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What golfers should do instead of icing injuries

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As a follow-up to “Are golfers wasting their time icing injuries?” I had a chance to speak with Gary Reinl, author of Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option about what golfers ought to do instead of, well wasting their time icing injuries.

Reinl has spent more than 40 years in sports medicine and has done everything from train professional athletes, to develop strength-training programs for pregnant women, to orchestrate rehabilitation programs for injured workers.

With the publication of Iced!, Reinl pointed out the erroneous nature of some popular assumptions about injury and treatment and suggested a different way forward, so he seemed like a natural point of contact.

My questions, below.

Strains and pulled muscles are common for golfers. Is there any place for icing in the treatment of these routine golf injuries?

No. Unless of course you want to delay healing, increase swelling, cause additional damage, shut of the signals that alert you to harmful movement and provide false hope (make yourself believe that you are doing something good when in fact you are doing the opposite).

Hitting out of a gnarly lie in the deep rough, you badly hurt your wrist. You know you can’t continue playing, so you head back to the clubhouse. Someone fetches you a bag of ice. What do you do next?

Politely thank them and tell them that you are going to get a professional medical evaluation before you initiate treatment (until you confirm the extent of the problem, “friendly” advice is often counterproductive and almost always ill-advised).

That said, once your doctor has given you the green light to begin facilitating the healing process via muscle activation, follow this basic rule: “Use your brain, never cause pain.” If anything beyond lightly wiggling your fingers causes pain, limit activation to finger wiggling. This is not a contest or game. Think: “No pain, all gain.”

If your doctor has written an order for you to use an FDA-cleared muscle activation device, use it as directed (several hours per day for the first couple of days is pretty standard).  Regardless of how you activate your muscles, never forget that healing is contingent upon muscle activation not absolute stillness.

You’ve just walked 36 holes. You drive home and your legs are screaming. What’s the best way to deal with the situation, instead of reaching for the ice pack?

Since the “ice pack” actually makes things worse, doing nothing is better than icing.

What’s best? Lightly activate the muscles that are tired and or sore. Muscle activation or “active recovery” is not only the best way to facilitate the healing process, it is, in essence, the key to tissue regeneration. Absolute stillness is the proverbial enemy.

What are the adverse effects of icing on golf-related injuries, generally speaking?

Icing damaged tissue delays healing, increases swelling, causes additional damage, shuts of the signals that alert you to harmful movement and makes you believe that you are doing something good, when in fact you are doing the opposite. Additionally, when you fail to optimally heal, you risk dampening your golf skills and setting yourself up for further injury.

How did we get to the point where reducing swelling and inflammation via icing are seen as good things?

First of all, icing damaged tissue does not reduce swelling or inflammation. Delay it? Yes. Increase it? Yes. Reduce it? No.

How did the medical community get it so wrong?

It all started back in 1962 when a doctor named Ronald Malt reattached the severed limb of a 12-year-old boy named Everett Knowles. Since this was the first operation of its kind, it made big news around the world. When asked by reporters, “What’s the best way to protect the severed body part while transporting it to the hospital?” The doctor responded something like this: “Keep it out of the sun, keep it cool, and put it on ice if possible.”

Over the years, the public converted the doctor’s very specific recommendation that applied only to severed body parts to “put ice on any damaged tissue,” and the myth took hold: The “ice age” was born.

Interestingly, the godfather of the ice age, Gabe Mirkin, MD, recently recanted his decades-old recommendation and now says that icing damaged tissues delays healing.

Are there any times a golfer should consider using ice?

Yes! No one likes a warm margarita. Cheers!

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. bobby

    Dec 26, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    1) Icing damaged tissue delays healing
    – I ice my injury and I’m much more comfortable. reduced my pain without taking dangerous oral drugs like nsaid’s. An injury that i may have caused me to take to take 2-3 off is no 2-4 days. But I’m comfortable and in considerably less pain.

    2) Icing damaged tissue increases swelling
    – Icing damaged tissue controls the rate at which fluids reach the injured site. As well as causing tissue to constrict and disperse some of the painful inflammation. Tissues warm up and loosen up and of course due to signals still be sent throughout the body, there is a backup of fluids that rush the area. Hence why icing shouldn’t be a one time application.

    3) Icing damaged tissue causes additional damage
    – the damage proper icing may induce and far less than the potential damage from inflammation
    4) Icing damaged tissue shuts off the signals that alert you to harmful movement
    – Your basically telling the people icing may numb and reduce pain at the site of injury. Don’t forget to mention all the over the counter drugs they probably take that do the same thing. But leave out the part that if their mission is to reduce pain, as safely as possible those drugs and patches are out of the equation. Pain is the signal your body uses because it afraid of injury. That does not mean every time you are in pain you are damaging tissue.

    5) Icing damaged tissue provides false hope; you think you’re doing something good but in fact you are doing the opposite.
    – ice like drugs are never going to fix the underlying problem, why your hurt. The problem is that if you were stronger, if you have perfect mechanics and posture you will properly treating yourself and decreasing your chances of that injury “flaring up” again.

  2. bobby

    Dec 26, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    How about you guys use your brain. Do you all believe everything people tell you. At what point did you put ice on an injury and believe that you have completely stopped all the swelling.

    You ice injuries you ice torn soft tissues regardless of cause. Whether it be purposely from from training or accidentally you must “CONTROL” inflammation. Elimination is impossible. Inflammation is the bodies attempt to remove undesirable, damaged tissue before repair.

    But if you believe this crap, that icing to reduce pain and inflammation is a mistake, make sure you don’t take advil and other NSAID’s (Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs) for you pain. Besides 300,000 hospitalized each year form NSAID’s and 10-15% of those people die. But hey ice must be the dumbest thing you can do right !?!??

    Another idea for you fools. Why is it very important for someone to undergo SURGERY IMMEDIATELY after tearing their Achilles . Its because the inflammatory process is there for debridment. To remove damaged tissue. If someone waits more than 24 hrs to have surgery the inflammation has already removed so much of the tissue that the two ends cannot reach. This means tissue beyond the initial site of injury was deemed damaged because the inflammatory process was not managed properly. Thus not allowing the body to initiate the remodeling phase.

    You sprained your ankle. You are in pain. You having swelling impairing movement and or strength. Here are your options.
    1. Take a drug that is going to be spread to your ankle, but also your brain, your liver, your heart. This sounds harmless. But is it really?

    2. You can ice your injury, REDUCE pain and inflammation. KEYWORD: reduce, we can never COMPLETELY stop our body processes. Way to complicated to accomplish.

  3. Dan M

    May 16, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks to GolfWRX for bringing this information to the golf community. The theory that ice doesn’t help healing is entirely plausible to me. I’ve worked in medical research for 20 years, and theories that have been accepted as gospel for years are constantly overturned. I used to ice my sore back religiously after playing golf, but with age and laziness stopped doing it. Now my back feels better sooner — I recover faster. I stopped taking Advil for aches and pains years ago.

    Icing injuries has been so universal. It’s hard for people to accept that there is evidence now that it doesn’t help.

    • Gary Reinl

      May 17, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Hi Dan M, Thanks for your informed comments. I agree, the theory that ice “helps” the healing process was disproved years ago. That said “old habits die hard!”
      PS: If you want a free autographed copy of my book, please go to garyreinl.com and leave me a message (and your mailing address).
      The MELTDOWN continues!
      Gary Reinl
      @TheAntiIceMan

  4. Iceman

    May 15, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Everybody, just ice it.

    Besides talking some mumbo-jumbo about activating muscles to heal or some bull stink like that, these yahoos don’t take into account that in humans, we feel PAIN with the inflammation and damage. If you don’t, then you’re numb already and or are not human at all to begin with. Tend to the pain and reduce it as well as inflammation at the same time. That’s why they’re called anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because they do both – effectively and cheaply. Why do you think there is such a HUGE market for PEDs and other banned drugs for recovery and pain management? Because the things work and work great.

    For the rest of us, for minor bumps and bruises, ice it. You’ll feel better for it.

    • Gary Reinl

      May 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

      “Mumbo-jumbo” … fortunately, ignorance is not contagious.
      Loading, which is also known as active recovery (which activates muscle), is essential to achieving optimal healing of damaged tissue regardless as to whether you are merely tired and/or sore from a scheduled training session or significantly injured from an unplanned collision with an opponent’s outstretched leg that has left you upside down and twisted in the middle of a basketball court.
      Here’s a relevant excerpt from my book “ICED! … The Illusionary Treatment Option”.
      “Loading of Healing Bone, Fibrous Tissue, and Muscle: Implications for Orthopedic Practice:
      Joseph A. Buckwalter, M.S., M.D., & Alan J. Grodzinsky, Ph.D.
      Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons,
      September/October 1999
      One of the most important concepts in orthopedics in this
      century is the understanding that loading accelerates
      healing of bone, fibrous tissue, and skeletal muscle.”

      Join the MELTDOWN!

      Gary Reinl
      @The AntiIceMan

      • Ice Ice Baby

        May 17, 2014 at 11:52 pm

        OK. Allow me to continuously PUNCH you in the face, right above the eye over and over for about 30 minutes straight, and see if you can “activate” those muscles to aid in recovery thereafter. Or would you prefer that I use ice on it to dull the pain and to reduce inflammation and swelling?

        I will administer ice and cooling to that area of anybody who gets punched as such, as it has been shown, for a couple millennia, that icing will reduce swelling and bruising immediately.

        We’re not talking about torn muscles or tendons here – we’re talking about inflamed tissues and muscles.

        Therefore, use ICE.

        • Gary Reinl

          May 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

          Hi Dan M, Thanks for your informed comments. I agree, the theory that ice “helps” the healing process was disproved years ago. That said “old habits die hard!”
          PS: If you want a free autographed copy of my book, please go to garyreinl.com and leave me a message (and your mailing address).
          The MELTDOWN continues!
          Gary Reinl
          @TheAntiIceMan

        • Gary Reinl

          May 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm

          Hi Ice Ice Baby,
          First off, contrary to your claim, icing damaged tissue has not been used for millennia — not even close.
          Second, as I am sure that you are aware, inflammation is the first phase of the life-saving healing process (e.g. without it, you will not heal — not even you). So, fortunately for even the least-informed, ice can only delay this process.
          Further, swelling — a product of the inflammatory process — can only be evacuated through the inherently passive lymphatic system and thus can only be accelerated through movement (e.g. muscle activation). Thus, again, you can delay swelling (and, through icing, worsen the backup of it), but not reduce it. Keep in mind, that when the tissue rewarms, the inflammatory (healing) process resumes (that is why you see boxers who get hit in the face “30 times” during a fight all swollen the next day — gasp! — even if they iced).
          Regarding your claim that ice will “dull the pain,” you are correct. Icing damaged will provide temporary pain relief. But, with that said, it will also delay healing, cause additional damage, increase swelling, shut of the signals that alert you to harmful movement, and provide false hope (you believe that you are doing something good when in fact you are doing the opposite). So, no, I wouldn’t put ice on such an injury because, obviously, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

          Gary Reinl
          @TheAntiIceMan

  5. Phil

    May 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

    What about arthritic knees?

  6. Nick

    May 15, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Love it how “buy my book” manages to appear in just about every response from the author. Classy.

  7. Charlie

    May 14, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Any advice for a nasty case of dequervain’s tendonitis in my left hand from golf? Please help!

  8. mark d

    May 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Had my shoulder rebuilt in February at the Cleveland Clinic. They sent me home with little cooler/pump/jacket thing to chill my shoulder at regular intervals.

    Needless to say, all the sports med specialists at the Clinic with their many, many years of clinical training, research and success must be wrong.

    That said, “no pain, all gain.” is very good advice if you have an injury. Heal first. Work out later.

    • Gary Reinl

      May 15, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Hi mark d,
      Ironically, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic are the ones that discovered a key reason why icing damaged tissue is a bad idea (see their below article entitled “Hold the Ice” – their title, not mine).
      “Hold the Ice?
      New study shows that ice and anti-inflammatory medications may compromise healing.
      Researchers headed by Lan Zhou, MD, PhD, Neuroinflammation Research Center, Depart. of Neurosciences at the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues, found that in response to acute muscle injury, inflammatory cells (called macrophages) within the damaged muscle itself were found to produce a protein called IGF-1, which is required for muscle regeneration.
      Source: The Cleveland Clinic, October, 2010
      So why did “all the sports med specialists at the Clinic with their many, many years of clinical training, research and success” send you home with little cooler/pump/jacket thing to chill your shoulder at regular intervals? Simple — because that is what they were trained to do. Change is often avoided regardless of the facts (or who discovered them).
      Please read the excerpt from my book “ICED!” below for an additional example:
      “Do you recognize the name, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis? He is the one who figured out that doctors should wash their hands before surgery, especially if they just finished dissecting a rotting and/or diseased corpse.
      It’s creepy to even think that such a suggestion was ever even necessary – let alone controversial – but, at that point, it was actually spectacularly groundbreaking.
      Semmelweis also introduced the idea of sterilizing surgery tools. Again, this sounds like a no-brainer, right?
      Well, his suggestions were BITTERLY rejected by his fellow physicians.
      Why? Well, his observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical “beliefs” of the time. As odd as it sounds by today’s standards, the doctors simply did not believe that their filthy, contaminated hands and surgical tools could possibly be the cause someone to get sick.
      Believe it or not, some doctors were actually offended by his suggestion – OFFENDED – that they should wash their hands.
      This is a classic example of blind faith where people simply didn’t know what they didn’t know”.

  9. benseattle

    May 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Here’s where this superficial article falls down completely: You say “no ice” but DO NOT PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE. Heat? Rest? (No, the “expert” says that’s out too.) Vague allusions to an “FDA-approved muscle activation device” but no details about what this is, what it does, why it’s “better” or how to get one.

    Muscle activation? What’s that mean… I should walk on my sprained ankle or hit golf balls with a sore wrist?

    GOLFWRX does no-one any favors with amateur medical advice written without useful, credible details and information.

    • Gary Reinl

      May 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      Hi benseattle,
      Your comments are all reasonable. I apologize for my brevity. First, the alternative to ice is muscle activation (also known as active recovery). There are several very good FDA cleared muscle activation devises on the market. Here’s a link to one the best known trainers in the world of golf explaining which brand he recommends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LL35EXTTtc . If you want to get one go to Marcpro.com and enter the promo code “TEAM “ to receive the maximum discount available.
      Regarding walking on a sprained ankle or hitting golf balls with a sore wrist, please re-read Ben’s interview with me (e.g. “that said, once your doctor has given you the green light to begin facilitating the healing process via muscle activation, follow this basic rule: ‘Use your brain, never cause pain.’ If anything beyond lightly wiggling your fingers causes pain, limit activation to finger wiggling. This is not a contest or game. Think: ‘No pain, all gain.’ If your doctor has written an order for you to use an FDA- pretty standard). Regardless of how you activate your muscles, never forget that healing is contingent upon muscle activation not absolute stillness”).
      Regarding your comment about “amateur medical advice written without useful, credible details and information,” this article contained no medical advice. Instead, it contained facts regarding the consequences of icing damaged tissue; not opinions, but scientifically proven facts published in multiple peer-reviewed journals (which are well documented in my book). By the way, in the third paragraph of Ben’s article he stated “With the publication of Iced!, Reinl pointed out the erroneous nature of some popular assumptions about injury and treatment and suggested a different way forward, so he seemed like a natural point of contact.”
      Since it is impractical to include the entire contents of a book in a short article, Ben mentioned my book before he introduced my responses to his questions. That said, if you want to read my book and learn all of these details, go garyreinl.com and send me a message that includes your mailing address and I will gladly send you a free copy.

      • leftright

        May 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        You speak of muscle activation. Ice reduces swelling allowing you to use the muscle sooner rather than later. Swelling reduces blood flow and decreases the bodies ability to recover by retaining fluid within the lymph tissues around the affected body part. I am sorry to sound so cynical but I have observed the effectiveness of ice over 4 decades and find your article borderline negligent when pertaining to sport medicine injuries. You and the doctor are in a very small minority of healthcare professionals.

        • Gary Reinl

          May 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

          Hi leftright,
          This is an excerpt from my book quoting the Textbook of Medical Physiology, “The lymphatic system is a ‘scavenger’ system that removes excess fluid, protein molecules, debris, and other matter from the tissue spaces. When fluid enters the terminal lymphatic capillaries, any motion in the tissues that intermittently compresses the lymphatic capillaries propels the lymph forward through the lymphatic system, eventually emptying the lymph back into the circulation.”
          Now, since swelling is essentially the accumulation of waste at the end of the inflammatory cycle, the only way to move that waste is via the lymphatic system, and the lymphatic system is basically a passive system nearly fully reliant on muscle activation around the lymphatic vessels; how could shutting off the signals between the muscles and the nerves — which is precisely what happens when you ice damaged tissue — accomplish that task?”
          Answer: it doesn’t (icing damaged tissue does not reduce swelling). You sir/madam are simply wrong.
          That said, you are correct when you state that “You (me) and the doctor are in a very small minority of healthcare professionals,” however I am not sure that I understand your point. Are you suggesting that those of us that have taken the time to evaluate, organize, and understand the facts should empty our brains and follow you?
          PS: I don’t know what you do each day, but I spend my time working with my clients (trainers, doctors and therapist from over 80 professional athletic teams and scores of other elites).

  10. Bruce Jones

    May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    You may find this article helpful, written by the doctor who first coined the term “RICE”.

    drmirkin.com/fitness/why-ice-delays-recovery.html

    Also the American Journal of Sports Medicine, July 2013 has an article that supports the idea that the use of ice does not improve healing.

    • Bruce Jones

      May 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Oops, make that June 2013 for the Journal article.

    • Gary Reinl

      May 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks Bruce. By the way, there have been at least three other comprehensive reviews regarding the topic of icing damaged tissue published by reputable peer-reviewed journals since 2004 and they all came to the same conclusion. All, by the way, referenced and clearly documented in my book: ICED! The Illusionary Treatment Option: Learn the Fascinating Story, Scientific Breakdown, Alternative, & How To Lead Others Out Of The Ice Age”. No doubt some “experts” are finding the facts difficult to accept.

  11. Dave

    May 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

    When I saw the title to this article I immediately became interested. After reading through it I feel I just wasted time. This article contains nothing in it other than opinions. Useless article.

  12. Willy

    May 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I have multiple injuries. Including having a shoulder replacement Dec 13. Ice has been and always will be my friend!

  13. Alex the Athletic Trainer

    May 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    How does ice increase swelling? “Shutting off signals alerting harmful movements” don’t you mean temporarily numbing (analgesic) the area. To which, this effect only lasts for a short period of time. I agree with a lot of my colleagues that icing after the first 24-48 hours is strictly for the analgesic effect.
    If icing truly caused so many problems, how am I still able to return an athlete to play within 4-10 days post ankle sprain while using a GameReady machine for the first 2 days of treatment?

    • Gary Reinl

      May 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Alex, Regarding your question about swelling … please read this:
      Enter the lymphatic vessels
      Meeusen’s careful research has uncovered another important fact: when ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period, nearby lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase their permeability (lymphatic vessels are ‘dead-end’ tubes which ordinarily help carry excess tissue fluids back into the cardiovascular system). As the lymphatic permeability is enhanced, large amounts of fluid begin to pour from the lymphatics ‘in the wrong direction’ (into the injured area), increasing the amount of local swelling and pressure and potentially contributing to greater pain (‘The Use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injuries,’ Sports Medicine, Vol. 3, pp. 398-414, 1986). If the icing goes on for too long, the lymphatic vessels can actually be nearly obliterated, losing all of their fluid to the surrounding tissues and thus failing to carry excess water away from the injured area (6th European Congress of Sports Medicine, Budapest, Hungary, p. 179, 17-20 June, 1991). If you want more, read the related sections of my book and/or read Guyton and Hall’s Textbook of Medical Physiology.

      Regarding your next comment …
      Making the area numb does shut off the signals that alert you to harmful movement. I feel that we agree on this point. I also agree that you and a lot of your colleagues believe that icing after the first 24-48 hours is strictly for the analgesic effect. The problem is that reputable clinicians don’t recommend ice after 24-48 hours. Dr. Mirkin, the godfather of the ice age, says there is no reason to use it after 6 hours.
      That said, knowing the downside, why would you do it at all? Here’s how I see it: A clinician using ice to “make the area numb” is like the sympatric bartender that gives an alcoholic a drink so he can temporally “feel” better. Does it help? Not really. Does it hurt? Yes.
      Regarding your “4 to 10 day” question; I am very confident that if you considered all of the facts you would abandon your ice-based protocol.

      Join the MELTDOWN!

      Gary Reinl
      @TheAntiIceMan

      • Iceman

        May 15, 2014 at 11:47 pm

        What about BURNS? You’re not going to tell the world that they can’t ice something they burned on their persons, are you? No, you wouldn’t, because you would be insane.
        Inflammation MUST and NEED to be have its HEAT (inflamed! duh!) removed and reduced, otherwise it would not heal as quickly nor will the pain be tolerable!

        You’re bogus and you know it.

  14. Gary McCormick

    May 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Poor article — contains no explanation of WHY icing is contra-indicated.

    For soft tissue injuries I have always used light application of ice, removed after a few minutes. The body reacts to the cooled-down area by dilating capillaries to increase blood flow, which aids healing. If that’s wrong, I’d like to hear an explanation why, rather than just “Don’t do it — because we said so!”

    • leftright

      May 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      Gary Reinhl is an idiot. We have mentally ill ideologues running the country with PhD’s and government experience but that does not mean they know what they are doing. Ice helps and that is through pure observation. To not ice a lateral or medial epicondylitis after playing golf or tennis is paramount to negligence on the athletes part. NSAIDS will help also if taken appropriately. Ultimately rest will heal the offending part but who can rest these days, who wants to rest but sometimes that is what we have to do. If you want to heal faster and have less pain don’t listen to this guy, he is a quack and in a very very small minority of sports trainers and specialists. I know a Internal Medicine doctor who put all his Insulin dependent diabetes patients on Chromium supplements. Most ending up back in the ER in Diabetic Ketoacidosis in several days. Trace Chromium is an essential mineral but the body processes what it wants and adding did not help these patients. He might as well said “go lick you car bumper.”

    • Gary Reinl

      May 14, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Gary, No explanation of WHY icing is contra-indicated? OK. Please allow me to try again.
      1) Icing damaged tissue delays healing
      2) Icing damaged tissue increases swelling
      3) Icing damaged tissue causes additional damage
      4) Icing damaged tissue shuts off the signals that alert you to harmful movement
      5) Icing damaged tissue provides false hope; you think you’re doing something good but in fact you are doing the opposite.

      If it’s proof you want, I suggest you read my book. I literally spent years traveling the country interviewing hundreds of elite trainers, doctors, therapists and athletes and read hundreds of related articles and a dozen or so books. I organized and presented the facts in such a way that even the ice gurus avoid debating me. Sure, every once in while some “expert” will claim that I got something wrong or referenced it out of context … but, thus far, not a single claim has turned into a legitimate issue.
      Regarding your “dilating capillaries to increase blood flow” comment … are you aware the your innate intelligence does precisely that in response to damage? Meaning, the damaged vessels constrict and the surrounding healthy vessels dilate and increase perfusion. Seems odd to me that you believe you can better regulate this process than your innate intelligence … and that you do it with an ordinary ice cube!

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News

Morning 9: Will Captain Woods pick Tiger? | Would new Tour Champ format have altered past outcomes? | Pelley on slow play

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 20, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Captain Tiger’s expectations 
AP report…”Tiger Woods wants the eight players who made his Presidents Cup team and four more under consideration as captain’s picks to play tournaments and stay sharp over the next three months leading to the December matches Down Under.”
  • “…Woods said he told prospective Presidents Cup players at a meeting two weeks ago how important it was to be committed to the team and to the event.”
  • “And that means playing and being prepared,” he said during a conference call Monday evening. “The only time we have ever lost the Cup was in Australia, and quite frankly, some of the guys didn’t play or practice that much. It was our offseason, and we got beat pretty badly.”
2. …but will TW pick himself? 
ESPN’s Bob Harig with Woods‘ remarks on the matter…
“Woods said Monday that although the final decision remains his, he won’t participate as a player unless that is what all involved want. And even then, he might not.”
  • “My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible,” Woods said during a conference call Monday to discuss the eight players who automatically qualified for the team following the BMW Championship. “Trying to put together the best 12 guys. We’ll be going through the whole process of having communication with the top eight guys and vice captains.
  • “That is something that we’ll certainly talk about. Ultimately it’ll be my call. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.”

Full piece.

3. How Tiger will remember 2019…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…
“The rest of the tournaments I didn’t really play as well as I wanted to,” Woods said. “But at the end of the day, I’m the one with the green jacket.”
  • “It was a perfect encapsulation of the dichotomy that ruled Woods’ 2019 campaign. For most of the year, he was mediocre and sometimes worse – this, despite coming off a season that saw him capture the Tour Championship and come within a whisker of winning the FedExCup. The good rounds were sporadic, the bad ones were more plentiful, and the few decent results usually stemmed from a palatable final round that began with Woods well out of contention.”
  • “In fact, there was only one tournament all year where Woods even finished within eight shots of the winner. But that’s also the only one most people will remember.”

Full piece.

4. What if…
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on what the past FedEx Cup finales would have looked like with the current seeding…
  • “What if, however, the system that begins this week had been in place the previous 12 years of the FedEx Cup? How might history be different?”
  • “As it turns out, not all that much. And that’s the way the tour officials wanted it, having run thousands of computer simulations to try and approximate as best they could the point differential in play under the old system.”
  • “We went back all 12 years, took the top 30 in the FedEx Cup list entering East Lake and applied the adjusted strokes to the players scores at the Tour Championship to determine who would have won if the new format was used retroactively.”
  • “Nine times the actual FedEx Cup winner also would have won in the new strokes-based system, and a 10th time the winner (Jim Furyk in 2010) would have been in a sudden-death playoff for the title.”
5. Steph Curry bankrolls Howard golf
Our Gianni Magliocco…”NBA star and avid golfer Stephen Curry has donated a seven-figure sum to Howard University in a move that will see men’s and women’s golf teams at the school for at least the next six years.”
  • “As the Washington Post reported on Monday, this will be the first time the school will compete at the Division I level in the sport, and the university plans to have the teams ready to compete for the 2020/21 academic year.”
  • “Curry’s donation was partly inspired by Howard senior and golfer Otis Ferguson IV, and speaking on bringing golf back to Howard, the 31-year-old stated”
  • “Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful. It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University.”
6. U.S. Am ratings…
Per Geoff Shackelford…”According to Sports Business Daily, the 2019 BMW Championship drew a 1.9 Saturday audience and a 2.4 for Sunday’s final round on NBC, well up over non-Tiger-contending Wyndham Championship’s previously played in this schedule spot.  The 2018 Wyndham drew a 1.9.”
“The slide in US Amateur interest and visibility continued with a .4 Saturday and a .3 for Sunday’s finale on Fox going head-to-head with most of the BMW final round. Talk about an event screaming out for a change in its Monday to Sunday format to avoid being an afterthought.”
7. Do away with the Tour Championship name? 
Randall Mell says it no longer applies…
  • “The Tour Championship isn’t really a “tournament” anymore.”
  • “They’re hosting something bigger and better at East Lake in Atlanta this week, something completely different.”
  • “They’re hosting the FedExCup Finale.”
  • “Really, the PGA Tour ought to rename this week’s event exactly that, because keeping “Tour Championship” shackles fans to conventions that offend traditional sensibilities. You don’t, after all, start a tournament with a lead of seven or more shots on two-thirds of the field, the way Justin Thomas will.”

Full piece.

8. Ogletree’s tough love short game lesson
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on the discussion between Georgia Tech’s coach and the eventual U.S. Am winner…
  • “The tough-love conversation between Ogletree and Heppler had become the stuff of legend in the Georgia Tech camp. They were at Blaze Pizza in Atlanta last November, and Heppler let Ogletree know he had the game tee-to-green to be a successful tour pro, but the reason he had yet to win a college event was that he just wasn’t good enough around the greens.”
  • “Ogletree played the equivalent of six under par for 35 holes en route to the title. So Ogletree did something about it, working with Jeff Patton on technique in the sand. Meanwhile, teammate Noah Norton helped him with some putting drills. Ogletree put in time daily at the short-game area. And in the spring semester, he saw his stroke average drop 1½ shots without hitting his driver or irons any different.”
  • If perseverance in part characterizes Ogletree’s golf development, it certainly describes how he claimed the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday. The day started with promise; Ogletree shot the equivalent of a 67 on Pinehurst No. 4 during the morning 18 (for the first time in U.S. Amateur history the 36-hole final was contested over two courses). The problem? Augenstein, a rising senior at Vanderbilt, shot a 65, and held a 2-up lead.”

Full piece.

9. Euro Tour chief on slow play
Keith Pelley penned an op-ed of sorts for EuropeanTour.com, that reads in part…
“Slow players, on the other hand, have become increasingly prevalent and problematic in our game in recent years, to the extent that we risk fans, both core and casual, switching off if we don’t do something about it.”
  • “The European Tour has been at the forefront of the assault on slow play for the last four years. We have the most aggressive monitoring policy in our sport, and we have issued shot penalties, but the past four months showed us finally that the time had arrived when players were willing to take a tough stance and we applauded that.”
  • “Slow play became a critical issue because our players wanted it to be.  That moment was the door opening and the mandate we were given at May’s tournament committee meeting empowered our operations and rules team to present stronger, more robust recommendations”
  • “We took a formal proposal back to the next Tournament Committee meeting at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open last month and following some fine tuning over the past six weeks, we yesterday publicly announced a four-point plan focusing on regulation, education, innovation and field size reduction where appropriate.”

 

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European Tour announces 4-point plan in a bid to tackle slow play

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On Monday, the European Tour announced a four-point plan aimed at tackling the issue of slow play in the game.

The plan, which will come into effect this November, will focus on four areas—regulation, education, innovation and field sizes.

Of those four areas, notable updates include that players will now only have to breach the time allowances twice in a round to incur a one-stroke penalty, and players who are put on the clock at least 15 times next season will now be fined £26,000 compared to the £9,000 fine they currently face.

In their statement, the European Tour said

“When players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred after two bad times – currently a player would be ‘monitored’ and if he breaches the time allowance (50 seconds for first to play, 40 seconds for second or third to play) he will then be ‘officially timed’ and would then have to breach twice more before being given a one-shot penalty. Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request.”

The Tour will also look to reduce the number of players in the field at events where possible, while rules officials are set to be proactive regarding targeting slow players on the course.

Speaking on the four-point plan, Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, stated

“We are already at the forefront of pace of play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our Tournament Committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps.

I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television.”

To retain their European Tour card, each member will have to pass an interactive online rules test, while a trial pace of play timing system will be implemented at the Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth next month where there will also be larger gaps between start times over the weekend’s rounds.

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Tour Rundown: How the pros (and amateur) got it done this weekend

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The Presidents Cup automatic-qualifying chase came to an end on Sunday. While students returned to schools across the country, and football teams played their 2nd preseason games. 8 USA golfers and 8 World professionals were named to their respective teams. Each captain has f our at-large selections to make. For team USA, the unfortunately-underperforming Rickie Fowler may have two weeks for more Farmer’s Insurance commercials, as he finds himself in the #11 slot. Only Tiger Woods’ beneficence will save him from an early vacation. Xander Schauffele left nothing to chance this time around. After being ignored for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick last year, he made the PCup team on merit this year. The World team still has a load of Aussies (3 at last count) but has the presence of golfers from Taipei, Mexico, China, South Africa and Japan. This year’s competition at Royal Melbourne has the potential to be quite memorable, assuming that the qualifiers don’t lose their edge over the next four months.

As for individual competition this week, we had lots of it. Playoff events on two tours, a male US Amateur champion to go with last week’s female winner, and a terrific story of rags to riches on the Champions tour. Seize the day and enjoy this week’s Tour Rundown.

BMW Classic

You had to chuckle a bit this week as another of the game’s vaunted hollows caved to the expansive skill of the modern golf professional. Medinah #3 has long been held as a bastion of defense, but this week, well, they ate it up. Hideki Matsuyama shot 63 on Friday for a course record, then did it again on Sunday. Not only did he not win (he had 73 on Saturday) but his course record lasted all of 24 hours. Matsuyama did finish 3rd at -20, 2 shots behind Patrick Cantlay. The fellow who broke Matsuyama’s fresh course record was someone for whom 2018-19 has been relatively quite: Justin Thomas. So quiet, that is had been 53 weeks since his last victory. Thomas blistered Medinah Tres with 8 birdies and 2 eagles on Saturday, moving oh-so-close to the hallowed, sacred 59. In the spirit of generosity, he made bogey at the 6th (after opening with 5 birdies) to not completely eviscerate Matsuyama’s record (and Medinah’s spirit.) Of course, JT would open Sunday with a bogey, to give just a bit of hope to the chasers. He had 2 birdies on the outward nine, steadying the ship but certainly not assuring himself of anything. After making 6 at the par-5 10th (twice as many strokes as he needed 24 hours earlier) Thomas was once again forced to dig deep. In the past, he has been unable to follow up super-low rounds with the needed performance, but he was up to it on this day. The Kentucky lad made 4 birdies over the closing 8 holes to hold off Cantlay by 3.

Nationwide Championship

Scottie Scheffler knew that he was headed to the PGA Tour after this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs. The Korn Ferry Tour playoffs would offer him an opportunity to better his standing, and he accomplished that task during week one of the finals. Scheffler, 3rd place during the regular season, vaulted into 1st on the strength of his 2-shot win over the Killer Bs (Brendan Todd, Beau Hossler and Ben Taylor.) Scheffler played like a seasoned vet, despite his 23 years of age. Scheffler made just 4 bogies during his final three rounds of 68-67-67 at the Ohio State University’s Scarlet course. That miser’s touch separated him from his chasers and gave him his 2nd win of the season. 25 PGA Tour cards were awarded during the regular season, and 25 more will be delivered at the Korn Ferry tour championship on September 2nd. If nerve-wracking putts are your flavor, stay tuned over the next fortnight.

Real Czech Masters

Thomas Pieters reminds you of every great range superstar. His swing exudes control and power, and you can’t help wondering how he doesn’t contend every week. That’s the mystery of golf, but Pieters reminded us why he has played Ryder Cup golf for Europe with a win this week in the Czech Republic. The tall Belgian sat 2 back of Edoardo Molinari after 36 holes, then took charge with a 66 on Saturday. On his heels was the young Spaniard, Adrian Arnaus, who posted middle 65s to stand one back on Saturday evening. The final round was half-shootout, half-stumble. Defending champion Andrea Pavan came out of the woods with 8 birdies over the first 15 holes. On a day when he needed perfection and 10 birdies, Pavan closed with 1 bogey and 0 birdies to tie Sam Horsfield for 3rd spot. Arnaus had three bogies on the day, and 2 of them came on the heels of birdie and eagle. The opposite of bounce-back, Arnaus gave Pieters breathing room with those mistakes. Closing with birdies at 16 and 18, Arnaus reached 18 below par, to put pressure on the leader. Pieters was 4-under on the day through 12 holes, and needed only to avoid disaster over the closing stretch. He stumbled with a bogey of his own at the 16th, but finished with pars to claim his 4th Euro title, 2nd at the Czech Masters, and 1st since 2016.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

Sometimes, the right person wins. Doug Barron epitomizes journeyman; he had to Monday-qualify to get in this week, and even has an are-you-kidding suspension on his record … for testosterone supplements. He’s not a big guy, and has low testosterone. He’s not Fred Couples, nor Langer, nor McCarron. Today, however, he is the Dick’s Sporting Goods champion. Barron and Miguel Angel Jimenez began the week with 65s, and Barron never let up. He followed with 68 on Saturday, and came home in 66 on Sunday, for a 2-shot victory. Understand that he had one of the game’s great personalities, and top golfers, on his heels on Sunday. Fred Couples turned in a tremendous 63 to finish at 15-under par, 2 clear of 3rd-place Woody Austin. Couples had the luck of the sleepy on his side: he dunked his tee shot on the par-3 14th hole, took his penalty drop, then chipped in for 3. Staying at the birdie-par timeshare in round 3, Couples had 9 of each to put serious pressure on Barron. How did the unlikely winner respond? Nearly identical to Freddie. Barron had 0 bogies on the day, and only 1 the entire week. The title elevated him 50 spots on the Schwab Cup money list, giving him an opportunity to move into the season-ending, playoff chase over the next 8 events.

U.S. Amateur rests in Ogletree’s arms

Andy Ogletree and John Augenstein were a perfect match in the U.S. Amateur final at Pinehurst. Ogletree was the 18th-ranked golfer in on-site qualifying, while Augenstein was #20. Both have had distinguished careers in college (Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, respectively) and both were named yesterday to the USA side for the upcoming Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool, in England. In a most unique final, the morning 18 was played on the #4 course, while the afternoon round took place on the #2 layout. During the AM, 10 holes were won by the golfers, while 8 were halved. Augenstein stood 2-up after 18, but Ogletree delivered a warning bell with a birdie at the last. Ogletree returned to the course in identical form, making birdie on the 2nd hole to close within one hole. Augenstein remained in command, as most holes were halved until the 29th. At that juncture, Ogletree seized command with 3 wins in the next 4 holes, moving from 2 down to 1 up. A par at the par-3 17th hole, the 35th of the day, gave the Georgia Tech golfer a 2 up lead with 1 to play, making him this year’s national amateur champion.

In other news, the USGA added 7 golfers to its Walker Cup side. The one surprising move was the naming of Ricky Castillo, #9 in WAGR rankings and winner of 2 matches at Pinehurst, as 2nd alternate. The USGA decided that Steven Fisk and Alex Smalley, both ranked lower than Castillo, were better bets for success. Fortunately for the California kid, he is 18 and should have an opportunity to make both the 2021 and 2023 squads.

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