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.
The Ryder Cup was played over a week ago, yet the American autopsy continues to be front page news in the golf world. Patrick Reed’s comments in particular have garnered plenty of scrutiny. If you were a future Ryder Cup captain, do you want Reed on your team?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): If I was Captain, there’s no way Patrick Reed would be on my team, unless he got there on merit, which I couldn’t and wouldn’t fight. I think Diana Ross would have the same view. (Hunh? Diana Ross?! See my column HERE.) But judging by the way he played at Le Golf National, he wouldn’t make the Medicine Hat PeeWee Golf team on merit today. And character? No one wants a teammate who’s completely self-centred, self-delusional and a self-serving pr*ck.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): ABSOLUTELY NOT. Reed just sealed his fate in terms of ever becoming a captain’s pick or captaining a team at any time. I think we’re all getting the picture of why the US team lost, most of them had and do not have any sense of TEAM. The only teams he’d ever play on are the ones he qualifies for. Sounds like you have your hands full at home with the wife and in-laws, so good luck with all of that and your Ryder Cup future.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: The only reason to continue these discussions is twofold. First, to suck up the last remaining morsels of joy for the Euro Celebration. Two, to the listen to the ridiculous ideas put forth by the USA in an attempt to somehow explain and/or justify their poor performance. As the plot thickens, Phil sounds more and more like a player ‘past his best before date’ than a dignified, elder statesman. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “I am not a Phil fan”. It beats me how a player can win 40+ times including 5 majors and not have a swing that can drive the ball into the fairway when necessary. How can he possibly be listed among the greatest of all-time with that obvious defect? Patrick Reed is a different story. The media wants players to be more newsworthy and when someone is he is criticized. There’s only one problem with Reed; who do you pair him with or do you simply bench him until the singles………just kidding but it IS a problem. I do wonder if Phil is organizing a Task Force to review all course set-ups and another to review the USA performance in the UL International-Crown. Surely, he wants big changes in that event too!
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): After those comments, “Captain America” would be a fringe pick for me. He’s clearly got some Ryder Cup skills and passion (despite the rough outing he had at this year’s tournament), but his presence appears to have a cancerous effect on team morale. If there was a huge disparity in both talent and Ryder Cup points between Reed and the next-ranked American player come two Septembers from now, I might consider picking him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t make my squad.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I don’t want Reed on my Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, beer hockey or boat racing team. He’s just so unlikeable, and despite his great Ryder Cup record before this year, I don’t think he’s good for any team event. He’s in the perfect sport for his personality, the most individual sport there is. But when it comes to team events, I’d leave him on the sidelines. The challenge is when he automatically qualifies. So maybe the US team should re-think their qualification process one more time!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The Get America Great Again committee should entreaty their worthy opponents for a slight rule change before the next fandango. Rather than ‘Captain’s Picks’ the Yanks should humbly request a ‘Captain’s Punts’ discretion. Just because brain-deaders (and their wives and mother-in-laws) get free passes to the Cup by qualifying, the next Captain America should be granted the right to punt all the wackos and non-team guys off the team (we know who they are). They’ll win the next one in America anyway, but this will make them appear more human.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’d take him on the condition that if I didn’t like anything he did or said during the matches, I could put him on a plane and send him home, even if it meant sacrificing a point in singles. Reed’s an excellent match play competitor and the U.S. needs more of that particular skill. If the choice to put him on a team was for a whole season like the NHL or MLB, then no way. But for a short 3-day competition, everybody should be able to play nice for a few days.
A woman was hit in the eye at the Ryder Cup by an errant Brooks Koepka drive and apparently has lost her vision. She is threatening to sue the golf course and the Ryder Cup. Does golf have to do more to protect spectators (and if so what) or is it reasonable to assume that fans take their chances on a golf course like they do at other sports where projectiles (balls, pucks) are flying around at high speed?
Deeks: I think it’s reasonable to assume that fans take their chances in attending any sporting event. In fact, aren’t there usually disclaimers in teeny-tiny type on most admission tickets about the seller (the team, the organizing body) taking no responsibility, etc.? At the same time, I think the woman struck by Koepka’s ball is right to sue… there may be significant healthcare costs and she shouldn’t have to bear them. This is why organizers have insurance.
Loughry: I feel awful for this woman, but I’m certain he wasn’t aiming at her specifically, nor any others in the crowd. Could they do more to protect the fans? I think so, maybe put up dasher boards and plexiglass and make sure everyone is at least 200 yards away from all play at all times. And lastly, hand out or require fans to bring their own armory and head protection. Doesn’t that sound like a great fan experience? I don’t think injuries like this are an epidemic. Again, I feel badly for this woman, but if fans aren’t aware of where they are and what may be coming and knowing this before you buy a ticket, I think you must understand something like this just might happen.
Schurman: What event organizers go through to ensure patron safety is incredible. It wouldn’t matter how much more they do it is impossible to protect everyone against every eventuality. I feel terrible for the lady who was hit but at some point, a person has to be responsible for their own safety too.
Kaplan: Yes, it is reasonable to assume that fans take their chances when attending golf tournaments. Hell, I got nailed in the head last year by an errant shot at Station Creek with no fore call to be heard and I didn’t expect any special treatment. It happens; perhaps extremely rarely, but it happen! It definitely sucks and this woman was particularly unlucky, but you have to take some share of the responsibility when you voluntarily stand near a landing area or behind a green on any particular hole.
Rule: It’s an unfortunate situation and you feel for the lady that got hit, it could happen to anyone, and it’s a freak accident. But it’s hard to protect the spectators when you are essentially on their field of play. If you keep fans far enough away to protect them from all errant shots, they wouldn’t see any of the play and you might as well watch from your couch at home. I just think you can be smart when going to watch a golf tournament. Standing in the landing zone distance wise from a tee on a par 4 or 5 is not the smartest spot to stand. And I get that there were limited spots to view the play when there are 50,000 fans and only 16 golfers, but I still wouldn’t stand 280 to 300 yards from a tee!
Quinn: There is a couple of inches of fine (well lawyered) print on every ticket to every sporting event. But, we see guys hitting low irons out of chutes of spectators every week. Those folks staring back at the four iron presumably are non-golfers. They have their cell phones out taking crappy video of something they could record in hi-def on their home TV. Duh? The incident in France was tragic. From what I’ve heard and read, the marshals shouted “Fore.” It’s very dangerous at MLB parks, and it also can be dangerous at NHL games and golf tournaments. This is another reminder.
Mumford: Sad to see this kind of thing happen but fans take their chances. European Captain Thomas Bjorn had already moved the ropes back more than normal, so the fans didn’t trample the long grass in the U.S. landing zones and Koepka’s drive was way off line. Insurance should cover this and there is no need for further action.
The 2019 PGA Tour season kicked off last week in Napa. Does that make sense on any level?
Deeks: Yes. There are fine wines in Napa, and perhaps the players were thirsty and confused by the fact that the new season started in October. I know I am. Pass the J. Lohr, please.
Loughry: 2019 has begun? It just doesn’t feel right at all. It’s also a tough go for some players. I read David Hearn has been on the road 12 of the last 15 weeks because of his status and chasing a card (and that includes a week break for the Ryder Cup. I won’t say that’s slave labour, but that’s a tough go, no matter how you slice it (and he wasn’t the only player that had a stint like that or similar). I just feel like there are too many events on Tour, and this wrap around season just doesn’t make much sense on any level. The only solution is to reduce the number of events, but I know that’s anarchy talk to the Tour and some players. Less is more in some cases and I think this is one of them. Fewer events would mean fewer winners and perhaps wins would mean more, and each event would MEAN more for each player. But I don’t believe that is an option the PGA Tour even wants to consider.
Schurman: I have written articles about this subject and am of the opinion that the USPGA TOUR is riding a fantastic ‘high’. They also have several events without sponsors and they have many with no more than a handful of ticket buyers. I see a lowering of the general standard of wardrobe, personal appearance and attitude by the players. Not all but some. Most of this has occurred after Dean Beman retired. I’m not crying ‘wolf’ but I am saying that the squeaky-clean image that once held such massive appeal for the public and sponsors is changing. That combined with a schedule that wreaks of over-exposure and now a FedEx Cup that will be worth $70M and I think you have a recipe for a ‘market correction’.
Kaplan: No, it makes no sense and the PGA Tour is insane. I feel like a broken record because I think I say this every year in the Round Table, but there’s no reason for the season to start the week after the Ryder/Presidents Cup ends. It’s overkill. One of the reasons the NFL is so successful is because there are 16 regular season games per team, plus the playoffs—not a game every single week, including the week following the Super Bowl. The PGA Tour could start its season in February and 99% of fans wouldn’t bat an eye! In fact, it probably should . . .
Rule: Nope. I still can’t get used to it and don’t have much interest in watching these tournaments in the fall. Although it was nice to see eight Canadians in the field last week. But for heaven’s sake, take a couple of weeks off! The season should start at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii like it used to. The only thing that these fall events are good for is giving chances for borderline PGA players to make some money and maybe capture a victory that guarantees them 2 more years on tour, which I guess isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t enough to get me to watch.
Quinn: It only makes sense to me because I picked Tway in the bottom feeder category of my annual golf pool. He did nada in the real season, and then of course he wins when the pool is well and truly over because our pool, like the rest of humanity, doesn’t give a flying fig about the bend around or calendar denying or ‘we be only about $$$’ Tour events in November for the borderline guys. It makes sense for the Tway twypes making big bucks against diluted fields, but no sense for fans of the game. Note to The Golf Channel — the NFL is setting ratings records, and oh ya, baseball has finally reached October.
Mumford: I’m sure Napa is very nice in the fall but the PGA Tour, the players, the media and the fans need a significant break. A week between seasons is ridiculous. Call me when the Tour gets to Hawaii.