Category: On Tour (page 2 of 5)

Some Words About The John Daly ESPN 30-for-30

Few sports networks do as little to justify their bloated cost as ESPN does, but their skyrocketing costs for sports rights fees which may well end up being their demise if the rates of cord-cutting continue despite what they say publicly.  However, their 30-for-30 series of documentaries (going on 7 years since its inception) represent some of the best programming they’ve done (they’ve covered topics in a range of subjects such as the USFL, Steve Bartman, Magic Johnson, Len Bias, OJ Simpson (a 5-part series), the Hillsborough Disaster (largely unknown to American audiences), and the Wayne Gretzky trade).  If you haven’t watched the 5-part OJ documentary I cannot recommend it enough (if you do watch know that they have previously unseen crime scene photos that are VERY graphic).

photo from The Big Lead

A still shot from the John Daly 30-for-30

So when they announced they were producing a 30-for-30 documentary about John Daly (you can watch the trailer here), I hoped it would be as good as some of their recent offerings as it was the first full-length episode in the series to focus on golf.  Hit It Hard was certainly a well-produced and well-sourced documentary (the interviews with Jim Nantz and David Feherty are interesting but left me wanting more), but it was far too limited in its focus and left me wanting more.  What has made their previous offerings work is the ability to pull in both core fans of a subject and casual viewers.   It focused on his playing career from 1991-1995 (during which he won 2 majors), and then a fast forward to the 2015 Open Championship.  A casual fan will likely be sated, but there’s so much more to the man.

One huge facet that the directors missed was that the person who introduced John Daly to smoking was his college coach, Steve Loy (who encouraged it as a means of losing weight).  Fascinating and horrifying, but the directors decided to not acknowledge that Loy has been Phil Mickelson’s agent for well over 20 years.  Nothing against anybody but it is notable.  This could have easily been noted towards the end and is certainly interesting.

The documentary starts with Daly today, having gained back the weight he had lost through gastric bypass surgery (something that was not addressed), still smoking.  It then bolts back to the 1991 USPGA Championship and recounts Daly getting in as the 9th alternate and then winning the tournament; they have audio from the CBS/TNT coverage which helped accentuate the footage.

It then details his first fall from grace; with the money that came in after his win, we hear about the 1992 arrest for drinking, withdrawals from tournaments, and his admission that he never drank during a tournament round except for one round during the then-LA Open (tournament at Riviera).  We learn that Daly’s father was abusive and drank heavily, which could not have come as a surprise.

The documentary then advances to the 1995 (British) Open Championship at St. Andrews, where Daly won in a playoff over Constantine Rocca.  With access to the ABC coverage, it’s a reminder that Brent Musburger used to host ABC’s golf coverage.  Golf fans will remember, but casual fans will see Daly win in dramatic fashion.

The normalcy in Daly’s life is rather shocking; trips to Wal-Mart to buy groceries with his current partner, grilling steaks for a cookout, and watching his son play junior golf.  All things that any person will easily relate to doing in their lives.  And of course, the constant smoking.  Simply from a human perspective I hope Daly doesn’t suffer long-term from his smoking, but like many other things, the odds are stacked against him.

For some reason, we then skip 20 years forward to the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, where (for me) the most touching moment occurs.  At part of a past-Champions celebration you see Daly and Arnold Palmer chatting; in this brief moment you can sense the respect that Daly has for the great man, and unfortunately, you can see that Arnie doesn’t quite look himself (I always imagine Arnie with that gleam in his eye ready to take on the course and find that old magic one final time).

To miss the years from 1996-2014 leaves a lot untold.  While there were plenty of bad (his propensity to withdraw mid-tournament when he was on a sponsor’s invite was particularly galling), I remember his win at Torrey Pines in 2004 for his short game (for big man who could hit the ball a ton, his touch around the greens was always amazing).  They may have been dark years for him, but to neglect to show that his popularity never waned despite him being up against the supernova that was early Tiger Woods misses an important part of his life.

This underscores the beauty and the tragedy of Daly; he remains a beloved figure (now playing on the Champions Tour) by many fans, but unfortunately his career will remain a sad case of “what if” given how things have played out.  Nonetheless, if you’re a golf fan or simply interested in a classic tragic yet beloved figure, Hit It Hard is well worth watching.

 

 

The USGA Must Move the 2017 US Women’s Open

Note: Ordinarily I would never involve anything political in what is and shall remain a golf blog and this entry is one where I have tried to leave politics out of things and focus on something golf-specific.  I have thought about this issue for several months, and the case I’m going to make is solely based on the best interests of the game.  I’ve written three different drafts about this and thrown them away because I didn’t like the tenor.  This isn’t about me; it’s about the message it sends to the best female golfers in the world and the simple fact that they deserve the greatest stage possible for this country’s national championship (and not the optics and distraction that holding this event would bring).  My larger issue was, is, and remains the thought process with the USGA who simply cannot allow a national championship to be held at venues owned by people who clearly do not welcome and value women.  This has nothing to do with what happens on November 8th but everything about not forcing athletes to have to play a major championship at a course named by someone who has made reprehensible comments about women on a regular, ongoing, and pervasive basis.

The USGA, which is the governing body for golf in the United States, has made a raft of terrible decisions in the last several years (I’ve tried to chronicle them with evidence).  While many of them cannot be changed, one decision that they must make is the moving of the 2017 US Women’s Open away from Trump National GC in New Jersey.   It should have never been awarded, and even if removing it means writing a check, it has to be done sooner than later rather than have this fiasco occur.   Below I’ve listed each reason with an explanation.

1) Unlike Augusta National (which is a private course that can sustain itself without certain revenue sources), the USGA needs advertising revenue and the money they get from Fox.  When Augusta National was protested by Martha Burk in 2003 and 2004, they simply canceled advertising and ran the tournament commercial-free, which kept sponsors out of hot water.  To the club’s credit, their membership has become more diverse with the addition of at least two women (including Stanford President Condozoleeza Rice).  The USGA does not have this luxury.  They need TV sponsors and they need the ad revenue.  So go ahead and find sponsors who are willing to deal with the inevitable optics that are forthcoming (if you’re a member of one of these companies PR teams, might want to stock up on Red Bull now).

2) It’s unfair to the players.  If this is the National Championship, then the USGA has a duty to conduct a championship free of distractions.  You’re putting players in a terribly awkward position (and I will freely admit that opinions of the players will be all over the board; I’ll also freely admit that several players will have well-crafted responses that say nothing about this budding controversy and I’m sure you’d find multiple players who will have voted for the individual in question).  The USGA already has a policy about not using courses that discriminate based on gender and race.   You’ll turn this tournament into a sideshow that will make the 1990 PGA Championship (more on that later) look like fun times.  You can pick a dozen courses that would easily hold this tournament without controversy.  It’s an unnecessary distraction.  The US Open is hard enough.

3) The USGA talks about growing the game.  So why patronize someone who considers golf to be a game only for the rich (which runs counter to the USGA’s message)?  My larger issue is that why would you have ever gone to this individual in the first place?   To their credit the USGA has tried to push the men’s Open to more public courses (some have gone better than others, but it’s still a noble idea).  If you’re going to use private courses, why not ones that aren’t a PR nightmare?  Off the top of my head, I’d LOVE to see the USGA let the women have a crack at Bethpage Black (I’m sure the women would relish the opportunity), and Christina Kim’s love of Oakmont (and its rich history) makes it a no-brainer.  What about Riviera in Los Angeles, or Torrey Pines in San Diego (both classic, worthy tests that the women have yet to see in a major)?  Or Pebble Beach?  The women deserve the right to play these classic tracks; Fox would love it because they’re not trying to deal with an unknown course (plus, by going West you take thunderstorms out of the equation).  What about Kiawah Island or Harbour Town?  Heck, bring it to the local area and play it at Congressional!

4) Back to the 1990 USPGA Championship at Shoal Creek.  The club president (Hal Thompson) was asked about why they didn’t have any African-American members, and he responded with “that’s just not done here” which meant that all anyone remembers about that tournament was the controversy (Wayne Grady won if you’re curious).  The PGA of America could have, and should have, moved the event.  They didn’t.  Every single day that the USGA sits around and doesn’t move the event makes it that much harder to move.  If they want to wait until after the election, then fine…but make the call and make it defiantly.   The US Women’s Open should be about (as the USGA likes to say) identifying the best player and not about 2 weeks of controversy over why they chose the venue that they did (and everything the course’s namesake has said will come tumbling out).  This isn’t fair to the 156 women who will tee it up.

5) Messaging and sportsmanship.  The comments made about women by the man whose name is on the course are uniformly deplorable.  I’ve never heard Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or anyone in the game talk like that.  To put the world best female golfers in a place whose namesake speaks the way he does simply cannot be allowed to happen.  The point of golf is this- it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your faith is.  On Thursday of the tournament everyone starts at the same spot and whoever is the best over the 4 days wins.  That’s the beauty of sports.  You don’t get a head start because you’re from a specific part of the world, nor do you get penalized for your beliefs or your orientation.  The best player wins.  That’s one of the things I love about the sport; how you’ll see a scene like last summer when so many of his fellow pros congratulated Dustin Johnson either at the course or on Twitter.  He played fantastic and deserved to win.  Or how so many LPGA pros congratulated Brittany Lang on her win at CordeValle but all felt terrible at how the USGA completely mishandled a penalty to Anna Nordqvist.  It’s what makes golf unique.  Their athletic abilities are what we should be celebrating, not their looks on a 1-10 scale.  Your clubs, the ball, and the course don’t care if you’re a model or not, or if you’re thin or not.  Not how, but how many.

So move the tournament.   Do it now.  For the good of the game.

Ryder Cup Prediction You Didn’t Ask For

Photo courtesy Johnnie Walker

Accept no substitutes. The breakfast of champions. Or lunch. Or Dinner

I put this on Twitter last night after consulting with my good friend Johnnie Walker, but I’ll put it on the blog.

I think it’s a repeat of Medinah 2012 score-wise, with Europe winning 14.5-13.5.  I think it’s a lot closer (no big Sunday comeback).

I thought Gleneagles would be closer with Europe winning.  So not exactly brimming with confidence.

Let’s hope we have great golf and that the golf is what people remember.  So Bubba and Ted Scott going streaking during the Sunday singles…not so much.

Enjoy the Ryder Cup.

 

When Mom and Dad Fight It Makes Me Sad (Ryder Cup Version)

Amid everything else that was going on yesterday, during Golf Channel’s “Live At The Ryder Cup” coverage, Brandel Chamblee and David Duval got into a heated debate over the failings of the US Ryder Cup team over the last 20+ years (wins in 1999 and 2008, losses in 1995, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014).  Let’s go to the tape, shall we?

There’s a lot to break down.  First off, while I know that Brandel Chamblee can irritate people, he makes some salient points (more on that in a bit).  So does David Duval (in all honesty I like both because they weren’t giving us the over-the-top patriotic orgy that is forthcoming).

Let’s start with Tiger Woods.  Woods’ overall record is 13-14-2 (and yes, 29 matches is more than sufficient sample size).  He has a losing record in both foursomes (alternate shot) and four-balls (think 2-man best ball), but is 4-1-1 in singles.  He’s been a part of one (1) winning team  (despite this there were far too many people suggesting he be that 12th player picked despite not having played a single shot this year and having a world ranking below 500th).  16 of the 28 points come from foursomes and four-balls.  At best, Woods would only be able to contribute 1 point through a singles win.  Duval points out that your leaders aren’t necessarily your highest ranked players.  Which is fine, except how exactly are the teams picked?  The first 8-9 slots go off of rankings, which, if my math is correct, is 2/3rds to 3/4ths of your team.  Until the PGA of America says “screw it, the captain picks all 12 players rankings be damned” rankings are going to matter.  What those automatic picks do is going to largely impact if you’re successful or not.

Let’s take a look at Phil Mickelson…hi Phil!  His overall record is 16-19-7 (and 42 matches more than shows us a decent sample size).  Breaking it down, Mickelson is 5-5-1 in singles, but 4-6-4 in foursomes (alternate shot), and 7-8-2 in four-balls.  If you’re scoring at home, he’s even money in singles and has a losing record in foursomes and four-balls (where he has won 11 of 31 matches).  I like Phil because he is, if nothing else, worth the price of admission.  But his Fri/Sat record is not good.  Period.

Chamblee points out that the most important matches are the first one on Friday and the last one on Saturday.  I’m not sure if this is necessarily predictive of a result, but if it is, then it would make sense to load up accordingly.  If I were running the PGA of America (hint, hint), the captain would have detailed statistical breakdowns on each player (based on expected results, variations for weather, time of year, format, etc.).  I would not pair guys up who play completely different balls for the alternate shot matches (or if I did, they’d be practicing together with the same ball for months prior), which is something Mickelson pointed out during his press conference.  To not do that is, effectively, gifting points to the other side (I’ve already pointed out the absolute stupidity in naming Ryan Moore less than week prior to the start of the event).

Chamblee, who admittedly can be a bit grating, is at least asking the right question.  Why did the US team lose a 4-point lead in 2012 and why did the European team lose a similar lead in 1999?  Was it momentum, was it simply a case of statistical regression to the mean, or was it something else (if Europe wins 4 coin flips in a row, are they lucky or this skill)?  Duval, who again, I like, talks about inflammatory remarks and “a feeling” in 1999.  I’d argue that it was simply regression to the mean on the European team (and terrible team selection by Mark James in not playing 1/4 of his team until the Sunday singles).  The idea of it being luck is, frankly, ignoring statistical variance and expected results/actual results.  If Davis Love III doesn’t honestly know where the 14.5 points he’s going to need are coming from, then what exactly has he been doing the last 18 months?  It’s a fair question.

If they don’t come out tonight in giant boxing gloves and headgear I’ll be very displeased.

The Final Ryder Cup Pick and Learning From History

Sunday night, during halftime of the Bears-Cowboys game on NBC (I don’t even watch the NFL and I know this game is two teams that are bad), Davis Love III will finally announce his 4th captain’s pick and the 2016 US Ryder Cup team will be finalized.  Regardless of what happens in Hazeltine, this multi-step process cannot continue and both the US and European teams must come to an equitable system for 2018 and beyond.  Pick a number (be it 0, 2, 3, or 4 if you must, but both teams must abide by the same number of captain’s picks) and both sides must abide by it.

photo property of thehillijean.com

Getting Ready for Sunday Night’s Rose Ceremony

I mean what next- a god damn rose ceremony with David Feherty in the Chris Harrison role where the hopeful candidates get interviewed in hopes of impressing the team captain?  We’re a stage away from having a Ryder Cup Selection reality TV show for the Americans.

I distinctly remember after the 2014 Ryder Cup a series of interviews that European captain Paul McGinley did that detailed the amount of preparation prior to the tournament proper.  Knowing his team well before the event and who was going to play with whom well in advance…it’s leaving nothing to chance.  He had all kinds of analytical data on each player.  He had played with each player.  Tom Watson…kind of seemed to make it up as he went along.

You know when would be a good time announce your captain’s picks?  Immediately AFTER the 2nd FedEx Cup Playoff event.  Have the ceremony on the 18th green during NBC’s coverage.  Have local kids carry out bags of the players, and if the players are there, have them come out as well.  USA Hockey did something similar to this prior to the 2014 Olympics; they did it after the 2014 Winter Classic.  Pretty cool (and not just the weather).  Take a look (they did the same thing four years prior after the 2010 Winter Classic but that game didn’t feature my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs winning in a shootout so this is what you get):

Pretty cool, eh?

And Davis, since I know you’re reading this, we need to have another chat.  Have a seat.  Bourbon, no ice?

As I understand it, you like to watch hockey from time to time, which is a good thing.  I know you’re busy, but did you watch Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey on Tuesday night?  A team purpose-built (allegedly) to beat Canada got destroyed (the score was 4-2 but it wasn’t that close).  Today, you’ve got smart people (like me) saying that USA Hockey was pretty ignorant in setting up the team with a bunch of plugs and grinders rather than elite high-end talent.  But their mouth-breathing coach is all about standing for the anthem, and that’s what’s important here, right?  Not really.

There’s a lesson here.  Think talent, and think birdies.  A blow-up hole isn’t a big deal here…carding an X on a hole isn’t a death knell (especially if their opponent birdies it).  Statistical analysis would show you who makes a lot of birdies and has the occasional Tin Cup moment.  I’m sure you have this researched…or not.

Match play, as you know, is NOT 72-hole stroke play.  You don’t need pluggers and grinders.  You need guys who can make birdies and you need to think beyond the norm.  Hopefully you’ve got binders of analytical data on players in addition to your own observations.  If you’re honestly waiting to see who shows up at East Lake with a hot hand, you’re screwed.  “If” the Ryder Cup were being held at East Lake I’d say you might have a point, but it isn’t.  Different course, layout, climate, turf, greens, and so on.  Even better is if you already know your lineup and who’s playing with whom (yes, injuries can throw a wrench in but if you don’t know who your Friday morning groups are by now it’s going to end poorly).

For some reason, Azinger’s system in 2008 worked.  Maybe it was because of Anthony Kim.  Who knows.  You know who wasn’t on that team?  The same guy that people are foaming at the mouth for you to pick with that last selection.And since we’re on the subject, I know this has become A Thing, but put the crack pipe down about selecting somebody who hasn’t played competitive golf in 13 months (especially someone who doesn’t exactly have a great record in the event).  You had this person on your team 4 years ago in Medinah, and their record was bad then (when they were ranked #1 in the world).  The question you have to answer is this- how has this person improved in 4 years to make them a better Ryder Cup player?  Answer- they haven’t.  If the 2018 captain wants to observe them, that would make sense.

Seriously, Jim Furyk has been on more winning teams than this guy, and you already know what level of stupid that idea is.

Spare me the canard of “but Ian Poulter isn’t on the team and he got them off the mat during the Saturday afternoon session.”  Bullshit.  You were up 10-6 going into the singles.  And lost.  Which was supposedly the strength of the US team.  How’d your anchor do on Sunday?  Oh, right.

In the end, if this collection of humanity gets to 14 1/2 points you’ll be a genius and that will be that.  But from here, I’m not sure you know how to get to that number.  Hope I’m wrong for your sake.

 

 

 

I Fix CBS’ Golf Coverage (you’re welcome)

As Patrick Reed tapped in for bogey at The Barclays amid a nice preview of what the 2024 Ryder Cup will be like (in short, it’ll make 1999’s mob scene look like a cotillion dance), CBS bid adieu to their golf coverage for the year.  They’ll be back at Torrey Pines in early 2017 with their normal slate (Fox will have the Super Bowl (you’ve been warned) so no need to flip a tournament to NBC/Golf Channel).

While they go dark, it’s time that the so-called Tiffany Network have a serious reboot of their golf coverage.  In short, it’s gotten stale, their coverage is far worse than NBC and is in dire need of assistance.  If you want an example, I’ll point to the coverage that the three non-Masters (which to be fair is a different animal completely) majors that were covered by FOX (US Open), NBC (Open Championship), and CBS (US PGA Championship).  FOX still doesn’t really seem to know what the hell it’s doing (although they’re to be credited for adjusting their coverage with the rain delays even though they dumped network coverage to show regular season baseball which says all you need to know even though their network coverage of the MLB playoffs is limited to the World Series…pick a lane fellas), to CBS going through the (wanking) motions at the USPGA Championship.  NBC’s coverage was nothing short of amazing.  It was everything you would want; they gave the viewer wall-to-wall coverage and poured considerable resources into it (same for their Olympics golf coverage).  The bar was set by NBC/Golf Channel and anything else being done should be compared to the NBC/Golf Channel work.

Put it this way- compare NBC’s coverage of their big events (Players Championship, Open Championship, Olympics) to how CBS and FOX covered their events and you start to see the problem.  NBC wasn’t afraid to be critical of the golf course setup at the Players Championship when it was clear to anyone that the Tour had lost the course on that Saturday.

Losing David Feherty to NBC/Golf Channel “should” have been a good thing for CBS (if handled correctly) and the trade-off of Feherty for Dottie Pepper was a net gain for CBS.  While his interview show on Golf Channel is not bad, I just don’t see what Feherty adds to the NBC telecasts other than the occasional bit of comic relief.  He’s not Hicks (or Tirico) and Miller, and Maltbie is still a better nuts-and-bolts guy in terms of telling me what’s going on with players (Feherty needs to learn how to be critical and use his knowledge as a former pro and as a former Ryder Cupper).  I’d say stick him in a tower but I’m not sure he’s a good fit there (Gary Koch and Peter Jacobsen are solid in those roles).  I’m not a fan of 3-man booths (see FOX) so sticking him alongside Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks is a further “square peg in round hole” situation.

The issues for CBS start at the top, and by that, I mean Jim Nantz.  He’s 57 and has a young wife and a couple of young kids.  His work schedule is ridiculously bloated which I think is the biggest part of the problem (on the road 245 days a year is insane).  He does a fairly heavy workload during NFL season for CBS (last year he was doing 2 games per week) on top of College Basketball and Golf coverage and the poor guy has to carry a picture of burnt toast so that he can get toast the way he likes it.  It’s too much and far too often, he sounds like someone phoning it in (I don’t think that’s his attitude but it’s how he comes off).  Nobody can do that much (and frankly CBS doesn’t have that kind of depth that they seem willing to trust big events with).  Al Michaels isn’t doing 3 sports (he does 20 weeks of NFL broadcasts and an Olympics every 2 years) nor should he need to.   Dan Hicks does Notre Dame football and Olympics swimming along with golf which isn’t nearly as taxing (and with Mike Tirico on board, you do wonder if Tirico might see some golf, especially in September if Notre Dame duties keep Hicks away).   It’s time to put Nantz in a host role (think Bob Costas during horse racing Triple Crown events) but I’d let him keep his role at The Masters.  Otherwise, it’s time to groom a successor and the sooner, the better (or let him stay on golf full time but find a full-time #1 play-by-play for their college basketball coverage).

In the short run, Bill McAtee is a good “B” team 18th hole host and has been solid if not unspectacular when he gets paired with Ian Baker Finch.  McAtee’s interviewing skills aren’t the greatest (Kostis and Dottie Pepper are good), but as an 18th hole tower host he’s decent.

While we’re at it, can someone please explain to CBS that when they go on the air, they should be showing live golf as soon as humanly possible (and this happens every damn time).  It can take 15-20 minutes before they’re showing actual live play, which is ridiculous.  This is on Lance Barrow who is probably as big of a problem as anyone; how NBC/Golf Channel can accomplish this and CBS can’t means that it’s on Barrow to make it better.  Look, if an A list name is going unconscious then by all means update people, but unless Spieth is flirting with a 58 or Mickelson has had to have Bones dive into a pond to recover his last ball, better to show live golf first.

In terms of trying to groom a successor to Nantz, it also has to be said that I have no idea what Nick Faldo (sorry, Sir Nick Faldo) is doing half the time.  He’s serviceable during their Masters coverage when he’s on a very short leash, but otherwise…I just don’t see it.  He had great synergy with Mike Tirico and Paul Azinger in their ABC days, but that was 12-13 years ago.  The “oh dear” is getting stale (or the “crumbs” bit).  You’re not there to be a cheerleader.  You’ve won major championships- tell me something as a viewer that I don’t know.  Put me inside the head of a guy who has never won before who is up by 1 stroke over Day and McIlroy and is on the 18th tee.  Tell me something I don’t know.

Replacements?  Options are plentiful.  Terry Gannon and Steve Sands are very good at their jobs (Sands’ work during the first couple FedEx Cup Tour Championships trying to explain the points race was nothing short of brilliant).  Would either want that chair?  Gannon really impressed me during his early-day hosting job at the Open Championship and the Olympic tournament.  He’s a good setup man, which is really what that role should be.  Would they want to jump ship?

I’m really stuck with respect to Dottie Pepper.  She’s damn good at what she does (her and Kostis are by far the best of the CBS bunch); would the 17th tower be perceived as an  upgrade for her or is this a step backwards?  Related, anything Judy Rankin does for Golf Channel is immediately worth watching.  I can’t say enough about her insight about the game and that she’s able to lend that insight from a pro into something easily translatable.  Her and Terry Gannon are on a par with Nantz and Faldo, if you ask me.

Part of me thinks that if you blow the thing up, an 18th hole team of Steve Sands (or Terry Gannon) and Dottie Pepper would be, if nothing else, watchable (let Nantz take on a hosting role at their bigger events to add that “big event” feel to it).  Like Rankin, Dottie Pepper lends the credibility of someone who’s been there as a professional but translate to a viewer.

While we’re on the subject of Pepper and Kostis, at some point Augusta National is going to have to bend on having on-course reporters.  For a tournament that has shown signs of progression, the things they dig in on are baffling.  Don’t tell me that having them on the course walking with groups is somehow “taking away” from someone’s experience.  Kostis/Pepper are smart enough to know where the line is (same with Maltbie if NBC ever picked up the Masters rights which will likely never happen).

McCord seems to have lost a step without a comic foil.   He’s not bad, but like Feherty he needs to figure out what exactly it is that he’s doing and be better at that.  I think he’s funny, but at times he tends to meander.  I heard someone say this- it’s easy when you’ve got compelling final-round coverage, but if you’ve got a blowout (say Jason Day is up by 8 strokes) you’re trying to keep the viewer tuned in.   He’ll never be part of their Masters coverage so he misses out on their biggest event of the year.

Rich Beem, on the other hand, has been a welcome breath of fresh air.  Not sure if it’s because of his work for UK broadcaster Sky that he has a different perspective, but I look forward to seeing more of him.  You could put him in a tower and I’d be pretty happy.

I would also add a rules person.  Since Slugger White has retired, would he be willing to take on a rules role at CBS?  At the very least, he would be a good resource to help viewers understand why the course was set up a certain way or why tee times might have been moved up.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have someone who can explain this from the PGA Tour’s role.  It gives the viewer a perspective that they don’t always get.

Let’s talk technology.  As terrible as FOX’s US Open coverage is (too much to get into here), they have made the use of Trackman (and similar) an expectation.  This should be part of every broadcast.  Period.  Both PGA and LPGA tours.  If the tours are going to work together, this should be an expectation on broadcasts on a par with HD coverage and a leaderboard box visible at all times.  It is still painful to watch FOX’s coverage but they are ahead of the curve in terms of using technology.

With that being said, this would be my ideal setup for CBS’ Golf Coverage starting in 2017 (non-Masters events):

Studio Host: Jim Nantz

18th hole: Bill McAtee/Dottie Pepper

17th hole: Rich Beem

16th hole: Gary McCord (for now)

15th hole: Nick Faldo

On course: Ian Baker-Finch

Interviews: Peter Kostis

Rules: Slugger White

An Open Letter to Davis Love III

Dear Davis (hope you don’t mind if I call you that),

Hope you’re doing well.  As you are by now aware, you’re close to making your captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine (what is with the PGA of America and this course, by the way?).  The courses’ only claim to fame (other than a universally-panned US Open where Tony Jacklin won) is the late Payne Stewart winning a US Open and being the first major when Tiger Woods coughed up a 54-hole lead.  I mean, the USGA could screw up a wet dream, but now the PGA of America is getting in on the fun (my guess is that Ted Bishop picked this course, because this seems like the kind of thing he’d do).

You “probably” don’t read No Laying Up or listen to their podcast, but if you don’t (and it says here you should…and would it kill you to pick up some of their pretty sharp-looking shirts?), you should at a minimum read their incredibly well-crafted case against giving Jim Furyk a captain’s pick.  He’s been on 2 winning and 7 losing Ryder Cup teams, and has a record that is terrible by any standard.  Go read their article.  Seriously; I’ll be here waiting.  You know us bloggers…in our mom’s basement eating pop-tarts or some strange thing with all kinds of time.  Not kidding- read the article and that they also cite Furyk’s stats…”44th in strokes gained, 65th tee to green, 62nd in putting” which doesn’t exactly scream “captain’s pick” unless you eat paint chips on a daily basis or something.

Jim Furyk's Ryder Cup record in one easy to understand picture

Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup record in one easy to understand picture

Okay, you’re back.  You’re not stupid.  So we can agree that he’s a bad idea, right?  Davis, I’m not even kidding.  If Furyk hadn’t pissed down his leg against Dan Jenkins’ favourite golfer (Sergio…me Sergio!) Sergio Garcia, you win the damn trophy.   I won’t even mention the Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods records (even then-Maple Leafs Randy Carlyle thought you blew it, and that mouth-breathing dipshit blew a 4-1 lead in Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs because he is literally dumber than a god damn potato and yes I’m still bitter at this moron’s abject stupidity…what’s it to you?).  I mean, were you huffing glue or something?

Oh, and Tiger Woods is your tactician?  Does he own pictures of you dressed like the Duke basketball coach (I know you went to North Carolina and SWIRIC has educated me on ACC hatred) or something?  He hasn’t played in over a year, and his record on Ryder Cup teams is terrible.  TERRIBLE.  In the words of Charles Barkley, TURRIBULL.  He can’t even claim to be on the 2008 team (he wasn’t).  He’s been on one winning team (1999) which means he has been a part of as many winning teams as Anthony Kim.  One.  I’m just spit-balling here, but maybe this isn’t his bag.  Seriously, put the crack pipe down and pay attention.  Give Woods a squirrel and let him ride around in a golf cart.  Fly in some military guys and he can hang with them as their own Ryder Cup ambassador (he’d probably enjoy it).  Maybe pick people who, oh I don’t know…know how to win the damn thing?

Look, even though Ian Poulter won’t be playing (which is good because he all but owned your soul after Medinah 2012 along with his collection of fine automobiles) you’d do well to not sleep on Europe.   With that being said, this is a winnable Ryder Cup “if” you don’t act stupid or do something stupid like play Stricker and Woods together like you did 4 years ago even though they were a collective dumpster fire.

So we agree,  you’re not going to pick Jim Furyk and you’re not going to let Woods be your tactician.  Give them custom golf carts that they can race in or something.

While we’re at it, can we agree that Rickie Fowler, while patriotic as all get out (and someone who is borrowing from the Brian Bosworth school of hairstyles) and totally into the idea of being on the team, has a Ryder Cup record that…well, sucks.  Go back and take a gander at his 2014 record and I think we agree that he didn’t exactly get things going.   He wasn’t good enough to make the 2012 team, but you remembered that, right?  He was on the 2010 team where he played 3 matches (won 0, lost 1, halved 2).  His 2016 Olympic tournament…T37.  But he had a cool haircut and posed for a photo with Michael Phelps so ZOMG, right?  You can do better.

I know this is going to sound crazy, but take a look at Keegan Bradley.  His singles record isn’t that great, but him and Mickelson have been money in the bank during the foursomes/fourballs over the last 2 Ryder Cups.   If Poulter was healthy he’d be on the team…you know why?  BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT HE’S GOOD AT.  That’s Keegan.  If him and Mickelson can win 2 points in the foursomes or fourballs, you’re in good stead.  You know who else would pick people this way?  European Ryder Cup captains (you know, the ones that keep WINNING).

If he doesn’t make it, take a look at Matt Kuchar if and when he takes that Bronze Medal he won off (seriously, does he think he’s Canadian or something- finishing 3rd is OUR thing, not what the Americans do).  His career points percentage  is .57 with a decent body of work.  You are, however, free to hit him with a tire iron if he makes any more of these commercials.

Dear god.  Make it stop.  You might as well pipe in the 877-KARS-4-KIDS song to that and I’ll admit to anything you want.

And others will also suggest this, but give Kevin Na a look and by look, I mean pick the crazy bastard.  If nothing else, he might well put the Euros off their game better than William H. Macy did in the movie ‘The Cooler’.   Can you imagine the reaction when he takes 12 practice swings and ducks out a 4th time?  I mean, the Euros are going to want to murder him after 8 holes and it’ll send Johnny Miller into a blind rage, which will be ratings gold.  Yes, it’s gamesmanship.  No shit.  You know who else practices this?  Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, and Seve Ballesteros.  Go look at their Ryder Cup records (seriously….take your time).  Yes, they were all kinds of evil but they would flat destroy people come Ryder Cup time.  Make fun of Poulter all you want but he flat owned you 4 years ago.  Montgomerie endured crowds in 1999 that were reprehensible and still nearly carried Europe to a win (wasn’t his fault that Mark James completely mis-managed his rookie players).   They put all of that out of their mind.  Seve was Seve; a guy who feared nobody.   Sergio is a different player in the Ryder Cup.  He just was.  He’d do all kinds of stuff, but wow, he got results.

That’s where you come in.  You need to find your own Ryder Cup guys.   Guys who might be average during normal events but who get results (and points on the board) come Ryder Cup time (the ones who become giant-killers in a Ryder Cup shirt).  Ballesteros’ rankings wouldn’t matter- he was going to be on the side and he was going to get under your skin.  He could be ranked 5th or 500th…put a Team Europe shirt on him and he would become a completely different player.

You need to find your Seve, your Monty, and your Poulter.  People who the Euros will hate (and who will absolutely thrive on that hatred).  You’ve had 2 years to identify these players and so far, doesn’t appear you’ve found them.  Need I remind you that Europe has done pretty well in the U.S. over the last 30 years?  The American team can point to wins in 1991, 1999 and 2008 (let’s face it- Mark James was terrible and Nick Faldo not much better and 2 of the 3 wins were fueled by the US fans going full asshole), but astonishing losses in 1987, 1995, 2004, and 2012 (the U.S. is 3-4 at home in the last 30 years).  We won’t even mention the U.S. team’s record in Europe (a tie in 1989, a win in 1993, and losses in 1997, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 if you were wondering).  Or, you can pick off of rankings, lose again, and wonder why it is the US can’t win a Ryder Cup which means the same questions will come out in 2018.  And 2020.  Patrick Reed “might” be that person (a real asshole who the Europeans will hate but who will simply mock them and kick ass while doing it).

In short, if I were you, I’d take Bradley, Kuchar and Na with my 3 captain’s picks, and hold off with that last one (but again, just say NO to Furyk and Fowler) and go with whoever’s hot at the time and will get under the skin of the European team.   Maybe Bubba Watson if he doesn’t qualify automatically.  Understand that it’s pretty rare for someone to get a second chance at captaining a Ryder Cup side.  It went badly the last time (2014), so try not to screw this up too badly.

Sincerely,

 

Your Friends at singlegolferincart.com

 

 

Can’t Anybody Run a Damn Golf Tournament?

I think it’s neat that the USGA and the PGA of America teamed up to make a song for you to enjoy in celebration of their 2016 championships.  Have a listen.  No, it’s soothing…really.

If you were able to survive that without wanting to punch a kitten, congratulations.  It’s been that kind of year for the two main bodies for the game of golf in the United States.

After two majors of watching the USGA demonstrate it’s inability to manage a 2-car parade much less conduct a national championship, it was the PGA of America’s turn to take control of the Kars 4 Kids jingle of a nightmare that has become what conducting a major championship has turned into.  Go ahead, listen to it.  LISTEN TO IT!  Kind of makes you want to beat someone with a gravy ladle.

Before we get into the PGA of America’s litany of stupid, let’s congratulate Jimmy Walker on the win.  He played great and deserved to win, but unfortunately, people will only remember what a damn mess the PGA of America made with the tournament. Let’s go to the tape, shall we?

1) Why on earth must they continue to hold tournaments in the dead of summer along the Eastern Seaboard when it’s usually hot, humid, and with daily thunderstorms a fairly common occurrence?  The next two championships are in Charlotte and St. Louis, so expect hot and humid conditions along with thunderstorms being a frequent occurrence.   The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

2) Not to toot my own horn but holy shit-balls, I gave the pros a schedule for 2020 that moves the PGA Championship to the end of the West Coast swing.  Seriously.  Follow it and you won’t have the folly of having 2 major championships over a 3-week period.  My schedule puts a marquee event in late February (PGA), March (2 WGC events), April (Masters), May (Players), June (US Open), July (Open Championship) and August (Olympics).  A reduction in travel making it easier on the players, and an added PGA-LPGA team event.  You’re welcome.  It took me 2 double scotches, a composition book, and 45 minutes.  I even have the sendoff event prior to the Olympics in Vancouver (easier flight to Tokyo).

3) You know where you don’t see summer thunderstorms?  The West Coast.  I’d love to see Denver get a major (my 2020 schedule puts a tour event in Denver), but you’ve got Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco as easy options.  Sahalee near Seattle, Pumpkin Ridge near Portland, and Olympic Club/Harding Park/Pasatiempo all near San Francisco (not to mention Pebble Beach).  Go to southern California and you have Riviera and Torrey Pines (all VERY worthy tests).

4) So no big shock when it rained on Saturday.  And rained some more.  Look, I can’t say enough about the monumental efforts that the course superintendent and his team of volunteers put in to get the course playable on Sunday (seriously- most courses wouldn’t have looked anything close to that good), but it shouldn’t have come to this!  Come Saturday, when storms were expected, did they go to a two-tee start and move the times up (they’d have come VERY close to getting finished up)?  Of course not (the PGA Tour does this quite often), because reasons.  That it didn’t storm on Sunday is nothing short of a miracle.  This malarkey about “we believe everyone should play the course starting at the 1st hole” sounds great, EXCEPT THEY DO A 2-TEE START DURING THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS!  So does the US Open (the Open Championship doesn’t but they don’t see thunder/lightning and they have longer daylight hours; the Masters has a limited field so they don’t need the 2-tee start).

5) The only reason to not do it is to bend over for CBS/TNT, which is a damn disgrace.  As others have pointed out, I give Fox a lot of grief for their golf coverage but they did move things around back in June (the dumping out of Fox over to FS1 because of regular season baseball is still inexcusable under any circumstance- NBC would have stuck it out).  Clearly TNT didn’t want to interfere with Law & Order (and related) reruns.   Can we point out that NBC/Golf Channel did a better job covering the women’s British Open than TNT/CBS did with the PGA Championship?

6) There was this 180 that the PGA of America pulled.  I mean, this is some grade-A bullshit they’re serving up.  On Saturday they said, in effect, no way would they play lift clean and place (they said this in an interview with CBS Sports Network).  Here was the corker- in the third rounds being finished on Sunday (in the same conditions they’d face later that day) they played it down.  But for the final round it was ball in hand time (this had NEVER happened before in a major).  I don’t always agree with Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest, but he’s right when you call it “lift, place and cheat” (he’s almost always hilarious though).

7) Rough.  Look, I know that people at Oakmont get boners over having 8″ rough, but can we please knock this off?  I agree with Secret Tour Pro (who may or may not be Australian…who am I to speculate?) that they should cut the rough back.  The Masters doesn’t have rough, and the Open Championship doesn’t get overly penal with rough until you get into the gorse which comes into play if you get REAL wild.  Does that diminish these events?  Of course not!  The USGA was going in this direction (2014 @ Pinehurst) but now they’re back to growing some tall cabbage.  I’d rather see less of it but mowed against the grain to give the players something to consider.

Photo property of The Sporting News

Jim Nantz preparing like many of us watching prepare.

8) Hello Friends.  We need to talk about Jim Nantz.  Other bloggers and folks on Twitter wittier than I have got the knives out for CBS’ coverage, and while at first I was cautious, it’s apparent that despite some talented people doing good work (Peter Kostis and Dottie Pepper are great at what they do), Nantz is phoning it in (he was freaking brutal at the Canadian Open).   Faldo isn’t much better.  I’d like to see less advertising for his (Faldo) sponsors and more of “tell me something I don’t know” analysis.  Not sure if they need to cut his (Jim Nantz) workload back (he does a full NFL season, plus NCAA basketball, plus a lot of golf- when he was doing 2 NFL games a week I can’t help but think that was adding up) or take a look at lightening his load.   Look, with NBC committed to the NHL for another 7 years (excuse me while I go throw up in my mouth while thinking about Pierre McGuire) spring weekends aren’t an option for NBC during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Ideally, CBS would acquire the Players Championship and a WGC event and in turn, turn the PGA Championship AND the Barclays over to NBC/Golf Channel.   I know Nantz loves golf but he’s losing his fastball, as it were.  Even if they pulled him off of doing basketball, it would probably help.

Who’s Pierre McGuire, you ask?  Allow me.  You’ve been warned.  And since he left TSN for NBC, he’s only gotten worse.

9) On a positive, they didn’t have a rules fiasco, and Pete Bevacqua wasn’t shit-faced drunk during the trophy presentation, so they got that going for them.

Showing my age more than a bit, but enjoy some REALLY early Siouxsie and the Banshees.   Yup, she was that first artist I had the hots for.

 

Ducking Out is Ducking Out

The self-centred and appalling behaviour of  golf’s elite male players choosing to opt out of playing in the Olympics is nothing more than another example of putting oneself in front of seemingly irrelevant concerns as growing the game and representing one’s country (let’s file this one away come Ryder Cup time).  To call it anything else is absurd.  If that hurts their tender mercies, then they’ll just have to be offended and exposed for the frauds that they are.  If it is, as at least one person has opined, related to drug testing, then that’s really all you need to know (Olympic drug testing protocols are stricter than those on the PGA, European, or LPGA Tours).  None of these individuals should ever, under any circumstance, be permitted to represent their country in competition again.

On a positive, it’s great that Graham DeLaet is truly honoured and excited to represent his country (Mr. DeLaet’s rushing to assist the victims of the Fort McMurray fire are also noteworthy and laudable).  I’m not fans of theirs, but my respect and appreciation to Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson for not opting out and choosing to go over to represent their country.  I hope they have the opportunity to participate in the Opening Ceremony.  It’s also positive to see that the women (who get 1/10th the publicity of their male counterparts despite conducting themselves flawlessly) have not had this raft of withdrawals, and are uniformly excited at the prospect of participating in the Olympics.  Good on them.

For Dustin Johnson (who opted out via press release late on a Friday night; i.e. the Friday Night Dump), he could have conferred with his father in law (Wayne Gretzky) who knows more about Olympic heartache, glory and passion than he ever will.  He was part of the first group of NHL players who went to Japan in 1998 (during the middle of the season) to play in the Olympics.  For all his effort he came home with a 4th place finish after two heart-breaking losses (including a shootout loss in the semi-final to the Czech Republic when Gretzky was not picked as one of the shooters).  Four years later he was the GM of the 2002 Canadian team that broke a 50-year spell of not winning gold at the Olympics.  Here’s a taste of what this meant to him (during the Olympic tournament).  Not a dollar of money was at stake.  If you feel the need to run through a wall afterwards, it’s completely understandable.

When you consider the considerable effort and lobbying that went into getting golf re-introduced to the Olympic program (among others, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Ty Votaw, Suzann Petterson, Peter Dawson, Padraig Harrington and Michelle Wie lent their voices and time to the campaign), it’s a scathing indictment on the state of the game that the top 4 men in the World Ranking have said “thanks but no thanks” to the Olympic experience because they will be the poorer for it in the long run.  Not monetarily, but in terms of an experience.  The men and women who medal won’t care, and the global audience will likely not care much either.

It’s sad because come Ryder Cup/President’s Cup time, if selected they will spew the inevitable pre-written lines about love of playing for country, but somehow, playing in the Olympics is  too much of an ask, with the current concern being the Zika Virus and security.  Except that we’re in the middle of summer and there are cases of Zika here in North America.  And security has been a concern of every Olympics since that awful day in West Germany in 1972.  Compare the indifference of golf to that the other new sport, rugby sevens (a 7-a-side  version of rugby) has had zero players opt out (and yes, they’ll be playing their matches outdoors); in fact you’ve had scores of players from other codes try out for their country’s Olympic team.  Nor are any of the soccer players opting out, including the American women.  None of the women playing in their Olympic golf tournament have opted out either.  Are they playing in some Zika-free zone that we’re unaware of?  The vast majority of athletes are going over to do what Olympic athletes do.  Despite the criminal enterprise that is the IOC, they will go over and compete to the best of their abilities (and if you go off of several stories, they blow off a lot of steam in the Olympic village with their fellow athletes).

Was Rio a good choice to host the Olympics?  In a word, no (and sadly, like Athens and Montreal, they will experience crippling debt in the years to come).  Staging an Olympics is, for the most part, an invitation for pending economic disaster unless you already have facilities and infrastructure built (Los Angeles 1984 remains the gold standard for a successful Olympics because they didn’t need to build facilities and anything that was built has been re-purposed).  Neither was Sochi two years ago in Russia, but it didn’t stop athletes from going over and competing, including players from the NHL (and other professional leagues) who went over during the middle of their season to compete.  The NHL players went over, stayed in the not-exactly-luxurious athlete’s village, and competed (sadly, the NHL players may not have the opportunity to participate in 2018 due to a disagreement between the NHL and the IIHF/IOC over player transportation costs and other issues).

I think of the sacrifices that so many athletes who will compete in Rio have made over the last four years (and those whose years of training were unsuccessful in making their country’s Olympic team), and I then compare that to the top 4 ranked men pulling out through press releases sent out by their management.  I think of the athletes who will never win medals, and how their “moment” will be walking into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony; the joy on their faces at simply qualifying to be in the Olympics, and how these four individuals will never know that feeling, and seemingly not care (again, file away when they spew their bullshit about love of country come Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup time).

Yes, but there are also security concerns in Rio…right?  Again- over 10,000 athletes seem willing to make the trip and compete (Michael Phelps is going and I’d argue his profile is just as high, if not higher, than the pampered foursome).  The US basketball roster is pretty high profile as well, and yet- they’re willing to go over and represent their country.

The Olympics remains one of those events people watch en masse.  It will be talked about on social media and the work place.  I still remember the day after the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament (Canada beat the U.S. in overtime), and people I worked with who aren’t hockey fans and never watch hockey…well they watched.  And loved it.  And were heartbroken when Canada scored the overtime winner (sorry).  Each Olympics has had similar stories.  Given an opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves, these four have chosen the other path.

If you want an individual sport comparable, look no further than tennis which has many similarities to golf.  I still remember watching the wild scenes in London when Andy Murray upset Roger Federer (below) to win the gold medal in 2012.  To see how much it meant to him, even though he was a professional with millions of dollars in winnings and endorsements, was something I’ll never forget.  Or to think of a young Jennifer Capriati break down with emotion in 1992 after upsetting Steffi Graf to win gold in Barcelona.  They were primarily concerned with the success of their own careers, but they put that on hold and represented their country in the Olympics, and they, their sport, and the viewing public were the better for having witnessed it.

Two sportsmen who get it.

Two sportsmen who get it.

To hear Rory McIlroy today speak about not caring about growing the game, but only of winning major championships is particularly distasteful.  The man is the antithesis of what a sportsman should be.  I think about the efforts of men like Arnold Palmer and Gary Player have put forward to grow the game of golf, and how the professional tours owe men like these (and others) a debt that can only be repaid by paying it forward to the next generation.  For McIlroy to go to the Euro 2016 soccer tournament as a fan, wear a shirt with George Best’s face on it (certainly the finest soccer player from Northern Ireland) and watch Northern Ireland (who played in a major tournament for the first time in 30 years) and after that, decide that going to the Olympics was too much for him is someone who clearly has his head somewhere that it doesn’t belong.  He has the right to be a self-centred idiot, but you’ll pardon me if I choose not to celebrate this.

The players who have chosen to not participate have the right to do so, but this decision must come at a cost of a permanent disqualification from Ryder Cup, President’s Cup or future Olympic participation.  They simply cannot be permitted to represent their country again in competition after this act of what can only be considered selfish cowardice.  It gives me no pleasure in writing this, but it’s troubling when these professionals can’t be bothered to give up two weeks of their life to represent their country in the Olympics when thousands of athletes, given the same circumstances, have chosen to go to Rio and compete.

US Women’s Open Review

Courtesy Fox Sports

From an HD camera using super-slo-mo.

The USGA’s inability to organize a lemonade stand, much less conduct a golf tournament, aired its ugly head yet again on Sunday over it’s inability to reasonably administer the rules or do anything remotely close to right during a playoff between Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lang.  If the last two men’s US Opens weren’t damning evidence of the utter incompetence on display from the USGA, yesterday’s playoff has to permanently disqualify the USGA from conducting professional tournaments.

Shall we count the screw-ups?

1) Despite playing just south of San Jose, California, the USGA and Fox decided to play all four rounds in threesomes with a 2-tee start.  It’s not the first two days that are the issue, but for no reason than to accommodate television, the weekend rounds met the same fate.  Unless storms were forecast (and they weren’t), there’s no reason to do this.  The tournament finished by 4pm PT (if Fox can’t commit to allowing twosomes playing holes 1-18 in that order on the weekends, they should get out of the business of televising golf).  The men would have never been put in this circumstance.  What next- why not have a goddamn shotgun start with foursomes?

2) Pace of play.  If the USGA is going to enforce the rules, then enforce all of them.  This includes pace of play.  Granted, it’s partially on them for having threesomes, but at some point, the women need to stop with this never-ending pre-shot routines and having caddies spending seemingly forever in lining up putts.  To put a group on the clock and then not enforce a second bad time…if we’re doing that then what other rules are we going to ignore?  Not that the men aren’t exactly speed demons (looking at you, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day).  Either you enforce a shot clock, or a time par (miss it and everyone in the group gets a stroke penalty), or we’ll have more 6-hour rounds.

3) Different standards.  The women’s US Open has rightly gone to a 3-hole aggregate score playoff (this week’s Open Championship has a 4-hole playoff, the PGA Championship has a 3-hole playoff, the Masters is sudden death).  As countless others have opined, the idea of the men having an 18-hole playoff the next day is ridiculous.  It is shameful to send tens of thousands of fans home on Sunday night without a winner.  A 3 or 4-hole playoff (with time built in) allows this to happen.  For an organization that talks about gender equality, they’re conducting their national championship with entirely different standards for no reason (and if I were running tennis the four majors would play best-of-five sets for the championship for the women (like the men)).

4) Diana Murphy. You literally have one job on Sunday…make a quick speech and hand the trophy to the winner.  Maybe lay off the booze until afterwards, or maybe buy some index cards and before you go to the podium, have someone who is sober and has a brain WRITE DOWN the name of the winner, the runner-up, and the low amateur.  This is THEIR moment, not yours.  Your job is to literally not be an incompetent jackass, and so far you’re 0-for-2.

5) The Playoff Penalty.  I do find it curious that in PGA Tour events, we rarely, if ever, see issues like this pop up.  There was one earlier this year with Camilo Villegas at the Hilton Head event, and an official came out, made a ruling, and they got on with things. Why is this so difficult?  As I see it, there are two issues going on:

a) As TSN’s Mark Zecchino pointed out, the grounding the club in a hazard rule was designed to prevent players from building a stance.  It was never designed to determine if a player grazed sand that would need HD cameras and super-slo-mo technology to determine if the club touched the sand.  Looking at the replay, while there’s no doubt (using HD cameras and super slo-mo technology) that Anna Nordqvist grounded her club going off of the letter of the rule.  Intent?  No chance in hell.  Put it this way- if I was playing a match I would never call that penalty, nor would I want my opponent to call it.

b) Timing.  Until golf goes to an NRL-style bunker or a tennis-style review that can be instantaneous, we’re left with farcical means of letting players know.  If there was a question, the rules official should have stopped play (they were in a playoff so it wasn’t like they were holding anyone up) and taken a look.  I watch NRL games and the official reviews are pretty well done (as a fan, you can see what they’re reviewing and the camera angles they’re using along with the dialogue between them and the match official).  However, critics complain about what can/can’t be reviewed and how far back in the play they can review.  See below:

What you can’t have, in any sense, is a player not knowing if he/she is going to be penalized, nor can you have their competitors not knowing the result.  What made Nordqvist’s penalty worse is that the USGA waited until she hit her third shot (but not her competitor), so there wasn’t an equity of information.  The technology exists to make these rulings fairly quickly.  Either you embrace the available technology or you don’t, but you can’t have it both ways.  Either use it, or don’t.

As I have said repeatedly, it’s time for the USGA to turn things over to the PGA Tour, European Tour and LPGA/LET Tours to run.  The idea of having rank amateurs as officials simply isn’t good enough.  Even in tennis (closest comparable), while the lines people might be locals, the chair umpires are from the ATP/WTA tours.  Known entities.  The player challenge system in tennis is seamless, takes less than 10 seconds, and is handled electronically.  Ball is in or the ball is out.  Simple.

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