The Round Table: You’re the caddy. Who’s in your dream foursome?

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’s been reported that Tiger Woods is #1 in the PIP (Player Impact Program) rankings for 2022, despite playing in just three events. That means Tiger will receive another boatload of cash, largely based on his reputation and with little to do with on-course performance, beating out Rory McIlroy who had a stellar year, as well as all the Major winners. Does the PIP make any sense at all and if not, what should be done about it?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Makes no sense at all to me, and as the resident cynic on the Round Table, I’ve always thought the PIP is a silly and questionable waste of the Tour’s money.  I mean, the money is always going to go to the most popular guy, right?  And that will always be Tiger, or Rory, at least for the next few years.  Why don’t they ask the players to vote for the person THEY believe is most worthy — i.e., “most sportsmanlike”, like the Masterson Award in hockey — with the proviso that it can’t be the same person more than twice?

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): The PIP is doing its thing, but if its intention was to recognize players who have participated in the majority of events in the current year, then its certainly falling short and needs a tweak to its criteria. Otherwise, hand this thing over to Tiger every year.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Early in his career, Jack Nicklaus favoured the winner earning a bonus plus the winner’s prize. His theory was players don’t win all that often but when you do, there should be a pot of gold. The PIP Program is a cash grab for the top players. Add it to the purse or do as Jack suggested and pay the winner an added bonus.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It just goes to show that he still has the biggest impact on the game, even when he’s not playing.  And yes, I think it’s fair.  It’s the reason they came up with this plan because they want players to be more active on social media.  And although he isn’t the most active, he draws the most attention, so give him the money!

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: A professor memorably described my term paper as: “Ill-conceived and poorly executed.” Don’t think she coined it, but the description certainly applied to my paper (after a re-read, had to agree with her) and definitely suits the PIP. Awarding it to Eldrick and then grossly sweetening the pot (where all that money come from, eh Phil?) puts the ‘ill-conceived’ bit in capital letters. What to do, oh my, what to do? Scrap it!

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It makes no sense to me and is just another grotesque over-reaction. The money could be used in myriad other ways that benefit the developmental tours or the amateur game more effectively. Player complaints that the best aren’t adequately rewarded for their skill conveniently forget that their sponsorship and endorsement income, which in most cases dwarfs their on-course earnings, is also heavily skewed to the top players, thereby being a type of PIP in itself. Scrap the PIP!

NBC Sports has terminated long-time announcers Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch, indicating a desire to “freshen” its lineup. Do you like the move and who do you think would be suitable replacements? 

Deeks: Much as I liked both “Rog” and Gary, yes, I think it’s time for younger, fresher voices on the broadcasts.  I’ve been saying that about the CBS crew for years, too.  That said, I hope they don’t go for a “rockstar” vibe that cheapens the game and has no respect for the culture and tradition of golf.  We don’t need wholesale change.  And please, don’t bring back Gary McCord!!

Loughry: I can understand freshening up the broadcast, but Gary and Roger wouldn’t be as high on my list to remove than others on the broadcast. I always thought they provided better insight at the right times than others. Replacements? I’m not sure who would make good replacements, they should certainly have knowledge, be a former player or caddie with some personality. They’ll never do it, but if there was a way to rotate the position with players who are taking that week off (or are injured, but not to the point they couldn’t move around and do the job) for commentary, that could provide for some good entertainment. I think of guys like Higgs, Dahmen or Homa, they seem like they would make good replacements, but they’re also all in the primes of their career.

Schurman: Time marches on. If I had my way, I would still be listening to Henry Longhurst. There seems to be a requirement of having someone with a UK accent which I think is unnecessary, particularly with female announcers. Simply, I have trouble understanding what they are saying. (Old age?). I also don’t like the basic all-round, every sports announcer like Mike Tirico. Terry Gannon and Curtis Strange can’t pronounce simple words correctly. Mark Immelman is OK but doesn’t light a fire for me. Since I admire his style of play maybe Cory Pavin. Jay Haas or Woody Austin. Actually, Angel Cabrera isn’t doing much, maybe he could do it.

Rule: I guess I’m just used to the old guys on there and hate to see them go, but I’ll be honest, I don’t tune into golf coverage for the announcers.  Just put someone on there that isn’t annoying, has a bit of humour and doesn’t talk too much.  Just show more golf shots, less talking!

Quinn: Always liked Maltbie. He’s even funnier and more fun off camera. And always enjoyed his on-course insights, though increasingly with shot tracers and better camera technology, even his perspective has become less than necessary. But, he’ll be missed. It is a great relief that the serial interrupter Koch is finally silenced. Bones proved former caddies can be real good replacements; would lean that way. But networks have shown that they like accents, and there will be an affirmative action element to the hires, so who knows?

Mumford: I think both will be missed. They were consummate professionals at their craft. Maltbie was best as a second opinion for Johnny Miller. “Right Rog?” “That’s right Johnny.” He doesn’t have the same chemistry with Mr. Superlative, Paul Azinger, where every shot is the best or toughest the player has ever hit in his life. Koch did drone on a bit but at least he was knowledgeable. In Koch’s own words, both of them were, “Better than most”. As for replacements, I’d lean on Colt Knost, who is humourous, younger and has an edge; and elevate John Wood, former caddie to convicted cheapskate Matt Kuchar. Wood is already doing spot duty for NBC and a larger role is warranted. He knows what’s going on and is still connected to the players. Both would bring a fresh perspective to the telecast.

Here’s a question submitted by reader Brian Deeks: “If you could caddy for one player in a fourball comprised of any four players of your choice – dead or alive from the prime of their careers, with each player using the clubs and ball and caddy they played with at that time, whom would you select and what course would they play on?

Deeks: Thank you, Cousin Brian!  I’d pick Bobby Jones, Lee Trevino, Babe Zaharias, and Sewsunker Sewgolum.  I would caddy for Sewsunker.  I’d want the match played at Royal Melbourne because I’ve never been there, and this may be the only chance I’d ever get to be on the property.  Jones because of his character and precision, Trevino because of his amazing shotmaking and fascinating character, Zaharias because she was a dynamo and barrier-breaker, and Sewgolum because he succeeded against traditional technique (he played cross-handed) and searing racism.  (Who would win?  I’d pick Jones.)

Loughry: I’ve been waiting for a question like this! For me its; Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger. And although all are very special, I’d love to spend my time with Bobby Jones. I just think what he did in such a short time in his career is amazing and all as an Amateur. Then retiring to become a lawyer and starting Augusta National. I’d just soak it in from all but would really enjoy being Jones’ caddie for the round.

Schurman: Not even close! Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan vs Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods at Cypress Point. Hurry up with the Star Trek Holodeck.

Rule: I’d love to caddy for Lee Trevino is his prime.  He’d be a hoot to hang out with and he didn’t mess around.  No big pre-shot routine, just step on up and hit the ball.  He would have been a pleasure to caddy for.  And to round out the four ball it would have to include Jack and Tiger in their primes, that way we could finally answer the question as to who was the better player!  Rounding out the four ball would be Bobby Jones, to see if he could give the younger guys a run for their money.

Quinn: The four ball would be Hogan, Seve, Rory, and George Knudsen at Augusta National on a mid-April sun-dappled day in the mid-70s. I’d carry George’s bag because we got along great, loved his sense of humour, and his observations about players and the game. Besides, Hogan wouldn’t say a word to me (or anyone); I wouldn’t be able to understand Seve; and Rory would be sharing so many funny lines with everyone that I wouldn’t have to be right beside him. It would be four hours of a ball striking clinic, and a Master’s class in strategy. Would have to remember to pack a cigarette lighter for Ben and George and would love to see them play off the tees suited to their era of equipment, and also have the boys try the new stuff and the old stuff.

Mumford: My foursome includes some of the most creative shotmakers I can think of: Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros, Moe Norman and Tiger Woods. Sorry Mac O’Grady, it’s just a foursome. I’d caddy for Moe, not that he would need my input, but rather to catch all the little comments he would make after every shot. They would play Augusta National which Trevino doesn’t like but he may enjoy it better in this format where the winner of each hole decides where they play next, and options include the Par 3 course too. Second tee to 12th green? No problem. 13th tee to 16th green? I got this. They might have to administer oxygen to the Green Jackets for the anarchy, but all will be forgiven when Seve hits a towering approach over the clubhouse from Magnolia Lane onto the 18th green for the winning birdie.

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

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