Mission: Your guide to the totally
spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.
Birdieing No. 17 at Sawgrass three times in a row. Does
not compute. Rickie, I never thought you were overrated. I swear. Four top-5
finishes in four 2014 majors. You’ve got game, for sure.
Mildly ironic: Ian
James Poulter tweeting: "I'm not sure people
understand @twitter. If you don't like what people say, Press unfollow & you don't have to read their shit again #simple".
I’m not sure Poulter understands #media. If you're a #celebrity
and you tweet something #snarky, the media will report it as #scandalous, and
we will have to read it. #wearetherealvictims.
Mostly spurious: "The New
DJ" cover story in Golf Digest. Conde Nast is moving
that magazine closer and closer to a Vanity-Fair-lite tabloid. Now if only they
could get an expose about the Kennedys or Marilyn Monroe in every issue, then
they’d have something...
Because I can’t help myself:I swore off ranting because it's a tired Internet
genre, but I have to allow myself this venting. I fear for the future of our
country, of the founding principles the Fathers of our Country fought for, for
one reason. Because Fox Sports might ruin all of sports before they are
through. I'm not saying they are the devil incarnate. Not quite.
And I'm not saying the end is nigh, though
there is evidence. All that I'm saying is that FOX Sports tries drastic
measures to "save" TV ratings. And the USGA has a self-esteem issue
they over-compensate for by trying desperately to be liked.
From time to time, I find it amusing to imagine
the conversation inside certain rooms in history. Times when some very
persuasive people said: "Everything will be fine, trust me." Like when Bill
Gates said to IBM executives: "You do the hardware, and we'll do the software.
Everything will be fine, trust me."
Or when Henry the VIII said to his wives to
convince her to marry him: "You'll produce me a male heir and everything will
be fine." (Of course, there may have been no conversation at all. Those were
Or when MTV said to the NFL: "We'll take care
of the halftime show, and you won't need to lift a finger. Isn’t that ideal for
you? We’ll make sure nothing goes wrong."
Or when FOX said to the USGA: "We'll grow
the game for you by adding excitement to golf. We've done it before, trust
Well let's go to the evidence before the court.
Fox has introduced some "innovations" that may have attracted casual sports
fans, but most often annoyed loyal fans of the sport they were innovating on. Does
everyone remember the glowing puck in hockey? And again, why do robots play
football? And yes, the
"Pointer Box" will make an appearance at the U.S. Open, it appears.
Granted, some FOX innovations help viewers
learn more about what is going on during a live event. But some are sneaky. I
caught them messing with live video during a baseball game some years ago. They
were trying a little trick to extend the brief moment the pitcher was pitching
As the pitcher started his pitching motion
toward the plate, the control room would switch to another angle with a slight
delay, meaning there was a split-second when you saw the same moment in time
twice, just from different angles. I guess this extended the moment of
anticipation for the viewers. Or that’s what FOX thought. Most didn’t notice
this little trick. FOX, be warned, I’ll be watching closely.
Private hole of the week: No. 6 on Merion West.
You can’t get much more downhill than this short par-three. You know it’s steep
when you can’t see the lower half of the steps leading down from the tee.
You’ll never have a longer hang time with a pitching wedge in your hand. But
take time to notice how the green is pretty much a mirror image of No. 9 on the
Public hole of the week: Broad Run No. 17.
Another severe drop from tee to green on a par-three. This time 100 feet,
usually with a crosswind from right to left. Aim for the right front with a
draw and try to ride the wind to the center of the green... and good luck!
guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.
Always ridiculous: The spotless condition of Augusta National. Oh yeah.... and the
Also always ridiculous: How insanely, unbelievably good the top pros are. As
insanely difficult as Augusta National is, when these guys are "on," it just
doesn’t matter. Time to introduce moving obstacles, I guess.
But... Thursday’s round proves that if you give these guys soft greens, it’s
dart-playing time. The weekend will be fun to see how close to unplayable they
will make the greens. Augusta will mete out her revenge.
Mostly spurious: A new excuse from Tiger... green speeds. Too slow, no less.
Almost ironic: Tiger’s forlorn short game is back, which everyone thought was in his
head. Trying to predict what’s in his head is a fool’s errand. What’s actually
in his head, no one will ever know.
Not-so-ridiculous: The idea that Tiger should retire. It’s not that he’s no longer any
good; it’s that he’ll never again be what he was. Do it for your fans, Tiger. It’s
like watching an undercard fight just because you have to sit through it. But
then there’s no Main Event afterward. It’s an empty feeling.
Augusta caddie memories: The Masters preview edition of Golf Magazine includes an article that recounts favorite
anecdotes from Carl Jackson, Ben Crenshaw’s long-time Masters caddie. Many
are funny in a "Wow-those-were-different-times" way, and some are just precious
nuggets of mischievousness. Of course, I always relish an anecdote that
illustrates Gary Player’s arrogance. Mr. Jackson claims that particular
Achilles’ heel cost Player the 1970 Masters with a poor club selection on the approach
to the 72nd hole. Another great story is Hogan, at 56, outdriving Nicklaus, at
27, by 15 yards on number 10 with wily local knowledge and a low running draw.
Private hole of the week:
Philadelphia Country Club’s fifth hole is a short, downhill par-three over
water. A nine-iron in your hand doesn’t make it an easy shot, and the green has
a menacing hump through the center to make two-putts less than a sure thing.
Public hole of the week:
Iron Valley’s 4th hole is still one of the funnest holes ever constructed. From
the tee, it’s benign. But the second shot is a severely downhill shot off a
slightly downhill lie. To go for the par-5 in two, you usually need a 210-yard
shot over the corner of the lake that was formed by filling in a long-abandoned
mine shaft. Just plain fun.
guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.
Totally spurious: The PGA’s lack of transparency in its drug testing policy and its
suspension policy. Not that we need to know what drug Dustin Johnson was caught
using. Or I guess I should say: Not that we didn’t already know what drug....
Criminally torturous: The 10th hole at Riviera. Geoff
Shackelford got it right after Thursday’s round. No 310-yard hole should have
a 4.21 stroke average. Ever. And no tour pro should be humiliated by hitting
out of four greenside bunkers on the same hole. And ICYMI:Video of Ryan Moore
very nearly acing No. 10, but instead missing the green.
More than mildly ridiculous: What’s most galling is when the tournament committee
and greens staff claim
to be victims of circumstance. The drought! The drought! There’s really
nothing we could have done differently! Really?
More statistics on golf performance: Here’s one gem of an observation in a series of golf
articles titled "Moneygolf" published a few years
back over at Slate.com. One passage debunks an un-truism that golf announcers
and analysts have been repeating for decades:
"[Golf researcher Mark Broadie]
also pokes a hole in another piece of conventional golf wisdom. Many good golfers
have a distance from the green where they feel most comfortable hitting
approach shots—perhaps they like to hit a 9-iron from 120 yards. So, on a
par 5, if they can't reach the green in two, they will often hit their second
shot into that comfort zone, the strategy being that it's better to groove a
9-iron than to sweat over a 40-yard wedge. Broadie
has found that the "comfort zone" feeling doesn't hold up. Everybody
gets better—they hit it closer—when they are closer to the green."
Mildly ironic academic study: If you really want to go down the rabbit hole about
how risk averse PGA players really are, read this summation
of an academic study published in the online investment advice website
thing Golf Digest has been doing well lately is their "undercover" articles. Though
the Hungover Caddie series was a failed experiment, they
just did a decent one-off with an undercover
cart girl. But their Undercover Pro series is the best. The March
2015 edition reveals what really motivates Tour Players. And it’s not majors,
Mission: Your biweekly guide to the
totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.
Just a lot of quick hits this edition to catch
Back: From a Winter Hiatus, eager
to get on the course. It’s mildly ironic that the urge to golf is highest when
the ground is white.
Promoting: Philadelphia Golf Show in
Oaks. Who knows how the prices are so low, but why complain? And a demo range
let’s you try before you buy. Open through 5 p.m. on Sunday. Here’s
a "Stage Schedule."
USGA diss of the week: Merion has to
be "Put Back". This is Merion...not good enough for the USGA. Merion. Any changes should have been
permanent or not made at all.
Last Bubba reference for a while: When thinking about how Bubba Watson’s front foot often moves quite
a bit during a full swing, I was reminded of Johnny Miller’s footwork during his
prime. Of course, Tiger in his prime popped his left leg violently as well,
which, it seems, clears the left side completely so the clubhead
can travel down the line for the maximum amount of time.
Terribly Ironic: Lance
Armstrong, in a Golf
Digest Interview, can’t even explain the concept of integrity when trying
to make a point about integrity: "I love adhering to a code of honor that we in
cycling didn't have. If I moved my ball in the rough and got caught, I wouldn't
just regret it, I'd be heartbroken forever." It’s only bad if you get caught,
Mildly spurious conundrum: If a Feherty interview can make me like Donald Trump for an
hour, should I be suspicious about the real life behavior and demeanor of all
the guests he makes look good?
The 11th coming of Tiger and the USGA’s misstep of the month
Saturday, December 6, 2014 By Ron Romanik
The eleventh coming of Tiger: Yes, he’s back. Yes, the swing looks good. But he
will never be free of health issues while he plays. In this
Vine Video, watch how he’s still popping that left leg. His left foot
slides and turns its position on the ground.
Tiger’s first coming: Tiger was not impressed with his performance at the
1997 Masters, as reported in Golf Digest later that year, and recalled in
this Tweet from Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey. Tiger said he
"got away with murder" and saw "10 flaws in his swing" after watching the
entire televised tournament on tape.
Dan Jenkins doubling down: Jenkins breaks his Twitter silence Thursday with a
passing jab at Tiger’s first round performance at his invitational tournament, then
swings and shanks another "fake"
article about the Ryder Cup Task Force proceedings. Dan, sometimes picking
out a target aloft in the sky cures the shanks.
USGA misstep of the month: Geoff
Shackelford reported that the USGA has ruled out a convenient train stop at
Chambers Bay during this year’s U.S. Open. Once again, ticket-buying patrons
will have to endure an interminable shuttle bus ride, this time 17 miles.
Private Hole of the Week: Radley Run’s finishing
hole is one of the best in the Philadelphia region. But hard, every step of the way. To
have a legitimate shot at par on this long par four dogleg left, you have to
carry 250 yards to a fairway that slopes away from where you want to go. The
second shot, even with a mid-iron, is no bargain either, uphill to a shelf
green. And there’s plenty of fun to be had on the green to avoid a three-putt.
Public Hole of the Week: The second hole at Pilgrim’s Oak, in southern
Lancaster County, also plays long with a frustrating driving area. If you get
up to the crest of the ridge, you’ll have a mid-iron approach to a raised green
that looks like it has no depth. Aim for the middle and take your par, and feel
lucky for that.
Non-golf pointer of the week: I caught an episode of "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" recently that was actually compelling. It’s hard
to believe it’s really "In Depth" if it’s only 20 minutes of program,
especially when he splits the time between two guests. But in this episode with
doping cyclists Floyd Landis and Tyler
Hamilton, they reveal how
astoundingly different superstardom is. Landis explains how Lance Armstrong was
virtually untouchable, flouting airport security rules with abandon. Landis
admits: "The rules, as much as [Lance] didn’t believe they applied to him,
really most of the time didn’t apply to him."
Dan Jenkins shanks one into the Woods: After a satirical
fake interview with an imaginary Tiger appeared in Golf Digest,
long-respected golf writer Dan Jenkins needs a mulligan in the worst way. If
you missed the original article, I’ll save you time: Don’t bother. There’s just
no getting around the fact that the fake interview is falls flat as satire,
regardless of whether you think it is funny or not—or whether it rings true
or not. Satire is tricky business, I concede, but it seldom works as mere
More enjoyable reading, for the unnecessarily
flamboyant prose, are Tiger’s written
angry response, and the
letter from his agent to Golf Digest. Ever defiant, Jenkins Tweeted on Nov.
18: "My next column for Tiger: defining parody and satire. I thought I let him
off easy." Study those definitions carefully, Dan, because you’re still missing
the point. If your goal was merely to insult a person, as your tweet confirms, then
you succeeded. Next time, have a loftier goal.
Obligatory Tiger comparison: Tiger
dropkicked the ball once. Once.
Probably only once. Ever. (Not counting his Dan Jenkins response.)
Which reminds me: The
worst shot I ever saw on TV has to be a fairway wood shot by the notoriously
gifted short game wizard Brad Faxon. From my memory,
it was a three-wood shot off an uphill lie, and Faxon
stone cold topped it, the first bounce a mere 30 yards ahead of the strike. No
need to dwell on that, except that Faxon also fits
into this week’s theme of self-righteous personalities.
Random observation: Who is
left to carry the rebel torch of shoulder-length hair now that both Rickie
Fowler and Charley Hoffman have gone "under the scissors"? And where’s that truth-to-power-spokesman
Frank Lickliter when you need him? And how does a guy
like Lickliter go 62-62 in the pressure-packed first
two rounds of Q-School one year and fail to keep his card the next? A fickle
Non-Golf Item Pointer: If you
missed the Lenny
Dykstra interview by 97.5’s Mike Missanelli
earlier this year, do yourself a favor and click it. Lenny is quite open about
his life and mistakes, but the most interesting parts are when explains how he
approached the game with every possible angle scrutinized for exploitation. One
of my favorite parts is when he explains how he made pitchers work for every
out and extend the pitch count. As a leadoff hitter, this gives valuable
information to your teammates right off the bat, so to speak, and, after all,
Dykstra explains, "The first two strikes are yours."
Private Hole: Hole No. 11 at Philadelphia
Country Club is a medium-length par-three of about 170 yards with a green that
sits like an ornamental shelf in the hill behind it. The green is relatively
flat, but relatively shallow, so positioning yourself below the hole is
critical for a birdie chance. Trepidation on the tee comes mostly from judging
the distance and picking the correct stick to land comfortably pin-high.
Public Hole: Another hole that plays much
harder than the first perception from the tee is the par-three 4th hole at Cobbs Creek. The short, flat hole is fraught with peril,
both physical and psychological. There’s something about the visual impression
that makes committing to a shot feel too much like a guessing game.
Prediction Update I: No
sooner did I remark that Bubba Watson is the most exciting golfer on Tour than
he won the World Golf Championship in Shanghai in the most exciting fashion
possible. Bubba holed a long, miracle eagle bunker shot to get into a playoff,
then birdied the same hole a few minutes later to close it out.
Prediction update II: Michelle
Wie is bringing it home. I predicted a
breakout year for Wie back in February. With a
U.S. Open win and a Rolex
Annika Major Award under her white belt (or white sans-a-belt slacks),
she’s in a virtual tie for the lead with Stacy Lewis for the women’s version of
the FedEx Cup heading into the weekend of the LPGA Tour Championship.
USGA makes Hy Peskin photos available; LPGA’s colored balls
Friday, November 7, 2014 By Ron Romanik
For golf history buffs: The USGA Museum now has the "HyPeskin
Collection", where you can purchase
Hogan’s one-iron follow-through at Merion for as little as $245. Other graceful
follow-through pictures include Sam Snead, Barbara Womack, Mickey Wright, and, ahem,
Arnold Palmer. Come to think of it... Did Arnie ever hold a follow-through?
What’s missing: Not all the golf pictures made the jump from the HyPeskin
website, and the only one left there
is Hogan’s one-iron thumbnail, which links back to the USGA Museum site. One I
wish they would put back up for sale is a picture taken about 10 minutes before
the one-iron shot, as Hogan and Cary Middlecoff were
strolling through the valley in front of the 17th green. Middlecoff
is wiping sweat off his brow, visibly shaken on his way to a 79. Hogan’s demeanor
is as steely and resolute as ever. Also missing from HyPeskin’s site are tasteful glamour portraits of young
ladies with no tops that were there last year. I guess that was all part of the
USGA negotiations. The USGA Museum collection does, however, include two
versions of "Sam Snead with Car." I believe it’s that stylish 1950 Nash
Rambler, in case you were curious.
TIL (Today I Learned): Cary Middlecoff won more pro
tournaments than anyone else in the 1950s. Also, his legs were of unequal
Going Deep: And
because the 1950 U.S. Open was so epic, I point you toward a picture of the awards table that year, after the full-round playoff between Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum, and George Fazio. Lloyd Mangrum
looks as dapper and as devil-may-care as ever, but his squint might belie his
disappointment. What was bugging him was probably the bug he shooed away by
picking up his ball on the 16th green, which earned him a two-stroke penalty
when, at the time, he was only one stroke behind Hogan.
Because I can’t help myself: My Bubba Love continues despite his inexplicable and completely
indefensible decision to pass on the long drive exhibition during the practice
round of the PGA Championship. He’s still one of a shrinking number of players
that is truly fun to watch. In the second round of the HSBC World Golf
Championship overnight Thursday, Bubba hit a big, high cut out of the rough with fairway metal 250 yards to a green guarded by a
creek in front, for an easy two-putt birdie. Who else can pull that off? Then,
later, he chipped in twice in a row, once with a flopped sand wedge and once
with a bumped fairway metal. And he nearly chipped in a third time in a row on
18 for an eagle. Bubba finished with five consecutive birdies for a 67.
Random observation of the week: Non-white golf balls are back. And yes, I begrudgingly
approve. But the colors must be limited to the following: white, yellow,
orange, pink, lime green, and purple. To be honest, I’m not so sure about purple.
At one recent LPGA event, one threesome had three different color balls, and a
few PGA players are even experimenting with impure hues. (Full Disclosure: I
played orange ProStaffs in high school, and I might
regret that, but I’m not sure.)
Word of the day: Polychromatic; adjective. Having multiple colors. Used in a sentence: Piet Mondrian paintings sure are
In medias rant: "...and if you’re going to wear Mondrian shorts on the golf course, pick
the right color ball, for chrissakes. If you can’t
find one to match, please just use basic white. It’s not as difficult as
matching a white shade at the paint store, you know. All white golf balls are
pretty much the same white..."
Duval will have a resurgence in 2015. I’m not sure why his 68 on Thursday in Jackson,
Mississippi, gives me reason to believe, buthe deserves some irrational hype—and hope—now and then.
Prediction II: Adam Scott will use his broomstick putter up to the last possible day,
hour, minute, or second that he is allowed to use it. Or until they pry it from
his cold, dead hands.