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.
It was reported last week that 71-year old President Donald Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions on a 6,800 yard course at Trump National. Even allowing for the fact that maybe he knew the course, do you believe that score and if so, how many mulligans, do-overs and gimmes were involved?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’ve read that (no surprise) Trump is a big cheater, so I don’t believe it. Aside from that, there’s nothing positive I can say about the man, and the less said, the better.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Absolutely no chance did the DON shoot 73, not on 18 holes. So, if you’re asking me if he’s a liar, uh, yes I think this may be his first one?
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): With the risk of getting too political, I don’t believe a word that guy says, and having seen his golf swing, I don’t think there’s any chance he shot that score. But he has been playing a lot, so maybe his game is improving!
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@Davykap): I don’t believe that he could shoot a 73 in perfect conditions, let alone in those conditions! And from 6,800 yards? Give me a break! I guarantee you there were secret service personnel scattered in the woods throwing “Donald Trump” stamped ProV1s out onto the fairway.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: A pal once played with the Sultan Mahmood Iskandar of Johore, the former King of Malaysia. The fairways were lined (both sides) with forecaddies to retrieve his majesty’s wildly inaccurate shots (with one of the 26 clubs in his royal bag) and put them in their rightful place in the middle of the fairway, or inches from the cup. My pal’s guess was the King unaided would have shot about 180 but managed to win the match by four shots: 68-72. I think the King and the man who would be king, the Moron in Chief, would play about even, the match hinging on who had the better forecaddies.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It’s fake news. If you lined up 100 of the top 71-year old amateurs in the world, I’d be shocked if more than a handful could shoot 73 on a 6,800 yard course in wet, windy conditions, let alone a fat, twitchy bunter like The Donald. There must have been some collusion with the official scorekeeper. Somebody call the FBI!
Of all the players in the field at the USGA Mid Am Championship last week, 43% were former professionals that had their amateur status re-instated. The same is happening in Canadian amateur championships, with Canadian players and foreign entries, mostly from the U.S. Are you OK with re-instated amateurs competing for national amateur titles or should they be banned once they turn pro?
Deeks: I have no problem with former pro’s competing as amateurs, although I quietly root for true amateurs to win. The days when Bobby Jones, and Sandy Somerville, and Bill Campbell could be among the best golfers in the world while still pursuing a living off the golf course are long gone, sadly. But many former pro’s have given up the pro life for something more “normal”, and it would be very unfair to ban them from competing in non-pro events.
Loughry: I have no problem with Golf Professionals getting their Amateur status back and competing. They fall in the same camp as all other Amateurs, they still have to make a living doing something other than playing or teaching golf. I think the percentages reflect the competitive nature of that person more than the fact they were golf professionals. I also think it tells anyone how difficult it is to make a living playing the game. To that point as professional athletes (Touring Pro’s specifically), I still say they are underpaid in comparison to most other sports.
Kaplan: I don’t think it’s fair even if these guys go through the prescribed reinstatement process. Some of these reinstated amateurs have years of experience competing against entire circuits of professionals and that gives them a competitive edge against the actual, genuine amateurs in these fields. Plus, if a former professional ends up winning, I think it ends up compromising the entire event as a result.
Rule: I’m ok with guys getting reinstated, although it decreases my chances of making any cuts in these events! But if you can’t ever go back to amateur status, then some guys wouldn’t turn pro at any time and give it a shot, and I think everyone deserves an opportunity to try their luck at the pro ranks, and still return to playing with the working stiffs and competing in amateur events. Otherwise they have no option to compete anywhere once they give up on the professional dream.
Quinn: In a game of honour, honesty, and sportsmanship letting guys who have played pro golf — some who have even won on the PGA Tour — back into the amateur fold to play life-long amateurs even up is indefensible. If these pathetic individuals are so intent on massaging their egos by beating part-time players let them play with handicaps. How about a stroke for every year they were pros, and a half dozen for every pro win — on any tour. Then let’s see how anxious these guys are to tee it up with the bona fide amateurs.
Mumford: I’ve competed against a couple of re-instated amateurs who had enjoyed so-so pro careers but then killed it when they converted back. These guys practiced all the time and played countless more tournaments than their amateur counterparts and came to provincial and national championships with vastly more competitive experience. It’s not even close to a fair fight. As one journalist said about amateur re-instatement, “It’s like virginity. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.” I’d ban every last one of them for life.
It’s the final hole of the US Open and you have a 6-footer to win. What player, current or historical, do you want to make that putt for you? In other words, who do think is the best clutch putter ever?
Deeks: I’m such a terrible putter, I’d be happy to have Daffy Duck or Grandma Moses putt for me in the US Open. But to be honest, beyond the recognized putting greats like Crenshaw, Faxon, Loren Roberts, and Billy Casper, I think I’d ask Bobby Jones to step up with Calamity Jane in hand, and take my place. Jones won 13 out of 31 majors played, and finished in the top ten 27 times. That says to me the guy was a tremendous clutch player, with an incomparable ability to get the ball in the hole when he needed to. A 6-foot putt to win? In the words of P.G. Wodehouse, “pshaw.”
Loughry: ME, for those that know me, I love to putt and love these situations. But if I can’t pick me, its definitely Tiger. Seriously, its Tiger. He’s made so many clutch putts its hard to remember just one – he has numerous makes in those situations. If anyone lists any other player, then they’d be wrong. TW is the best clutch putter ever! PERIOD.
Rule: Hard not to say Tiger here and that would be my number one choice. He wasn’t the best putter of all time, but likely the best clutch putter of all time. But I would give honourable mention to Jack, Ben Crenshaw and more recently, Jordan Spieth. And don’t forget – Mike Weir made a pretty clutch 6-footer in 2003.
Kaplan: I want vintage Tiger Woods to take that putt. I’m talking about the Tiger that we saw in 2002-2005, when he made 1537 of 1540 putts on the season from 3 feet and in!
Quinn: I loved following Bobby Locke around, and not only was Ben Crenshaw an all-time great putter but also one of my favourite all-time interviews. Never liked anything about Eldrick’s game or demeanour – don’t we all miss the spitting and the F-bombs? – but his putting in crucial situations transcended even his personality. He’d take the 6-footer for me, but we’re not heading to the 19th together.
Mumford: Hale Irwin was once asked the same question and it was expected he’d pick one of the all-time greats like Jack Nicklaus or Bobby Jones. He surprised everyone by saying he’d pick himself. You’ve got to admire his self-confidence. However, if I had the choice, I’d go with Nicklaus. Not only did he make more than his fair share, it always seemed like he could “glare” a few into the hole too.