Category: On Tour (page 2 of 6)

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.

My 2017 Predictions (and Wishes)

After saying farewell to a truly terrible 2016 (a year that can be summed up as “well, that’s over”), 2017 is in its infancy which means that the PGA Tour is starting up this week (NBC running promos for the Hawaii swing is equal parts brilliant and torture).  Which means new seasons for the PGA, LPGA and European Tours.  The PGA Tour’s promo video has plenty of visuals to torture you as we endure a cold snap here in the DMV and a couple light snows.

With Nike out of the hard-goods equipment business (that’s clubs, balls, bags), it’s been interesting to see how the former Nike players shake out.  Rory McIlroy has gone to a multi-brand approach (notably back to a Titleist ball); and a fist bump to the fine fellows at No Laying Up for breaking the story (I’d call them competition but they’re 1000 miles ahead of your humble scribe).  Tiger Woods is doing something similar, but honestly for him it’s about being physically able to complete 72-hole stroke play tournaments.  I don’t think it’s crazy to think that, if healthy, McIlroy will have a very good year.

I’ve played Ko’olau on Oahu.  This sort of captures why this is remains one of my two favorite places I’ve played.  The video is a pretty good indicator why.

The other big player has been PXG.  Only in their second year of existence, they continue to add players to their stable; focusing on the LPGA at the moment (Lydia Ko and Christina Kim are solid names to get under their umbrella).  I’ll admit I was skeptical of their approach last year, and it’s curious that they’re staying out of the big-box/online retailers to this point.  With that being said, their clubs are striking in appearance.  The question that others have asked is reasonable- is a $5,000 set of clubs worth it (and is there really a market for this)?  I don’t know, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how it shakes out (full disclosure: my website is hosted by GoDaddy which was Bob Parsons’ company- I pay for the hosting and have not accepted any compensation from PXG or GoDaddy).

Former #1 Jason Day made news this week by saying he’s going to play even slower than he has been because he felt he was rushing things.  I will start a GoFundMe for the first official who hits him with a stroke penalty for slow play.  If it’s taking  him more than 35 seconds to hit a shot, then he’s clueless about what he’s doing.  My fear is how many people are going to watch him go from glacial to stationary and think “that’s what I should do!” and then wonder why 6 hour rounds are commonplace at public courses.

In terms of majors, the men visit an unknown entity in Erin Hills for the US Open (so having Fox on the broadcast makes me fear the worst since they have nothing to go off of), go back to Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship, and to Quail Hallow in Charlotte for the USPGA Championship (the Wells Fargo championship skips Quail Hallow for Eagle Point GC in Wilmington).

I’m still not a Joe Buck fan and I still think that Fox does more wrong than right, but there are a couple things I do like about their telecasts.  For starters, they use a ProTracer or something similar on most shots (this should be the standard by now), and Paul Azinger is a competent 18th hole tower analyst.  They still get way too much wrong, but Azinger and Brad Faxon are good at what they do.  For Fox’s other three high-profile events (US Amateur, US Women’s Open, US Senior Open), it’s to Riviera (fantastic call) for the US Amateur, Trump National in New Jersey for the US Women’s Open (so the best women in the world will be upstaged by the venue’s name when it should be all about the players), and to Salem Country Club in Massachusetts for the Senior Open).

NBC/Golf Channel will cover the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.  They did everything you could have asked for at the 2016 Open Championship (and the Olympic tournaments).  Wall-to-wall coverage, and on Sunday got out of the way and let that memorable Mickelson-Stenson duel play out (which can be the hardest thing to do).  Nothing against Dan Hicks but if Hicks were to move on, Mike Tirico is tailor-made for the 18th tower and probably becomes the best in the business (better than Buck and yes- even better than Jim Nantz).  If they can figure out what to do with David Feherty (seriously), they’d be near perfect.  I still don’t know what the best use of him is.  Is he a tower analyst?  Raconteur?  Replacement for Roger Maltbie?   One suggestion for David- when you ask guests on your show a question, don’t frame it to give them an easy answer.  Frame it to make them think about an answer.  And then follow up.  Saying you’re something and actually walking the walk are two different things.

CBS will have the Masters and the US PGA Championship.  For me, CBS remains something to watch this year.  Their coverage has gotten stale (if not out-and-out bad), and frankly their problems start with Nantz and Faldo.  Nantz sounds like a guy phoning it in (I’ve said I think the issue for him is his workload is way too heavy), and Faldo seems to be perfectly happy to go months without saying anything remotely interesting.   The problem is that they’re not going to blow it up (they should), which means another 6 months of Nantz on autopilot, and Faldo droning on about nothing.  Meanwhile, Peter Kostis and Dottie Pepper do great work and get lost in the shuffle.

Golf Channel will have the bulk of the LPGA season.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Judy Rankin is outstanding on their coverage (her and Terry Gannon have good chemistry).  She knows how to inform the viewer and be critical without being bombastic (we used to call this “being smart”).

Note to Michael Breed: Love your work…have you considered cutting back to 1 or 2 triple espressos a day?  If nothing else, you clearly have a passion (which is good).

For Golf Channel- please, pretty please give the endless loop of the trilogy of golf movies a rest.  Develop original programming geared towards average golfers.  Showing Tin Cup or Caddyshack 27 times a month isn’t serving that need.

Major Predictions (use at your own risk): Mickelson (Masters), McIlroy (US Open), Shane Lowry (Open Championship), Dustin Johnson (USPGA).  For the women, Christina Kim (ANA Inspiration), Brooke Henderson (US Open), Jutanugarn (USLPGA Chp), Piller (Open Championship), Lydia Ko (Evian).  Again- using these at your local wagering house is your decision, not mine.  Most likely they’re all wrong.

Some wishes:

1) Both tours (men and women) decide to start seriously cracking down on slow play.  If this means handing out penalty strokes, do it.

2) The LPGA continue to gain traction and grow their TV audience.  And while they’re at it, add an event in the DMV (Williamsburg doesn’t count).

3) The R&A take over as the sole body for rules, and that they bifurcate the rules.  The cutoff can be national amateur and above competitions.  Let average golfers have a few advantages.

4) The tours agree to roll back the ball, which will negate the need for 8,000 yard courses.

5) The USGA does not decide to fiddle about with golf courses at their national championships.  Less is more.  Stop worrying about protecting par.  If someone goes lights out and shoots -15 it’s not a bad thing (see Tiger Woods 2000 at Pebble Beach).  People want to see great shots and birdies.

6) We see Tiger Woods healthy at the start and finish of the season with a healthy sense of humor.

7) The Solheim Cup is contested with passion and great golf, and is remembered for the quality of golf and not a dispute over a rules issue.

8) We see no more ‘scripting’ of outfits for majors.  Make this stop being a thing.

9) We see a return to professional tour rounds finishing under 4 hours.  No exceptions.

10) That everyone have their best season possible, and if you see me lumbering about, say hi.  It may not appear to be the case but I’m not as cantankerous as I appear to be.  That the DMV continues to grow and thrive and become a region with strong public courses that do well.  Hit ’em straight and make those putts.

Enjoy some pre-2000 Tragically Hip.  Forgot they played Woodstock 1999.  Courage.  Much thanks to Mike in Toronto for posting all 4 hours of The Hip 30 from the Strombo show.  I was too busy watching the Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day to tune in.

 

Revealed- What Really Happened at the Nicklaus Ryder Cup Dinner

If you missed it, during the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in March, Jack Nicklaus hosted a dinner for Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and 40-or so hopefuls to make the 12-man team.

The American side had lost 3 straight Ryder Cups prior to this year’s win at Hazeltine, and hasn’t won in Europe since 1993 and only two wins (1999, 2008) prior, and the 2014 Ryder Cup didn’t exactly end well and by not ending well, it was a disaster.

So as you might imagine, the goal for the American side this year was to win back the Ryder Cup.  Rather than have another Task Force, Jack Nicklaus thought it would be nice to have a bunch of hopefuls at his house for dinner and a chat.  While the media wasn’t permitted, SGIC spies were there and took notes for me.  I was embargoed from writing this up until after the Ryder Cup.  By all accounts, it was a lovely evening and everyone had a good time.

Smile if you thought Tom Watson was a terrible Ryder Cup captain.

Smile if you thought Tom Watson was a terrible Ryder Cup captain.

They event took time out to enjoy some delicious Jack Nicklaus ice cream, and having stolen a pint, I have to say, it is delicious.

That moment just before Nicklaus knocks the spoon out of Fowler's mouth and says "ice cream is for closers, Rickie".

That moment just before Nicklaus knocks the spoon out of Fowler’s mouth and says “ice cream is for closers, Rickie”.

You might have heard that Tiger Woods was the first to arrive.  This is true, since he had to get a lift from Secret Tour Pro and Secret Tour Pro had to hustle to get to the European meeting that night, where European captain Darren Clarke got some of his lads together and took a slightly different tack on dessert.

Tastes like Victory!

The official dessert of Ireland, in pint form.  Tastes like winning.

The rest of the players either drove over or took Uber.  Davis Love III greeted each player as they walked in, and thanked them for coming.  Dinner, as you’d expect, was casual (burgers, chicken, and steaks on the grill- Jack runs a mighty fine grill but he will stab you in the eyes if you so much as look at his spatula or tongs), as Zach Johnson found out.  Tiger Woods immediately gave the dinner 4 stars on Yelp; you can see his review called “it’s good but not as good as my restaurant in Orlando!”

Ian Poulter drove by in one of his Ferrari cars with the “Ole, Ole Ole Ole” song blaring out of his car.  Jack was heard to say “impressive stuff from a guy with as many majors as Sergio Garcia and Barbara.”  I’ll leave this here for Poulter to enjoy:

After dinner, Jack gathered everyone in his family room for a friendly chat.  After the players all sat down, Jack asked everyone why they think they keep losing in this event but continue to do well in the Presidents Cup.

Tiger: Well, Jack, you notice I wasn’t on the 2014 team and I think having me there can make a huge diff…

Jack: Really?  You have one more Ryder Cup team win than my sons. You were 0-5 in 2012.  Try again.  Can you even walk 18 holes without breaking apart?

Jordan Spieth: Mr. Nicklaus, I think it’s down to confidence. We think…

Jack: Sure…YOU have confidence in your swing. I have confidence you’ll be Jim Furyk bald by the time we get to Hazeltine.  Seriously kid, here’s some Propecia and the number for Hair Club for Men.  Thank me later.

Patrick Reed: I don’t know what y’all are talking about. Didn’t you see me shhh those Haggis-eaters in 2014?

Jack:  Remind me who won. And seriously, those slacks you wear…Ian Poulter tweeted that he wants his look back. I better shut up because if he sees this it’ll be Twitter diarrhea from him.

Dustin Johnson: With my long game I think I would be helpful in the foursomes and four-balls.

Jack: True, but this means someone will have to break your leg with a tire iron to keep you off the course on Sunday, because your record on Sunday is uglier than a hat-full of assholes.

Rickie Fowler: Mr. Nicklaus, look at what I did last year at the Players Championship.  I know I can replicate that form at Hazeltine.

Jack: What form is that- making out with some pretty young thing after you won?  Too bad Skinamax isn’t showing the tournament.  Great job in Phoenix by the way.  You choked as bad as Cam Newton did in the Super Bowl.  You’ve got to figure out how to beat these guys when it matters.

Webb Simpson: I know I didn’t have a great Ryder Cup, but…

Jack: You were terrible.  Barbara, tie him up and make him listen to the audio book of my autobiography.

Barbara: Jack, I’m not sure that’s necessary…

Jack: You know that this idiot blogger we’re doing this for thought Webb Simpson was a good idea.  BRING HIM TO ME.

Bubba Watson: Mr. Nicklaus, I appreciate what you’re doing but I think we just need to have some good ole’ American spirit in the room and we’ll be fine.

Jack: Says the guy who drove around in The General Lee car…you do realize that nobody likes you for a reason, right?  Seriously fellas, it’s not that hard- why is it that you can play great week to week but you go up against a bunch of Europeans you fold up like Arnie used to fold up after I beat him in the 1962 US Open.  So there I was on 18, about 145 out from the pin…

Everyone: SHUT UP JACK!

Jack: Sorry…old habits die hard.  So anyway…you guys do great at the Presidents Cup, and they’ve got Jason Day, Adam Scott, and some other guys who can play.  So why do your collective sphincters tighten up at the Ryder Cup?

Jason Dufner: My sphincter is just fine…getting sleepy (he then fell asleep).

Jack: Anyone awake want to comment?

Woods: Freddie Couples didn’t do any of this crap.  We played ping-pong at night and then went out and played…that worked pretty well.  We made some suggestions….

Matt Kuchar: Did someone say ping pong (ambient noise and Kuchar gets up with two ping-pong paddles)?

Phil Mickelson: It’s on, chrome dome (sound of a ping pong table being rolled in, and several bets being placed).

Jack (to everyone): It’s okay, let ’em play ping pong as long as we don’t have to hear about any..

Phil: Before I beat Kuchar like a bowl of eggs, I put together a presentation that will show where we lost in 2014 and a detailed analysis showing coefficients and regression data that my girls put together…as you can see clearly…

Everyone: DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP!

Patrick Reed: I bet FIGJAM is his safe word.

Phil: See, that’s where you’re wrong.  Amy and the girls drew up this analytical chart, that shows exactly how we should prepare.  We’ll need the following items…a rock from the moon, two bars of soap, a leather belt, the phone number to Ladbrokes, and….

Everyone: WE’LL LET YOU WIN THE US OPEN IF YOU STOP TALKING.

Phil: I’m not sure…I mean, I spent a month on this.

Tiger: Four words…your own In-N-Out restaurant.

Phil: Done (sound of laptops being closed and equipment being put away).

Jack: What we need is that intimidation factor.  Someone who, when they see him, they’ll be intimidated.  Think about how Seve used to be intimidating…even Colin Montgomerie, in Ryder Cups, was nearly unbeatable.  We need someone to be that 13th man, that person who’ll scare them.

Tiger: Well, since you asked…

Jack: Not you.

Jordan Spieth: Mr. Nicklaus I’m happy to be that leader for the team.

Jack: That’s nice but you don’t scare anyone.  I mean someone REALLY scary who will do whatever it takes to win.

Zach Johnson: I’m proof that size doesn’t matter.

Everyone: Should we tell him…nah…

Jack (yelling into one of the guest bedrooms): No…look can you just come out and get this over with.

Arnold Palmer (walks out shirtless, crushes a beer can on his chest, rips chest hair off of his own chest and punches two holes in a wall and eats an entire steak with his hands): Do it for me.  Please.  Thanks fellas.

I think we know how this ended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Season Suggestions

It’s now December (and Verne Lundquist is signing off for the last time and will be missed by everyone), and unlike last year, the weather isn’t going to be conducive to any mid-month golf in spring/fall dress.  So your golf fix is largely going to be televised.  This coming weekend is the Franklin-Templeton Shootout which ends on Saturday (Golf Channel had the Thursday-Friday coverage and Saturday coverage went over to Fox).  So just when you thought you were done with Fox and their golf coverage…you’re not (in a perfect world Fox would just use the Golf Channel crew but we can’t have nice things, so there’s that).  However, Joe Buck was not there.  Whew.

Take the weekend off. Please.

Take the weekend off. Please.

While we’re talking about this tournament, Lexi Thompson is playing with Bryson Dechambeau and his sidesaddle putting stroke.  Which made me wonder?  Why not just pair up an LPGA pro with a PGA Tour pro?  Let them choose up sides if you want, or even better, have a fantasy draft!   You’re telling me Golf Channel wouldn’t air this live?  They’d air it live and run it back several times over.  The NHL All Star Game did this (starting in 2011; since discontinued), which gave us this bon mot:

I’m a died-in-the-wool Leafs fan and I still don’t know what the hell this was.  You can’t not watch but you can’t turn away.

What I’d do is have the guys seated, and draw a female player out of a hat.  She comes on stage, and picks her playing partner.  I’d allow trades (make the rules up as you go along-mostly to give the USGA an aneurysm).  Drinking?  Oh HELL YES.  Talking trash?  By all means.  I’d have all the players miked up.  Similar to what they do now, I’d play 2-man best ball two days, and a shamble the other day.  Have the women tee off a bit closer (7-8%).  Oh, I’d let them ride in carts.  With music.  The point is that it’s supposed to be fun.

So that’s problem #1 solved.

If it’s December, it also means that Golf Channel is in filler mode once the silly season events end (I’d expect that counter for the start of the PGA Tour season to be up any day now).  For the remaining two people who get Golf Channel and haven’t seen the edited-for-TV versions of The Trinity (that’s Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and The Legend of Bagger Vance), December is your lucky month.  I’m not remotely kidding.  I had a weird dream last night (and I have a lot of them) that someone decides to turn Tin Cup or Caddyshack into something similar to what Rocky Horror Picture Show is or The Big Lebowski (I’ve seen something similar at Lebowskifest, which was a tribute to The Big Lebowski).  Look- if I can’t get someone to play Judge Smails, Lacy Underalls or Danny Noonan, than my faith in humanity is for nothing.   Note to anyone from Golf Channel: if you’re reading this and you’re not thinking about it,  pour another tumbler of bourbon and think about it some more.  You could put this on tour and people would come, Ray.  People would come.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

But more to the point is this…we need a new silly season event.  It came to me a few weeks ago, when after a long night of drinking (that’ll be enough judgement from you) I was watching ESPN Classic and the 70’s show The Superstars was on.  Take a bunch of professional athletes from all sports and let them compete in a bunch of silly events.  TV magic!  Arthur Ashe playing golf (see above).  Reggie Jackson swimming!  Roger Staubach riding a bicycle!   Short-shorts, and the likelihood of there being off-camera drinking at about 99%.

photo courtesy Getty Images

The buttery smooth swing of Charles Barkley. He’s committed. Or should be.

This got me thinking (as often happens when I’m watching TV and I’m half in the bag).  If you ever see me half in the bag with a steno pad and a pen, it’s a good time to be marginally worried.  We know that pro athletes love golf and many are really good at it (and a lot of NFLers are very good).  We also know that, in the 21st century, golf is one of those rare activities teams don’t mind players participating in.  So then I started thinking about something beyond a stroke-play event (NBC already shows a celebrity tournament from Lake Tahoe that features professional athletes, actors/actresses, and “other” celebrities).

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

But what about a team event?  At first I was thinking about something where the Championship teams would play against each other, but then it dawned on me that this could be difficult to pull off.  Then, much like that episode of Seinfeld when Costanza’s dad decides to bring back Festivus, it hit me like big shiny Festivus pole to the head-  have teams made up of players from each league!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I've never heard of such a thing!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing!

If you timed it right (say July) you would have 3 of the big 4 team sports in their off season (NFL, NBA, NHL).  With 12 spots per team each league would have no problem finding willing participants (open it up to retired players if you want, or let each league pick 2 retired players to fill out their rosters).  If you wanted to include baseball players you could go with former players (and there’s a fair few who are pretty good).  Don’t want that?  Fine- find some former Olympic athletes (nice cross promotion for NBC/Golf Channel) and call it a ‘Team USA’ or something.  I’d have the players riding in carts and playing no more than 18 holes in a day (that should keep teams from concerns over health/safety).   Play the tournament over 3 days; crazy idea here but do a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday dates.  That means no overlap with PGA/Euro/LPGA/Champions events (honestly, how many repeats of the Final Round of the John Deere Classic do you need?).

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

Have a purse that goes to the Players Associations benevolent/emergency funds (or they can name a charity); very little work (I’m sure you could find a few willing sponsors to put their name on this) would get you a $200K 1st place, $150K 2nd, $100K third and $50K 4th place (that’s $500K total).  If you were to sell tickets at $25 a pop (very reasonable) and sell 15,000 tickets TOTAL (5,000 per day), that’s $375,000 right there.  Throw up some premium seats and the purse is more than covered and you haven’t even sold advertising, concessions, parking, etc.

Golf Channel could produce it and control the rights (file under “hey, look at this content we have”).  Think about all those Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and how those get edited down…bingo.  You could easily condense the final round into a 90 minute segment, which is wonderful filler.

How would this work, you ask?  Simple.

Monday: 3-man shamble.  Each “league” gets 4 groups (4 groups x 4 teams= 16 groups).  Run a 2-tee start and things get going quickly.

Tuesday: 2-man best ball.  Each “league” gets 6 groups.  Put 2 groups together and it’s 12 foursomes.  Again- 2-tee start to get things moving quickly.

Tuesday night: After two rounds, the team that’s in first plays the team in 4th, and the team in 2nd plays the team in 3rd in 9 holes of match play.  Teams submit orders.  Team that finishes first picks if they want to play the front 9 or back 9.  2nd/3rd match plays the other 9 holes (so things move quickly).  Ties settled by sudden death playoff by teams picking one player from their 12.

Wednesday: Teams play 9 holes of match play in the morning (just like the Ryder Cup; 12 singles matches).  Teams that win those matches play back 9 in championship match.  Tied after that?  Anchors (guys who went out 12th) play sudden-death playoff.

Think about the effort they put into the old Tavistock Cup; with a replication of effort they’d be able to put together a decent event and they’d have something they could re-air later in the year.  Not that the odd showing of one of The Trinity isn’t enjoyable, but we’re approaching Law & Order rerun territory, folks.  Don’t suppose you’d run that Perfect Club Infomercial again?

Where to hold it?  Not sure it matters; off the top of my head I’d say either the West Coast (California), or somewhere in the Great Lakes area (Michigan/Traverse City area, Kohler, etc.).  I’m saying no on Vegas because it gets ungodly hot in July, but if that would work then by all means go for it.  Play it at night under the lights if you want to!

Song of the Day

I heard Nice as F**k on SiriusXM a couple months ago.  If you can get past the NSFW name, the song is great.  Everything a pop song should be.  Have a listen.  Nobody will tell.

 

 

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

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