It’s a rainy Saturday here as I look out the window after walking my dog. It sucks, I was going to go golfing while I wait for my wife to call me after a night out at a friends house. But, that’s simply not going to happen. It’s too bad too because yesterday I finally felt some things in my swing that felt really good. Oh well, there’s always my net later on. So I figured, what a terrific time to write a blog post. On what you may ask? Well, I guess the title really says it all.

US Open Golf
Brisk conditions lay ahead.

After the Open Championship the U.S. Open is my favorite golf tournament of the year (no disrespect intended to The Masters… I just simply love you). Year after year the USGA makes this tournament the ultimate golf test. Tough conditions to the point where the golf course is drained of its former self that ultimately sees the proverbial cream rise to the top. The USGA has been much-maligned in the past for this but to be honest… I love what they do when they set up the course for the Open.

2019, has been no different to an extent. The exception to this being that I’ve found the set-up this year to be pretty damn fair which is in a way a good thing. That isn’t saying that it’s quite set-up like the Pebble Beach Pro-Am but compared to Shinnecock Hills, Chambers Bay, et al it’s not quite the same. Sure the rough is grown out but the greens are certainly burned out having had the life seemingly sucked right out of them. Much in a way that’s similar to the scene in “The Prince Bride” where “Wesley” (played by Cary Elwes) is placed into “The Machine”. At any rate, “Mother Nature” is lurking in the Pacific and it’s going to be her that going to go a long way in crowning our champion. If this event turns into a “Battle of Attrition” it’ll be hard not to examine the possibility of a Koepka threepeat.

As I’ve watched the golf telecast on FOX (who ought to really stay in their own lane and stay clear of golf) I’ve found myself both bewildered and amused. Especially when it comes to the supposed controversy or drama between Jordan Spieth and his caddy Michael Greller. The fact that Spieth often talks out loud during his rounds is not a surprise. Is there a guy or girl in professional golf that talks to their golf ball more? Likely not. But when a tournament is covered by FOX that means that there is a host of cameras and of course microphones. The microphones pick up everything. Including this…

“Two perfect shots, Michael,” he said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.” – Jordan Spieth to caddy Michael Greller

Of course, everyone on social media and golf telecasts is talking about a riff or at least tension between the two usually amicable partners. Let’s have a look at some things for a second. Spieth whom in the past could do no wrong and was the second coming of Tiger has seen himself slip. His slip has been in the OWGR and in the eyes of golf fans. While he ranks 66th (at the time of writing)  in the FedEx Cup rankings it’s the slide to 28th in the OWGR that’s alarming and cause for “quasi-concern”. He hasn’t played to his level and there’s no doubt that he’s frustrated. Perhaps he has outside distractions? Getting back to the topic at hand and the issue with Greller. The first thing that I wanted to say is that I have no doubt that Greller has thick skin. He better, considering the paydays that he’s received while looping for Spieth. There is no tension in the sense that the media wants you to believe and if anything Jordan is looking to channel his frustration elsewhere. Queue Greller. As the caddy you have a few details in your job description other than the old adage “show up, shut up, and keep up”. They include but are not limited to…

  1. Being a counselor and/or therapist
  2. Being the source of vital information
  3. Researching hole locations and conditions overall
  4. Standing for countless hours on the practice grounds
  5. Keeping the player focused and…
  6. Club selection

Going back to Spieth’s quote. Greller selected the club and of course “the boss” has veto power. Spieth didn’t veto Greller’s selection and opinion of which club should be selected and used said club in both cases. Greller didn’t swing the club… it was Jordan and he failed to execute properly on both occasions. Jordan those two particular shots were on you. Their issues are simply non-issues and they’re fine and this is simply a case of “deflection”. Oh and one last thing. If you describe what transpired a “blasting” of Greller I suggest that you reevaluate your definition of “blasting”. Last time that I checked Jordan was a Texan and not a Canadian.

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Acceleration and follow thru.Solid technique. Kids… do not try this at home. (Photo Credit: Golf.com)

Patrick Reed. As a friend of mine Mike said on Twitter Reed is a whipping boy amongst golf fans on social media.

What I’m about to say really is in my Tweet that prompted Mike to say this. Patrick Reed was frustrated and he hit a poor shot. It happens, it’s golf and it is the U.S. Open. The number of golfers around the world that would feel his frustration is in the millions. It’s just that we all have different ways of dealing with it. Parick Reed chose to snap his wedge over his thigh (while not breaking his Femur) and that was the only damage that he did. Did he have a tantrum on the golf course like Sergio Garcia or Bryson DeChambeau have in 2019? No! So lay off of him. Yes he has not endeared himself to golf fans (the top 5 in the world comment was the beginning of this judgment) but just because he snapped a club means he’s disrespectful and something else not to like about him? Like I stated above. If Tiger did this, people would be ranting about how the USGA set up an unfair golf course and would be marveling at Woods’ “super-human strength”.

Oh and one last thing. Miss. Spiranac. I’ve played a lot of golf. Recreationally, Mini-Tours and so on. I’ve worked in the industry as a Starter, Pro Shop Attendant, Assistant Manager, and as a Director of Golf Services. I’ve never “tomahawked a club” (another Tweet of hers) but I have been tempted. I’ve also never broken a club before. Why? Because we all deal with things in different ways. I simply choose to swear under my breath, scratch my chin and move on. Golf can be madly infuriating and frustrating but in life, there are more important things to get upset over. Not being able to put milk on the table and having to go to the food bank, losing your house, being mired with a myriad of health problems or not being able to pay your bills and have no heat during a Canadian winter. In my eyes, golf is not worth getting that mad over and for those of us who have to work for everything that we have… we have more important things to spend our money on than buy a new shaft and grip and then install it or have it installed.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

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Let’s get right to the point. The 2019 Modernization of the Rules of Golf has been quite the lightning rod of controversy. Almost from Day One of 2019, there has been controversy regarding certain rules infractions. In a way, I’m sort of glad that this has been the case. Really, it has made for excellent “cannon fodder” giving me something to write about.

Personally speaking, I’ve been relatively opinionated about my general disdain of at least some of the new rules in place. That said, it isn’t all bad. I like the idea of leaving the flag in… If anything else it will speed up the pace of play where it matters. The source of the revenue for golf courses and the respective manufacturers. The recreational golfer. I haven’t been on a golf course since January 1st but it only stands to reasons that this will benefit pace of play. Just one thing though, don’t park your carts (push or riding) in front of the greens. Park parallel to the pin. It’s that simple!!

But some of the rules that have been put in place has been tough to palette at times. For example, the knee height drop. You might recollect that back in December I acted out rehearsing “the drop” just to make sure that I got it right. At the root of it, I was openly mocking the rule change. Is it difficult to bend over at the trunk to execute a drop? Certainly not. Does it really make a difference? No, as a matter of fact, I conducted an experiment and out of 10 knee height drops vs the conventional method I actually got more bad lies with the knee height version. Believe it or not!

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Speaking of the knee height drop, there has been some drama surrounding it. First, in Hawaii, Bryson DeChambeau got real “extra” in performing a drop. I like Bryson and I like him a lot but he looked like a damn fool trying to get comfortable. Bryson, leave the mocking to us that are not on national television. Then there was Rickie Fowler. He got penalized for dropping the “conventional” way. Even in law, ignorance of the law is no excuse. The Criminal Code and laws of the land are written somewhere. The USGA and R&A are no different. All players know the rule but to penalize on those grounds? It makes me wonder if Mr. Palmer is rolling in his grave looking down at this. In my opinion, there is plenty of room for the rule to be written. Perhaps it could be something like this. In my eyes, it seems very reasonable and I actually had Brittany Lincicome give it a “Like” on Twitter (sorry about the mention Brittany).

“In the case of dropping a ball for relief or a penalty. A player may proceed to drop with the option of dropping the ball from knee height as he or she sees fit”.

Like I said, I’m a fan of some of the new rules. For example, Rule 10.2b(4): “The previous prohibition is extended so that, once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason”. Honestly, I like it and I feel that a professional golfer playing in a major TOUR should have the sufficient skill to be aligned properly. First, there was China’s Haotong Li at the Dubai Desert Classic that was assessed the two-stroke penalty. Li was preparing for his birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Emirates Club. His caddie was observed standing behind him as he was taking his stance. Then look no further than Friday. At the Honda Classic, Adam Schenk was assessed a two-stroke penalty after the fact when his caddie (Mark Carens) was said to have been discussing where to land a shot. It was viewed as Carens lining up Schenk. While Schenk and his caddie said that there was no intent to cheat (I feel that there wasn’t either) a rules official showed the footage on an iPhone prior to his third round. The net result was a triple bogey being put on the scorecard. I really think there could be a fine line with this one. To the caddies on TOUR just stand to the left or right of your player.

TOUR Championship - Round Two
ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 22: Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Now, players have been voicing there concerns to any media outlet that will give them access. Golf Channel and of course social media. Today, Justin Thomas was called out. By the USGA themselves. See below.

I liked the response. The USGA openly aired the proverbial dirty laundry and let everybody know that they’ve been waiting right there for players to approach them. Or at least in this case Justin Thomas himself. This is the solution to get to the bottom of all of the rules hubbub. Instead of golfers (TOUR players) taking to social media from the safety of a cell phone or laptop sit down and have a face to face interaction. Isn’t this what the Player’s Advisory Council is for? Chairmen Hahn and Kisner the floor is yours. Whatever happened to interpersonal skills? Those skills that we acquired growing up as children where you actually talked openly about situations? Oh, those were the days.

I sincerely hope and am hopeful that what we’re experiencing are growing pains. Golfers, for the most part, have always been reluctant to accept change. Remember when white drivers came out? Or new ways to develop a golf swing (Stack and Tilt, The Golfing Machine etc). The controversy and hate. With any luck, the USGA and respective TOUR players will all be on the same change by the time The Masters comes around. If controversy continues come the U.S. Open the USGA could be in a real hornet’s nest.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Sitting here I was thinking about something that I wrote about in my Top 10 Golf Stories of 2018. I made a bold prediction based on pretty much nothing regarding my pick to win The Masters in April. Seeing that I went that far with it… I’m going to make Major predictions for the 2019 season on both the LPGA and PGA Tour.

Let’s see how close I get.

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The Masters – I went out on a limb about the 2019 Masters Tournament in the article yesterday that led to this piece. My prediction was that Tommy Fleetwood would win the Green Jacket in 2019. While everyone on Tour and in the field has the game to win on any weekend one half of Ryder Cup craze “Moliwood” will break through and claim his first Major. Justin Rose will be right there when the dust settles too.

U.S. Open – Ah yes! The carnage and horror of how the USGA sets up their courses. I’m a huge fan! Always a test that wears down the field I hope that 2019 is no different. It’d be easy to predict Brooks Koepka because he really guts it out to hang in during the battle of attrition that is the U.S. Open. Not this year though. Bryson DeChambeau broke through in a big time way in 2018. 3 wins on Tour. He can win on golf’s biggest stages, won the U.S. Amateur in 2015. He wins at Pebble Beach in June.

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The Open Championship – Royal Portrush is the venue in 2019. The golf course in Northern Ireland was first formed in 1888. It has stood the test of time much like the cliffs that border the golf course have been beaten and battered over time. The last few Open Championships have been graced by good weather. 2019 will be a test like so many Open Championships before it. One weekend… four seasons. I’m picking a player to win from the European continent. His name… Francesco Molinari. He’ll repeat as the Champion Golfer of the Year. Grizzled veteran Bernhard Langer will give us thrills if he’s in the field.

PGA Championship – Courses for the PGA Championship generally get set-up with the players in mind. That said, we aren’t going to see a USGA-style Bethpage Black set-up. It’ll be a little friendlier. Accuracy, length, putting and a deft touch will still be required to get around the Tillinghast layout. Picking a Brooks Koepka repeat is a thought but what fun would that be? My prediction is a young gun. A pretty young gun at that. Cameron Champ will win the final Major of the year. He has the tools to collect the Wanamaker Trophy.

 

LPGA Tour    1200px-Ladies_Professional_Golf_Association.svg

 

ANA Inspiration – The 40th Anniversary of this tournament. Previously, it was called the Kraft Nabisco Championship and The Dinah Shore. No matter what name you call it remember that the ANA Inspiration is the first Major Championship contested every year (PGA Tour included). Who’s going to take the leap into “Poppies Pond”. I’m looking right at Brooke Henderson to make the fabled leap. She’s tasted victory in Major Championships before. Get her towel and robe ready.

U.S. Women’s Open – The U.S. Women’s Open is going to be contested in the “Palmetto State”. The Country Club of Charleston is the host venue (founded in 1900) and it’s a course steeped in history. As you might expect the course will be set-up in typical USGA fashion for the ladies. While I haven’t been there (I haven’t been anywhere really) I will say that by looking at the pictures it sort of reminds me of ANGC. The combination of intimate green complexes with false fronts and solid bunkering adds to the effect. The greens will be fast… so who was the best putter on the LPGA Tour in 2018? She may not have been the best but third is pretty close. Who was third? That was World #1 Ariya Jutanagarn. Ariya win’s the U.S. Women’s Open. Dame Laura Davies is going to make some noise here.

ariya

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – Minnesota golf fans. Hazeltine National Golf Club is the host site for the 3rd of 5 major championships on the LPGA Tour. Name an important USGA tournament and there’s a chance that Hazeltine has hosted it. It’s also hosted the PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup (with another slated for 2028). For the first time since 1966 the women return to walk it’s marvelous tree-lined fairways. Well thought out hazards protect the “old girl”. Precision is a priority. It’s not going off of the radar to pick the winner of this tournament. I like current World #3 So Yeon Ryu.

The Evian Championship – The first of two Major Championships to be contested in consecutive weeks. It’s going to be a matter of who’s feeling “it” the first week. I really can see Lexi Thompson winning The Evian. She struggled with being mentally drained and body image in 2018. She took some valuable time off from professional golf in 2018 to focus on herself and it paid off when she came back fresh and won the CME Group TOUR Championship. I really like Lexi to claim her second Major here.

Laura Davies of England during the Wednesday Pro-Am

AIG Women’s British Open – The last Major Championship of the year for the women takes place at Woburn Golf Club. My pick might seem like a bit of a darkhorse but I actually like Dame Laura Davies to win. Maybe because I would love to see some history made. dame Davies still plays great golf and can contend with the younger gals on the LPGA. Woburn looks like a typical parklands-style golf course and looking at it it looks like it could be any course in North Carolina. Towering pine trees with large greens… who knows. Maybe she could do it. If not her than look no further than Charley Hull.

2019 Solheim Cup

2019 is a Solheim Cup year. The American team wins handily at Gleneagles.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee