Shades of Crap strap thing to make you a better teacher, maybe you’re the problem.

3:01: DVD Alert.  With a user guide?  Free, if I call now?  Oh my god melt this down and inject it into my veins!

3:12: Tell me how to order.  Tell me.  TELL ME!  An 800 number AND a website designed by Prodigy Internet?  Take all of my money!  I mean, look at this poor schmuck moving his feet around- if only he could keep his feet quiet, the world would be a better place!

3:37: This thing is $49.95 plus shipping and handling.  They’re straps.  You can buy this at Home Depot or Lowes for less than 20 bucks.  But the DVD and the user guide!  Far be it me to be critical of Brandel, but if you honestly think that not having this thing kept you from winning, please get help.  I mean, just think how good Tiger might have been if he used this thing!

3:50: Oh, it comes in a waterproof detachable bag!

4:12: It comes in 3 junior sizes.  How many kids got this for Christmas and never touched a club again?

4:21: If you saw someone using this at work, you’re going to HR pretty much immediately, right?  I mean, this guy’s work internet browser history is going to be something; you can just tell.

4:53: Now they’re pimping Beaver Dam Falls (the course they’re at).  Oh shit, Kenny Rogers designed the course!  The same guy who wrote “The Gambler” and sang “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton!  The namesake for Kenny Rogers Roasters?  Where is this place?  I MUST KNOW NOW.  I mean, when you can design a chicken restaurant AND a golf course, AND sing duets with Dolly Parton…that’s living the High Life.

SONG OF THE DAY:

Come on, was there any doubt on this?  Turn this on full volume in your car and drive around with your windows open.

 

 

Fake News v. Your Own Eyes

From the 18th fairway at PB Dye.  Don't go left.

From the 18th fairway at PB Dye. Don’t go left.

I played Waverly Woods last Sunday 5/21.  Course was in good shape, I’m happy to report.  A couple wet spots here and there but I’d put that down to this never ending spate of wet weather we’ve had.  The fairways were running pretty good; the greens weren’t exactly US Open fast but they were consistent (as much as I’d like to blame them on my putting woes, the truth is that my putting woes are on me).  Went out in the first group with another rabbit, and we finished in three hours.  Roughs were thick but not overly so.

My one minor quibble (a suggestion, really) is this- the driving range runs parallel to the 10th hole.  I know that the large and tall netting isn’t exactly attractive, but given the dozens of range balls that were in the 10th fairway, it would sure help people playing the 10th hole to know which ball is theirs.  My playing partner and I were on a damn Easter egg roll looking for our balls amid the sea of range balls.

I took a flier yesterday 5/27 and played PB Dye out of curiosity.  A few weeks ago, someone who seemed to be on the level said that the course was in terrible shape and that they had let it go.   I hadn’t played there in a couple years so I felt like it might be a good time to see what was what.

11th hole at PB Dye.  So anywhere not short, left or long works.  Or right.

11th hole at PB Dye. So anywhere not short, left or long works. Or right.

While I can’t (and won’t) try to speak to what someone heard or saw a time ago, I can say that the course I saw and played yesterday was in great shape, despite intermittent rain.  The greens were as good as anything I’ve encountered all year.  Tee to green I played well, but once again my putter went completely off the rails (took 38 putts and three putted when on in regulation on three occasions).  It was completely my fault.

I know Dye’s work isn’t for everyone but it’s still one of the better tracks in the area.  You’ll encounter friendly people and at least when I played there, good conditions.  Not to belabor the point, but this is one thing I don’t get- it doesn’t cost money to be friendly.  A friendly starter goes a long way as opposed to some wannabe drill sergeant who treats players as if they’re invading his sacred territory.

TIGER AND THE DUI

I started writing this before the news of Woods’ DUI arrest hit on Monday.  Worse than the never-ending avalanche of Hot Takes were his sycophants and loyalists that are defending this.  It’s indefensible.  That he wasn’t drinking doesn’t mean it’s okay.   Woods made a decision to get behind the wheel when he was under the influence (from a legal perspective it doesn’t have to be alcohol).  Several lawyers talked about the legal ramifications so let me speak from personal experience.

More than 20 years ago I served as a juror in a DUI trial.  The particulars of the case were this- the driver was in the driver’s seat, keys in the ignition and the car was running.  Most jurisdictions have that as a standard for ‘operating a vehicle’ (an attorney and a police officer both told me that if you get in a car and realise that you’re under the influence to get in the back seat and put the keys in the front seat as this would typically meet a standard of no intent to operate the car).  The driver refused a breathalyzer and failed field sobriety tests.   He parked in front of a fire station with the car running.  However, we voted guilty and it took less than an hour to come back with a guilty verdict.

That Woods’ car had two flat tires on the driver’s side and rim damage (along with what the police described as ‘fresh damage’).  He didn’t know where he was and had fallen asleep.   Even if his toxicology reports come back completely clean most jurisdictions have statutes about drowsy/distracted driving.  A jury is not going to be overly sympathetic (and not for anything but if Woods’ car damage is from hitting a vehicle with occupants this gets really bad in a hurry).

If Woods were in bad shape, a call to a friend, a cab, or a shared ride would surely be a better option than getting behind the wheel.  It says here that if he’d called his agent and said “Steiny I’m at location X and I need a ride” you can bet your ass they’d have a ride there tout’d’sweet.  He’s a 40 year old man and not some 23-year old.  He has 2 kids (and not for anything if he’s that concerned about being a good father for him, then square that with his behaviour).

As someone who’s gotten pretty banged up on multiple occasions, I was (for once) smart enough to find a bar walking distance from my apartment during my period of heavy drinking (oh, sure, I probably had some fantastic conversations with light poles and mail boxes but at least I didn’t try to drive home).

If it comes to pass that he has a problem with prescription medication (hoping this isn’t the case and this was just a one-off), then I hope like heck he gets whatever treatment he needs.  Even if he never plays golf again, he still has to be a father and for him and his kids’ sake I hope he gets to do that.

A Better Way Forward

Psst...USGA- you'd rather be here in July.  Just admit it.

Psst…USGA- you’d rather be here in July. Just admit it.

So it’s day 2 of the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Washington DC Sterling, Virginia and, rather than talk about the course or who might win, the talk is about the name on the course.  Several players are (not shocking) huge fans of Trump, and one (Fred Funk) got his delicate feelings hurt over a columnist who dared to ask him questions (he wears a Trump logo).

John Daly went full Team Trump mode and also took a few shots at the Clintons.  Daly is popular but I’m sure he’ll implode on himself sooner than later (it’s always good for recovering alcoholics to drink “only beer”).  And then he’ll start WDing from events (his track record of WDing from events he gets a sponsors exemption into is flat embarrassing), get into arguments, quit mid-round (another thing that he’s gotten a free pass on way too often) with anyone and everyone, and of course never accept responsibility (so spare me the personal responsibility lecture).

Exactly what you didn’t want to happen is happening.  You don’t grow the game by turning off a large portion of the population especially during a marquee event.  This is PR 101 stuff.  And not for anything, but this is exactly what i said was going to happen.

It might be a good time to point out that the pipeline for the Senior…I mean Champions Tour isn’t exactly all that great if/when Daly goes on his next bender.   Tiger isn’t going to play, and none of the younger players are going to play it (they are all breaking down physically).  I’m not sure Mickelson is going to play (he strikes me as being someone with loftier aspirations).  That will leave someone like Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar….zzzzzzzz and maybe some of the European Tour players chasing money.  To borrow a slogan, Jack Nicklaus ain’t walking through that door again.

Which brings me back to the upcoming US Women’s Open at Trump National in New Jersey and my larger point about why exactly is it that the Women’s Open keeps getting contested at lesser courses (if you think a course that opened in 2004 is somehow better than Merion, Bethpage Black or Merion…go get your head examined).  If the USGA is serious about elevating the US Women’s Open, I’d like to see them take the event to the bigger/high profile courses (which means that Opens should come with the “if you want the men’s open, you’re taking a women’s Open” rule).

In lieu of going to Trump’s course, why not (staying in the same general geographical area) go to Merion?  With the concern about the course not being long enough for the men, it would be perfect for the women and allow them to play one of the truly classic courses in the country.  Or hell, why not a Winged Foot or a Oak Hill?  If you want public in the tri-state area, go to Bethpage Black!

Why isn’t Pebble Beach on the USGA rota for the women (it should be)?  If Pebble wants to host the Open, they should want to host the Women’s Open as well.  Again- why isn’t Bethpage Black a venue for the women?  Or Shinnecock?  Oakmont hosted the US Women’s open back in 2010.  Throw Winged Foot, Olympic Club, Congressional, Medinah, and Torrey Pines into the mix and that’s a hell of a rota.

Or, you could take the tack of “we’re only going to public courses from now on” which makes some sense and a position I’m happy to defend.  If you want to stay public, then Pinehurst #2 has to be on that list as well.  And if you want to stay public AND go different, two words- Bandon Dunes (it’s on any golfer’s bucket list and has already hosted a US Amateur).  If you look at the history of what courses have hosted the championship it doesn’t really compare to the men’s courses.

My point is this- the USGA should let the women play the same quality courses that the men play and don’t need to put them in a position where they’re going to be upstaged by a controversial figure (remember how the 1990 Mens PGA Championship went at Shoal Creek?).  Even if you toss out the private clubs, you could have an unofficial rota made up entirely of public courses: Bandon Dunes (or Pacific Dunes), Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, TPC Harding Park, Bethpage Black, Pinehurst #2,  Kiawah Island, Cog Hill #4, and Whistling Straits.  Yes- it’s West Coast heavy which means you don’t have the constant threat of thunderstorms, and you can have a prime time east coast finish.

Any of these courses would be a far better shop window for the LPGA than what’s coming in July, and deep down, they know it.

 

 

Major Championship Rules Snafu Version 3.0

For the third time in 10 months, a major championship will be best remembered for a terribly managed rules issue rather than for great golf and a worthy champion.  Lexi Thompson was denied the title last night at the ANA Inspiration because someone emailed the LPGA that she thought that Lexi Thompson moved her ball illegally on the 17th hole of Saturday’s third round.   Below is a clip from Golf Channel’s coverage last night:

I’ll point out that at no point did her playing partner nor the walking rules official see any issue with it (who are the primary sources for bringing up any issues).  Nobody on Golf Channel’s coverage (their own rules expert as well as the broadcast team- all experts at golf) saw an issue with it at the time.  None of the print journalists saw an issue nor did anyone covering the event.

No other sport entertains cranks who call in to report this kind of stuff other than golf.  Tennis (golf’s closest comparable) has a fantastic replay system that takes 5-10 seconds to review.  Call the ATP or the WTA about a foot-fault and you might as well yell at clouds.  The professional golf tours should act similarly.

It wasn’t until someone emailed the LPGA after play had ended (the LPGA didn’t see the email until Sunday) to report the issue.  This is wrong on two accounts (besides the larger issue of why professional golf should EVER give these people so much as the time of day):

1) If the viewer waited until Sunday to send the email (or after Saturday’s round), then this is a whole new level of being a shithead, because in doing so you’re setting up Lexi Thompson to fail knowing that she already signed her scorecard which brings in an additional penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard (how much money did this asshole have on someone other than Lexi Thompson because this reeks of some dickhead who had money on someone else and was scrambling trying to figure out a way to not lose?  Oh, am I not being fair to this asshole?  Tough.  In one email he effectively changed the result of a major championship- I hope this person has nightmares about it for the rest of their life, and may the 877-KARS-4-KIDS song be stuck in your head for the next 1000 years).  The word you’re looking for here in entrapment.

2) If the viewer sent the email on Saturday, why did the LPGA not immediately contact Lexi Thompson and say “please come back here NOW” and at the very least, administer the penalty BEFORE the start of Sunday’s round?   Surely it would have been better to let Lexi know where she stood BEFORE teeing off on Sunday (and if you’re so damn worried about protecting the field announce it then as well).  That way, everyone knows what’s going on and can plan accordingly.  In this case, telling her after finishing her 12th hole of the final round is absurd.  Most of the field had finished their round so this idea of protecting the field goes out the window (if you teed off thinking you were 6 or 7 shots off the lead as opposed to 2 or 3, your thinking is going to be entirely different).

So this jerk that thinks he’s a hero is anything but a hero.  Either way you look at it, what this person did was patently wrong.

So how do you go forward?

1) Effective today, professional golf and any governing body has to agree that any rules issues brought up by a viewer is to be ignored.  The role of protecting the field and enforcing the rules has to be the dominion of the players (as specified by the rules of golf) and the on-site rules officials.  The tours should immediately enact a local rule at all tournaments that advice from an outside agency/TV viewer is not to be considered.

2) Players and on-site rules officials should be reminded that they should act immediately if they see something.  I don’t have an issue with a rules official saying “let’s take a look at this on TV” if they’re not sure but the decision has to be made at that point and before the player signs their scorecard.

3) If you want TV to step in, then the professional tours should immediately set up a remote TV rules bunker/war room (MLB, NHL and the NFL have these, as does both codes of rugby).  This means that every player has to be viewed on every hole (otherwise you’re not enforcing the rules evenly).  If the TV war room/bunker see an issue they can contact one of the on-site rules officials and review the infraction with the player immediately.

4) You can’t have things be subject to review after the round is finished.  They don’t do this after the final round, so why is it accepted after the first three rounds?  If there’s any doubt from anyone, the player should be advised to not sign their scorecard until they can review it.

Three incidents in 10 months regarding rules infractions that have been badly managed is three too many.  This simply cannot continue.

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