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Q&A: The man who started No Laying Up and #toursauce

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At times, professional golf can be a humorless enterprise, and the coverage of the sport usually follows suit. That’s where No Laying Up comes in.

A Twitter account started two years ago as well as a golf website that mainly began in 2014, No Laying Up has risen into the consciousness as a funny and witty alternative to a sometimes subdued golf media. You can find the hilarious stream of golf thoughts –especially during live tournament action — on its Twitter account @NoLayingUp.

The No Laying Up group, a team of a few golf fanatics, also prides itself on finding fresh angles on golf coverage in its website writing. The greatest example in that regard would be Tour Sauce. No Laying Up’s own invention, Tour Sauce refers to a list of actions on a golf course that only Tour pros can do without looking ridiculous. No Laying Up released Tour Sauce to the world in a magnificent four-part series (here’s Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV) and it has caught on as a Twitter phenomenon with #TourSauce. Additionally, No Laying Up coined the popular #PrayForTedScott on Twitter.

Chris Solomon, a No Laying Up co-founder and the man in charge of its Twitter account, stopped to chat with GolfWRX’s Kevin Casey about No Laying Up’s origins, its place in golf media, some #PrayForTedScott, and, of course, heaps and heaps of #TourSauce.

Kevin Casey: You guys are called No Laying Up and Zach Johnson is famous for doing the opposite, so you are pretty vocal against him on Twitter. How are you feeling after Johnson won The Open? 

No Laying Up: There’s categories of guys I don’t like. Bubba and Poulter are in a class of their own. Those are really guys I just can’t stand. I wouldn’t say my dislike for Zach Johnson is nearly as justified as it is for those two. It’s really not personal with Johnson at all, I just don’t like his style of golf. You can’t win the Masters laying-up on every par-5. We celebrate the guys who have bigger personalities and have more firepower to the game. So that’s why I wasn’t excited to see Johnson win the Open.

KC: No Laying Up is never shy to call out players, with Bubba and Poulter being the primary examples. But, as you said, it’s tougher to justify with Johnson. It seemed like there were some who attacked you on Twitter for your Zach comments. 

NLU:  I wouldn’t really say attacks, just some people were kind of surprised at how much I was hating on him Monday. But it can’t be that hard to understand, really. Plus, I have no idea what we did to get blocked by him on Twitter and that fueled it a lot more than our hate caused it. I’m not even sure what it was, but it must have been the thinnest-skinned thing in the world, because I don’t remember tweeting at him ever and then just finding out one day that he blocked us. It took Poulter an embarrassingly long time to block us. Ted Scott definitely blocked us. Steve Elkington, Brandel Chamblee and Tim Rosaforte have also blocked us. Bubba has not blocked us yet though! I commend him for it; I don’t know how he hasn’t at this point.

KC: You jokingly tweeted that you wear Johnson’s block as a “Badge of Honor.” Is there anyone who blocked you that you seriously feel that way about?

NLU: Yeah, Poulter. I was trying to earn that one. That one was completely justified. The rest of them are for thin-skinned stuff, but I worked on Poulter for a year-and-a-half and that’s one I’m pretty proud of.

KC: You’ve detailed it before, but can you go through the origins of No Laying Up?

NLU: Me and a couple of buddies, who go by the aliases Tron Carter and Big Randy, always had a group text message for many, many years talking sports, mostly golf. Some of the things my buddies came up with were just too funny to keep harnessed in our little group. The whole time with the stuff they were coming up with I was like, “We need to get this on a website, we need to do a blog.” Finally, I said enough of this and I just made the Twitter account one day. I didn’t even put any thought into the name. I just made the Twitter account, gave those two the password and I was like “Let’s try this.” We did it for a while, shared the account and just got bored with it after a year. And we were like, “We should really do something with this.” So last January we bought the domain and the four of us (including Neil at that point) started the website and decided to see if we could do some real analysis. It’s hard to get credibility on Twitter if you’re just tweeting dumb stuff all day. If you can back it up with a chance to show that you have some golf knowledge as well, it works better.

KC: So you wanted to start this to get that funny content out there, but golf coverage can be a little dry at times. Was the idea of getting this alternative out there also a factor? 

NLU: Definitely. We’re big fans of Spencer Hall and Ryan Nanni from Every Day Should Be Saturday, so that was our inspiration from the get go. Every time we write or do something on the website, our goal is for it to be something you can’t find anywhere else. Golf.com, Golf Digest and these websites will all have this same story, like some slideshow of Rickie Fowler’s girlfriend the day after he wins. We don’t want to be doing stuff that everybody else is doing. We’re not really inspired by traffic numbers; we don’t have advertisements. If 50 people read a piece and love it, we’d prefer that over 5,000 people reading it and being indifferent.

KC: When you guys first started the website, did you have any structure planned out?

NLU: We had a basic structure of we wanted to do a preview and a recap for every week. We’ve kind of axed the recap because it’s a lot harder to do a recap and not generalize everything. The previews are a lot harder to do than they look because it’s difficult to find fresh new nuggets about something like the Wells Fargo Championship. So we did have that structure in place and trying to do features once a week. But with full-time jobs on top of this, it’s hard to sit down at night and pound something out when we’ve got other stuff going on and me living on the other side of the globe in Amsterdam. That was the structure, but we also threw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what stuck. It’s always about finding a fresh angle and it’s hard to think creatively like that full time.

KC: You guys are kind of a counterculture outlet for golf. How much do you think there is a market for that audience-wise?

NLU: It’s pretty obvious that there is a space for this. Just to see how much this counterculture has grown in this last 1.5 to 2 years is great. I think a lot of us counterculture people are based on Twitter, while a lot of golf media types are website-based. They use Twitter to interface, but their job is to write. For us it’s more about having fun on Twitter and finding like-minded people to talk golf with. That’s where I spend most of my time and people on Twitter want more to be entertained than to talk serious golf all of the time. I love going on Twitter to see people’s reactions to shots in the moment. So there’s a space for this, but I mean it’s not paying the bills. I don’t have an interest in becoming a full-time golf writer and following the Tour week-to-week and pounding out deadlines. The reason golf writers have to produce all of this Tiger and click bait stuff is because that’s what pays the bills. They’re being judged by how many people go to the website and they’re balancing the line between journalism and trying to get clicks and that’s why we’re able to operate in the function we do. If we were revenue-based, we would be doing the same thing.

KC: So we need to talk about #TourSauce. Can you briefly describe how you guys came up with this concept?

NLU: It was something that my buddies and I would do on the golf course. We knew each other and our games really well and had really great matches, improved a lot over the years. We just started thinking we were better than we were. It was to the point that we were rooting for a 65 degree day when we could justify wearing pants, which is an example of Tour Sauce. It snowballed into you hit a good shot and your buddy says nice shot and instead of saying thank you, you give a tip of the hat. And we kept one-upping each other and it would turn into this hilarious side game of who could pull it off the best. It kept going and going until finally we were like, “We have to get this on paper.”

KC: You guys have done a lot of these Tour Sauce moves yourself, but some are really crazy. Like have you ever actually acted out “The Apology?”

NLU: I’ve never seen that one done. But we did have someone tweet us a picture once of hitting a ball into someone’s yard and they signed their glove and left it on their fencepost. Also, one of my friends won the member-guest at his club and after he sank the winning putt on the 18th green, his two little kids ran out onto the green and greeted him, and his wife came out and kissed him. And to top it off, he took out the flag and took it home with him. It’s funny because my mom’s totally in on it now. My dad was playing in the same member-guest this past week, and he was in second place going into the last day and she was like, “I’ve got my high-heeled boots on and I’m ready to run onto the green if he wins.”

KC: You and Kyle Porter did a Tour Sauce Power Rankings. What pros do you think have the most underrated Tour Sauce games?

NLU: [Justin] Rose was the first guy who came up there. Patrick Reed isn’t an underrated Tour Sauce guy; he’s one of the sauciest guys out there. Sergio can be really saucy, too. He’s never happy with a shot; he’s always leaning and can be pouty. Keegan Bradley can be very saucy — when he misses a putt it looks like he just found out his dog died. He’s basically got his own Tour Sauce category too with his pre-shot routine. Phil can get really saucy with how analytical he gets on a lot of his shots. Everyone has their own flavor of Tour Sauce.

KC: So #PrayForTedScott. We know its origins, but you actually first used the hashtag during last year’s Open Championship. Did you in any way expect the avalanche that followed after you first used the hashtag?

NLU: I remember some catastrophic event had happened somewhat recently and I had remembered seeing “Pray For.” But it was far enough away from that event that I felt OK making the hashtag. It was meant to be a joke about Ted being in danger because of the way Bubba treated him. I just did it and it took on a life of its own. It’s so ridiculous in a way because it all stems from that one Travelers incident. Bubba doesn’t really yell at his caddy and he’s not really hard on him, but it will always be funny to me to keep that line of jokes going forever. At the same time, I’ve never seen a player do that to a caddy, at least on camera.

KC: Did you get any DMs about #PrayForTedScott?

NLU: I’ve gotten a few messages like, “You’re doing God’s work right now.” A few of them are from players. The funniest to me is which players will favorite an anti-Bubba tweet, which is public for people to see. And you can tell right there, OK, that guy doesn’t like Bubba.

KC: No Laying Up had an excellent podcast a couple of months ago with Justin Thomas as a guest. I’m curious how did that come about? 

NLU: He started following us back in January or February and he would favorite a tweet and message us here or there. I just shot him a DM and asked him if he was interested in doing a podcast and he was down to do it. I think he appreciates the golf counterculture. He knew I wasn’t going to ask him about Spieth and run through the same narratives and everything.

KC: It seems like you’ve kept in contact with Thomas, too, as well as other Tour Sauce fans Billy Horschel and Scott Langley.

NLU: We’ll exchange messages from time to time. It’s funny, some players will DM me random things that they can’t say in public. I have some screenshots I would never take or send that would be very interesting on Twitter. It’s cool that Twitter gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with these guys. They can appreciate somebody who tells it like it is. But at the same time, Horschel is friends with Poulter, so he probably hates my Poulter stuff. I protect the guys we’re friends with. I don’t call out Thomas or Horschel on Twitter. I can definitely be criticized for being hypocritical when it comes to the guys I like. I’m very soft on them on Twitter.

KC: Are there any guys who lay up too much who aren’t really contending at the moment that you dislike?

NLU: There are certain things about guys where I’m like I’m out on you. Like, Will Wilcox, you can’t play with a yellow ball, get that off my screen. For Johnson and some of those short-hitters, the whole mindset of No Laying Up is not that you’re not allowed to lay up. When Sergio laid up on 17 at the BMW last year from like 223 yards, he can get on from anywhere he wants to, but he played with fear and laid up. That’s the kind of thing I’m most against. I’m not advising golfers to play outside their ability. It’s just that I love the guys who will go for it and be aggressive.

KC: What are your favorite Tour Sauce moments of 2015 thus far?

NLU: Probably the entire montage of Spieth yelling at his ball at the Masters. Kevin Na comes to mind on No. 17 at Sawgrass when he did the club throw and he hit it to 5 feet. Spieth also did that at Colonial when he hit it to 15 feet on the 72nd hole. Living in Amsterdam it’s tough to watch a lot of golf, so I’ve been relying on people to report Tour Sauce to me.

KC: Are there any new Tour Sauce moves you’ve noticed since writing that series?

NLU: Some will pop up. A caddy will stand over a putt with the pin behind his back, as if he’s going to putt it. If you’re my partner and you’re lining up a putt from behind the hole, I go stand over your putt as if I’m the caddy and I’m going to putt it. Another one is when you hit a shot into a blind green and you think it’s really good but there’s no applause from up around the green, you can act confused as to why there wasn’t an ovation.

KC: You’ve said that Tiger kind of invented Tour Sauce, but have you ever looked at players from previous generations in regards to purveyors of Tour Sauce?

NLU: It’s funny to go back and look at and see the old highlights from the 70s and you see guys doing the spike mark blame. Nicklaus in ’86 when he missed the putt on No. 12, he tapped down a spike mark immediately. So people always get that to me. Jack had some premature tee grab sauce for sure and he was also the purveyor of the hike-up-the-pant-leg-before-getting-the-ball-out-of-the-hole. I think he basically invented that. Palmer had all of the leaning going on and the follow through finishes and what not. Tour Sauce is not new, it’s always been there.

KC: No Laying Up is a big fan of a lot of these younger guns. I know this is a long-term projection, but how many majors do you think Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth each end up with?

NLU: This was a question I floated to Shane Bacon a while ago: Between Rory and Spieth, do they beat Nicklaus’ 18 majors? I’m confident they’ll beat Tiger’s, but I’m less sure on Nicklaus. I’ll say they each win six more majors; Rory wins 10 and Spieth wins 8. No one will ever remember to look back at that prediction, so it’s the safest one you can make. But overall, I think this will be an unbelievable rivalry for the next 10 years. It’s impossible to put into words how amazing the state of the game is.

KC: What is the future of No Laying Up?

NLU: We would love to redesign the site; we just haven’t gotten the time to actually sit down and do it. We had one design and redesigned it to what it currently is like a month later and we haven’t touched it since. I would love for the site to look a little cleaner, a little better. We have some new merchandise coming out; we’re trying to perfect the shipping and all of that process. We would love to have some towels and pullovers in the pro shop. I come up with ideas all of the time, and then I sit down to write and hate what I write. I have an arsenal of unpublished drafts. I’d like to pick the podcast game back up, but we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.

I wish my other friends with No Laying Up just had more free time because when they write, it’s some funny and really good stuff. If they had the time to dedicate to it, the website would really be something.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Scott

    Jul 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    NLU is a pretty funny site. I could not stop laughing at the Toursauce articles

  2. John

    Jul 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    I am 59 years old and I think NLU is really funny. It’s a game people, not a religion. Of course the problem, Kevin, is most of the knuckleheads on here either have no sense of humor, or are so full of tour sauce that it’s impossible for them to laugh at themselves. Great read.

    Oh and by the way, if jerks like Hogan often was wouldn’t like NLU, I’m all for it.

  3. Pingback: What I’m Reading (July 27) – Kyle Porter

  4. No sauce

    Jul 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Guys talking about tour players sauce sounds really…… (insert the word). Got to be one of the worst sayings so far! Definitely tops the idiots yelling BAABAABOOEY and that is saying something. Keep your talking about tour guys sauce to yourselves.

  5. Patricknorm

    Jul 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Without naming names , my son is a prominent pro athlete and this is the way they talk all the time. In front of a camera it’s very professional and orderly and polite but off camera and amongst friends this is what they do. When you’re a pro you have a lot of insight into your sport because well, you’ve been doing it at the highest level for 20 years. Pros get bored by the lameness of other players, announcers and team owners.
    Let’s face it I like this guy and went to his website, read the articles, the Twitter account and it’s all authentic. Lighten guys ( male and female) it’s 2015 and if you play golf at a fairly high level like I do and play way too much and get way too serious, this is the kick in pants some commenters need.
    I been a pro athlete , hung around the guys for close to 40 years and this website is pretty close to telling it like it is. There is luge out side the ropes, lines, arena , etc.

  6. Christosterone

    Jul 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I think the NLU group of writers are fairly typical of the post 1970 children…I am counted in their ranks sadly.
    NLU is a perfect microcosm of this generation….his persistent references that he is not “totally” into it and that he is so ready to point out that he is not full time nor are any of his “writers.”….or that his website is not completed or page views don’t matter or that he is over seas or blah blah blah….basically he is too cool to engage in anything thereby avoiding ownership of failure…or a lack thereof….newsflash NLU, the world is governed by metrics and generally speaking, you are what you earn…with very few exceptions.
    NLU’s mentality is typical of people who are afraid of failure…they never fully engage so are never held to the any judgment….he can simply brush aside criticism with the excuse that this is not his full time endeavor…were it to be he would be subject to failure as he would have no excuses…
    So, as I stated before, I am proud to engage fully in the pursuit of catching lightning in a bottle on a golf course…
    I can never throw on a #23 jersey and drop 63 on Larry Bird at Boston Garden….but I can play Sawgrass and maybe, just maybe drain a 20 foot snake like Tiger in 2001…and that is exciting to me…
    Hope this helps explains NLUs polarization…
    -Christosterone

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from here, Christosterone. I totally get why NLU is polarizing, and each side has valid reasons for standing where they do on this. It in no way confuses me why some people aren’t fans of or outright dislike NLU.

      The only thing I’ll say here is that Solomon was pretty honest in why NLU is structured the way it is. As his answer above showed, he is very aware that NLU would be a much tougher endeavor if the goal was to make money off it. As you can see in Solomon’s answers, he’s definitely not a big fan of everything with golf coverage, but he also gets that NLU would probably cover golf in a very similar way as the other sites if making money was a goal. He seems to be fully aware that if he and his friends tried to put all of their effort into making money here, they would fail and/or NLU would lose its character and become like any other golf website.

      Maybe I’m reiterating your points, I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see Solomon and NLU using these things as excuses. I think they just understand that NLU works best as it currently is and it really wouldn’t as a full-time money-making venture.

  7. Matthew

    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    The reason wrxers don’t like NLU is because they’re full of #toursauce and don’t like being made fun of

    • Christosterone

      Jul 26, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      I think many of us view the “tour sauce” crowd as being “too cool” to play aspirational golf.
      There is a zero chance I could ever be a tour player, though I’m completely excited to throw on a pair of knickers with matching foot joys and tee off at sunup to chase that perfect shot….
      And while I may never achieve it, my dream is to occasionally play a hole as well as a pro…I could never dunk a ball from the free throw line like Dr J or throw a 50 yard spiral like Brady….but on rare occasions I will catch magic in a bottle and birdie a hole or hit it to a few feet from a long way out…
      And I am ecstatic on those rare occasions….and while these guys view everything through a cynical “ironic” prism, I choose not to….unlike these guys, I am not too cool to celebrate the occasional lucky putt or hope for better shots in spite of the fact I may be 10 over par….
      -Christosterone

  8. Dean

    Jul 26, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, there are some incredibly humorless people ’round here. I bet some of you are a blast at parties.

    NLU is great, and quite funny. I hope they keep it up.

    Good article, Kevin. Trust me, some of us “get it.”

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Haha thanks, Dean! I don’t have any qualms with people who are against NLU. I’m obviously not one of those people but NLU is not an entity many people feel neutral about.

  9. JH

    Jul 26, 2015 at 11:23 am

    really golfwrx? these guys are a bunch of dooshcanoes. terrible article.

  10. Spikey

    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:24 am

    What a bunch of total cnuts

  11. D Louis

    Jul 26, 2015 at 2:28 am

    This site seems to decline a little more every week with really entertaining, breath taking articles like this

  12. Slimeone

    Jul 26, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Lame.

  13. Sean

    Jul 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    All that matters in the end is how many. It doesn’t matter how you do it. The scorecard doesn’t care.

  14. Kyle

    Jul 25, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    The part 1-4 tour sauce articles made my night. Love the tweets keep em going!

  15. Mlecuni

    Jul 25, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Anything positive ?

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      What do you mean?

      • Mlecuni

        Jul 26, 2015 at 8:05 am

        I mean that there is more in the game of golf than unfavourable judgments with the only perspective of selling merchandise or make a joke, especialy over a two times major winner.
        I dont reconized the golf that my familly, friends and myself love in this article.

        So any construtive critisism ?

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

          If you didn’t find any positivity in this article, you were not reading very closely. NLU isn’t about always saying unfavorable things. They tell it like it is, positive or negative. The point for them is to have fun. Some of their jokes have a positive connotation, others have a negative one. I certainly understand that NLU isn’t for everybody, but it’s misconstruing it to say that they are always negative.

  16. Gary Gutful

    Jul 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I lay up all the time.

    #OnPar4s

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Haha, on a regulation PGA Tour course from the tips, I would have that same problem over and over again.

      • Steve

        Jul 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

        Regulation PGA Tour course? What is that? This isnt football or basketball where the dimensions are the same everywhere? You just keep proving your knowledge.

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

          I’m curious about this, Steve. Does your dislike for me all stem from that one disagreement we had over the Road Hole? If so, that is really strange and petty. People disagree all the time, there’s no way to have any lasting friends if every time you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone on one issue you treat them as a new enemy.

          But that’s just one option. I feel what’s more likely is that you’ve disliked me for a long time, and it first bubbled up in comments on the Road Hole argument. I can understand this option far more than the first one. But yeah, I am legitimately curious which one of these strikes closer to the truth.

          Anyway, all I meant by regulation was your average PGA Tour course. They’re obviously not all the same, but they all tend to be far longer than the courses I play (where the tips are maybe 6,600 or 6,700 yards at most) and have much more trouble (narrower with more trees and bunkers, and rough that is actually somewhat penal). I really don’t see why there was any need to gripe over my phrasing here.

          • Steve

            Jul 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm

            You seemed to know very little, but come off that you know alot. Just in you recent articles. 1. You think a hole in a major championship that is playing over par isnt fair. 2. You pick someone as a favorite to win the Canadian open, that wasnt in the field. 3. You think there are regulation pga tour golf courses.

            • Kevin Casey

              Jul 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

              So from what you’re saying, it seems like the first scenario I offered for your dislike is pretty much correct, which is very strange…

              As for your points, 1. You just did not get my argument about that hole on Thursday. At all. That is clear from your statement. 2. That’s fair, for the most part. I did offer a mea culpa on that, it was a dumb mistake and I own up to it. Although, I didn’t pick him as a favorite. I put him on one of my DK rosters. If I could have picked 12 players with no restrictions, Pettersson wouldn’t have been on there. But there’s a salary cap to rosters and I have to choose players who are further down on the scale in a field. Regardless definitely a stupid error that I regret. 3. Once again, you’re just not getting it. I already explained what I meant by that phrase.

              • Patricknorm

                Jul 26, 2015 at 6:28 pm

                Hey Kevin I’m a big fan of yours and keep up,the good work. It’s like any pro sport. You’re closer to golf pros more than anyone of us will know and everybody has an idea. But they don’t know. I have a son who’s been a pro for,10 seasons in another sport, makes well over seven figures and it amazes me all,the time when people argue with me about his sport. They think they know but don’t. That’s what you’re up against every time you write and article it seems. Hang in there.

            • The Infidel

              Jul 30, 2015 at 8:14 am

              Steve – Take it somewhere else or get therapy. Those are your big boy options.

  17. Ryan

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Doesnt surprise me that a few WRXers are too dense to get NLU. Great interview, Kevin.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Appreciate it, Ryan! Helps to have a great subject like Solomon and NLU.

  18. Jang Hyung-sun

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Ben Hogan is spinning in his grave over this nonsense.

    • Christosterone

      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

      I sadly do a lot of these…though to defend the pants pull up, I have ripped a crotch seam getting a ball out of the cup so at least I have an excuse on that one…
      -Christosterone

  19. ABgolfer2

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    There is no wrong way to win the Masters as long as the winner plays by the rules and displays proper etiquette.

  20. TJS

    Jul 25, 2015 at 11:53 am

    “You can’t win the Masters laying up on all par 5’s.” Yeah this quote is so special since he’s talking about the guy who actually won the Masters doing just that…not a very informed group of “Golf fanatics.” Should’ve ended the interview right there…idiots.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Solomon very well knows that ZJ won the Masters doing exactly that. Look at what he says in the sentences around that one. Context there makes it pretty obvious that what he’s saying here is that he sees winning the Masters by laying up on every par-5 as blasphemy, as the wrong way to do it. He knows it can and has been done, what he’s saying is that he doesn’t like seeing it done that way.

      I can see how that sentence could be misconstrued on a quick read, but if you pay attention closely to everything said in that response, you’ll see what he’s trying to say there.

    • Matto

      Jul 27, 2015 at 6:44 am

      It was said in the same vein as the “you can’t play golf with a yellow ball.”
      Well, obviously…you can.

      • Kevin Casey

        Jul 27, 2015 at 8:57 pm

        Exactly. You said it much better and quicker than I did haha

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Opinion & Analysis

Leaving golf comics for a higher purpose: Rick Newell, LITT and M.U.S.T.

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Rick Newell drew the best golf comic strip ever. No debate. No competition. The four main characters of Life In The Trap, and the troubles they faced (in both golf and life) mimicked our lives in an eerily-accurate fashion. And then, the strip came to an end. Newell and his wife, living in Seattle, were drawn to a higher purpose. The mentoring of urban youth and teens was too large a challenge to ignore. Think about that for a moment: take on not one child, but hundreds, with one goal—to contribute to society. We caught up with Rick this fall, and he was generous with his time. Total transparency: I made my donation last week. Click the logo before, while, or after, reading the interview, and help MUST make hope a reality.

Ron Montesano: How did LITT start?

Rick Newell: My uncle Jerry, who is a great golfer, gave me the idea way back in college (I turn 50 next year). I thought it was a pretty good idea since the niche would be big enough and there would be a lot of material to go with. Plus it would give me an excuse to play. I took a year off in between my junior and senior years of college and traveled through New Zealand and Australia for nine months. I took my sketchbook with me and worked on the characters as I traveled. When I got back I continued to slowly work on the comic strip and started to see if anyone would publish it. A black and white version of Life in the Trap was picked up by a paper in Florida for a time but it did not last and I stopped making the comic strip.

RM: How big did LITT grow?

RN: In 2002 I had a pretty bad personal meltdown. It was the perfect storm in many ways and things got pretty bad. I even started thinking about taking my own life. As I put my life back together I resolved to do the things that make me feel alive and make me feel awake and to not really care what anyone else thought. Life in the Trap was one of the things that had made me feel alive so I resurrected it. Once I added color and put it on the computer, it took off. I made the website (http://lifeinthetrap.com/) which provided an easy way for editors to preview the comic and it was also an easy way for them to receive the most recent comics for the month.

After the website was up, I started to email editors of magazines, websites and newsletters to see if they would be interested in publishing Life in the Trap. The response was good right away and the circulation rapidly grew. At its peak, Life in the Trap was read by over 1 million people in different golf publications around the world.

RM: Who inspired which characters?

RN: Life in the Trap has four main characters: Duff, Clay, Putts and Rosie. They are all combinations of people I know. Duff is named after my dad but his golf game is more like mine. My dad’s nickname was ‘Duff’ when he was young so the relation to a golf ‘duffer’ was obvious.

Clay is named after the man I was named for. My dad played college basketball with an African American guy named Clayborn Richard Jones. My parents named me Richard and I gave one of my characters the name Clay because of him. The inequities African Americans face have been on my heart since I was young because of whom I was named for. Duff is black in the comic because of Clayborn. Clayborn died of asthma before I was born so I never got to meet him but I have always been proud to bear his name.

My mom’s middle name is Rose, which she hates by the way, so Rosie is named after her. Not named after her because she hates the name but because I thought Rosie sounds like a good character and because I love my mom. I knew one of the characters had to be married because of all of the funny material that would be generated between spouses due to the game of golf.

Putts rounds out the crew. One of the characters had to be pretty bad at golf because so many people would be able to relate to him and and one character had to have a short fuse so I put those into one character. The love/hate relationship with golf defines Putts.

RM: What is your relationship and affinity for golf?

RN: My dad taught me golf so I have him to thank for all of the pain and suffering over the years. Just kidding… sort of. Our local course in Seattle was Jackson Park Golf Course. They have an executive course that we would play together and then we eventually graduated to the main course. I was not the easiest kid to raise, especially through my teens and early 20s, but I have very fond memories of playing golf with my dad on that course. I have never been a great golfer but it has always been a regular part of my life thanks to him.

RM: How can golf serve to make the world a better place?

RN: I read recently that if your household income is $50K or above you are in the top 1% of people on the planet. It might not seem like it to some, but we are a very wealthy nation. The average golfer’s household income is over $100K and there are about 24 million golfers in the U.S. That is a lot of wealth. In my opinion, with all of that wealth should come some responsibility. If every golfer in the U.S. picked a cause they cared about and devoted some time, resources and money to it then golfers could literally reshape the nation. There are so many amazing causes out there. Golfers should pick a cause that lights their fire and get behind it.

RM: What are you doing now?

RN: My background is in technology. I worked at big computer companies like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Cingular. After my meltdown in 2002, I decided that I did not want to be in the IT industry anymore. It certainly did not make me feel alive or awake. Instead I took a job at an inner-city Boys and Girls Club here in Seattle. I worked there for seven years and it changed my life. My dad was a successful doctor so I grew up not needing anything. Working at the Boys and Girls Club showed me first hand what some families have to overcome to just survive, much less succeed.

During my time at the club I came to believe that the most urgent need in the urban core is positive male role models. I felt that if you could provide that it would help the most number of people. There are many complicated reasons for male absence from the family, so if you can help fill that gap moms would get support and kids have opportunities to flourish. The economy would also benefit. So we started a mentoring program called MUST (Mentoring Urban Students and Teens). MUST finds African American guys who are in college and pays them well to mentor African American guys who are genuinely in danger of dropping out of high school. It is a four-year mentoring program. The big idea is that the younger guys watch the older for four years and begin to think, ‘He comes from the same place I do. If he can do it… so can I!” We are now in our eighth year and it is working better than we thought. Youth that we know would have dropped out of high school are attempting college. It is amazing to watch their courage and determination.

The average high school dropout costs the nation $600,000 or more. Great prevention programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters are less expensive but focus on younger kids. Rehabilitation programs like juvenile detention centers are very expensive and do not have a great track record of successful rehabilitation. MUST is a premium intervention program that exists between prevention and rehabilitation. We find kids who are the most vulnerable before they hit high school and give them a lot of support. One of our mottos is that we will support you all the way through high school…no matter what!

RM: How can we help?

RN: Donations are always great but one of our three core values in fundraising is joy. MUST wants the people that partner with us to take joy in helping us out because we are doing good work. There is more than enough money in the world to solve most of its problems. Literally. If you do not find joy in giving to us then there are so many other great organizations out there doing incredible work. Find the organizations that are solving the problems that pull on your heart and get behind them.

The best way to help us is to get on our newsletter list and start to get to know us. We put a lot of effort into our newsletters so current donors and supporters know what their efforts are supporting and see the difference they are helping. Come check us out and see if it would bring you joy to help us out.

The MUST mentoring model is more effective than we thought it would be. Because of its effectiveness we are now researching to see if the model would work in other communities that have high dropout rates. We are currently asking the Latinx community if they think our model might work for their youth. Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are also vulnerable youth groups here in Seattle. MUSTs goal is to one day have the MUST mentoring model in every major city in the U.S.

RM: Why did you stop creating LITT?

RN: I stopped because it did not make me feel alive anymore. I was working at the Boys and Girls Club and working other jobs to make ends meet and I just did not have time for it anymore. More than a million people were reading it but because I was giving it away for free, I did not make any money off it. Once it started to be a grind just to produce it, I stopped doing it. It is a great body of work that I am very proud of. I wanted to stop before the work I was proudly producing became compromised.

RM: What would it take to bring LITT back?

RN: We are considering bringing it back. Life is full so we will need to make sure. My wife and I have four sons and MUST obviously takes up a lot of time. We would want Life in the Trap to add to our family and MUST and not take away from it. Our oldest son fell in love with golf last year. He has been basketball, basketball, basketball up until high school and he was pretty good too. However, he joined the high school golf team his freshman year and now he loves it. Obsessed with it really. It might make sense to resurrect Life in the Trap.  MUST is a great cause and if we could get the same numbers of readers looking at Life in the Trap a percentage of them might want to follow MUST and help out. Who knows. Stay tuned to GolfWRX to find out!

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole Episode 103: The one with Scott McCarron

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2019 Schwab Cup winner Scott McCarron talks with host Michael Williams about beating Bernhard Langer and Father Time in his stellar 2019 season (hint: CBD played a role). Also features Part Two of the 19th Hole Holiday Gift guide.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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