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.
Last week Adam Hadwin said he’s not sure he’ll play in the early events if it means leaving the flagstick in, no rakes in bunkers and no fans. PGA Tour players are notoriously finicky when it comes to competing within their own comfort level, but do you think many players will skip events because of the safety precautions?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Players who skip, because of distaste for the safety precautions you mention, get little respect from me. Live by the same rules as the rest of us, you pampered snobs. Players who skip because they feel it’s too early to play professional golf, and that corporate money provided for tournaments could best be used elsewhere to help fight the economic effects of coronavirus, get my undying respect.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Well, Adam is going to take some heat here. I’m not sure he fully understood what he was saying at the time. Totally a player’s choice to skip events for any reason, do I think that will be a prolonged choice. Nope. Pretty sure he’ll want to earn a living at some point, and these restrictions may be here to stay for a while. Will he be willing to give everyone a jump in earnings and points over a seemingly small accommodation for safety, I seriously doubt it. I think if players don’t feel safe, they will choose not to play, that seems more a reason than because a flagstick has to remain in the whole. That seems a bit much to me to pass on an opportunity to play.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: A lot of that decision comes to their TOUR position. If a rookie gains his card after 6 or 7 years on secondary tours and finds himself close to the top 125 (one side or the other) the topic is much different from a person with several exemptions. Safety is always first but the changes you point out are fundamental changes to the way a golf shot might be played. For example, a 4 ft putt to a raised cup far different from a slick downhiller to a regular cup. Some guys might see it as “monkey” golf.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I doubt it. Some of the modifications may be a little quirky, but it’s an even playing field for everyone. As I said last week, I don’t expect to see many big names anyway until we’re more out of the woods from COVID-19, and I truly believe that those players who rely on tournament earnings will just be happy to be out there making some income again.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (GolfAwayTJ): I was surprised to hear that Adam made those comments to be honest. For them to adjust to putting with the pin in shouldn’t be a huge issue in my mind, and if it that’s what they have to do to return to playing and making money, seems like a small concession. But everyone has their comfort zone, and as individual contractors, they can do what they please. I still think they’ll get decent fields for the first few events, my thought is that guys are itching to get back out there.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I think a lot of the guys will pass on events, for much weightier reasons than having to putt with the flag stick in. These guys aren’t rocket scientists, but most are more thoughtful than Hadwin was before that blurt.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): They may use the safety precautions as an excuse, but I think a lot of better players may stay home for real safety reasons. We can’t dismiss what Hadwin says though. Comfort level is extremely important and if the flagstick in the cup is bothersome to the player, then his confidence level will be diminished.
John Daly has suggested that he may have been his own worst enemy when it came to consideration for a spot on an American Ryder Cup team. Daly never qualified on points, but did he ever deserve a captain’s pick?
Deeks: Possibly, for the calibre of his play which, although spotty and inconsistent, was pretty darn good for a while. But for his character, conduct, public persona, immaturity, complete unreliability, and almost universal dislike from other players… nope, not a chance. (Did I mention his wardrobe?)
Loughry: Daly thinks there may be some doubt? Of course, he was his own worst enemy. You can’t pick that much of a wild card for the team knowing he might not make his tee time. Or affect the other players on the team negatively. Some guys aren’t cohesive in a team environment, and that’s how I see JD. Tremendous individual talent, fun as hell to watch.
Schurman: The biggest opportunity taken from him was when he won the PGA. Prior to that the PGA Champion always made the team but not that year. The only time a player has a legitimate reason to complain is when they finish in the top 12 on the points list and they are not selected. Daly didn’t do that so he had to rely on a captain’s pick and that can go any one of a thousand different directions.
Kaplan: In my books, he should have made the 1991, 1995 and 2004 Ryder Cup squads on merit alone. It’s a joke that a 49-year-old Raymond Floyd and a 50-year-old Jay Haas made a few of those teams over him.
Rule: That’s a fair (and pretty honest) statement from one of the most controversial players of all time. I’m pretty surprised he didn’t qualify for at least one team, given he’s a 2-time major champion, but the first one was out of the blue and he didn’t have any ranking points before that one. But in 1995, he had won the Open Championship at St Andrews, and also had a 1994 victory on his resume, so the fact he didn’t automatically qualify that year is surprising to me. Perhaps he would have made the one point difference the US needed that year! I guess it’s hard to say he deserved a captain’s pick since he was such a controversial figure and never really “played the game” in terms of the politics of professional golf. He walked to his own beat (literally, to his own country music beat!), and that hurt his chances at getting selected.
Quinn: I’ve seen Daly’s act up front and personal at Hootie and Blowfish Monday after the Masters charity event. If he behaved anything remotely like that on or near the Tour, he had no place on any Cup team.
Mumford: It would have been highly entertaining to see JD at a Ryder Cup but Captains, especially the American ones, approach these matches much like a military campaign, egged on by the golf media naturally (War on the Shore, Battle of Brookline etc.) They want highly disciplined players, which leaves no room for a wild card like Daly, who presumably couldn’t or wouldn’t follow orders or be a team player. Plus, no team captain would want to be in the position of trying to rationalize a Daly pick after he wandered off to Bizarro World.
It looks like golf courses will be open in Ontario soon, but travel restrictions will be on for at least a while longer. Pick a public course close to home that you’ve never played before that you’d like to play this year. (Hal, pls pick a B.C. course.)
Deeks: Though it’s about an hour away from home, I’ve never played Heron Point. It was a must-see 25 years ago, when it opened. Don’t hear much about it now, but I’d love to give it a go sometime.
Loughry: This will sound pompous, its not meant to, but this was hard for me to do, you almost can’t name a course within a few hours of me that I haven’t played. I’ve walked it, but it’s called Wilmot Creek Community Golf Course, its part of a senior community. You wouldn’t believe where its located, right on the shores of Lake Ontario in Newcastle, Ontario. It’s worth looking up as they have four holes that have a rather large wet penalty area to the right. I have no idea how they got clearance to build those holes on the waters edge (the course isn’t that old either).
Schurman: I’ve played 387 different courses in my life so there aren’t many around here I haven’t played. There are about 25 that I would consider close to me and I have played 18 of them and the others don’t appeal to me. However, one place that is within reasonable driving proximity that I have played but would like to play again is Grand Niagara. Also, although it’s one of my ‘home’ courses I haven’t yet played Braestone in Orillia with all the new changes. I hear it’s very good.
Kaplan: I’ve never played Copper Creek and would love to see for myself if all the hype around it is justified. But right now, I’d settle for a round at the worst golf course in the world.
Rule: Top of my list, and I’ve been trying to get to it for a couple of years now, is Seguin Valley. I’ve heard great things and hope to get up to see it sometime this summer!
Quinn: Have been promising myself every season to get out to the Mission Golf Club. Over 60 years old, it has been described to me by local pros as beautifully treed, demanding (have to shape it left and right), manicured (greens average 10 on the Stimp in summer) and the best 9-hole layout in B.C. It plays to 3,050 yards, the 9th the longest hole at 488 yards, and is said to be well worth the one hour drive east from Vancouver. Oh ya, it’s $28 in prime time, $42 if you want to go around again from the second tees. Gotta get there soon.
Mumford: We’re working on the Spring issue of Fairways Magazine (Where to Play in the GTA … and beyond) and have over 300 public courses in Southern Ontario to draw from. I’ve played 40% them and am looking forward to playing many more this summer. North Granite Ridge in Muskoka, Port Colborne Country Club near Fort Erie and Oakridge Golf Club in Port Perry are on my list of early ventures.