Did Brandel Chamblee go too far with his recent comments?

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.

Because of all the cancelled and postponed tournaments on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, there is concern that there won’t be enough 2020 events to properly qualify team members for the Ryder Cup. One suggestion is to give each captain 12 picks and forego any kind of qualifying whatsoever. Do you like that idea, or would you prefer to see the Ryder Cup pushed to 2021 when they can have the usual qualifying process?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if the various authorities just announced that the entire 2020 seasons is canceled.  Much as we’d all like to return to normal, it looks like it’s going to be quite a while, and quite a trial, before we’re all safe and can dispense with social distancing.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: What a tremendous opportunity to try a variety of ideas regarding everything we do in life. A completely fresh start. I have long thought the Ryder Cup did not include the ‘hottest’ players available. What an opportunity to take the top 6 based on the most recent 6 or 12 months of results combined with 6 Captain’s picks. Play it in 2022. There’s no shame in not playing it in the ‘your’ year and why should other events be imposed on.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Would that mean the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup would both be in 2021? If that’s the case, I am down. Might I suggest bookending the seasons with the two events? If that’s overkill, I’m good with a late 2020 Ryder Cup and a popularity contest determining the rosters for both squads, unless it resulted in Patrick Reed getting left off of the roster. Patrick Reed is as integral to the Ryder Cup as blossoming azaleas are to the Masters every year. Oh, wait . . .

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well, it looks like there is more and more of a chance of it being pushed to 2021 anyway given the way things are going, but if it still goes in 2020, I think they split the difference and have the top 4 or 5 guys automatically qualify and let the captains pick the rest of the team.  Oh wait, I just checked the current standings, make that the top two automatically qualify, keep it just above Patrick Reed.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The IOC had to be shamed by Canada and then Australia to admit reality and postpone the Five Ring Circus. The Tours should stop being so tone deaf and at least admit that inviting golfers and fans from all over the world to congregate is not going to happen any time soon. The world has other priorities. 2021 is soon enough to start thinking about that Cup.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I think that should be the way they put a team together every time the Ryder Cup is played. Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup too. The captains can use the standings if they want but if I were the captain and was going to be held accountable for the team’s performance, I’d want complete control over who makes the team and who plays. 2020 would be a perfect time to start.

Brandel Chamblee is in hot water after a Golf Week interview in which he criticized modern-day golf instruction, claiming that instructors hurt more PGA Tour players than they help. He also said that teachers have been bitch-slapped by reality and exposed for their idiocy by all the instruction available on YouTube and elsewhere. Chamblee was especially critical of Jordan Spieth’s coach Cameron McCormick. Chamblee eventually apologized for using “bitch-slapped” but otherwise stood by his remarks. Did Chamblee go too far?

Deeks: I don’t quite know what to make of Brandel.  I admire his willingness to take controversial positions, but I sometimes wonder whether he’s truly an authority, or just a journeyman player (as Leadbetter suggested in his response to these comments) trying to ensure a long-term broadcasting career.

Schurman: Cameron McCormick should get over it. If he enjoys being at the top of his field, working with one of the top players in a high-profile sport it comes with media attention. Brandel is paid to entertain people with his provocative style. So were Don Cherry and Howard Cosell. TV fans liked Johnny Miller’s honest approach, Henry Longhurst’s intelligent positions and Peter Allis’s directness. So along comes Chamblee with an honest, intelligent and direct opinion and people jump all over him. At least he can write and speak English.

Kaplan: I mean, he stirred the pot which is exactly what he gets paid to do. So technically he did not go too far. But he has no idea what he’s talking about and has no point of reference when speaking about Spieth’s woes or Fowler’s choice! Every year, he turns more into golf’s version of Stephen A. Smith, which is probably a good thing for ratings and his career. But in a gentleman’s sport like golf, it’s certain to gain him A LOT of enemies.

Rule: He sure loves the spotlight, doesn’t he?  I think it’s time for Golf Channel to finally let him loose. Think of the relatively benign things that other golf broadcasters have said over the years that have gotten them fired, and this guy still has his job?  What makes him the expert on swing analysis?  I used to like how he sometimes called people out and spoke his mind, but he’s gone too far too many times, and I personally turn the channel when he’s speaking, get rid of him!

Quinn: It’s not much of a challenge for Chamblee to be the smartest guy in the room on Golf Channel. But on occasion, he spouts off like he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the next room too. He went too far with the unnecessary vulgarity [ as it is in most situations, with the exception of a shank or a missed 2-footer]. But on the thesis, I agree with him. All it takes is a few minutes of any Golf Channel instruction show, or a quick riffle through Golf Digest cover stories that offer cures for the dreaded slice 3-4 times a year, decade after decade.

Mumford: Chamblee is paid to be controversial, but I’ve never felt he said things that are false just to get a reaction. On the contrary, his remarks are always very well researched and accurate. This time he hit a nerve that will be felt more strongly by some teaching pros than others. As a group, they’re incensed, but surely they know there’s truth in Chamblee’s comments, and that probably embarrasses them.

Speculation is that the US Open will be postponed, meaning that if they do re-start the PGA Tour season in July or later, there could be four majors, three WGC events, the Ryder Cup and the FedEx Cup playoffs condensed into a tight schedule that overlaps the start of the 20-21 season. Does this make sense, or would they be better to cancel some of these events altogether and re-start the 20-21 season on schedule? 

Deeks: It doesn’t make sense to me.  As suggested above, they should all just throw in their cards for 2020, and re-deal on a new season starting as usual in October, or later.

Schurman: Good luck to anyone in the decision-making business! The NBA, NHL, MLB, NASL, ATP and College Football are all going to vie for those entertainment dollars during a 3-month window assuming the virus-related restrictions have passed. These events have to be re-scheduled among hundreds of other trade shows, concerts, conferences, a USA election and other mega-events all of whom booked the venues many, many months ago. There will be TV priorities to consider, historical weather patterns, airline availability, hotel preparedness and thousands of other considerations. What a perfect opportunity to play the PGA TOUR events in a calendar year schedule starting in January and ending in September. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of that? Hey, I’ll bet someone could create some highly entertaining made-for-TV competitions and play them in the months of October, November and December.

Kaplan: That would be the greatest “second half” to a PGA Tour season ever! Can you imagine: one blockbuster event after another with a major potentially every two weeks. Just reading your question gave me hope for the first time in three weeks.

Rule: I think it’s important for the sport for them to re-schedule as many big events as possible this year, and it will make for a very busy sports-watching fall if the season does resume sometime in July or August!  The tough part of the equation is how to deal with players that finally got their card in 2020 but don’t qualify for the big events, it’s not fair to them to not have the opportunities to make money so they’ll have to keep their cards for 2021, won’t they?  Or have opposite field events every week?  I just hope we have to worry about that situation because at least that means golf is back this year at some point!

Quinn: Cramming in those events, as entertaining as that would be for golf-on-TV fans, has to come at the expense of the events long scheduled for those dates. That’s a big economic and logistical challenge even in a safe world. And as even the stable genius has had to admit, looking even weeks ahead during this pandemic is a mug’s game. Even a re-start might be optimistic.

Mumford: You’ve heard this from me before, but this crisis presents a perfect opportunity: kill the Fall series once and for all. Play the majors and a handful of other events as soon as it’s safe to do so, then wait until January to start the 2021 season. And end it by Labour Day. I’m sure it’s not the first time the PGA Tour has heard the phrase, “Less is more” but now would be a great time to heed it.

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

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