This Week in Golf
Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Golf analyst Brandel Chamblee created a stir by suggesting that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn’t deserve a future Ryder Cup captaincy because of their lack of passion for the event in the past and their losing records as players. Is Chamblee right?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Well, it depends on whether you think the Ryder leadership (and team, for that matter)) should be based on merit, passion, leadership qualities, and respect from peers… or on public popularity and marketing considerations. To me, past record in Ryder competitions is the least important criterion, because, obviously, even the very best can get beaten by a hot player (or other circumstances, like luck or health) on any given day. Based on the first set of criteria listed above (merit, etc.), I’d agree with Chamblee. On the second set, it’d be hard to ignore Tiger or Phil. (In other words, I haven’t got a clue…)
Craig Loughry, GAO Director of Handicapping (@craigloughry): If Chamblee doesn’t think Tiger or Phil would inspire those players on the team, then he’s an idiot. And that’s what it comes down to, the Captain is to lead, inspire, and manage some egos. And both Tiger and Phil get pretty fired up for any competition and could handle a Ryder Cup captaincy, I’d go so far as to say they would be great with the right supporting cast.
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: You can say Brandel Chamblee is sort of my idol and good on him for calling out both Tiger and Phil. Is he right? Yes he is! And while we’re at it, though it’s been covered, I’ll do my part to call out Phil who’s designing his shrine in Calgary. Why does anyone care to have our National Open played on a course named Mickelson National, designed and spearheaded by a player who supported our Open so little? I wouldn’t give that place our Open, ever. I’ll repeat, good on Brandel.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I’ve met Chamblee a few times and have enjoyed our conversations and his humour. Love his frankness and insight on Golf Channel and have agreed with his ongoing assessments of Eldrick’s swing changes and life decisions — even those that cost him his Golf Mag column. But I disagree with his take on Phil’s public criticism of Tom Watson and that Phil’s and Eldrick’s occasional lack of enthusiasm disqualifies them from Cup captaincies. It is clear that the guys like Phil and respect him and that they can’t help but respect what Eldrick has done on the course. They will be captains.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): He’s right to knock their attitude and their records but the PGA of America won’t care a whit if they believe that Phil or Tiger can lead a U.S. team to victory. I think the players have great respect for both and it’s inevitable they’ll both be captains.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): With comments like these, Chamblee is quickly becoming the Skip Bayless of golf! Both Woods and Mickelson have always gotten into the spirit of the team format whether they are playing the Ryder or the Presidents Cup, plus Mickelson has played on more Presidents Cups teams than anyone else. I think both players would make great captains and would have a lot of wisdom to impart to their players.
The 2016 PGA Tour kicked off last week with the Frys.com Open. Nobody seems to like the wrap-around season but sponsors continue to step up and players earn lots of money and FedEx Cup points. Does this mean it’s working or does the Tour need a longer time out?
Mastroianni: Is the wraparound season working? I’m not sure it is. I haven’t looked into it much and it’s a rather small sample size of seasons, but if these tournaments are drawing enough people and giving back to the local community, I don’t see why they should stop. I don’t think there’s much interest from a national/worldwide perspective and would guess few people tune into watch on television, but if it benefits the community then keep it going I say.
Loughry: This time of year is killer on the sports fan, MLB playoffs, early weeks of the NFL, NHL starting and NBA right behind it. Why on earth the PGA Tour wants to pile on top of it is beyond me. It could use more of a break, unless they want to try for a 52 week season (they’re getting there).
Mumford: It’s not working for me, nor I suspect is it popular with most golf fans who have an abundance of sports to watch during the fall. However, it’s working for the Tour, the players, the charities and the sponsors. What do fans matter when some company is handing out lots of cash?
Kaplan: These wrap-around events are crucial for some of the younger players to make their mark and earn some points and cash before the Jason Days and Jordan Spieth swoop in and win everything. I look at it as similar to the September call-ups in baseball. Some of these guys, like Emiliano Grillo and Patton Kizzire, will be household names in a few years, so it’s kind of fun to see them take their baby steps. In Grillo’s case, those were some mammoth man-baby steps.
Quinn: It’s definitely working for the middle-of-the-pack players — how else would a guy like Adam Hadwin make $20 Gs (US) in one October week — and sponsors who want to show clients a good time. It’s not working for golf fans, but when did they ever matter? Back in the day, the top guys would say ‘The Tour starts at Doral.’ It still does, but now it just has that awful ‘T’ word in front to it.
Deeks: I think it means it’s working, but I sure wish they’d take a longer time-out and put the schedule back to a January start. In October, I couldn’t care less about who’s winning a minor event like Frys.com. In January, I’d have a bit more interest.
The high school class of 2011 appears to be doing quite well on the PGA Tour – Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Ollie Schniederjans, 2015 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger and now first time winner Emiliano Grillo. Is it surprising that so many players in their early 20’s are contending at an elite level? What happened to the so-called maturing process needed on the PGA Tour?
Mastroianni: I’ve always wondered when the men would catch up with the women in terms of elite players at a young age. We live in a different time. We used to get into golf to have fun, for recreation or because of social status. Now, kids golf because they are going to become Professionals. They’re setup up with coaches, trainers and psychotherapists from the age of 5. In terms of being better at an early stage, well, they will be. In terms of the good of the game, I think it’s detrimental, but that’s another question all together.
Mumford: What’s surprising is that we haven’t seen this before. The so-called Tiger effect kicked in nearly twenty years ago and should have produced some bumper crops before now. With all the coaching they get and the full tournament schedules, a typical 22-year old on the PGA Tour sometimes has ten years of national and international competition under his belt. It may be at the junior level but winning at any level breeds confidence, so these kids arrive on the PGA Tour fearless. Experience and attitude is a great recipe for success.
Deeks: I’m beginning to think that maturing is a detriment, not an asset. These kids come out on Tour with so much nurtured talent, and little or no experience in the agony of defeat, or the prudence of patience, or the fear that their games may not stack up to the stars’. In that sense, they’re fearless, unintimidated, and caution-free… somewhat like me when I get behind the wheel of my 2007 Camry. They see no reason why they can’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t win every time they tee it up on Thursday morning.
Kaplan: It has to be the swing technology — like the V1 Swing Analysis Program — that these kids have grown up with and used to hone their games. It has turned them into pin-seeking robots. Many of these young guns have unique nuances to their swings, but make no mistake, their impact positions are all identically perfect and they, in turn, absolutely annihilate the golf ball. At the Canadian Open this year, I saw Schniederjans scorch the ball on what I thought was a terrifyingly aggressive line on the 14th tee. The ball sounded different off his club face than anything I have ever heard before and he ended up having a flip wedge into the green! He is not even that big … I would do terrible things to be able to hit the ball like that!
Quinn: With the new swings, new fitness levels, and new equipment, these kids are used to bombing and gouging and shooting in the 60s by junior high. They are the mountain bike and long board and Red Bull generation. The fearlessness begins there, and when they do get to the Tour they’ve seen that, done that. No biggie. To anyone over 30 it is amazing.
Loughry: These kids today are fearless and have no respect for their elders. I still find it surprising though. I do subscribe to the theory that these kids are a result of Tiger’s play/inspiration in addition to good coaching. New technology has certainly helped too, these kids grew up playing with advanced tech, so they don’t have to make any adjustments (at least not the ones without an anchored stroke)!