2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open — #wampo

This week’s PGA Tour event is the Wampo! which is the shorter acronym, and hopefully what the twitter hashtag will be for anyone tweeting about the tournament.

Another interesting note is that if you go to their website, they mention that the two words are either “The Greatest Show on Grass” or “The People’s Open”. But then if you go look at their twitter, they use the hashtag #greenestshow for every tweet (and unfortunately not #wampo yet). So many phrases and words that they want associated with their event.

Here are the links to the GOTM twitter, instagram, and weekly email sign up. Follow them all, press play on the song below, and then read about what to watch for this week.

This week I really wanted to post a song from Run the Jewels new awesome album that was released on Christmas, but pretty sure I can’t exactly post one here since every song on this album has a bunch of swear words. So guess I’m going to go with an old Arcade Fire songs from 2010.

The 16th Hole

If you hit the green, the fans will cheer for you. If you miss the green, the fans will boo. This glorious simplicity allows for maximum cheering because most everyone watching at that hole will be drunk all day!

Currently, the 16th hole looks like this, which is an awesome pic from last year by GOTM correspondent Wyatt when he was at the event. The entire hole is surrounded by so many seats it basically looks like a colosseum, which is also what a bunch of people nicknamed the hole at this point!

Interesting that pretty much every seat there these days are boxes, paid for by sponsors, meaning there are only a few normal seats. So if you have a standard ticket and want to watch the 16th hole, you gotta get there early in the morning and just be prepared to sit there until players come through. And probably drink a lot cause that’s what everyone does all day.

Baller

Baller.

Besides how cool the hole looks now, it’s actually interesting to look back on older versions of the hole to see what it looked like before. The most interesting thing to note is how TPC courses designed by Pete Dye are all built with hills on the side of the holes so every fan who’s at that hole watching would be able to see easily above the person in front of them. TPC Sawgrass is like this, so when you watch the Players Championship in May, you can check out some of the same little hills that everyone can see off of.

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How good are the possible changes to the Rules of Golf?

A couple weeks ago, according to this Golfweek article here, the R&A director of rules talked with European Tour players before their tournament in Abu Dhabi and mentioned the new rules that the R&A and USGA are talking together about changing for 2020. Now we’re not sure if these are exactly the rule changes, or what the specific wording in the rule books would be since the phrases aren’t concrete, but we definitely have enough information here to talk about if we think they should change the rules or not. Note that each of the heading sections of this article are the phrases copied directly from that article, not my words. Here we go!

Who is that? Paula Creamer?

Who is that? Paula Creamer?

Reducing the search time for lost balls from five minutes to three

The easiest way to explain this is by pasting the tweet by Kyle Nathan:

Like, are they trying to change this rule to make rounds quicker? If you’re playing in a tournament and have to look for a golf ball, that two minute difference isn’t going to make the pace of play that much shorter. The pace of play in tournament rounds is long either because people’s attitude change and they take too long before hitting a shot, or because the course is set up way more difficultly than normal and everyone has way harder shots and shoots a bunch a more.

If you’re just playing for fun, don’t spend an entire 5 minutes or more looking for your ball. Look quickly, and if you can’t find it, toss a different one on the ground and keep playing.

Verdict: Dumb

Allowing players to repair spike marks on greens

Ooh here’s an awesome change.  There’s no reason not to allow people to fix any random big bump they find on greens. Those could be new ball marks, ball marks that were crappily fixed by someone who created them, or bumps that came from someone who doesn’t know how to walk correctly.

I remember playing tournaments in the past where everyone in our group would have to look at a giant bump on someone’s putting path and figure out if the person is allowed to fix it. That’s just super annoying, and for the most part, we all just tell the person that they can fix it because who cares where the bump came from. If this rule does get implemented people should be able to fix any of the giant bumps they want to.

This also would help any tournament on Tour since the players mostly use super spiked golf shoes which create a bunch of bumps that the putts of the players with the latest tee times have to roll over. You know how you don’t step in the putting lines that the players in your group are putting through? Probably good odds that someone in the group behind you will putt through where you actually stepped.

That being said, I think there are two issues to consider. First, I can see this as being super annoying to play with people who would spend a ton of time trying to flatten every little bump on the green on the entire path of their putt. Second, imagine someone has a 3ish footer, and they take their putter, and pound the green so hard that you have like a ravine where the ball can’t move out of it on the way to the center of the hole. As long as the rule talks about how light you need to flatten the spike marks, or just how fixing the spike marks is to flatten the green rather than create that ravine, then we’ll be all good. Overall though, good rule change here for sure.

Verdict: Ooh awesome

Allowing players to drop a ball from any height when taking relief rather than the current stipulation of shoulder height

I’m a little confused about this one here, because this change could create a couple problems, and I’m not really sure why they wanted to change this rule. For example, when you’re in a hazard you’re not allowed to have the club touch the ground (which is also an odd rule), but you’re allowed to have the club touch the grass. So you can almost have the club touch the ground. If they change this rule then, and it doesn’t matter how high to drop the ball, would you be able almost have the ball touch the ground before you “drop” it? If that’s the case, than you can get the ball so close that you’re basically putting it on the ground where you want and having great lies no matter what.

I’m guessing this is a possible rule change since shoulder height is different for a bunch of players, and letting you decide how high to drop it from will make that equal for players. Though really, the difference from dropping it like 6 feet compared to 4 feet isn’t too different since the ball’ll be moving fast either time before it hits the ground. Since dropping it really close to the ground can make drops not act like drops, we really gotta wait for more info and description of the change to see if this could be a good idea.

Verdict: Meh

More of an emphasis on using red stakes for water hazards while still allowing yellow stakes in some cases

Excellent, excellent, excellent. Last night, my brother-in-law and I were trying to sit and explain to my mom the differences between the rules of red stakes and yellow stakes (and even red stakes with green tops) since she wasn’t exactly sure, even though she’s been watching golf for 25 years

Quick info here: yellow means you can replay the shot, or drop the ball on the line that the flag and the point where the ball first went into the hazard creates as far back as you want. Red staked hazards are the same, except also you can drop two club lengths in any direction from where the ball entered the hazard, or on the other side of the hazard, just no closer to the hole. If that doesn’t make sense, check out this article which also describes the difference.

This doesn’t seem exactly a rule change, but rather advice for golf course designers or greenskeepers too tell them to just make pretty much all their hazards red instead of yellow. Just make every water hazard have the same rules and be done with it.

There are so many rules in golf that knowing the rules and not messing up when playing in a big tournament is somewhat tough. I’m a big fan of simplifying the rules, and getting rid of the yellow stakes for most hazards is a great idea.

Now that I’ve said that, there still might be the case for allowing some yellow stakes on a course. For example, having red water hazard stakes on the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass would be a little weird, and probably not what I’d want. Like if you hit it in the water over the green, you’d be able to drop it on the green for the most part, assuming you can find a place on the green that isn’t closer to the pin than where it went into the hazard. Same if you had too much spin on the ball, and it landed on the green and spun back into the water. As of right now with the yellow stakes, that means that if you miss the green in the water, you’re dropping in the drop area. Much more standard and easy to know than if it had red stakes. But really, that’s the only case I can think of that means yellow stakes are better. Use red for the rest.

Extending this rule actually makes me want to talk about this other rule I thing they should change to make golf better, but I’ll hold off here and probably write an article about all the rules golf should change to make it better. Look for that next week.

Verdict: Excellent x 3

Eliminating the use of club lengths for taking relief

Hey! I think this rule change is similar to the reason for the possible change of how high you can drop a ball that I talked about above. They want to make it similar for people of different heights, and in this case, similar for people with different lengths of their longest clubs. Time for some math.

Looking at putter lengths here, a long putter can be up to 54 inches if you’re tall (not Bernhard though). So two of those putter lengths for a drop would be 108 inches. Now Jimmy Walker’s driver is currently 42 inches after he made it 3 inches shorter than everyone else’s driver, and two of those lengths for a drop would be 84 inches. The difference is 24 inches meaning two feet! Now that’s a big difference.

So how exactly would this new rule tell players how to figure out how long they can go for their reliefs? Would tell players exactly how long their drops could be? Would players need to walk around with measuring tapes? Maybe just say they have to use their drivers and not putters since drivers are pretty much the same length and a couple inches won’t make that big of a difference.

I’ll admit here, that the first time thinking about this rule change didn’t really seem like a good one. But after the math, and thinking about the difference between longest club lengths from guys on tour, it seems like a reasonable change.

Verdict: Decent

Last comment here overall — all these rules in golf are for tournaments. Remember, if you’re just playing with your friends for fun, you can do whatever you want. Drop balls after hitting it in a hazard wherever you want, look for your crappy shots for as long as you want, drop the ball from as high as you want, from how far away from the hazard as you want, and fix whatever you want on the greens. Play quick, and have fun.

2017 Farmers Insurance Open — Being played at a course Tiger has won 8 times

We’re back! No more tumor in my brain, and starting to feel better from the surgery, so time for more weekly previews. Though the fourth tournament of the year, this southern California event is by far the best full field tournament thus far and is on our first NFL-less weekend since September 2016 (we don’t count preseason or Pro-Bowl). A tournament with a lot to watch for coinciding with our first football-free weekend makes for an extra fun preview. But first, music:

Tiger

Yes, Tiger Woods is playing. And if you didn’t know that before reading this, then you really need to follow golf more because everyone’s been talking about him playing this week. This is his first tournament in 17 months! So get excited.

It’s really going to be interesting watching him and seeing how he plays. Back a few weeks ago when he played in the Hero World Challenge, Tiger had the most number of birdies, but still finished T15 (30 players total).

Basically he’s like Brett Favre. Brett really was a great quarterback when he played in the NFL, tons of touchdowns, tons of great passes, but anytime he had the lead going into the 4th quarter, all us Packer fans would sit there worried that he was going to mess up, throw an interception, and we’d lose the game because of it. Oh Brett.

Same with Tiger it seems now. He hits a bunch of good shots, makes putts, and had the most number of birdies in the field. But I was so nervous watching every tee shot he was about to hit in that last tournament because it seems like his bad shots are so far away from the fairway and end with the possibility of him trying to avoid doubles and triples. Oh Tiger.
Anyway, I can’t wait to watch Tiger and root for him. He’s won 8 different tournaments at Torrey Pines (7 Farmers Insurance Opens and 1 US Open) so he knows the damn course as well as he can. And for real, it’s going to be great to see him compete again.

TaylorMade

Oh yeah, the other thing about Tiger is his new clubs selection! Nike’s decision to get rid of making clubs meant two things. First, they decided to increase the number of clothes they’re going to make with the Nike swoosh, so Tiger, Rory, and now Jason Day will all be wearing that. Second, all the Nike sponsored players need to find a new brand for all their golf clubs! For example, Rory switched over to Callaway equipment a while ago before his injury. Tiger however, hadn’t told people what clubs he was switching to until this (Wednesday) morning! Drumroll please….

TaylorMade!!!!!! What’s interesting is what he claims to have done to determine which club brand to go with. Apparently he tested all different brands for several months and eventually chose TaylorMade because those clubs were “better” for him. But why did he actually choose TaylorMade? Like was it the quality of the their clubs that really made him decide to use those from now on? Or did it also have to do with the amount of money and advertising that they’re going to give to him?

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2017 CareerBuilder Challenge

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Just a quick little write-up about the CareerBuilder Challenge as Jack is still on the mend. The old Bob Hope remains a pro-am at heart with celebrities competing alongside the pros this week. We’ll see three (3) not terribly memorable courses over the first three rounds (La Quinta, Nicklaus Something or Other, and TPC Stadium West) that showcase brown rough, green fairways and greens, mountain views, and stupid low scores. Honestly, it would not be at all surprising to see another #59watch or two, even with the “bad weather” that is supposedly in the area. Also, it’s a three-day cut, so get ready for a rare weekend Bowditch sighting and a near double-digit under par cut-line.

Looking through the field and it’s… abysmal. Well, maybe not that bad, but not good by any stretch. Phil Mickelson has committed to play the event at the last minute, having played fewer than a handful of rounds since multiple back surgeries in the off season. Lefty also has duties as Tournament Host to look forward to, so his success outlook is worse than Kenny Pigman’s (a real player in the field and totally not just a made up name). In all reality, Patrick Reed is the best player in the field, and having won here in the past is a definite favorite to win this week. Other potential top finishers this week include Bill Haas, Charlie Hoffman, and David Lingmerth, who have all enjoyed past success in this event.

That’s enough about the CareerBuilder Challenge, whoever wins better be ready to shoot -25 if past results are any indication.

European Tour – Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Jack’s Summary: DJ, Fowler, Euro guys, but no Rory. Much better tournament to watch. Better players.

Mike’s Summary: Jack is correct. Rory’s out with a stress fracture in a rib, but he is still ferocious on Twitter, brutally mauling Brandel Chamblee with this: https://twitter.com/McIlroyRory/status/821752324448288769

The field over in the Middle East this week has a far superior field compared to the CareerBuilder, and it’s good to see a couple top Americans making the trip to compete against the world’s best. I’m still disappointed I didn’t pick Jordan L Smith (who will be eligible for WGC events and majors this year, mark my words) with my final pick in the fantasy draft. He’ll probably take top 5 this week in Abu Dhabi.

PGA Tour Rookie C.T. Pan is on Instagram:

He has cool pictures, and also uses the video of a day to show where he’s traveling. Follow him at @ctpan63

This view is priceless. Sets a good tone for the week!

A post shared by C. T. Pan (@ctpan63) on

GOTM 2017 Fantasy Golf — The Draft

 

The 2017 fantasy golf season is upon us and the best part (the draft) has already come and gone. Beginning last year, six GOTM contributors have competed against each other in a year-long total money fantasy game with a single draft prior to the Sony Open. Each contributor selected 25 players via a snake draft. As usual, things got interesting once the upper echelon of PGA Tour players had all been selected. Also not surprising, a healthy Tiger Woods garnered early interest, but can’t believe how long it took to actually be selected.

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Below are the draft results for each of the six contestants as well as short recaps about how each of them feel the draft went.

Patrick

Dustin Johnson
Justin Rose
Jon Rahm
Jim Furyk
Ryan Moore
Gary Woodland
Charl Schwartzel
Charley Hoffman
Daniel Summerhays
James Hahn
Jon Curran
Adam Hadwin
Patton Kizzire
Graham Delaet
Bud Cauley
Aaron Baddeley
Brian Stuard
Seamus Power
Michael Kim
Billy Hurley III
Ricky Barnes
Jonas Blixt
Andrew Loupe
Cameron Smith
Peter Malnati

I (unwillingly) took the first pick in the 2017 draft and had to go with Dustin Johnson.  From there my picks just kept getting better and better.  All joking aside I’m very happy with my 11 rounds and then things got dicey.  It seemed like we ran out of good players to draft earlier than last year.  I’m banking on James Hahn, Adam Hadwin, John Curran continuing to play well and hopefully getting wins in 2017.  I also took a flyer on Bud Cauley who was out on medical last year and Graham Deleat who had a terrible 2016.  I think I finished the draft strong with my last 4 picks (Jonas Blixt, Andrew Loupe, Cameron Smith, Peter Malnati).  2017 will be my year!

Player on my team I’m excited about is Jon Rahm.  I took him arguably way too early (3rd Round) but I’m hoping he plays in a lot of events and I almost positive he will get his first win this year.

Best value: I’m really banking on Graham Delaet have a turnaround from last season because last year he was absolute garbage.  Doesn’t help having the yips but towards the fall he seemed to be on the mend.  Getting him at the 84th pick may be a great call by me… or absolute garbage.

My biggest regret is not a player that I didn’t pick but rather some that I just missed.  I really wanted Ollie Schneiderjahns as I had him last year and he made me a whopping $0.  Now he actually has his card and I think he’ll make some serious cash.  I also missed on Danny Lee and Harold Varner III who I think will have good years and they play in like 30 events.

Best pick on any team: Jon Rahm – He’s better than everyone else at golf.

Worst pick on any team: Xander Schauffele – Probably a good rookie with great potential if he wasn’t a made up German children’s book protagonist.

Jack

Hideki Matsuyama
Adam Scott
Rickie Fowler
Zach Johnson
Kevin Kisner
Thomas Pieters
Smylie Kaufman
Danny Lee
Patrick Rodgers
J.J. Spaun
Ollie Schniederjans
Luke Donald
Martin Kaymer
Wesley Bryan
Matt Jones
Victor Dubuisson
Byeong-Hun An
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Andy Sullivan
Bernd Wiesberger
Thongchai Jaidee
Max Homa
Rick Lamb
Joel Dahmen
Kevin Tway

If you look up our article on what’s to watch for in 2017 golf, I said there’s a great chance H-dek would be the best, and if not, second best behind DJ. And since I selected second, and Pat took DJ with the first overall selection, pretty easy for me to pick H-dek here.  I got to keep Byeong-Hun An from last year with my 17th round pick, which seems to be a pretty good deal for someone who’s going to be playing in the majors and WGCs.

Also shoutout to Sara for making my last four picks while I was knocked out getting my temporal surgery done last week (I gave her a list to go off of). Max Homa is a good pick, but besides him… yeesh. I literally have no idea who Joel Dahmen is, so gotta be a big fan of his from now on. Very excited about Dahmen.

Most excited about (my team): Joel Dahmen, for obvious reasons.

Best value pick (my team): Dahmen, Joel. Late rounds = great rounds, baby.

Biggest Regret (my team): J. Dahmen. I should have taken him far earlier.

Best pick (any team): The Dahmster, hard to beat this pick regardless of round.

Worst pick (any team): Joel Dahmen.

Grant

Jason Day
Brooks Koepka
Matt Kuchar
Tiger Woods
Emiliano Grillo
Chris Kirk
Kevin Na
Keegan Bradley
Tony Finau
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Danny Willett
Jamie Lovemark
Russ Henley
Pat Perez
Andrew Johnston
Luke List
Hudson Swafford
Grayson Murray
Chez Reavie
Lucas Glover
Anirban Lahiri
Robert Streb
Jason Bohn
Beau Hossler
Robert Garrigus

I know way less about golf and am way worse at golf than the other members of the league. I make up for this knowledge handicap by having irrational confidence in certain players. Even though I got 5th last year I went with a strategy of loading up on players I had last year. Question: If you have a high opinion of a player and he underperforms your expectations in one year then does that mean that, based on the law of averages, said player has to overperform in the following year? Answer: ABSOLUTELY! Of my 25 players, 8 of them were on my team last year and drafted based on that completely logical reasoning. On the very low likelihood that sound logic doesn’t turn out in my favor I have a guaranteed 5+ Tiger(!!!) victories this year as a nice fall-back.

Player on my team I’m excited about: Tiger!! 4th round– I almost took him a round before I actually pulled the trigger on him. I had to have him. I’m already fully in the tank on cheering for his success this year and to not have had him on my team would have been tragic. I have no idea if the value is correct where I got him but I’d rather lose this league with Tiger than win it without him.

Best value: Robert Streb 22nd round– I drafted Streb in the 6th round last year and he woefully underperformed for me. However, given that he made $4M two years ago I feel great about the potential value to be offered as a 22nd round draft pick if Mr Vertical Follow-Through can find get any closer to that 2015 form.

Pick I liked least/regret: Chris Kirk 6th round– By the time we got to round 6 I had run out of top guys I was excited about and wasn’t yet ready to jump into my sleeper/breakout guys. I did a little research and felt like Chris Kirk might be decent value. However, he bores me and I immediately regretted this pick. The only thing I could find interesting about this guy (who I don’t believe even has an Instagram account – c’mon man!) is that he was somehow listed by Golfweek as one of their best dressed golfers of 2016 for this meh look at the Dean & Deluca Invitational last year.

Best pick on any team: Daniel Berger 6th Round by Mike– I hate his swing but feel like he’s a great breakout candidate this year. He’s the guy I was planning on taking in round 6 before Mike sniped him 2 spots before me and I ended up with the ‘stylish’, missed-the-cut-in-every-2016-major Chris Kirk

Worst pick on any team: JJ Spaun 10th Round by Jack – He was the first guy drafted who I had not previously heard so when he was drafted I looked up his pgatour player card and, other than bearing a striking resemblance to actor Michael Pena, I couldn’t find any information to make me think he will be good this year.

Zach

Jordan Speith
Henrik Stenson
Branden Grace
JB Holmes
Jimmy Walker
Scott Piercy
Jason Dufner
Roberto Castro
Jhonattan Vegas
Jason Kokrak
Richard Sterne
Francesco Molinari
Sean O’Hair
Steve Stricker
Cody Gribble
Lee Westwood
Colt Knost
Mackenzie Hughes
KJ Choi
Kyle Riefers
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Ryo Ishikawa
Geoff Ogilivy
Shawn Stefani
Alex Cjeka

“If there was any strategy, it was to identify players who would play a lot in the states, or could at a minimum conceivably do some monetary damage in the majors. I also had the first pick [Jordan Speith], which was pretty hard to screw up this year.” – Zach Zangl on his 2016 Fantasy Golf Draft

Holy Trap! How off base was that quote?!?! – I managed to draft a lot of guys who didn’t play much in the states, specifically picking three guys who didn’t make a single dollar. Further I had the worst pick in 8 of the 25 rounds, and had the second worst pick of the first round going with Speith. That’s some hot stuff right there.

So my motto for 2017 is that I can only go up from here. I continued to try and pick folks I like to watch and hence have some retreads from last season (Speith, Dufner, Aphibarnrat). My other thought was to target players who made big jumps in the world rankings over the course of last season (Stricker, O’Hair, Kokrak, Dufner). Even though Speith wasn’t much of a #1 last year, he is still one of the best and worth the 4th pick in the draft. Took some early risk with Stenson and Grace, as they play a modified tour schedule, but I couldn’t pass up on Hank in the second round and I think Grace is eventually going to win a major (this year would be a big help for me). I don’t know a lot about a number of cats I took in the later rounds so I am excited to learn about some “new” players…players actually playing in PGA tour events.

A) Player on your team most excited about: Jason Dufner – I like watching him play golf.

B) Pick on your team with most value: Lee Westwood – Normally not one of my favorites, but I think this is a rebound season for him and he’ll contend in a major or two. If he wins $2m in earnings, I would be overjoyed.

C) Pick on team we like least/regret: Colt Knost – he is physically tough to look at.

D) Best Pick on any team: I loved Grant’s early move on Brooks Koepka. He is one of my favorites.

E) Single Worst Pick on any team: Rory McIlroy – wish he’d just give up the game already.

Rock N Roll,

ZZ

Mike

Rory McIlroy
Paul Casey
Bubba Watson
Brandt Snedeker
Russell Knox
Daniel Berger
Marc Leishman
Louis Oosthuizen
Brendan Steele
Charles Howell III
David Lingmerth
Webb Simpson
Alex Noren
William McGirt
C.T. Pan
Kevin Streelman
Tyrrell Hatton
Fabian Gomez
Jerry Kelly
Bryson Dechambeau
Martin Laird
Ben Martin
Thorbjorn Olesen
Xander Schauffele
Curtis Luck

Draft Recap: As the reigning league champion (*waving hands like I just won an Olympic gold*), I was awarded the 5 pick for the draft. Initially I thought I’d be screwed into having to choose between an oft-injured Jason Day, a hit-or-miss Jordan Spieth, or an un-root-forable Patrick Reed. Luckily Rory fell into my lap, so there’s a guaranteed $10 million. From there I tried to be pretty stock as far as proven players. Disappointed that Bubba fell to the end of the 3rd round so I had to take him with a frown on the outside. Other than Rory, Russell Knox was my favorite value-wise pick in the first 10 rounds. On the other hand, Paul Casey was a bit of a stretch early in the second round, but his recent form and the number of events he plays in leads me to think he’s prime for a win or two. In the later rounds, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen are going to dominate WGC’s and Majors, while C.T. Pan and Curtis Luck (am) are going to let me down like elevators. Thorbjorn is team Captain.

Most excited about: Thorbjorn Olesen. Thunderbear. My dude. Came on strong after some injuries in the past few seasons with a win in Turkey and looked exceptional at the World Cup of Golf last month.

Best value: Alex Noren. Ranked 9th in the in the world at the time of the draft, the Swede had four wins on the European tour last season. He dropped to the 13th round, likely due to a limited U.S. tour schedule, but c’mon… 9th in the world in the 13th round.

Biggest Regret: Curtis Luck. I waffled on the 25th round pick and was disappointed with my selection immediately. I really wanted to take Jordan L. Smith, who just took 3rd in South Africa in a Euro Tour event. Didn’t trust my gut and regret it. Also Luck is an amateur and is likely to remain so until after the U.S. Open. Hoping he gets enough sponsor’s exemptions after turning pro to make some money.

Best pick on any team: Lee Westwood. The guy can flat out roll the rock. In fact he rolls the rock far more often than he should.

Worst pick on any team: Richard Sterne. Zach… I’m sorry.

Avery

Justin Thomas
Patrick Reed
Phil Mickelson
Sergio Garcia
Bill Haas
Billy Horschel
Kevin Chappell
Harris English
Ryan Palmer
Harold Varner III
Graeme McDowell
Ian Poulter
Nick Watney
Brian Harman
Shane Lowry
Cameron Tringale
Jim Herman
Soren Kjeldsen
Bryce Molder
Si-Woo Kim
Blayne Barber
Bobby Wyatt
Freddie Jacobson
Trey Mullinax
Brandon Stone

First off, I missed out on Rory. I chose to pick in the 6th spot over 5th thinking that McIlroy was a lock in the top-4 and would be gone. However, I’m not complaining about ended up with Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed. I think there is major success this year. Moving on, I really like my squad’s selection from round 13 on. I honestly was disappointed the draft ended when it did as I had a few more guys ready to go waiting to be selected. I love the mix of PGA Tour veterans who cash checks like Harman, Herman, Molder, and Jacobson. I love the mix of risky young guys like Barber, Wyatt, and Stone. Brandon Stone is a multiple European Tour winner, top 100 in the world and picking up a few starts in 2017 on the PGA Tour. I love the mix of Europeans who are planning on playing more in US in 2017 like Lowry and Kjeldsen. Oh yeah, I love one of my keepers, Si Woo Kim. There wasn’t a better value pick than him in the entire draft.

A: player on my team most excited about: Justin Thomas slightly over Soren Kjeldsen. JT already has two wins on the season and is poised for more.  Kjeldsen plans to play a lot in US this year so I like his prospects.

B: best value on my team: Freddie Jacobson in round 23 was a steal.

C: least favorite pick on my team: Ian Poulter is round 12 was a bit of a reach as he is on medical extension but one good start sets him up for the year.

D: best pick overall: Rory McIlroy falling into your lap at the 5th  spot overall is definitely up there but that was too easy so I’ll give credit elsewhere. Francesco Molinari in the 12th round is pretty good. A guy that gets his PGA Tour starts and is top 35 in the world in the mid rounds is going to be fruitful.

E: worst pick overall: Other than choosing to pick 6th overall and thus missing out on Rory in the draft, my worst selection is probably going to be Richard Sterne in the 11th round by Zach. It was such a shock, that don’t even know why it was bad other than it wasn’t good.

Top 5 New Courses I Played in 2016

First off, sorry for the click-baity title there, but how else was I supposed to describe a list of golf courses? With that apology out of the way, I won’t waste time introducing this post since I’m sure people never read anything other than the titles in list posts. Also, this article isn’t meant to be full reviews of the courses, that would take up too much space. Rather, this represents a quick hit on some of the notable courses I got to play this past year. They aren’t ranked against each other, but instead listed in the time order I played them. First up, Alabama.

Ross Bridge

This past end of January 2016, so coming up on a year ago now, I had a week off and went to play some solo golf down in Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. And if you didn’t see some of my comments from back then, I highly highly recommend the trail.

None of the courses I played were below average, and what was great also was that it was the “offseason” which meant that it was cold enough to keep the locals away, but warm enough for me and my resistance to cold weather when golfing.

Of all the courses, I’ll highlight Ross Bridge. Mostly because it tips out at 8,191 yards, with a rating / slope of 78.5/135. It was also great because I was literally, and I mean literally in the literal sense, the only person to play the course that day.

The cloudy sky, and lack of overseeded rough also made for some cool pictures.

The one thing that happens with an 8,000 yard course is there’s very little variation in the lengths of the holes. The par threes were all about 225 yards, and likewise on up with the par 4s and par 5s. I can’t imagine having a course that long with a drivable par 4 or something, though I think Erin Hills can claim that honor, which is over 8k and has a drivable par 4 on the second hole.

A few notes on the other courses I played on the trail: The ones at Capitol Hill were awesome, only issues were that it was in the 30s to start (cold to even me), and also that the cart ran out of juice on my second 18 of the day around the 13th hole. Oxmoor Valley was also baller, with the Ridge course being on a ridge. Scroll through those pictures on the link and check out that elevation. It was great. Also great that I got 54 holes in that day with only having to play through 2 groups. Now that’s the best.

Sand Valley

If I only played 13 of the holes at a course, does it still count as playing a full round? Definitely not handicapwise, but in terms of this post, it sure as hell does.

The newest of the Coore Crenshaw production courses only had the front 9 officially open when we played in July, with 10, 16, 17, and 18 open for play, but without tee markers, which made finding the tees on number 16 very difficult.

The course was so new when we also played it that they were in the process of digging out grass that had grown its way into the newly sanded bunkers. The expression on the face of this high school aged dude who was doing the digging showed that he really really didn’t want to be there. But hey! That’s what summer jobs are supposed to be right?

It’s very hard to describe this type of dry, links golf when most people are used to the tree lined country club style courses with lush rough and round greens. Coore Crenshaw do use some of the “template” holes that you’ll see on those old school courses (like the punch bowl 17th, or the redan 3rd), but a lot of their green designs are novel. I think my favorite example of this is demonstrated in the second hole, with a wide fairway to the left, and an offset green to the right. Challenging the right side leads to an easier approach shot, both visually and slopewise, but there’s also a pack of trees to that side which can screw you if you veer too close.

The new Coore Crenshaw courses also feature the hip runoff areas without rough that are becoming more and more popular. Think the Olympic course by Gil Hanse, or any of the British Open rotation courses. Rough is out, runoff areas are in.

I was also a fan of the elevation change on the property out there. A lot of design has to do with the piece of property you’re given, and unless you pull a Pete Dye at Sawgrass where he made a course out of swamp, it’s hard to get that super highly ranked course design unless you have some elevation.

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Trinity Forest — Coore & Crenshaw in Texas

I’ve said before that to be a cool kid in the golfing world, all you need to do is talk about all the Coore & Crenshaw designed courses you’ve played in your life. And last week, a couple other of the GOTM guys (and gal) and me made it down to Dallas for a post-Christmas golf trip where the location was decided by finding a direct flight to somewhere without snow. Dallas got checkmarks for both of those, and also was home to Trinity Forest, one of the newest Coore Crenshaw designs.

Photo taken from their website, linked above.

Photo taken from their website, linked above. Sixth green short, 13th green long and left of it.

Trinity Forest, plunked just south of the city and home track for SMU’s golf teams, opened in the spring of 2016, and the big wigs of Texas also gravitated to the course right away. Jordan Spieth becoming a member (he can’t play Dallas National every day amirite?), nobody’s favorite side-saddle putter with the SMU ties, Bryson DeChambeau has also joined. Throw in a former president in Dubya, and you’ve got yourself a Texas party. Also while we were out there, Cameron McCormick was giving a presumably $500 an hour lesson, and Emmett Smith was somewhere on the course, but try as we might, we had no luck in finding him.

Facility-wise, the main clubhouse is still (and was) being built, but the makeshift trailer clubhouse has to be the best trailer clubhouse in the history of trailer clubhouses. Full bar, lockers, showers, all the hair and beauty products that could possibly be needed in a men’s locker room, lounge room, TVs, shoe shine equipment, and even M&Ms that Dylan crushed after the round.

The attitude at the club was awesomely laid back too. There was a group that went off along with us, them starting on #10, who went off with those Golf Board things. Pat asked our forecaddy Jesse about the policy on phones and cameras on the course, and Jesse gave a look of “why would there be any issues with using phones?” When we rolled up in the carts that we took from the parking lot, there were a bunch of push carts there if we wanted them. And at the turn, the guy working brought out a foam cooler of beer at Dylan’s request.

We headed to the practice facility first, which featured a range with an indoor teaching area (where McCormick was teaching), and on the other side, a giant facility which we learned was for the SMU team. Off to the side was a giant sloping putting green with only 3 holes cut for some reason, and connected to that was a chipping area with bunker. Off past that was a 9 hole short course, which we didn’t play.

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2017 SBS Tournament of Champions — The real start of the PGA Tour season

Welcome back to the 2017 series of GOTM previews! This week, the Tour starts it’s two week stretch in Hawaii, while the rest of us are stuck in the cold continental (I’m presuming at least) US. Here’s what to watch for, and some music, as always.

Shoutout to the flute in the chorus here. Can it be a chorus without lyrics? I’m gonna say yes.

What the hell is SBS?

My first attempt at figuring out what SBS logically involved I searched Google. Which for a hot sec led me to believe that SBS referred to this Australian Broadcasting Company thing. I half rationalized it by thinking that Hawaii was like, almost in Australia, so that’s not unreasonable for an Australian Company to sponsor the tournament! Yeah, that was dumb.

Who are you SBS?!?!?!?!?

Who are you SBS?!?!?!?!?

Then off to looking at wikipedia, where I hit an article that disambiguates SBS, and instead of having one company stick out as the sponsor, I was left with something like 50 different SBSs. I actually started clicking on all of the links there, trying to match the logo from the wikipedia page to the tournament’s logo, and then also realized that was really dumb.

Finally, after searching PGA Tour dot com and finding nothing, I landed on the tournament’s wikipedia article which chronicled the saga of title sponsorships for the event. SBS refers to Seoul Broadcasting System and actually was the title sponsor back in 2010. Hyundai took that over in 2011 (both Korean brands), while SBS was still a sponsor, though not title-wise. A little change up last year, with Northern Trust taking over a FedEx Cup event, Hyundai, who “is headquartered and heavily invested in the greater Los Angeles area” will take over the event at Riviera, and SBS is back titling the ToC!

Excellent sleuthing by me, and all that was left to do was edit the tournament’s wikipedia article with the new information. Though really, you’d think the PGA Tour would do a little more at making it easy to figure out who’s sponsoring their events. But that’s just me.

No issues with the NFL Playoffs

My first thought when thinking about watching this weekend’s action was about how in the world the PGA Tour could expect anyone to watch the golf, when I know everyone here is going to be glued to their TVs watching the Packers take down the Giants at Lambeau. And then I realized I was an idiot because the Tour is off in Hawaii, meaning that the action will just get started over there right after the Packer’s victory.

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The Development of the Young Guns Tour

“I’ve never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players creating exciting performances.”PGA Tour Commissioner

– Tim Finchem, end of 2010

The PGA Tour is getting younger. This isn’t something that happened overnight but is something that has been slowly changing the tour landscape over the last twenty years.

So what happened twenty years ago? …Tiger Woods happened, but, much has already been written about Tiger’s epic and trailblazing career along with the correlating increases in tournament purses, tv money, player earnings, longer courses, etc. that his dominance brought to the game.

The development and emergence of younger players has taken the tour to a new level, one that thrives with or without The Big Cat. The first young gun that came on the scene post-Tiger  was Sergio Garcia, who as a 19-year old kid was prancing down fairways at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship chasing Tiger. Eventually, Tiger held off Garcia, but this duel nonetheless started one of, if not the most dominant era of golf.

We all know this jump from a baby-faced Garcia.

We all know this jump at Medinah from a baby-faced Garcia.

By the end of 2000, Tiger had defended his PGA Championship and was a few months away from completing the Tiger Slam. If you take a look at what the top 50 in the world looked like then, you’ll see an average age of 34.3, with 12 players in their 20’s, and one of them was under 25 years old (Sergio Garcia).

Fast forward five years later and the tour actually got older. At the end of 2005, the average age of top 50 in the world was 35.5. Only seven players in there 20’s and Garcia was still the lone member under 25 years old in the top 50.

Over the next five years, Tiger Woods won four majors, including the U.S. Open on one leg, but also missed significant amounts of time on tour due to injuries and that Thanksgiving 2009 incident. During that time, several up and comers including Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler started winning tournaments and grabbing the attention of fans and sponsors alike.

At the end of the 2010 season, the average age of the top 50 players in world dropped to 32.06. Nearly three years younger than top 50 at the end of 2005. Now there were 20 players under the age of 30 in that group and five under 25! Sergio finally older than 25 was replaced in the top 25 by five guys.

In the last few years, players like Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson have joined the young guns by winning a lot and raising the bar. Actually they’ve lowered the age bar. Take a look at the current top 50 in the world at the end of 2016. The average age stayed relatively flat at 32.18, a group of 18 guys were under 30 but seven are under the age of 25 signifying that the best players in the world are getting younger.

Spieth, the poster child for young golf.

Spieth, the poster child for young golf.

Not only are the best players in the world getting younger, but they are getting better! The data from the same years but looking at just the top 25 players is more of the same.

TOP 25 OWGR 2000 Average Age: 32.84 ; Under 30: 8 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2005 Average Age: 35.76 ; Under 30: 3 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2010 Average Age: 34.20 ; Under 30: 7 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2016 Average Age: 31.48 ; Under 30: 12 ; Under 25: 4

Look at how the average drops over four years since 2005! Almost, half of the best 25 golfers in world are in their roaring twenties. Four of them are younger than 25 led by 23 year old Spieth who already has a couple majors. Tim Finchem thought there was excitement in 2010 around the youth on tour. As he enjoys retirement, he has to be beyond excited and overjoyed with the current crop of young guns and youth on tour.

What to Watch For in the 2017 Year of Golf

Welcome to golf in the year 2017! Most of these 2017 preview articles take either one of two directions. 1) Super boring lists of facts about the upcoming season or 2) Ridiculous lists of predictions that aren’t going to come true and where the author isn’t held accountable for their terrible foresight. So I figured, instead of sticking to just one of those standard forms of preview article, I present the GOTM mishmash 2017 preview!

And as Chance the Rapper notes at the beginning of the intro here (well actually, the line was taken from Kanye, but I’m crediting Chance for now), even better than I was the last time, and we back.

The Rise of Hideki

Most well known for the odd Srixon outfits he wears, which I’m not sure if Hideki picks out himself or if Srixon forces him wear presumably to appeal to the Japanese golf playing public. Pretty sure no random Joe in the US is going to be wearing this yellow getup just because Hideki wore it when he beat a flailing Rickie Fowler in a playoff (during the Super Bowl) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this past year.

What an odd shirt Hideki

What an odd shirt Hideki

Hideki is also hilarious to watch because of his displays of displeasure, and abridged follow throughs on what most people would consider decent shots. I can understand the desire to hit every shot perfect, but Hideki takes it to a whole new level. Compilation time! Watch the whole vid, it isn’t too long.

Classic Hideki.

All that being out of the way first, people quickly forget how good H-dek has been his entire life, dating back to his amateur career. He was the first person, as a 19 year old, to earn the Masters exemption for winning the Asian Amateur back in 2011, where he was also the low amateur that year, making the cut. In 2012, reached number 1 in the world amateur golf rankings. After his first professional year in 2013, he earned enough world-wide money to become a member on the PGA Tour in 2014, where he won the Memorial. After a lack luster 2015, where his highlighting accomplishment was t5 at the Masters, he won the WMPO early in 2016, and current, has won 4 of his last 5 events dating back to this October, including a victory at the Hero World Challenge.

Now obviously I’m not talking that he’s Tiger level, considering Tiger. But given his consistency from these last few years and the recent improvement makes him poised for a big breakout soon. And when I say “big breakout”, I mean top 3 in the world within 3 years.

Hideki is going to have a great 2017 no doubt, but I don’t know if I’m ready to proclaim him as number 1 in the world at the end of 2017 just yet.

DJ is best

With all my drooling over Hideki, I need to step back and make sure people know that Dustin Johnson will have the best 2017, money-wise, win-wise, sexy butter cut drivers that go forever-wise, and chiseled beard-wise.

Can't lose with that beard line. I mean, daaamn

Can’t lose with that beard line. I mean, daaamn

He’s got the most talent, and seems like he finally has the experience and self control to play well rather than party it up on yachts. And after all this time he appears to have learned to overcome his brother’s lack of caddying prowess and win nonetheless.

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