Ron Romanik 
Tigerís problem at Merion
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By Ron Romanik


I’m not the first to point this out, but it bears repeating. Tiger’s advantage over mere mortals is lessened on par-70 golf courses, especially in the majors. This is why I don’t predict a win for Tiger this June at Merion.


Let it be duly noted: This is the first time I’ve ever underestimated Tiger’s ability in any realm, situation or scenario. It will probably be the last. Not because he’ll win, but because once-in-a-lifetime is all the risk I can take betting against Tiger.


Nevertheless, the facts back up the argument. Tiger’s biggest separation from the field comes from medium to long par-fives. Eliminate two of those par-fives, and you’ve taken away some of his advantage.


More accurately, it’s the number of par-fives, not the total par for the course, that makes the difference. It’s a fine distinction that is often moot, because most par-70 courses have four par-threes and two par-fives; par-71s usually have three par-fives; and par-72s usually have four par-fives. There are, of course, anomalies. The Carnoustie Golf Links, for instance, has three par-threes and only two par-fives to make 71—for the Open Championships, at least.


Ken Venturi may have said it best a few years back: "If every course was made up of 18 par-fives of 580 yards, Tiger would win every tournament."


Of course, that advantage has been on the decline, on average. But when Tiger has his "A game," there’s no denying his dominance of the par-fives. According to the Golf Channel, from 1997 to 2003, Tiger led every year in the birdie-or-better percentage on par-fives. In 2000, he shot birdie or better on 62% of the par-fives he played. He’s now averaging about 50% in that stat.


Length with accuracy is surely the primary factor, but so is Tiger’s exceptional short game. Even at 600-yards or over, Tiger can get it on the green or close, and then his short game takes over.


Remember how pivotal the par-five 12th at Doral was in the overly ballyhooed Tiger/Phil duel in 2005? Tiger was consistently around the green through the week, and on Sunday, Tiger was the only player in the field to hit the green on the 603-yard hole. With a 295-yard 3-wood to the back of the green. And he made an easy birdie. Easy from that point!


The best way to neutralize Tiger, truth be told, would be a course setup that would force Tiger to hit approach clubs similar to the field into all the greens. He would still have a statistical advantage, but players with hot putters would be more of a threat.


In the hypothetical, and in the logical opposite to Venturi’s hypothesis, that would mean 18 holes of 150-yard par-threes. In more practical reality, a Tiger-neutralizing setup should have only two par-fives of medium length, four short- to medium-length par-threes, and as many sharp doglegged par-fours as possible, as long as there is no way to cut off the corner.


The most effective Tiger-proofing to date was probably The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2007. The setup "pinched in" the rough on fairways at the landing area of the longer hitters. This made using driver a poor risk/reward equation for them on those holes, and they often chose 3-woods—and less—even on long par fours.


Plus Carnoustie, as mentioned, had only two par-fives in its par of 71. Tiger finished five shots back, in a tie for 12th, even though he was 50% on birdie-or-better on the eight par-fives that week—and five-under with three birdies and an eagle.


More evidence of the par-72 advantage is the courses where Tiger has won seven times. Yes, they’re all 72s—Firestone, Doral, Bay Hill, and Torrey Pines. (For those about to object: Yes, Torrey Pines North and South both play to par 72 when it’s not a U.S. Open venue.)


Which brings us to Bay Hill. Through the first six par-fives in rounds No.1 and No. 2, he was 7-under. He was back on his rate of 67 percent on par-five birdie-or-betters. After a poor par-five performance the Friday back nine, he closed out the tournament by going eight-under on the eight weekend par-fives. Nothing to it. For 2013, he’s at 64.3 percent on birdie or better on par-fives.


But it’s okay if he doesn’t win at Merion. He’ll have his fifth green jacket from the par-72 Augusta National Golf Club by then. Bet on it.


Twitter: Follow me @RonMyPhillyGolf. Looking forward to updating followers frequently at the #usopen at #merion.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.




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Ron Romanik 
Hereís hoping Stacy Lewis has a long run at No. 1
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
By Ron Romanik

Here’s one person that hopes the reign of Stacy Lewis at No. 1 on the Rolex Rankings is a long one. She’s fun to watch and fun to listen to. Even during hardship. Her caddie Travis Wilson cost her a two-stroke penalty on the 16th hole on Saturday, but Stacy took it all in stride.


"We’ll be fine," Lewis said twice Saturday night, assuring the pressroom that she wasn’t going to let the penalty affect her Sunday game.


 "I haven’t shot my low number this week." Saturday, after rounds of 68, 65, and 66 (without penalty). She shot 8-under 64 on Sunday.


 "I just say to the viewer that called in: Thanks for the motivation," she said greenside, after winning the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup on March 17, without any spite.


"I just wanted to play well for Travis today. This win is definitely for him." In the pressroom Sunday night, relieved that things went their way today.


"It’s got a nice ring to it," Lewis added, on being the new No. 1 on the Rolex Rankings.


As Stacy Lewis herself humbly admits, she’s an unlikely candidate for the No 1 Female Golfer in the World.  At age 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, and in high school, she underwent spinal fusion surgery that inserted a rod and five screws into her back.


Resilient as she is, Stacy fought hard on Sunday, which turned into a dogfight between Lewis and Ai Miyazato for the first 15 holes. One player would make birdie or two, and the other would respond. The biggest swing came, however, on the same hole that cost Lewis the two-stroke penalty on Saturday. Still behind by one going into the hole, she found a fairway bunker again, albeit this time on the opposite side of the fairway.


On Saturday, caddie Travis Wilson entered the bunker and appeared to test the depth and condition of the sand. Truth be told, I’m not the strictest rules hound around, but I saw his actions as a potential penalty right away. I’m not saying it was intentional, but intention only matters if you whiff a shot and you’re the only one that knows if you meant to hit the ball. For most other rules, intention is moot.


Rules officials brought the situation to Stacy’s and Travis’ attention in the scoring area, and they all reviewed the tape together. Stacy accepted the penalty without much protest. Quite the contrary; she used the incident to stoke her competitive fire for extra motivation.


So, on Sunday on the 16th, another dramatic turn of events came to pass. Stacy hits a remarkable shot out of the fairway bunker to birdie range. Ai, on the other hand, inexplicably yanks a wedge off a perfect lie in the fairway far left and ends up with a double-bogey. Lewis makes the birdie for a three-shot swing, and a two-shot lead with two to go extends to three up with another birdie at 17.


The only thing she didn't do on Sunday was finish with a birdie, but she gave it a nice run on a downhill slider. It would have been nice symmetry, to start down by four and win by four with a 63, but a 64 was more appropriate for another poetic justice reason. At the beginning of the week, Travis tried to up Stacy’s mojo with a new ball mark—a shiny silver vintage quarter. The year? ’64.


Free Drop


Well-known is the trend of Asian female golfers taking over the rankings on the LPGA Tour (37 of the top 100 are Korean), but the PGA Tour is telling a slightly different story. All 12 PGA Tour events in 2013 have been won by U.S. players. Last year, U.S. players won the first nine events on the PGA Tour. For whatever that’s worth. As they say: That and a silver quarter might get you a cup of coffee.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging, and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.



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Ron Romanik 
Timesaving tips for everyone
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
By Ron Romanik


I’m here to help. Being an expert on golf matters as you and I fancy ourselves to be, it’s often hard to be silent when you overhear someone discussing a golf topic without the proper context. A sentence that a friend or acquaintance says catches your ear, or you’re minding your own business eavesdropping at a department store, and your ears perk up. Even at the virtual water cooler of the Internet, or by an actual water cooler at work, you cringe at first. But then you feel obligated—nay, compelled—to try to enlighten the unenlightened.


You usually leave the experience feeling like you’ve helped—but have you really? You’re most likely wasting your time.


I was similarly enticed to action last Friday night when, half paying attention to the Nightly News, Brian Williams did a short segment on Rory McIlroy withdrawing from the Honda Classic. I was shocked, or amazed, that the managing editor at NBC News would think many citizens would care. Then I thought: "Well, it is Friday night, and they’re not above showing YouTube cat videos on a Wednesday, after all, so..."


Brian Williams alerting me to this Earth-shaking development was the first I’d heard of it, so I went online to check if there really was a "controversy." I was surprised, and amazed, to say the least. IMHO, there are a lot of important things in this world, but this was not one of them. Pro golfers WD quite frequently, truth be told. Okay, Rory could have explained himself better to his fellow competitors, but that’s about all I’ll concede.


On the interwebs, it seemed that there was a majority of golf experts and part-time dentists whose response to Rory’s toothache echoed the 1970s Cheech and Chong comedy bit: "Earache, My Eye!" On top of that, you know, Rory sold his soul to the devil—er, Nike.


Instead of getting into a discussion of character and a silly comparison to things Tiger has done (he’s done worse.), just say: "Meh, he’s young."


So, here are my timesaving tips for addressing golf topics that you might overhear in the coming weeks.


The enticement: That "Bear Trap" at the Honda Classic is like Nicklaus’ version of Amen Corner.


The response you feel compelled to make: That’s an interesting observation. To me, it seems a bit too contrived to mimic Augusta National’s Amen Corner, where dramatic turns of events happen all Sunday long at The Masters. At the Bear Trap (holes 15, 16, and 17), there are mostly bogeys on Sundays. And since this tournament moved to PGA National in 2007, the Bear Trap stretch hasn’t affected the outcome in any significant way on Sunday afternoon, even though the plaque (see picture) quotes Jack as saying: "It should be won or lost right here." And, furthermore, a moniker like that is one that others bestow on you, not one you tout yourself with a plaque (see picture) and an eight-foot-high statue.


The timesaving response #1: If there were actual bears—or alligators—guarding the greens, that might be dramatic.


The timesaving response #2: If it’s not in Wikipedia, it’s not a real thing—or dramatic.


The enticement: Donald Trump is going to blow up Doral.


The response you feel compelled to make: Well, not really. He says there are significant changes afoot, and that’s his prerogative. But it’s a shame that the PGA Tour’s idea of drama is to make most tour stops have water guarding the fairways and greens on the last four or five finishing holes. This may create drama for the casual TV viewer, whom the Tour wants to draw in, but not for true golf enthusiasts, who are somewhat put off by this trend. Some of the greatest golf courses in the world have no water hazards at all, like Oakmont and Winged Foot West. In the end, this is all you really need to know: Trump wants to turn the par-three 15th hole at Doral into an island green. I’m not completely sure he respects the traditions of the game.


The timesaving response: Trump’s a jerk.


The Enticement: Do you think the Tiger/Phil rivalry will be reignited at this year’s Masters?


The response you feel compelled to make: Well, you know, Tiger and Phil actually haven’t gone head-to-head very frequently. I doubt that either of them would characterize their relationship as a rivalry. The one time they did "rival," so to speak, was at Doral in 2005, and it produced some high drama. On Sunday, Phil would make a move with a birdie and Tiger, playing in the group behind him, would answer in turn. Tiger won that bout in four rounds.


The timesaving response: Trust me on this. Tiger does not waste any mental energy thinking about Phil.


The enticement: Chis Berman is always fun, even when he does golf.


The response you feel compelled to make: It seems that with the connections and seniority he has, Berman will be around for a long time. He’s a fan favorite for the enthusiasm he brings to his love of sports, and it’s infectious when he’s talking about football or baseball. Golf, however, requires a more measured enthusiasm to convey the subtleties of the game and the nuanced challenges that a professional golfer faces under tournament pressure. But, just like the Pope, apparently Berman can’t be forced to retire from golf announcing.


The timesaving response: Chris Berman is clever; but you are less so.


The enticement: Did you hear the TSA is going to allow golfers to carry two clubs onto planes? Which would you carry?


The response you want to make: Well, you know, many pros keep their favorite putter so close at hand that they are not above buying an extra plane ticket so the club has a seat of its own. It’s not so much which two clubs would be the best to play a round if you had to play with only two clubs. That’s a scenario that almost never happens. It’s more about which two clubs would be the most un-replaceable should they get damaged down below in cargo. The most likely response to the two-club question would be the putter and driver. For me: driver and ball retriever.


The timesaving response: Kim Kardashian really looks good pregnant.


The enticement: That picture of Hogan’s follow-through on the one-iron swing to win the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion on a bum leg is epic, isn’t it?


The response you feel compelled to make: That wasn’t... it didn’t... the year was... he had to play... the bus accident was... he didn’t make birdie... he didn’t have to... he was healed, but in pain... there was a three-way playoff... he had to wrap his legs... it might have actually been a 2-iron... you can see the golf ball... he hit a perfect fade to a back right pin...


The timesaving response: Yes, it is.


I must admit, a guilty pleasure of mine is reading the Comments sections below online news or feature articles. I’m amazed at how passionately people feel about the most unimportant things. But I guess the commenters are engaged in a sport of sorts, and a form of playground one-upmanship, though no one is keeping score, and no one ever wins.


Oh, and if someone still wants to press you on Rory’s withdrawal, ask them how they can estimate how much pain he was in and, for the record, how many times they themselves have cut a round of golf short prematurely.


You would probably fall over if that person said: "No Comment."


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging, and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.

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Dave[3/6/2013 12:37:10 PM]
Chris Berman always fun? I donít think so. Every time he comes on the screen, I reach for the remote.

Ron Romanik 
Is it time for a U.S. Shamateur?
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
By Ron Romanik

The "Hungover Caddie" column in Golf Digest is less than two years old, but it has elicited some strong reactions from the magazine’s readership. An Editor’s Blog by Bob Carney on the Golf Digest website provides a sampling of the responses.


In the blog, Carney admits that some attempts at humor are not for everyone, and that those who just don’t "get it" should choose to refrain from reading future columns. The column has a head shot picture but no byline, suggesting a bit of anonymity for the eponymous caddie. Carney notes, though, that Staff Writer Max Adler is "responsible" for the column each month, indicating more than a modicum of editorial oversight.


There are two reasons for bringing up the Hungover Caddie on this blog. First, the column is an ambitious attempt at mixing commentary and fiction, etiquette advice and humor, honesty and attitude that often leaves one pondering a formerly taken-for-granted belief or attitude. It is unapologetically frank, edgy, and funny.


Secondly, one recent column illustrates all the above points and makes a strong argument for a pretty radical policy change in USGA rules. In the January 2013 column, Hungover Caddie recounts the fictional story of two golfers trying to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Am. The story examines the fate of longtime amateur Dr. Scratchet, whom we are introduced to as he tries to drown his sorrow after just missing qualifying by choking on a two-footer to remain in the playoff for the last spot open for the Mid-Am. His nemesis, one Vinny Whacker, is a reinstated pro.


You can probably see where this is going. The Hungover Caddie states it plainly: "To give a pro his amateur status back is to throw a lion among the lambs." To the magazine’s credit, the Hungover Caddie takes time and column inches to air arguments on both sides of the debate.


But the point of the entire story hits home when the Hungover Caddie slaps you with a reality check: "In 2013, half the field at the U.S. Mid-Am will be guys who once played to cash checks." After conceding that it’s a complicated issue, he concludes by suggesting the USGA create a separate tournament, only for reinstated amateurs, called the US Shamateur.


As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, one-sided blog rants are not my style, so I think there’s valid arguments on both sides here. Finding a compromise would certainly be a challenge.


One thing I can add is my own personal experience about a decade ago, when I was a semi-competitive amateur. A few times, standing around the leaderboard, I’d ask about the about-to-be-crowned winner: "Where did he come from?" When I got the "He’s a former pro" answer, the conversation would end there, somewhat abruptly. It was as if: "’Nuff said." Though I never witnessed any overt resentment to former pros, and my own feelings were mixed and not particularly strong, I’d imagine many fellow competitors had some unspoken reservations about a less-than-pure amateur taking the spotlight away from a 100% amateur. Of course, I suspect that I might have different feelings if, like the fictional Dr. Scratchet, I’d been edged out of some glory by a not-so-amateur player. I’ll let you know when that happens.


For whatever reason, only a few Hungover Caddie columns are available online, even for logged-in Golf Digest subscribers. Here are a few you might want to sample, however:


A cautionary tale about beginners playing St. Andrews.

An "educational piece" on caddie signals.

A fictional apology letter to a club’s board.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging, and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.


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Rpn Romanik 
Hereís a bar bet you can win
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
By Ron Romanik

Well, maybe there’s never been a safer bet than Alabama in the 2013 NCAA Football Championship Game. But this one comes close.


It’s the type of idle 19th Hole conversation that can turn ugly if someone doesn’t rein in their testosterone and realize their own physical limitations. A boast, then a challenge, then a bet ensues before calmer heads prevail. Don’t get caught on the wrong end of this one, though.


Every golfer has had this feeling. Frustrated on the tee of a 120-yard par-three, you drop a few extra balls and after five pitching wedge swings, you still can’t find the dance floor. You think: "I would do better just throwing the ball around the golf course." That may be true if your handicap could be confused with an IQ score, but stop yourself from the next thought progression: "I would certainly be straighter, and could reach a 120-yard par-three with one throw."


Ahem. No, you can’t. Probably not even close. If you hear someone claim this at the 19th Hole, chime in with the dollar amount you believe you can extract from that person.


This bet has a few other variations, such as: "I bet I could break 90 by just throwing and rolling the ball around the course." If the course is over 6, 400 yards and the fairways are not rock hard, you should jump at the other end of that bet, as well.


If you’re a nice guy, however, you might want to make sure that the fellow you’re betting has good health insurance, because his shoulder might never be the same after that round. It’s safer to throw a football as hard as you can, because at least the football has some mass to slow down the arm release.


One of my dear memories from playing golf in my youth was during a high school match at the Berkshire Country Club in Reading, PA. I was, most likely, losing my game as I trudged off the 18th tee and down the fairway in the fading light of a late autumn dusk. My spirits were brightened when a good friend on the opposing team, whose game had been completed, joined my on my trudge carrying a ball and a wedge.


His name was Rich Delucia, and he was a very talented athlete. As I recall, he was throwing one- and two-hitters left and right for Wyomissing High School as an underclassman, and he had a seemingly effortless ease with a number of other sports, golf included.


Rich always gave me a chuckle. He was soft-spoken and polite on the surface, but underneath simmered a mischievous, insubordinate streak. He knew he had talent, but he rarely drew attention to himself for its own sake.


The 18th at the Berkshire is a short, narrow, straightaway par-four. I was likely left with a 100-yard shot after a three-wood tee ball. As we passed the 150-yard plate in the fairway, Rich tapped the plate with the iron end of his club, tossed the ball lightly in his right hand, and said: "I bet you I can throw it on the green from here." I blurted out: "No way!!"


Having tried to throw a golf ball myself on a golf course once or twice before, I knew there were limitations. I don’t believe I ever made it to 100 yards. However, I also knew Rich had a golden arm. And I knew he probably wouldn’t have made the claim if he didn’t have a reasonable chance of backing it up. I think we settled on five bucks for the wager.


Now, you can’t see the surface of the 18th green from the fairway, but if you clear the shallow front bunker, you’re on. If it was 150 to the center, then it was probably 140 to clear the bunker.


By the time he started getting his step-and-a-half windup going, I figured I was probably going to be out five smackers, but I thought with a little hope: "When a professional MLB pitcher tries to throw his heater at his best 95 mph speed, sometimes it only pops at 90."


He glanced around to see that he didn’t have an audience. What was more astonishing than him winning the bet was the way his throw took off—and rose into the air—like an eight-iron. How the heck did he get that much spin on that little ball? The next thought I had was: "If his dad saw him do that, he’d probably wring his neck."


I secretly hoped Rich didn’t jeopardize his major league baseball career with stunts like that, but it was a fun trick nonetheless. And he didn’t after all. Rich pitched nine seasons in "The Bigs," going 12-13 in his first season as a starter before later transitioning into a middle reliever.


It’s truly humbling when you see real, raw talent like that up close.

And yes, some pro golfers are athletes. Paul Casey, tossed a ball on the green of a 132-yared par-three during the 2011 Telus Skins Game in Alberta, Canada. A Brit, Casey grew up playing cricket, so he know his capabilities. The real power in the throw—just like a golf swing—seems to come from the timing of the weight transfer to the left side.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.

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Ron Romanik 
Watching Women Swingers
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By Ron Romanik

This has been a pretty good year for the ladies on the LPGA Tour. In 2012, the lady golfers have gotten to see a wide swath of the world (maybe even more than they might have wanted), they’ve expanded their sponsorships and tour stops and they’ve seen an enthusiastic rotation of players on hot streaks.


American Stacy Lewis, a spry lass of 27, just nailed down her fourth win of the year, and is now the No.2 player in the world. Unlike the other multiple winners this year, Lewis spread her wins across eight months. After the dominant Yani Tseng cooled off in late spring, the wealth has been spread around more equitably.


But this post is not about handicapping the top young U.S.A. talent, bemoaning the still-late-arriving-but-still-on-its-way-mega-greatness of Michelle Wie, analyzing skirt length trends or the sad state of LPGA Tour popularity. That’s because, for one, the Tour is not in so sad of a state. The LPGA is experiencing a resurgence in sponsorships and ratings (according to some sources). And a recent interview with tour Commissioner Mike Whan hinted at further expansion and new marketing initiatives for 2013.


The LPGA Tour expanded by five tournaments in 2012, to 29 events worldwide. Granted, 14 of those events are outside the mainland continental U.S. (Hawaii-1, South America-1, Mexico-1, France-1, UK-1, Austrailia-1, Canada-2, Asia-6). But Commissioner Whan has embraced the global character of the ladies game, boasting that other professional sports might be jealous of its international reach. Feel free to take that for what it’s worth.


But the real impetus of this post is that I feel it’s a shame that more male amateur golfers don't watch the LPGA Tour more frequently. Not just for the pretty faces that now grace the Tour, nor for Paula Creamer’s awesome pink wardrobe, but for the Tour’s instructional aspect.


This feeling came to me while I was glued to the epic playoff at the Kingsmill Championship (in Williamsburg, VA) between Paula and Jiyai Shin. Maybe it was the couch I was glued to for lack of motivation to clean the gutters, but I was glad to catch it anyway. Watching the ladies there (and at other tournaments this year) made me think about my own game and how I often play too aggressively, with poor risk/reward ratios.


The top tier of the LPGA Tour play at quite a consistently high level, especially tee to green. What struck me most then, and at other times I’ve watched the ladies this year, was how few mistakes the leaders make in managing themselves and the course. Creamer and Shin matched pars for the eight straight times they played the 18th hole in the playoff.


There they were, time after time, in the center of the fairway and the center of the green, time after time. (Paula did make one sand save that I saw.) The pin was tucked back left, behind a bunker and on a downslope. An aggressive line brought more danger than benefit, so it was dutifully avoided.


In addition, the ladies manage themselves well in a number of ways. When they get into trouble, they make sure to get out first and foremost. They do not take unnecessary risks and they never over-swing.


The men on the PGA Tour, on the other hand, must go for birdies pretty much all the time to keep up with the hot players of the week. Several factors contribute to this, including hole length, equipment advances and course setup. For example, the green complexes are often tiered, effectively creating four or five mini-greens that beg aggressive play and punish conservative play.


But the LPGA game more resembles the game you and I play, and our scores might see a few notches of improvement if we managed our games the way the ladies do regularly. Sure, Michelle Wie might be aggressive on par fives, but most LPGA players know that playing safe just in front of a par-five green, for instance, will pay long-term dividends on the scorecard. Greenside bunkers and long, tangled rough just off the green make for frequent bogeys. And if you’re in the center of most greens, two-putts are a cinch.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.



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Ron Romanik 
Lessons of concessions
Monday, October 15, 2012
By Ron Romanik

It’s one of the indelible images of golf: Jack Nicklaus picking up Tony Jacklin’s ball marker on the 18th green at Royal Birkdale Golf Club at the end of the 1969 Ryder Cup. Like many avid golf fans, I had seen the key clips from that Ryder Cup more than a few times and recognized "The Concession" as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, show of sportsmanship in the history of sport—at least since the lions gave Daniel a pass inside their own den. Well, maybe that wasn’t sport per se.


The barest of facts of the matter make "The Concession" a grand gesture. The U.S. held the Cup that year, so the U.S. only needed a tie to retain it. The match was completely tied with Jack and Tony’s singles match the only one left to be decided. Their match was tied going into the final hole. After three shots each, Jack had a four-and-a-half foot par putt and Tony had a two-foot part putt left. Jack made his putt and conceded Tony’s putt, thereby concluding the Cup in a tie, acknowledging that the U.S. had retained the Cup and sparing Tony any embarrassment if he missed the putt, thereby losing both the individual match and the team match. Nice guy, nice timing.


But as one digs deeper into the story, one uncovers subplots that have not always been covered in depth. There were many compounding circumstances that compelled Jack to make the gracious gesture, to make it decisively and to leverage his role as statesman of the game itself.


One circumstance, the mere facts of the matter, I’ve just covered. But just to reiterate: It wasn’t important

 won the Tony/Jack match, it was important who owned the Cup. That had already been decided when Jack made his putt. In that regard, Tony’s putt was meaningless. And in more practical terms, Tony’s ability to make the putt would not make him a hero, but missing it would have made him a fall guy, the one to blame for the loss.


I always thought one of the most amazing part of the concession was how Jack so quickly picked up the coin after he holed out his four-and-a-half footer. It was as if Jack was prepared for the moment well ahead (maybe even holes ahead), and that he didn't hesitate, which might have made the moment awkward or called extra attention to the gesture. He just executed the moment.


I discovered that this was not an accurate assumption on my part. In a recent history of the Ryder Cup, Jack admitted that it was a more spontaneous act. That doesn’t diminish Jack’s ability to be completely aware of what was going on around him and the import of his actions. He knew the exact score, the exact situation, the gravity of the moment. He was completely prepared to do what he did, and did it with a smile and quick handshake. We would all be better human beings if we were as prepared for moments in life with the singularity and thoroughness that Jack brought to the green that day.


Jack was always incredibly aware of everything going on around him. He probably even knew that it might not be popular with his teammates—but he didn’t care. At the time, though, Jack was as close as anyone could become to being the embodiment of the game of golf itself. The principles he had, one might say, where the principles of the game itself by default. He was, at the time, the moral and ethical personification of the game, and knew what was good for the game. If he did it, it was therefore the right thing to do, ipso facto.


In fact, the concession was not popular among all the other members of the U.S. team, nor its captain, Sam Snead. An outright win meant a great deal to these players. And there were legitimate reasons for the tension between the two teams that year—several loose-lipped comments on both sides had ruffled feathers on opposing teams.


This was Jack’s first Ryder Cup, due to a PGA eligibility rule that prevented him from participating earlier in the 1960s. Jack was 29 and Tony, 25. Tony Jacklin was at the height of his career, having won the Open Championship earlier that year, and before the rollercoaster emotional decade that followed.


But the acrimony between the teams makes the concession even more of an honorable gesture. It is just a game, after all, and Samuel Ryder founded the Cup matches with the express purpose of promoting good will between the U.S. and Great Britain, with no cash purse involved.


Another reason that the gesture was so grand was that Jack’s personal feelings might have gotten in the way. Tony was dominating golf that year, while Jack’s fortunes had temporarily faded. Tony had drubbed Jack in the morning singles match 4&3, and in a four-ball match the day before. So it would have been understandable if Jack had been out for satisfaction, if not revenge, to show he could beat the current hottest player fair and square. But Jack felt the moment was bigger than that.


Another point that may be up for debate is the feeling that if you didn’t win convincingly, you didn't really win. Maybe Jack felt that a half-point win was the same as a tie anyway, so what could be the big deal. And how would making Tony putt that two-footer promote "good will" anyway?


Tony was gracious to a fault, both at that moment and ever since. He never complained about being deprived of his opportunity to make that putt, because he appreciated the gesture for the simple goal it meant to achieve: promote good will.


What you may not know is that Jack and Tony designed a golf course together, a private club in Florida named The Concession. Here’s Tony Jacklin talking about working with Jack on The Concession Golf Course. In this interview, Tony reiterated his feeling about the moment that he had expressed many times before: "It was a wonderful sporting gesture. Something certainly I’ll never forget."


One Side Note about Match Play:

What many golfers who are not familiar with the rules of match play forget is that each player, or team, "controls" his opponent’s ball, or balls (in four-ball). The Seve Ballesteros/Tom Lehman episode on the 12th hole of the final day Ryder Cup singles match in 1995 at Oak Hill gives a good illustration of what can happen when players forget this fact.


Tom Lehman hit a putt to about two inches from the cup. Seve still had a lengthy putt to negotiate, and did not concede the two-inch putt of Lehman’s. Lehman looked at Seve for the concession several times, but getting no affirmation, proceeded to putt out. In essence, though, Lehman played out of turn.


Seve’s intention was misunderstood at that moment, both by Tom and the gallery. It turned out he only wanted to use Tom’s ball mark as a aiming point for his putt. He intended to concede Lehman’s putt after he putted out, but the situation was a bit unfortunate. Seve didn’t think anything of it while it was happening, because it was second nature that he had "control" of Tom’s ball in match play.


Ron Romanik is principal of the brand and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (, located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

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