Last major before the FedEx Cup Playoffs finish up the tour seaso- Wait, they’re telling me that there’s another tournament, the “Olympics”, that is supposedly something that people want to win between the PGA Championship and the FEC Playoffs? We’ll talk about whatever the Olympics are when the time comes, but right now it’s time for the last major of the year, the PGA Championship!
Glory’s Last Shot?
You’ll hear that tagline all week, the PGA being “Glory’s last shot”. However, the problem now is that after the PGA we have the Olympics as well as the FedEx Cup, providing numerous additional opportunities at personal glory. And really, let’s be honest here, having two majors in three weeks really makes the second seem less important. Remember the pastrami sandwich from last week’s preview? The PGA Championship is that bottom piece of bread here in that metaphor.
Though it takes away from the glory of this tournament, I must give credit to the PGA Tour for what it has done with the FedEx Cup. In its short 9 year existence, the FedEx Cup has been elevated by the PGA Tour from somewhat of a gimmick into a legit 4 event series that players and fans actually care about. Damn right I’m gonna tune in every week and see who’s playing well at the end of the year.
Also, why the hell is glory’s last shot in July?! It’s the 7th month of the year. There are 12 months in the year if you didn’t know. Why can’t the tournament be, you know, closer to the end of the summer which would make sense? Oh yeah, the Olympics.
First off, that’s an impressive grouping of vowels in that word. According to Wikipedia, “Baltusrol Golf Club was named after Baltus Roll (1769–1831), who farmed the land on which the club resides today.” Wikipedia doesn’t say who came up with that brilliant naming scheme. If I ever farmed some land, and then later had a championship golf course built on top of my land, I hope they name it Schuljoh Golf Club in my honor.
Anyway, Baltusrol is kind of a weird course in the PGA Championship rotation. A USGA course for much of it’s existence, it apparently switched allegiance to the PGA somewhere between 2000 when it last hosted the US Am, and 2005 when it hosted it’s first PGA Championship. And despite hosting a bunch of top events, the course is relatively unknown in terms of design. I couldn’t think of what any hole specifically looked like until I googled it (see below). Players seems to like the design, and it’s hard to find controversy in hosting the PGA at a course with as much history as Baltusrol.
Also a fan of how the club’s logo is pretty much the golden snitch!
The 4th Hole
I didn’t even remember this part of the course, but apparently the 4th hole is famous!
Back earlier this year, I wrote an article about the most famous hole by number. And when apparently Baltusrol has one of the most famous 4th holes in golf. It does look pretty out there.
Also, looking at Rickie Fowler’s snapchat story, he had a pic of the 4th hole with grandstands surrounding it. Naturally, that means I screenshotted it and posted it here.
Though a preview for a different event isn’t exactly the place for this, but shoutout to Henrik Stenson for that Sunday 63. And now, Phil’s finished second in a major 11 times, which is incredible to think about, but still pales in comparison to Jack Nicklaus and his 19 runner up finishes! Jack’s finished second 19 times, and he still won 18 majors in his career. I know I talk about Tiger being the GOAT all the time, but damn Jack.
This week, defending champion and current world number 1 Jason Day tries to repeat at the RBC Canadian Open. But world number 2 Dustin Johnson will also be there trying to take that number one spot away.
In honor of Country Thunder this weekend, here’s some Eric F. Church.
Because of the dumb Olympics, the poor Canadian Open is the sandwich meat between the two pieces of major bread that is the British Open and the PGA Championship. Luckily in this metaphor, the RBCCO isn’t some crappy Oscar Mayer bologna, but some high class roast beef. Or possibly pastrami. Big fan of pastrami.
But really though, it has to suck when your event is moved from a normally fine spot in the schedule is forced to be the buffer between majors. Then again, it’s not like anybody is playing in the Olympics, so having some time off between the PGA and FedEx Cup playoffs means top guys don’t have to ditch on the RBCCO.
Back to Glen Abbey
Also of note, this is the second consecutive PGA Tour event outside the country. And as I mentioned last week’s preview, as a semi ignorant American that I am, I needed to look up on a map where Glen Abbey was, so I figured I should just include another screenshot of Google Maps so people out there know how close to the US they course is this week.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus back in 1977, it’s not known because it’s hosted the Canadian Open the most times, but also because of Tiger Woods hitting a ridiculous fairway bunker shot to one when he played there in 2000. Here’s a video of the shot that I know I’ve posted before, but definitely needs to be watched again.
Yes! The Canadian lefty is back this week to try his hand at making a cut. And because of that, I’m going to use this space to preach about why old guys who kind of suck still get to play in tournaments rather than the good up-and-comers from the Web.com tour. So feel free to skip to the next section if you don’t want to be told what to think.
The PGA Tour needs casual fans to watch tournaments and want to go to tournaments. Casual fans don’t want to see new players that have a chance to be stars. They want players who they actually know. It’s like going to a concert and not knowing any of the songs. Sure it’s interesting, but it’s not even close to as good as when you know the lyrics and can sing along. Yup, I just compared Mike Weir to a band playing a concert. Just remember, in general, just remember, old well known guys >>>>> new unproven guys in the eyes of the public.
Battle for No. 1
Along with defending champ Day, Dustin Johnson is also making an appearance this week. As with most Tour events, eyes will be on the best players. Though Day still holds the number 1 ranking thanks to the fantastic end to his season last year, DJ has definitely been playing the best of recent, beating Day during the final round of the WGC Bridgestone a couple weeks ago, right after winning the US Open.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Tour will pair the two guys together the first two rounds, or spread them out to get talent in both waves of tee times. I’d say put them together, I want a show.
Despite all the talk on the Golf Channel about players skipping the Olympics, we actually have a major being played this week! Crazy right? Poor British Open / Open Championship for getting semi overshadowed by a different event. That being said, it’s still a major, and the world’s eyes will be on Scotland this week, and for the most part, eyes that are thankful it’s sunny and warm where they are.
As always, music while you read.
What Makes a Course Royal?
Even after 25 years of being alive for British Opens, I guess I never thought of why some of the courses are prefaced with “Royal” in front of their title. And apparently there’s no real reason for this other than just the Royal family saying that something is cool enough to be Royal. Either way, Troon was granted Royal status in 1978, during its 100 year anniversary.
There don’t appear to be any Royal courses in the US, considering it wasn’t exactly a colony of the Brits back when golf courses started popping up in the early 1900s, but if there were, I’m sure the first would be Royal Lincoln Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That course definitely has the Royal feel, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Now I’m wondering if the Royal family can designate any location as “Royal”. Like could the Starbucks I’m writing this at be a Royal Starbs, or if the PokeStop around the corner from my apartment can be a Royal PokeStop.
At just 123 yards, the 8th hole at Royal Troon is dubbed the Postage Stamp, is one of the more famous holes in British Open golf, partially because it’s super short, and partially because it has a cool name. Look for the Postage Stamp hole to be featured heavily on television coverage. Also, if anyone out there wants to do some cool graffiti, I suggest spray painting the Queen’s face on the green to make it look like a real British postage stamp. Just don’t say you got the idea from GOTM.
Instead of me trying to describe it, how about I just let this nice Scottish man describe the hole while some sort of drone camera revolves around it.
Also, if you’re looking for some more videos about the difficulty of the hole, check out Rory making a 9 in a practice round. Those bunkers are really deep.
Last Time at Troon
Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els in a 4 hole aggregate playoff to claim his only major title. Yup that Todd Hamilton.
For some reason, the British Open seems to bring out some odd winners. Hamilton won in 2004, just two years after Ben Curtis, everyone’s favorite NFL sponsored pro golfer, won in 2002. Two guys who never really did anything before or after that win. But hey, can’t take away their names on the Claret Jug.
Apparently it does make a difference where in the UK the Open is played. Being the semi-ignorant American that I am, I always figured that it didn’t matter if the Open was played in England or Scotland. But apparently it does!
Since I couldn’t find a good map indicating where Troon was, I whipped out the screenshot again and got that picture below. Quite far up north. I also looked up sunrise and sunset times for Troon and apparently it’s only from 04:57 to 21:50 (9:50 for those incompetent at math). I always thought that Scotland would have ridiculously late sunset times, but 9:50 isn’t too unreasonable.
Despite what we talk about in the US, a links golf course is not just a course with open, tree-less, fescue laiden property. Links golf courses are ones where the front nine goes out from the clubhouse, and the back nine comes back to the clubhouse. Boom.
Checkout the super janky screenshot I took from Troon’s club’s website that shows the routing. The holes go out along the water, and then come back to the clubhouse.
Also, if you’ve ever heard the terms “outward 9” and “inward 9”, links courses are where they originated since holes literally go outward and then inward.
Also of note with the routing here, is that the first 6 holes play down the prevailing wind and are decently short, while the incoming holes are into the wind and longer. So don’t be surprised when players start off 4 or 5 under through 6, only to finish the round over par.
Early Morning Coverage
While I’m sure the networks love it when majors are played on the west coast, offering prime time coverage (remember the 2008 US Open at Torrey? TDubs winning playing in the evening was cool to watch) as a golf fan, I don’t want to have to wait and tap my toes all day for coverage to start.
This year, with tee times starting at 6:35 in the morning over in Scotland, 1:30am-4pm EST on Thursday and Friday. Go to a bar on Thursday night, and, at least in the midwest, you can get an hour and a half of morning coverage before the bars close. Then again, if you’re at a bar til 2 am close, you might not be able to wake up to enjoy the coverage all morning long. Watching golf is a balance.
What’s even better about that is that when the coverage is done, and you’re undoubtably pumped for whoever won, and all motivated to practice a lot and play yourself, you’ve still got 5 hours or so of sunlight left in the US to tee it up. And we all know, evening golf is best golf.
Even though coverage is moving to NBC / Golf Channel, Mike Tirico, my fave sports announcer is moving to that family of networks just in time to anchor coverage. Well I guess Johnny Miller will really be anchoring coverage, but Mike Tirico will be anchoring coverage in our hearts.
PGA Tour is back!
After a not desired week off due to flooding, the PGA Tour is back with an off week event, this time the Barbasol Championship down on the RTJGT. Check out coverage after the Open is done since we know you won’t have had your fix of pro golf at that point.
Time for another post major hangover! Luckily we have Tiger Woods to act as the Cool Blue Gatorade to help squash the throbbing headache we all have after watching DJ beat Oakmont and the USGA. It’s the Quicken Loans National!
Turns out new Band of Horses is as good as old Band of Horses.
Was anybody else out there as confused as I was when I looked at the schedule and realized that the tournament after the US Open is the QLN? Time to blame the stupid Olympics! The QLN is just the first event this year to be shifted to allow for the Olympics. This also means a PGA Championship in July, with just one event between the British Open and the PGA. That’s just dumb.
And because the Olympics are on NBC, and the Golf Channel is owned by NBC, you’re not gonna hear anyone in the media complaining about this. But really, golf in the Olympics are dumb. At least with the current format. I’ll have more on my dislike for it in the future, so get ready for at least a little more complaining.
Back to Congressional
After a year off, the QLN is moving back to Congressional CC, a classic course if there ever was one.
Most notably, Congressional is the site of Rory’s 8 shot victory at the 2011 US Open. I just looked at the scores again to make sure I had the numbers right, and Rory finished at -16, how’d the USGA let him do that?! They should have issued him a couple one stroke penalties to bring him down a notch or two or seven. /s
Rory will not be playing this week however, he’ll be in Germany for the BMW International.
Tiger in the house, just not playing
The PGA Tour loves having hosts, big names who can go there and call the tournament their own. Names bring people to tournaments. Casual fans don’t really care about watching “good golf”, they want to see players with names they recognize play golf. And having Tdubs associated with an event, even though he isn’t playing, it huge.
Anyway, as we all know, Tiger is unfortunately sidelined. Some reports saying that he reinjured himself (again) so who knows when, if ever, he’ll be back in competitive action.
Which actually, on a semi side note, is what makes Lebron the best. He doesn’t get hurt! Can you imagine playing that hard for 82 games, four 7 game series, getting hacked all the time, basically tackled at some points, and then having to do that for some 15 years? Injury prevention is severely underrated in a top athlete. That should be in the scouting report as a top level line item. Just ask Ryan Braun or Derrick Rose how that’s treating them during their careers. I get pretty excited imagining what could have been if only Tiger wasn’t hurt all the time.
Injured Tiger will be around the media this week, possibly deflecting questions about his health. So look for some speculative stories about his status coming from the media.
It’s that time of year again! With NCAAs done, the summer schedule heating up, the top ams turn pro, expect sponsor exemptions into these different tournaments. This week, we see the pro debuts of Arizona State’s Jon Rham, most recently the low am at last week’s US Open, and Jordan Niebrugge of Oklahoma State, previously the low am at last year’s British Open.
Amateurs like this, and others who will be highlighted in the coming weeks, are all trying to pull the Jordan Spieth move of playing well enough on the big Tour using sponsor exemptions to never have to dip down to the Web.com tour. A tall order for sure, but interesting to watch.
Look for more of these features in the coming weeks as other top ams attempt to transition.
The American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge in Madison, Wisconsin, or simply Am Fam Champ. In keeping with the times, Steve Stricker, who isn’t even old enough yet to compete in Champions Tour events, serves as host. The Madison native will be out on the grounds and playing in a 9 hole exhibition scramble event along with Brett Favre, Mark Tauscher and Andy North. Now that’ll be a highly attended 9 holes.
U Ridge is really a cool course, front nine more open, and then head to a tree lined back nine, so check it out on tv when they show replays of the coverage at night. I’ve never been to a Champions Tour event, but apparently they have fields of only 81, and everyone uses carts. Which just sounds awesome.
Finally time for another major! No more trying to think up things to watch for during a normal, standard, PGA Tour event. Lots to look out for, but the thing I’m most excited about is the fact that players can’t be complaining about the course! This is the 8th time it’s hosted the US Open, and while it’s well known for being really tough, no chance a player can go and say bad things about the course.
I feel like I first need to give a quick shoutout to Angel Cabrera, who chainsmoked his way to victory in 2007, the last time the US Open was played here. I don’t think I’ve every seen anyone get up to every tee shot and just rip drivers straight down the fairway, and then go to his bag and light another cig.
Shoutout to one of the catchiest songs I’ve been listening to lately. Now that I pasted the link here, I realize that it isn’t exactly a song that you’d use to pump yourself up for a US Open, but whateves, I’m gonna use this song anyway. Also, pretty sure Angel loves listening to this song too.
About the Course
I’ve never played there, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t watched enough of the course on tv and seen enough pictures to know a little about what’s going on.
Churchpew bunkers — They look like this and you’ll see them a lot this week in pictures and on tv.
Lots of rough — As seen in this Keegan Bradley Instagram post. There are a ton of Instagram posts already about how heavy the rough is at Oakmont, I just chose this one because I can point out how Keegan used the letter ‘u’ instead of typing the two extra letters and getting ‘you’. Come on Keegan, u r better than that.
Card of the week this week comes not from a tour event like normal, but rather from the US Open sectional qualifying from Monday. Patrick Wilkes-Krier, currently at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Michigan plays holes 1-11 at -11 under, and holes 12-18 in both rounds at +6.
Now granted, it’s not the perfect card because W-K started his first round on the 10th hole. meaning that he didn’t start off each round hot and then iceberg in the North Pole cold at the end. The breakdown ends up beine E through the first 7 holes, -9 from holes 8-30, and then +4 holes 31-36. A 9 under stretch in the middle of a USGA qualifier is damn impressive.
Probably made him feel a little uneasy bogeying 4 in a row down the stretch when he was fighting for one of only four spots up for grabs in Springfield. All is well that ends well, and pars on the last two holes gave him a four shot cushion above the playoff that was at 1 under.
Also, shoutout to Ypsi, and to Kyle Mueller, currently at Michigan, who also also qualified in Springfield! Check out full qualifying scores here.
The weather is heating up, and so are the top players in the world, just in time for the important tournaments of the summer. We move from Texas to Ohio, and Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournamet! Great field, really great course to watch on TV, and hopefully great golf to watch on TV if you’re stuck inside and can’t enjoy the nice weather yourself.
No music video with this week’s song, but this song’s a grower. Gets better with every listen.
What are they Memorializing?
Memorial Day was this past Monday, and the Memorial Tournament is this week. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the Memorial Tournament was memorializing the same thing that Memorial Day memorializes — soldiers who “died while serving in the country’s armed forces“. Which is something I don’t think a lot of people realize, that Memorial Day isn’t about veterans, they have their own day, called Veterens Day.
The Memorial Tournament has nothing to do with the armed forces, guns, or specifically dead people. Instead, according to the tournament’s website,
The Memorial Tournament is themed each year around a person, living or dead, who has contributed to the game of golf. This was Jack Nicklaus’ idea as a contribution to perpetuating achievements of the game’s greatest individuals. The honoree is selected by the Captains Club, a group of statesmen who act independently of the tournament organization, but who also advise on player invitations and the conduct of the event generally.
That sure seems like a lot of work to do if you’re selected as the honoree, so I doubt there’s actually any work involved other than showing up and getting your name on the “Wall of Honor”.
This year’s honoree is Johnny Miller, and the two posthumous honorees are Leo Diegel and Horton Smith.
About the Course
Built in 1974 by Jack for Jack,Muirfield Village Golf Club currently sits at 7,392 yards, par 72. Back when it was built, it stretched over 7,000 yards which in 1974 made it a long long golf course.
It’s a top rated course on Tour every year, and besides the yearly event, it’s also host of some bigger events, such as the Ryder, Presidents, and Solheim Cups, as well as a US Amateur.
And it’s sexy as hell to look at, even on TV.
Check out all the pics here. Just looking at the course screams a Nicklaus design as well. So many do or die shots, and through in a split fairway and there you have a Nicklaus course! Definitely be cool to play sometime.
As part of an agreement that stretches the sponsorship duties of Nationwide Insurance, the prize money for the Memorial has jumped. From a weak ass purse of only $6.2M last year in 2015, this year’s purse is $8.2M, and per the sponsorship agreement, the purse will increase by $200k every year until 2021. The winner this week will also get $1.53M, which is way up there compared to other normal non-major PGA Tour events. Big money gets big players, so this deal should ensure a top quality field for the foreseeable future.
Who to Watch For
Basically everyone. Because of the timing of the Memorial, after a semi-unappealing Texas swing and two weeks before the US Open meaning perfect prep time. Throw in that Jack Nicklaus is the host (meaning not playing could be considered a slight to one of the best golfers of all time), and that the course is great, and everyone plays. But let’s just concentrate on the top three players in the world shall we?
Jason Day — Dude actually lives in Columbus so this is a pretty much a hometown event for him. Oh, and he won his last start, the Players.
Rory — Two weeks removed from a great win in Ireland, his first since November of last year. Now it’s getting interesting with him. I still say he’s the most talented player out there, and the win two weeks ago (those 3 woods at the end? Swoon) shows he still has the desire. Oh, and he won his last start, the Irish Open.
Spieth — Big winner last week and absolutely put the bad rounds from the Masters and the Byron Nelson behind him. Does this mean he’s playing well? Yes. Does this mean he’ll play well this week? Not necessarily. Oh, and he won his last start, the D&D Invite.
H-Dek — Figured I could throw in Hideki here as well, even though he did not win his last start. He’s playing great overall, finishing 7th, 11th, and 7th his last three starts, and clearly loves this course winning two years ago, and finishing 5th last year. So congrats, H-dek, on earning a spot on this list.
You see there’s a little trend here. If these guys keep playing like this, it’s gonna be a fun summer of golf.
In probably the easiest CotW winner so far goes to Albin Choi during the final round of the Web.com tour’s ridiculously long named BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYNNEX Corporation. I swear, I’m just waiting for when tournaments start putting hashtags in their names. I’m just gonna show the scorecard and you can see for yourself why it’s such an easy pick.
Besides the 27 on the front 9 which is absolutely incredible, Choi mad 5 2s in the first 11 holes. Do you realize how difficult making a single 2 is? You gotta stuff a great shot with a long iron on a par 3 and then make a putt. How the hell is he gonna make 5 in the first 11 holes. Also big shoutout for his two birdies on 14 and 15. It’s gotta be pretty demoralizing being 9 under through 11 and then suddenly 5 under through 13. Great bounce back.
With his final round 64, Choi finished in a tie for 8th place. Not the worst, but oh, what could have been.
Choi didn’t even have the low final round! He was tied by Trey Mullinax who shot a weak front 9 30 featuring 6 birdies in a row. But Trey didn’t have a triple, and he only made 2 2s, so the CotW honor easily favors Choi.
After a weekend of Jason Day holding off everybody, including the tricked out TPC Sawgrass, we move on to a slightly easier venue. We are in everybody’s favorite city, Dallas, Texas. Seriously, what’s not to like about Dallas? Here’s what to watch for, and just a warning, there really isn’t much to watch for.
But first, the catchiest song ever:
TPC Four Seasons
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, an impressive 7 words long, hosts this week, measuring 7,166 yards at a par 70. It’s also got a giant hotel as a backdrop. It was designed in 1981, and then redesigned in 2008 by D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard, with player consultants, get this, Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry.
Now I haven’t played the course, so I can’t comment with my own opinions, however I can comment with anonymous tour pros opinions! In a “Worst Courses” opinion poll, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas came in…. 4th to last. And the quotes from that poll are pretty great too.
“It was bad to begin with, and they still haven’t got it right.” (referring to the 2007 “redeisgn”)
“The worst course we play on tour. It doesn’t reward a good shot. Just terrible all around.”
At least it’s rated better than the other TPC San Antonio Oaks course, host of the Valero Texas Open, which was described as a “complete disaster”. I’d say bering terrible all around is better than being a complete disaster, but that’s just me.
I went through the pgatour.com’s photo tour of the course, which usually includes some cool pictures of the holes, but this time, all the pictures looked the same. Completely bland course. So I apologize for having to include this boring picture.
As surprisingly good field
I was all ready to trash this week as a crappy filler tournament
Check out pgatour.com’s power rankings. Spieth, DJ, Louis, Charl, Kuuuuuuch, and ZJ all teeing it up. Let’s go through the top guys to see what to watch for.
Spieth — MC at the Players, and really hasn’t done much this year besides not winning the Masters again. He also hasn’t played particularly well here at Las Colinas, unable to better his T16 finish that he accomplished as a 16 year old. I wonder if our expectations for Spieth as fans are tied to Tiger’s successes. Like we’re shocked when Spieth plays badly because Tiger really never did when he was Spieth’s age. Anyway, he’s still the #2 ranked golfer in the world, and all eyes will be on him this week.
DJ — Speaking of not doing much, where the hell has Dustin Johnson been this year. Just looked at his results, he’s apparently not missed a cut, never finished worse than 41st, and also had 4 top 5 finishes. Quietest good season I’ve seen in a while.
Louis and Charl — Not the name of a sitcom (though I’d totally watch if it were), Louis and Charl get lumped together because they’re both from South Africa, and both have some of the sweetest swings on tour.
Kuch — Matt Kuchar with the solid 3rd place finish comes into the week obviously playing well. He’s such an interesting player. 7 wins in his career, though none in the past 2 seasons. He’s about to turn 38 in June, and his resurgence as a top contender is impressive for someone of the older generation. I feel like he’s the model of longevity, and someone everyone can root for. Would be cool for him to win again, but as evidenced by PMick, winning when you get old is hard.
My man Bowditch gets his own section here, since he’s not a power ranked player. He’s the defending champion, and someone who got freaking married on the 18th green at TPC Four Seasons 4 years before last year’s win. I’m assuming he’s not power ranked because just this season, he’s shot 9 rounds in the 80 (9!), including four straight at the Cadillac Championship. Luckily for Bowditch, Las Colinas is a par 70, meaning he can be 9 over and still shoot in the 70s. Now that’s some positive thinking.
Not Much Else
While there’s a lot else going on in the golf world, Tiger keeps hitting bad shots, Jason Day keeps winning, Rickie keeps snapping, and players keep dropping out of the olympics, there really isn’t much else to watch for during this event. So go out an play this weekend yourself!
Lucky me that Southwest offers free TV streaming their flights so I was able to watch James Hahn beat Roberto Castro in a playoff for the Wells Fargo title. Even with that three putt to go into the playoff, Hahn was really impressive. Also, after seeing him hit those drivers on 18 in regulation and in the playoff, I’ll put him in the top 5 best swings on tour!
This week, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is THE PLAYERS Championship, which for some reason is in all caps according to the PGA Tour. I’d kind of understand it if just “PLAYERS” was in all caps, but why does “THE” need the capital letters? I don’t know the answer to that question, but if you want to know why the wifi in the clubhouse be called “Better Than Most”, read on.
But first, some music. This week, I’m featuring the ride music for the Disney Sea Sinbad ride that we went on in Tokyo! No idea what they’re saying, but I assume it’s something about how badass Sinbad and his pet tiger kitty are.
About the Course
Thanks to the excellent marketing team at the PGA Tour, who all actually work in-house rather than being outsourced, have made the Players and TPC Sawgrass one of the most iconic golf courses they played on tour. Of course, designer Pete Dye probably had something to do with that as well.
The course started as the brainchild of then PGA Tour commish Dean Beman who wanted to have a permanent host for THE PLAYERS. He was able to buy the land for TPC Sawgrass for just $1 since the land was all swamp and marsh. But because of that, the course would have to be built from scratch rather than using the contours of the land as a starting point. Beman ended up choosing Pete Dye to design the course, which was perfect because Pete Dye just comes up with course designs on his own anyway!
The course ends up being really unique — and I mean unique in a good way, not unique that some people say to mean weird. Every hole is distinct, and clearly it holds up to the best players in the world. I’m sitting here trying to think of how else to describe the course without going through every hole in detail. I guess that says something about how cool the entire course is.
Finally, when they’re saying it’s the “Stadium” course, they really mean it. The course was built with these mounds along most of the fairways which let spectators see the action without needing to build grandstands all over the place. The most notable of these is the amphitheater around 16 and 17 (seen in the picture below).
The Island Green
The island green 17th gets a special section here, just because of how famous it is.
I know you’re going to hear this story a million times this week from various parts of the media, but what apparently happened is that Pete Dye used all the dirt around that hole to shape the rest of the course, that by the time he got back to finishing the 17th hole, he had nothing left to use! His wife, Alice, said something along the lines of “Screw it, fill that crater with water and make it an island green”. But probably in a nicer way. And thus the 17th was born.
Also of note, the hole is only 140 yards long and the green is pretty large if you’re aiming for the center of it. Especially with a wedge in your hand. In my 4 times playing the 17th hole, 3 in competition, I never once hit it in the water. I did hit it in that bunker once though, so I can’t claim to never have missed the green.
What Does the Winner Get?
Because it’s the headline event for the PGA Tour, the winner gets a little more than normal. Here’s a quick rundown of the perks for winning.
- Holy crap, the winner gets $1.8 Million. When did golf purses get so big? When are the purses going to be over $2M? Might be something I’ll have to investigate over at Bigish Data.
- 80 points towards OWGR. Comparison, majors get you 100 points, WGC winners get something like 70-78 points. So the world golf ranking people know how good the field is.
- 5 year exemption on Tour (compared to 2 years normally), 3 years into the Masters, US Open, and British Opens, and for some reason, only 1 year into the PGA Championship.
And they also get a plaque on this sort of Ring of Honor at Sawgrass! Probably something they care about least.
Tiger announced he wasn’t playing this week, which is funny how that is news. But Tiger does deserve a shoutout for 1) being Tiger, 2) winning the Players Championship in the past, and 3) winning one of his US Amateur titles (the middle one) at Sawgrass! Tiger was still in fist pumping form back then.
Also, what an amazing Golf World cover. Tiger with the fist pump as an amateur, and MASTERS BANS McCORD. Remember how Gary McCord was banned from announcing the Masters because they were “not comfortable with his style”? Maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned “bikini wax” being used to make the greens lightning quick.
If you had that magazine tucked somewhere in your basement, get that thing signed by Tiger and Gary. Would be a great mantle piece. Getting that signed by Bert Yancey however, might be a little difficult.
Speaking of Tiger as Sawgrass, he was also a part of one of the best calls in Players history — Gray Koch, with “Better Than Most”. Remember that wifi network from the top? That’s what I’m talking about.
And then as I thought about it more, the Players does have more than a few memorable moments. Moments that are shown over and over not only during PLAYERS week, but during the rest of the year as well. I’ll run through a few here so some of the less golf literate people can get the references this week.
Better Than Most
Tiger in 2001 on the 17th hole. Putt from the back of the green to the front portion is quite slippery. You’re not about to putt it into the water, but still that might be in the back of your mind. Clearly it’s a difficult putt too considering Gary Koch went with for “better than most” to describe it, implying that the other putts kind of sucked.
I like the call, but apparently QuarterDimeNickel in the comments section doesn’t think it’s that cool.
Be the right club today…. Yes!
Clip starts at about 40 seconds. Holy 2000s wool shirt too.
Where is Hal Sutton these days anyway? Last thing I remember of him was being captain of the Ryder Cup a few times ago (I can’t even remember which course that was at) and poof he gone.
Fred Funk Hat Throw
In one of the last years with crappy March weather, before they moved the tournament to May, Fred Funk took down the field, and celebrated by throwing his hat awkwardly on the ground. Being 48 at the time made it that much more impressive. Sorry, you’re going to have to go external to pgatour.com to watch this video, but it’s worth it to see the most dad celebration ever.
Rickie Fowler in 2015
Alright, he deserves a mention. His shots on 17 in regulation and in the playoff were dirty. Standing over that shot with water all around to a tucked pin that you can’t see the bottom of, and putting it to 5 feet. Yeah. I’ll watch that shot over and over.
Also of note, but with no video is:
Adam Scott and his baby face and poofy hair in 2004
Top Players Roundup — What to expect from the big names
Fowler — Fowler didn’t win last week despite the 54 hole lead, and it’s not the first time that happened. He also folded the last few holes back at the Phoenix Open on Super Bowl Sunday this year. It’s tough to get a sense of whether or not Fowler can handle the pressure since those failures are offset by things like last year’s PLAYERS where he went on a birdie barrage to finish and then won in a playoff.
Spieth — Fold at the Masters, party in the Bahamas, back in action this week. It’s really impressive how he’s been able to shrug off the Masters finish to the point that everyone is talking about the bro trip to the Bahamas rather than his play. Guess I now know what to do if I ever play bad golf when everyone is watching — Go get hammered on a tropical island and snapchat the entire thing.
Rory — Great final round, minus the first and last holes at the Wells Fargo. +2 on those holes, -8 on the rest. This brings up the consistency of playing great in some rounds, but garbage in others. Why does he do that? We’re all just sitting here waiting for him to play a tournament where all 4 rounds are as good as his final round was. I’m tapping my toes impatiently.
Jason Day — Easily the most forgettable #1 player in the world, considering I totally forgot to mention him until here. Like Speith, he’s no flash, all solid golf style leads to forgettablity. But he’s still the best player in the world!
Dustin Johnson — Speaking of forgettability, where the hell has DJ been? I can’t remember the last time he contended, or even played in a tournament. Luckily, I’d say he has the most natural talent outside of Rory, so he can play well at any moment.