Tag: Brandel Chamblee

Monday After The US Open Hot Topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For: Have you heard of protecting the field?

Against: Dummy says what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For: It already is.

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

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

Against: Now you’re talking!

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

Issue: Fans at the US Open behave inappropriately.

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

Against: Mashed Potatoes! Dilly Dilly!

For: This isn’t the Ryder Cup.

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

For: Maybe a few less beers.

Against: Baba Booey!  Look at me everyone!

For: Seriously…can you not?

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

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

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

For: Their production and their technical advances are outstanding.

Against: Joe Buck.

For: Shane Bacon was outstanding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The 2017 SGIC Plays Santa Awards You Didn’t Want

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

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

Breakfast of Champions. Accept no substitutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY

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

Where I Break Down the Quiet Feet Infomercial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY:

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

 

 

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.

Your US Open Recap You Probably Expected

Less awkward than Diana Murphy's presentation yesterday (sponsored by grain alcohol).

Less awkward than Diana Murphy’s presentation yesterday (sponsored by grain alcohol).

For the second consecutive year, the self-appointed guardians of the game who conduct this country’s national championship have provided the viewing public with proof that they should never be allowed to conduct a tournament or hand out a trophy (have another drink, Ms. Murphy!) again.  Seriously, just when I thought Gary Bettman had a monopoly on horrible trophy presentations, USGA President Diana Murphy doubles down on stupid (in my happy place they start getting booed similar to Bettman’s annual rite of passage).  At least Bettman is sober when handing out the Stanley Cup.  Grab those dandruff-filled blazers and burn them all.

Maybe just have Nicklaus or Player hand out the US Open trophy for a while.

Maybe just have Nicklaus or Player hand out the US Open trophy for a while.

 

First off, congratulations to Dustin Johnson for having to endure needless mental hardship inflicted by the USGA.  The issue occurred on the 5th hole (where he discussed the issue with a rules official AND his playing partner; at which point it should have been done and dusted), and Johnson was notified on the 12th hole that they’d want to take another look at it after his round.  Why don’t they just have phones going off in his backswing on every hole (and whoever that turd-wrangler whose phone went off while he was hitting his approach on 18, I hope you get eaten by a bear) or have some drunken rube yell “NOONAN!” while he was putting.

If you look at the video, it’s very difficult to see where the ball moves if you view it at regular focus at normal speed (it does, but it takes a super-slo-mo camera and blowing up the picture to see it move).  He didn’t ground his club and he didn’t address the ball.  As Frank Nobilo pointed out, there were 3 incidents (including Johnson’s) of virtually similar things happening.  One didn’t get penalized even through the player clearly grounded his club behind the ball.  In Johnson’s case, he got a rules official involved who said it was no penalty.  Right there should have been the end of it (or at worst, stop him after the hole and review it).  The player, his playing partner and the rules official all said it was fine.  Instead, the USGA, seemingly unhappy unless they manage to piss off the players competing in their national open and 99.99% of people watching, had to get involved after the fact.

What next- an NRL-style (rugby league) bunker where officials will monitor every hole and buzz down if there’s a problem?

Coming soon to a golf tournament near you.

Coming soon to a golf tournament near you.

Of course, this is the USGA, and having seen their prototype, I’m leaking the following photo of their new Rules Bunker that they will employ for the 2017 USGA Championships.

The USGA Rules Enforcement Bunker!

The USGA Rules Enforcement Bunker!

Rarely, if ever, have I seen a group of his fellow touring professionals take to social media to support Johnson and destroy whatever shroud of dignity that the USGA might have had (after this weekend they’ve nothing left).  The worst part is that every one of them was right.  I’ve previously voiced that the USGA serves no purpose and should be disbanded, and after numerous screw-ups at their marquee event, it’s time to administer the last rites and send the USGA to the farm.  It’s not to say that the USGA should turn their national championship into an event where the winner shoots 22 under to win.  Look at the Masters.

The PGA Tour conducts tournaments every week, and somehow, they’re able to conduct tournaments without losing the golf course (that they did lose the course this year at the Players Championship was very much the exception and not the rule).  So instead of having people that do this for a living, you have people who do this 1-4 times a year (assuming that they also set up the US Senior Open, the US Women’s Open and the US Amateur), with only one of these events played by the PGA Tour professionals.

In the link (I’m unable to embed the video), Brandel Chamblee goes after the issue with having a fetish over green speeds (he points out that Augusta National, the R&A and the PGA of America don’t do this).  Oakmont, of all courses, does not need to be tricked up.  After their debacle the last two years (2014 and 2015) of losing the golf course, Oakmont should have been a layup.  A course whose natural agronomy has quick greens and thick rough (literally they don’t need to do anything).  Instead, the USGA tries to trick the course up because they have to “protect” par (this idea needs to be removed from their collective brains).  They wouldn’t have to do any of this golf course kabuki theater of the insane  if they had done what Jack Nicklaus had told them to do 30 years ago (go to a tournament ball).  I’ll point out that if the USGA had greens running at a more normal speed, then the ball wouldn’t move (try balancing a golf ball on a sloped hardwood floor to get the idea).

Instead, as Chamblee points out, because the USGA didn’t rein in the ball, we’re left with 2 options: 8,000 yard courses or let scores become what they become.  On twitter I joked about when we will see a 700-yard par 5 (but I wasn’t kidding).  As Gary Player pointed out, the 8,000 yard courses are ungodly expensive (more turfgrass, more water, more fertilizer, more people to care for the course) and are sending the wrong message to the golfing public and running counter to what the USGA was touting a couple years ago.

The R&A has never worried about protecting par.  If someone shoots 15 under, so be it.  If the winning score is 4 over, then that’s okay as well (the weather can be a huge factor).  They don’t have this fetish about green speeds because the wind is a factor so they can’t turn greens into dining tables.  If the weather is mild with little wind, then scores are going to be lower.  If the wind gets up, then scores will go up.

The PGA of America doesn’t have this fetish over green speeds and protecting par.  They set up courses with some rough and some tucked hole locations, but nothing that gets to the absurd.  If the winning score is 8 under, then great.  If it’s 15 under because guys play lights out, then it’s no big deal (see Valhalla 2014 where you had McIlroy and Mickelson going at it with some fantastic golf).

While I’m having another go at the USGA, while it’s great that they were able to get the course in great shape after the storms on Thursday, it needs to be pointed out that your local golf course does not have a team of over 200 superintendents getting your course ready after a storm.  The folks who do this in our area do a great job by and large but there’s a practical limit to what they can do; tournament conditions should not be expected, but they can do a good job of keeping the course playable (and almost always do exactly this).

It’s nice that the USGA apologized on Monday (sort of) for the confusion, but that is literally closing the barn door after all of the horses got out.  You can say they avoided a fiasco (Jamie Diaz’ piece is a good read) but this was self-inflicted.  You simply can’t tell a player we “might” penalize you for something that a rules official said was fine (once the official cleared him, this should have been the end of it).  Johnson’s fellow competitors all thought it wasn’t a penalty, so this idea of protecting the field is nonsensical.

In the meantime, we can only hope that next year the USGA will take my initial call to action, and cease to exist.  They serve no purpose that can’t be handled by other entities and their relevance to average golfers like myself is zero.

As for FOX, their coverage is still miles below CBS at their worst (the 3-man booth interviews are terrible, there’s way too much dead air, Joe Buck needs to learn how to make a point and punt to his analysts, dumping Saturday off to FS1 for regular season baseball is absurd at best), but their use of Trackman is very good (CBS could do this tomorrow- would REALLY like to see this at the PGA Championship).  If you take FOX production and put it with an NBC/Golf Channel crew you’d have something (and there’s no way NBC would have dumped US Open coverage on the weekend to a cable outlet).

 

Where Santa is a fat dude with a 9.0 index

Yes, it’s that time of year again…looks outside. Actually it isn’t. It’s 68 degrees. ON THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER. SERIOUSLY WTF IS GOING ON? Where the f*** was this weather in April when I was freezing my raisins off being an idiot in shorts? While I thought long and hard about teeing it up this morning, I compromised and went to the driving range to bid adieu to the 2013 golf year (unless it warms up again next weekend in which case I’ll be there again).

While the weather would not indicate such, it will be Christmas on Wednesday. Supposedly. I think. In the spirit of Christmas, I went shopping for my golf-related friends. Since some of these folks won’t open their gifts (and look at me being all generous), I’m going to spoil the surprise and tell you what I got them.

Columbia Association run-courses…now you haven’t always been that good this year (in fact you’ve been a bit naughty at times and that new clubhouse is all good and well but a well-maintained golf course would be nice to see), but I got you a new, online tee time system! No more having to go through the hell of having pick up the phone and try to call in to make a tee time, talk to five different people (none of whom can actually help you), and lose 25 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. Now, people can book online, and you’ll make more money! How great is that?

Timbers at Troy and Waverly Woods…you’re trying to be good so we’re going to give you improved drainage and larger, fully stocked pro shops. You’re also getting indoor simulators, so people have reasons to come visit you all year! How awesome is that? Now don’t go leaving cookies and milk for Santa…just leave a sleeve of ProV1X’s and three fingers of Glenlivet 18-year.

Northwest Park Golf Course…you’ve been really good this year to Santa. Really, really good. So Santa is going to give you a new all grass practice area on top of your existing range with mats. Just make sure that Santa keeps holing those 8-foot putts.

Redgate Golf Course…you get a lease extension to continue to operate as a course. And, since you asked and were nice to Santa (that 75 Santa shot there was very, very nice of you), Santa’s going to have them go in and give you a new 11th green. And Santa’s going to put up a net along the 14th hole to avoid left-fading drives to go onto the street.

University of Maryland golf course…you’re getting a lease extension as well to continue to operate. The University golf teams, students, and the golfing public all need you, and your funky yet challenging layout should continue to give area golfers a true hidden treat. You weren’t that nice to Santa when he played there, but that’s okay, because you’re a great course.

Golf Channel’s Michael Breed…it’s called decaf. Santa’s hooking you up. Take the hint. You’re a smart guy…but seriously…decaf.

Glen Nager of the USGA. You’re a naughty, naughty boy. You thought you could just take over the USGA and run it like your own little kingdom. Didn’t work out. You don’t really understand or get public golfers. So Santa is giving you the proverbial lump of coal, and a case of the yips, AND every time you turn a TV on you’re going to see Glenn Kessler naked while talking about The Perfect Club while Gary McCord dances around only wearing a cowboy hat and chaps. You’re welcome.

Tim Finchem of the PGA Tour. Santa already gave you your present. It’s a new format for the FedEx Cup Playoffs! It’s on this blog! Don’t make me go Full Kessler on you.

Phil Mickelson…you’ve been a good lad all year. So Santa is going to get you that one thing he knows you really, really want. You can pick it up in June at Pinehurst. But I won’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret.

Tiger Woods…you’re a bit tough to buy for. I mean, you’ve got more money than anyone can count. But, Santa is getting you your own USGA rules seminar. I could make Brandel Chamblee your instructor, but that seems petty. We’ll do it somewhere local so you don’t have to spend time away from your new girlfriend and your kids. But let’s take notes- there will be a test.

Ian Poulter…your comments on Twitter are, if nothing else, entertaining. And judging by your tweets, you seem to have quite a bit of very nice things. But you finally called out the rubes that scream random crap at tournaments during the USPGA Championship. Which was good. So you’re going to get a Ryder Cup spot on the team (the event is better when you’re in it), and maybe, just maybe, a major championship. But let’s take it down half a notch on the “look at my toys” tweets. Nobody is asking you to give up your well-earned trappings. Half a notch.

To anyone who yells “mashed potatoes” or anything similar at a tournament…you’re getting a couple thousand fire ants in your undershorts. Just stop it. It stopped being funny a long time ago. Just stop. Please.

Sergio Garcia…where do I even start? Here’s a pair of shoes that Santa has grilled for you. Insert in mouth.

Miguel-Angel Jiminez…Santa would send you a case of rioja and cigars but it seems you’re all set. So Santa is going to give you another win, and some starts in the US. Because watching you play…makes Santa very happy and hopeful.

The LPGA Tour…Santa is going to give you perfect weather for all your events next year. It seems the least Santa can do. You deserve it after two years of rain, hail, lightning and seemingly plagues of locusts. Maybe then people will tune in and realize just how good you all are, and that you all have some serious game.

Christina Kim…a year ago you missed out at the LPGA Tour Q-School and were battling the kinds of demons that no one would ever wish on their worst enemy. And yet, you went out there and did what touring professionals do- you got into tournaments
and gave it everything you could. So Santa is giving you at least one win this upcoming season.

Nick Faldo…you’re getting a time machine where you go back to 2004! Back when you were really point-on with your analysis and weren’t spewing empty superlatives. You’re not dumb. In fact, you’re pretty sharp and you know what you’re talking about. No histrionics, but you’re a former pro who’s won several majors. Put us in the head of players. Tell me something I don’t know.

David Feherty…you’re hilarious, insightful, and possibly a savant. You’ve been good and you’re a dog person. So Santa will give you exactly what you want. You deserve it.

And on that note, I hope you get what you’re looking for this season.

The USGA and the Fourth Estate

With our golf season largely done now that we’ve had a freeze (some courses are still open but with limited daylight hours it’s hard to find time), I have to say that I managed to play my best golf of the year in September/October. I kept expecting my game to regress, but somehow I kept posting scores of 80 and lower. I’d like to say that I took lessons or had some mental breakthrough, but it came down to putting better and not taking a handful of 3-putts every round (again- no lessons or “oh wait- so I should putt the ball toward the hole” level stuff).

On that note, I have to say that the more I read about the “new” USGA, the less I like. Their inability to adapt bifurication with regard to belly putters is, I suppose, the starting point. As someone who plays other sports, it’s ridiculous to have the NHL govern beer leagues or the NBA try to govern recreational basketball (or at the very least give amateurs a different rulebook). But yet, the USGA waddles about trying to tell double-digit handicappers that they can’t use a belly putter. The “While We’re Young!” campaign was pure folly given that the pace of play at the US Open was glacial (and that’s with every hole having marshals and spotters helping players out). Lastly was the manner in which they handled their new TV contract. It’s “their” contract and they’re free to go to another body (and certainly they’re free to go to the highest bidder). But to make that announcement during the USPGA Championship is, at best, tacky and at worst a move on a par with not repairing divots and ballmarks (making matters worse were Glen Nager’s derogatory comments about NBC). I’ve been a member but I cannot and will not be renewing. To give the USGA another dollar is literally making a deal with the devil. The sooner Glen Nager buggers off the better for the sport.

The other imbroglio involved…wait for it…Tiger Woods who didn’t like Brandel Chamblee’s column about the year in review, and specifically, his comments about Woods’ frequent rules violations. That Woods’ handlers threatened legal action is almost comical. Woods had four rules violations in 2013. This from someone who has stated that he considers himself an expert on the rules. That the 4th estate is still afraid to be critical of His Tigerness is beyond silly (and if Woods can’t handle being criticized he should quit). Unfortunately, the path we’re going down is to where you’re going to have to have rules officials on every hole or with every group and the policing at tournaments will have to be done for the players and not by them. I do think the Tours (PGA and European) have to work out some form of rules change that prevents people calling in rules violations and players being DQ’d the day after. It’s unfortunate that this is where we’re at, but you cannot have players be unaware of a violation, sign for a score, and then be DQ’d because someone called in a violation that the player and his playing partners missed. Woods was bang-on wrong to be critical of Chamblee but you’re going to have to have a better form of policing the game.