One hole to play before you die

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.

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau will play a 12-hole head-to-head match in Las Vegas next month. Is there anything about this latest exhibition that will compel you to watch and if not, how might the promoters make it more entertaining?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): For me, the promoters could make it more entertaining by announcing the event has been canceled.  However, that’s not going to happen, is it?  I somehow have the feeling that we’ve all been played for suckers the last three months, with this so-called “feud” between the two.  If they really detested each other, would they agree to participate in a cynical, made-for-gullible-viewers event?  In any case, I sure as heck won’t be watching.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Well, this Koepka/DeChambeau match might have held more attraction if this was prior to the Ryder Cup. Now, meh, I might watch it if I’m able to stream it for free somewhere. But I’m not dying or paying to watch it.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: What a farce! Call me when ‘golf’ is involved, or they duke it out.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: This fandango — what are the boys being paid to play act, by the way? — is all about half an idea. The other half is — entertainment, stupid! This format does not lend itself to watchable TV, but it could be partially salvaged by two dynamic and very funny great golfers. Problem: those two don’t exist. Second problem: it really ain’t these two. It only works for a very limited audience if these guys fake a hatred like the WWE scripts. For golf, it won’t work. Scrap it.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine @FairwaysMag): Pistols at 30 yards? Twelve rounds in the ring? I like the fact that it’s just 12 holes. In past Matches, sustaining any kind of dialogue or plot for 18 holes was a stretch but now the agony will be over faster. In succeeding years, they could shorten each match by three holes until there’s no matches. As Michael says, this isn’t golf, so we should all lower our expectations.

The ANA Inspiration is moving dates and venues and in 2023 will become the Chevron Championship. With a new sponsor, there will also be a huge increase in the purse. While the tournament has had several names and sponsors, it has been staged at Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA since the 1970’s and always associated with Dinah Shore. How does this shake-up in tradition sit with you?

Deeks: It’s kinda the same with the Bob Hope Classic (also in Palm Springs), that lost its Bob Hope identity a couple of decades ago, and has had numerous corporate sponsors since, but will always be known as the Bob Hope to golf fans over age 50.  It’s too bad that short-term corporate goals outweigh tradition, but so be it.  No sponsor, no tournament.  Why Chevron would want to associate itself with women’s golf is a question that probably only the CEO can answer, but the new sponsor could be a lot worse than an oil company.  Changing the venue is unfortunate from a tradition POV — especially for those fans who get all dewy-eyed over the annual Poppy’s Pond plunge — and will undoubtedly hasten the demise of Dinah Shore’s legacy.  But having played Mission Hills, and watched it being played for about 50 years, I can’t say I’ll miss it.

Loughry: Doesn’t sit well with me at all. I’m sure they will try and preserve the history, but you can’t do that when the sponsor takes the spotlight. Organizations should have control of all Majors IMO (for this very fact: its easier to roll sponsors/partners in and out while preserving the history of the tournament. And yes, although not asked, I do believe the Canadian Woman’s Open should be a recognized major.

Schurman: Times change and so must we. If things stayed the same, what would you answer to “remember when”. I love traditions but I also love to see the LPGA purses increase. The ladies put on a great show and deserve commensurate prize money. Mission Hills isn’t Augusta National.

Quinn: Dinah lost me when she hooked up with Burt, but that’s going back a bit. Ya, traditions die hard — we missed the broken ankles in Poppy’s Pond before they (duh!) broke tradition and deepened it — and the moaning is always drowned out by money. Chevron has enough employees within driving distance of the new venue to ensure a big gallery every year. Done and done. This Tour needs money and credibility, not sentiment.

Mumford: It’s a slap in the face to all of the volunteers, organizers, fans and local businesses that built and supported the Dinah Shore Kraft Nabisco Colgate ANA event from the beginning. The Palm Springs tournament earned its designation as a major. It’s terrific that Chevron wants to step up and sponsor the LPGA and it’s even ok if they hijack the event to Houston. Afterall, it’s their money. However, no way should it be a major. This one smells like the Evian fiasco. Majors are majors because of tradition, not just cuz some company writes a big cheque.

If you had to choose one final hole to play before you die, what hole would it be?

Deeks: So, so many holes I’d love to play… 18 at Pebble, 17 at the Old Course (where I sliced my ball into the hotel garden on my first and only attempt), number 3 at Mauna Kea, 17 at Turnberry (sorry, Trump Turnberry), number 5 at Portrush, number 16 at Golden Horseshoe in Virginia… but I think my favourite hole in all of golf, and while I’ve seen it in person, I’ve never played it, would be number 16 at Augusta.  So pretty with the water all the way along the left side, a challenging green which gives you a great chance at a birdie or an ace if the pin’s down on the left side… how many magical moments have we all watched on that hole over the years?  Just to have one shot off that tee would fulfill just about all my lifelong dreams.  Pretty confident I’d make the hole-in-one.

Loughry: Road hole at St Andrews (#17), its just so iconic. Tough hole, a death greenside bunker, OB all down the right and behind the green (and the road). You also have the clubhouse off to your left (of the green, looking up 1 and 18 fairway), it has everything I want in a hole all wrapped up into one: home of golf, it’s a tough par, and easily one of the most recognizable holes in golf, full stop.

Schurman: It would either be #1 at Summit because I grew up there as a caddy. and playing that hole would bring back a lot of great memories. My second choice would be any hole at St. Andrews because that would mean I had returned to the UK and was probably going to play the whole course. When we went there, I had suffered a bad accident which prevented me from playing for close to a year and it occurred two weeks before our departure. We (my wife and I) went anyway but all I could do was walk 6 or 7 courses that I had planned to play. I’d love to go there and stay for 6 or 7 months; playing in England, Ireland and Scotland. I love the place. Of course, selfishly, I could say the same about Augusta National.

Quinn: What’s with the dying? How about before ‘hanging them up’? Can’t imagine being able to play the day before; what with arranging the flowers, stocking the free bar, hiring the mourners…. sheesh. Have been lucky to play a lot of great holes around the world of golf, the most emotional being No 1 at St. Andrews as my maternal grandmother had grown up playing there. I would play it again with a par, but this time not hitting my second with a 6 iron off the path beside the fence that separates the right side of the 18th fairway from the Olde Towne. In my almost teary-eyed state, had come within a white-washed fence post of snap-hooking my opening shot off the Old Course. A do over, as a grand finale, would feel about right.

Mumford: I’m a big fan of the hero shot – one swing for glory or disaster. There are countless par-3 holes around the world that fit that description, from #16 at Royal Portrush to #17 at TPC Sawgrass to #16 at Cypress Point. While I’ve never played it, one hole that I’d love to try is #7 at Pebble Beach, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze blowing off the Pacific, waves crashing on the rocks below. It’s not a long hole but if I’m that old, I want a reasonable chance at hitting the green. Hate to go out on a missed GIR.

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

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