Ten years later, has Tiger really changed?

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 Magazine just released its list of the Top 100 Courses in the World and it only includes three Canadian courses (Cabot Cliffs, Cabot Links and St. George’s). Based on your travels, reading and observations, is the list fair to Canada or should we have more courses in the Top 100? If so, which ones?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): The only course I would add to the Canadian contingent would be Goodwood, near Uxbridge, Ontario.  But since very few Canadians have played it — much less international players and course raters — it would be a snowy day in July before it would make a World List.  But it’s a great golf course… as are so many others in this country… Hamilton, Toronto, Capilano, Muskoka Bay.  But it’s a tough competition, so we should be pleased that they’ve recognized our best.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Ridiculous. Only three courses from Canada make the list and two of them were born yesterday? How do those boobs leave The National off, when it’s consistently #1 in this country for over two decades?  There are a ton of Canadian courses that should be on that list: Jasper, Banff, Capilano, Shaughnessy, Victoria, Highland Links, Muskoka Bay, Toronto Golf, London Hunt, or Westmount. Heck, there’s another 20 I could name. We have some greats! I feel like we’re like Rodney Dangerfield when it comes to recognizing our courses worldwide “We don’t get no respect”.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: Regardless of what gets written about this list, I’d love to play it. I think Canada is well represented but in a recent poll of its members by the PGA of Canada, they rated The National at #1 in Canada. As for other courses I’d include, the list is so long it might take the entire top 100 list: Summit, Toronto Golf, Mississaugua, Brantford, Cherry Hill, Coppinwood, St Charles, Mayfair, Shaughnessy, Vancouver C.C., Royal Victoria, Royal Quebec, Royal Ottawa, Rivermede, Royal Colwood, Royal Montreal, Riverside, Muskoka Bay, King Valley, Weston………

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (davykap): You guys ready for some scorching takes? Seems fitting given the weather. Let’s start off with St. George’s. I don’t understand how this course keeps getting ranked so high. I’ve played it before and there are certainly some spectacular holes, but I wouldn’t rank it in my top 10 courses in Ontario, let alone in the world’s Top 100! There are too many “meh” holes on the track. Maybe I missed something, but it certainly didn’t blow me away. I would suggest one of the following courses take its place instead: The National, Goodwood, Tobiano, Banff Springs or dare I say it . . . Muskoka Bay?!? I know it’s still young, but Muskoka is one of the best golfing destinations on earth and I think that track best embodies the region’s splendour and unique topography. One more thing: why is King Valley always criminally underrated on all of our national best course lists? That track has it all: a spectacular design; unique holes; menacing tiered green complexes; deep, sculpted bunkers; stunning green to bunker contrasts; neat rows of pine trees lining fairways to escape from, a la Augusta National. And it still never gets the respect it deserves. ScoreGolf left it off its Top 100 in 2018, yet somehow put Glen Abbey at 67 and Bayview at 98? Uhhhh . . .

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I am lucky enough in my business to see a lot of courses around the world and I’ve always said that Canadian golf is very under-rated.  That said, there are so many more golfing destinations that have added their courses to the top 100 lists around the world, including in particular the Asian countries. So, it’s tough to crack the list nowadays.  Those three courses are very worthy, and I could add The National and Toronto GC among others to the list and they would not be out of place.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s the old same story. During my brief stay on a ranking panel, I lobbied to have experts (sic) only rate courses that they’d played. Ya, right. Certainly, there are some wonderful Canadian courses not on that list, but every panel is either flawed by the selection of panellists or criteria. That said, there are courses and places to build them around the globe that are superior to most top Canadian layouts and sites. Still, I have treasured the few rounds I’ve played at Stanley Thompson’s Capilano in the mountains above Vancouver.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Ranking lists are always fun but should NEVER be taken seriously. This list skews in favour of tradition, America and anything next to an ocean. That’s not to suggest that the courses selected aren’t exceptional. By the numbers, Canada should probably have 5-6 courses on the list and Capilano, Jasper, The National, Hamilton, Muskoka Bay or Goodwood would not be out of place.

The European Tour allowed players to wear shorts during the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, where the temperatures were in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). Apparently, no women fainted at the sight of bare legs and hell didn’t freeze over. Is the long pants rule an anachronism whose time is up or is there a valid reason for continuing it?

Deeks: No valid reason whatsoever.  It took the power of Tiger’s former caddie, Steve Williams, to force the PGA Tour to allow caddies to wear shorts over a decade ago… and no women fainted then, either.  The argument against shorts on pro golfers is that they may be too short or too loud, but surely, they can apply some parameters to control the situation.  (And what’s more ridiculous than those god-awful pants John Daly wears?)  To force players to wear trousers is ludicrous, no matter what the temperature is.  Give THEM the choice, not the PGA Tour.

Loughry: Pants look classy, and the way they are made today, the material (so thin and breathable), the technology in them, they aren’t barriers to performance. Anachronism? One valid reason to continue with pants is the protection they provide skin from the sun. Shorts looks odd but so does putting with the flagstick in, I think if shorts became legal, everyone would get used to it. I don’t have a horse in this race, but watching the Dunhill looked like watching an elite Amateur event, I’m just not accustomed to watching pro’s wear shorts is all. My preference is pants for pro’s in competition, and let the Amateurs keep their shorts on.

Schurman: Sorry, I’m a traditionalist. The PGA Tour is successful because of the image portrayed by the players. Sponsors love the current dress code when aligning their marketing with the Tour’s standards and so do I. Shorts are for amateurs and/or caddies. BTW, don’t gentlemen dress properly to play golf?

Kaplan: I don’t know how pants are still a thing on the PGA Tour. It’s almost 2020!!! Anyway, this brings me to another scorching take I’ve been wanting to offload for some time. It’s become completely acceptable, it seems, for women to wear full-out tank tops and yoga pants when they are playing golf these days and I’m totally on board with that. It’s hot outside and golf is a long game, and everyone should be comfortable. EVERYONE! Why hasn’t that courtesy been extended to the men’s side of the game? I’m not talking about yoga pants per se, although a more elastic pant would be welcome for crisper mornings. It’s that I can’t wear a tank top in 30+ degree heat. I have to cover up my shoulders and sweat it out like a pig every time I play during the dog days of summer because of some arbitrary distinction made decades ago by a panel of men whose heads were stuck in their butts! An arbitrary distinction that leads to all of us sporting horrendous farmer tans every year. I still have mine. It’s unfair, I tell you, and it’s time for change. Who’s with me!?

Rule: In short (pun intended), yes.  It’s ridiculous that the guys don’t wear shorts when it’s hot.  The tours took a big step a few years ago letting the caddies wear shorts and then letting players wear them in practice rounds, now it’s time to take the next step and allow them in competition, it’s not going to hurt anyone!

Quinn: With all the young bombers coming out of the U.S. golf factories, er, I mean, institutes of higher learning, the pros have to differentiate themselves from the shorts and baggy shirts set some how. Climate change may eventually force it, but by then playing games will be the least of our worries.

Mumford: I’m told there’s a private club in North Carolina (men only) that still insists that members and guests wear long pants on the course at all times – even when summer temperatures and humidity push into the high 90’s. If there’s a reasonably argument for this, it escapes me. Same goes for the pros. I’d say relax the rule and let the players decide. Some, no doubt, will prefer the dressier look of long pants while others will opt for more athletic clothing, notwithstanding the comments of fans and the media regarding tan lines and knobby knees.

It’s been ten years since Tiger Woods ran into a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving weekend and tales of his extra-marital escapades began to leak out. Since then he has gone through a divorce, several major surgeries, a drug addiction and eventually another comeback to win a Tour Championship and another Masters. Tiger seems to be enjoying himself more and seems friendlier with fans but deep down, is Tiger a different person than he was before the accident?

Deeks: Who knows what Tiger Woods is, deep down?  From the outset, he could’ve emulated his idols like Nicklaus and Palmer and been an exemplary human being, but he chose to be aloof, self-obsessed, and a rather tawdry womanizer.  Then he got caught for the womanizing, and offered the most cynical mea culpa in history, in front of his Mommy and the Commissioner of the PGA Tour.  Yes, the past decade has been an extraordinary journey of damnation, salvation, and redemption, so I would hope even Tiger Woods would come out of it with a better perspective.  But is it real?  I dunno.

Loughry: He is different, how could he not be having lived through all those issues. But his drive for excellence and just being the best at his craft, that has not changed. He seems to be a little more friendly and having a little more fun. I think he knows what he lost, and life is in perspective for him now as a result. I think he appreciates what he has more than he did prior to the accident, and that is a welcome change.

Schurman: Everyone mellows as they age. Things that once were so vitally important become less so while others that weren’t as much become more so. I find I am more tolerant and less adamant about certain subjects but just below the surface ‘the spots on a Tiger haven’t completely changed’. He might seem different but pull his tail and you will find out he might be a bit slower, but he is older & wiser. Watch out for old people!

Kaplan: I mean, how can anyone who’s not in his immediate company truly answer that? It would be pure speculation. The truth is that after all that has come out about Tiger over the last decade, I’ve kind of become desensitized and indifferent to it all. I’m far more interested in Tiger the golfer than in Tiger the person.

Rule: Absolutely he has changed.  And it’s been good for him in my mind.  His life was a bit out of control, and he has since become more grounded, more of a family man, and seems more approachable for both the media and other players.  His being named as President’s Cup captain just shows how much the players respect him, as opposed to just fearing him as they did in the past.  I like the new Tiger, and hope he continues at the top of the game for years to come.

Quinn: It at least seems that all the counselling, public humiliations, and surgeries have slowed him a bit.  But there was so much wrong before the hydrant (have seen it by the way — most photographed site at Isleworth) it’s hard to believe that he’s totally different.

Mumford: On the golf course, Tiger appears friendlier than in the past, but no one should assume the smile means he’s any less of a competitor. He’ll still run over you without a second thought. Off the course, Tiger remains as guarded and private as always and nothing he’s said or written about himself reveals much about who he really is. I suspect he’s still pretty much the same shy geek that won three consecutive US Amateurs over twenty years ago and everything since is about learning how to cope with the money, fame and everything that comes with it. When his playing days are over, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Tiger pretty much disappeared from public life altogether.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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