It’s the perfect time of the year. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and going through their mating rituals, Canadian geese are pairing off with all of their collective moxy getting ready to transform into the versatile “Canadian Cobra Chicken”. Major League Baseball has started and for hockey fans like us up here in the north the Stanley Cup playoffs are beginning very shortly. Oh, and golf courses are starting to open unless you’re up around James Bay or Baffin Island.
Apparently, there was a “minor” golf tournament this past weekend at some “muni” in Augusta, Georgia. The 2023 season’s first Major of the year didn’t disappoint and we congratulated a newly minted Masters Tournament Champion. We’ll get to him in a few seconds.
In the lead-up to the event, I did my best in reflecting any negativity energy away on social media – I really think that all of it is bad for my health – to focus strictly on the golf and not on any circus sideshow freak-style commentary from golfers and dare I say “mainstream golf media”, alike. People and I am referring to golf people who – in some cases – are absolutely certifiable out there.
With my preamble complete let’s look at some of what happened.
Sam Bennett – Bennett finished as the top amateur and to say that he played amazing and inspired golf at The Masters is a huge understatement. The seemingly affable 23-year-old plays collegiate golf at Texas A&M. Bennett lost his father in 2021 to Alzheimer’s disease and before his passing he wrote some important words on his son’s arm. Counsel to everyone out there.
“Don’t wait to do something.”Dr. Mark Bennett
Mr. Bennett, you must be smiling down from Heaven. Your son did exactly that, he didn;t wait to do something. All that he did was play with play with World #1 – Oops, I meant former – Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa the first two rounds, while outplaying them, but he showed tenacity, grit, and heart through the challenging, flow-disrupting conditions that Mother Nature cast onto the field.
Was anyone out there not pulling for the young man as the tournament grinded on?
Jon Rahm – Congratulations to Jon Rahm on winning the 2023 Masters. Scottie Scheffler will likely have a lot to say about this before the 2023 PGA TOUR season wraps up. But, I have a thought. Is it too soon to declare Jon Rahm the 2023 Player of the Year? Our new Masters Champion has already won on four occasions in eleven events this season, including The Masters. The rest are Top-10 finishes except for Bay Hill, the WGC Match Play, and The PLAYERS.
Watching Rahm hang around all week long behind 54-hole leader Brooks Koepka you could almost feel that he was going to win his first “Green Jacket”. With a charge that Seve Ballesteros himself would approve of he came from being down four shots to emerge victorious.
I’ve said it for a while that he’s one of my faves and he has a swing that I would love to mimic. Rahm is good for golf and he has no problem airing an alternate opinion.
The Trees – “This week on National Tee Geographic”.
That was some scene on Friday. Reports of many trees all around the property at Augusta National Golf Club coming down. Undoubtedly letting it be known that if a tree does fall… It does make a sound. A few folks suggested that it was surprising that a facility known for perfection allowed this to happen.
If you’ve spent as much time outdoors things like erosion and disease happen. I’m no arborist but to me those trees and their root systems looked like trees that have come down on many trout streams that I fly fish.
In Ontario, we never had the Emerald Ash Borer but we do now. Those pests have decimated Ash trees all over the land. They infest and eat the tree from the inside out. A course where I was the Director of Golf was forced to fell 250 trees before we got underway with another 300 that were marked to be fell after the season. It affected the golf course so badly that we had to get it re-rated by Golf Canada for handicap purposes. It changed the slope and golf course rating.
Thankfully nobody was hurt and I say this in “tongue and cheek” but hopefully the Superintendent at AGNC can find the budget money to X-ray every tree on the property.
LIV Golf – For everyone out there that was suggesting that these guys could no longer be competitive because of their format. Check yourself! Did you really think that they aren’t competing in the LIV Golf League? Did you also think that they would magically lose their stamina and ability to play 72-holes? Ask yourself these questions. Did I play any sport competitively as a kid or an adult? Was I competitive then and am I now? At the very least, you’re competing with yourself. It’s what golf does to us.You know what they say about leopards and their spots.
18 of their players were in the field of the 2023 Masters Tournament. Six of them missed the cut. Two players withdrew (Na and Oosthuizen). The other 12 showed very well. Of them, led by Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, three finished in the Top-10 and another – Niemann – was tied for 16th.
They are still golf professionals who know how to compete and win. Some food for thought. Maybe the LIV Golf format allows them to relax and work on things while earning guaranteed money. I’d be relaxed playing there too knowing that I’d be able to buy milk and bread.
Still Professionals – Just a little reminder that the golfers on LIV are still professional tournament golfers.
Harold Varner III – If only the rest of the golfers that defected for LIV Golf had HV III’s honesty and candor. If they would have said that they’re leaving for financial stability (see “The Benjamin’s”) and left the “grow the game” narrative out of it, we would’ve all been a little better for it. Then again with the headlines and the PGA TOUR fallout after the fact (“Elevated Events, larger purses, and trickle down to KFT) maybe they have grown the game with a different meaning.
Narratives and Agenda’s – If you like LIV or don’t like it that’s fine. But for the love of all things right in the world. Let golf be a “safe space”. Leave the narratives and agenda’s for things like presidential elections and that sort of thing. Politics.
Fred Couples – Legend! Makes history as the oldest player to make the cut. Did I misunderstand? Are they going to phase him out (retire him) from The Masters? If he’s making cuts and being competitive, why would you?
Tiger – That was some hard viewing. Watching Tiger hobble around AGNC. Thankfully, he did the right thing and withdrew because playing like that was not in his best interest. I admire the fire, heart, and sheer “guttiness” but there also comes a time when it’s better to “tap out”. That was the time. It’s impressive that Tiger made the cut.
They say that it was Plantar Fasciitist (PF) and I had no clue that PF could do that. I just figured that the pain was a result of his post-accident injuries or gout. If you’ve had gout you’ll understand. If you haven’t had gout you don’t want to understand that pain.
Tiger epitomizes my “fight and grind” philosophy. Feel better soon Tiger!
Until The Next Tee!!