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Hello USGA, we need to talk….

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It’s me, the amateur golfer.

We haven’t spoken in a while and I’ve been trying to reach you. I know you’ve had a lot on your mind lately and I feel like maybe I’m not at the top of the list of your callbacks, so I decided to send you this letter. I hope it finds you well.

You know and I know that people can drift apart sometimes. I know you’ve had a lot going on lately with work. First, I’d like to congratulate you on all of your recent success. I watched your U.S. Open this year where the winner, Brooks Koepka, earned $2.16 million. I read that this is the first time a winner’s share in any major tournament had exceeded $2 million! And in your Open! That is an impressive amount! I also read the total purse was more than $12 million. That’s also getting up there, isn’t it? I mean in 1996, the year before Tiger Woods won his first major, the total purse was only $2.4 million and the winner’s share was a hair over $400K.

You’re primetime now. Places like Chambers Bay and Erin Hills basically build courses just for you. You’ve really made it when guys start doing that, and now with that TV and sponsorship money… I mean five times the purse from ’96! Wow! And it’s not just Koepka! I read in Forbes that Roger Federer recently surpassed our old friend Tiger Woods as the top earner in individual sports with more than $110 million in tournament earnings. Tiger hasn’t even played much since 2009 and he was still No. 1 eight years later! Pros in your sport are doing really well. LOTS of money out there in the pro game. Your game, after all.

But it’s just… I feel like you don’t notice me anymore no matter what I do. I didn’t want your public success to affect the nice thing we had going, but lately that’s what it feels like. You’ve been making these comments; you’ve been talking to our friends like the media and saying hurtful things. You never did this in 1996, and your research printed in Golf Digest shows I wasn’t all that different back then. Please know that I have been trying to better myself though. For instance, I started using wider and squarer grooves hoping to get better for you… but I really didn’t. You didn’t notice my grooves though until THEY started using them. THEY started calling it things like “bomb and gouge” and saying it changed things. I never felt it changed things for me, and I didn’t think it changed things between us. Then you stuck the dagger in me again USGA, because for years I’d been trying to better myself by anchoring putters to my body. Again, not much success.

In 20+ years, my average index dropped from 16 to 14.5. That’s progress, but not enough to change me completely. I didn’t think it was enough for you to notice. But you noticed Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott for using anchored putters, didn’t you? Then you told me it wasn’t working out for us.

I have to be honest. It hurts. But again, I try to stay positive and think there is a future here. But now I see you in the press saying that I hit the ball too far and this is ruining things again. Talk about sending me mixed messages! Didn’t you tell me last year that I should “Tee It Forward” to help things between us? The next year you’re telling our friends that I hit it too far and am causing a “horrible impact” on your game because you have to lengthen courses? Why was I teeing it forward? Trackman says my average drive is 214 yards! Or were you talking about THEM again? Do you remember me USGA? Do you think about me anymore? Because I’ve been to all of your 11,000 public courses. Tell me how many of those you’ve lengthened because of me.

It’s not like I don’t do anything for you, USGA. I spend more than $2.5 billion on your game. You want to ignore me for the glitz and glamour of THEM, but it’s me who makes you what you are. Without me, you don’t have your sport. You don’t have your TV crews or your U.S. Open bids. You don’t have your “open doctors” adding 600 yards to a course that you’ll eventually say “I” made you lengthen. And you know what? There are 20 million of me, and it’s ME who generates interest in your game. I got 2.2 million people trying your game for the first time in 2015. I got 37 million people saying they were interested in playing your game that same year. These are some of the highest numbers ever, and you ignore ME? You ignore me for Dustin and Jordan and Rory?

Don’t push me anymore USGA. People change and things can change, but remember I was there for you in the beginning and helped get us to where we are. Please remember that before you do anything that really hurts me.

Sincerely,

The Amateur Golfer

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

71 Comments

71 Comments

  1. Donn Rutkoff

    Dec 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Since you are Canadian you might under appreciate the following.

    I think the USGA which holds about 5 national championship events (men, women, junior, amateur etc.) should Fly The Flag of the U.S.A. and start the tournament with playing The National Anthem. (Colin Winkydink of the NFL go take a leap. Tiger is no angel but he gives back to the community more, way more, than selfish Colin.)

    A player should NEVER go backwards to play from previous spot. Just drop a ball take a stroke no matter what happened to the shot in question.

    And USGA and PGA should NOT let Charlie Hoffman merely take a drop in sand due to whatever reason. He should play from a same lie. The official should have been authorized to bury his new lie in the sand the same depth he moved from.

  2. Eric

    Dec 11, 2017 at 7:45 am

    LOL. What a funny article. I don’t think the author of this needs to complain about belly putters, square grooves, or longer distances when he has improved his handicap by 1.5 over a 20 year period. My best advice is to head to the putting green with a regulation putter for an hour or two whenever you feel like writing a sorry message to the USGA again

  3. Norman Light

    Dec 11, 2017 at 12:53 am

    What we really need to talk about is the cost of golf. Golf companies are making the game for the rich people not the average person. One company you could buy a set of clubs for $20,000 And all the other companies you could pay between $900-$2000 what average American has that kind of money with a family of four this is totally totally stupid company need to get real and quit making millions and millions of dollars on the golf world thank you

  4. Underachiever

    Dec 9, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I wish I hit the ball too far…

  5. Michael

    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Excellent letter. All the golfers here who claim to be single digit should take note too. WE ARE ALL the game, not just one segment. The changes coming in 2019 are great, but there is no excuse for it to have taken this long. In the same vein, what is wrong with certain rules regarding the ball and other equipment that apply to the pros or USGA sanctioned championships?

  6. Bob Racho

    Dec 9, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Good letter. I am an 80 year old golfer and love the sport. I have decided to F the rules, and play according to mine. They are common sense rules that all of us senior golfers should be happy with. Anchoring the putter helps my back and will let me play a few years longer. I do not wish to hit out of a bad lie, so I move the ball a few inches to a better one. I value my clubs and do not wish to ruin them by hitting a tree, so I move that ball to get away from that problem. I play from the forward tees and have enjoyment from hitting some clubs that I haven’t hit in years. I now use ALL of my clubs including my wedges.
    I play public course and respect them all even if they aren’t as pristine as the private courses that the pro’s play on. I repair my ball marks and two others on each green, and divots as well. If our players did this our courses would be in way better shape and approach the private courses that are so pristine. I count my shots. The most important thing to me is to play with integrity to the sport that I wish to play, and that includes the changing of some idiotic rules for us older golfers that will allow us to play will into our 80’s.
    So, to the USGA, you best make a change in the rules for the older golfers who are an integral part of keeping public golf courses open.

    • AJ

      Dec 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Way to go Bob. I’m in the same mood as Bob is. However, I accept the challenge of honest play and do not
      Move my ball regardless. Exception: local rules. Perhaps in 10 years I will agree with Bob completely.

    • Lock

      Dec 14, 2017 at 6:06 am

      “Make Golf Fun Again”

    • Crazy About Golf

      Dec 14, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Bob, you’re the man! I agree….unless you are recording a score for handicap purposes or playing in a tournament (or for money with your buddies), play by YOUR rules (within reason). If you want to improve your lie in the rough, do it. If you want to move your ball out of a divot, do it. If you prefer to pick up when you’re within 2 feet of the cup, knock yourself out! This game is also meant to be enjoyed. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and it seems that the USGA isn’t helping.

  7. Paul

    Dec 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

    When it rains at my course and the ball gets a bit dirty, I have to ‘play it as it lies’. How come THEY get Lift, Clean and Place whenever conditions aren’t perfect?
    Have you ever noticed that you never see TV dootage of them cleaning their ball on the fairway?

  8. Joe sixpack

    Dec 8, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    I agree with the spirit of this article. And I would add a couple things to it. First, equipment. The reason courses are too short for the pros now is because the usga totally failed to prevent drivers and balls from going way the f— too far. Changing the grooves on wedges was a moronic approach to this issue. The usga is in bed with the equipment companies and they need promises of greater distance to sell new drivers every six months. The usga allowing this is a corruption of the game. Second, technology. The usga have been Luddites when it comes to understanding and embracing technology. For years they kept distance measuring devices illegal. Why? Is pacing off yardages from sprinkler heads a skill that golf should test? Just let everyone use a laser and speed things up. They seem to understand this finally but it took 20 years. Technology isn’t going to slow down. New stuff is coming constantly and they’re too old and stuck in their ways to get out in front of it and make informed choices about which technologies are good or bad for the game.

  9. Bill F

    Dec 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I wish we could all sign that letter and truly send it!

  10. Marc Halley

    Dec 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Excellent article. Right on the money. Thanks much.

  11. DaveT

    Dec 8, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    The article says, “USGA, you only care about the professionals.” Those disagreeing with the articles are mostly saying, “Stop feeling so important. You’re not. The professionals are. Don’t like the USGA rules? Play whatever rules or non-rules you want.” OK, let’s go with the idea that both are correct. The obvious response is for only the professionals to pay USGA dues. If the USGA does nothing for the duffers, seniors, and mid to high HCP — seems agreed by both sides — then let’s see how they get along without them.

    • Robert Roy

      Dec 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I would not pay money to watch professional golfers hit 260 yard drives. I want to see them bomb it 300+ because bit is what makes them special. Leave the ball issue alone or I think you will lose even more players and interest. The USGA needs to stop speaking for golfers without knowing our feeling.

  12. JDMasur

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Time is the biggest detriment. 3 6s, not 2 9s would make it easier to introduce spouses and kids.play 6, or 12 or 18.

    • mM

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Or, you can just quit golf, and make it easier on yourself and your family.

  13. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Well done Jeff. You have echoed many of my comments, but in a more elegant way.

  14. jd57

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Blaming the USGA for ruining your local round of golf is like blaming the NFL for ruining your neighborhood game of football. Has literally no effect on you. They’re a professional sports governing body, not the local gestapo policing your round.

    • Scrubby

      Dec 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Not exactly. The PGA governs the pros. The USGA is for all of us.

    • John Uphoff

      Dec 8, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      PGA governs the tours
      USGA and R&A govern all golf
      Bifercation is present in many sports. Metal bats in amateur baseball
      The shorter distance on extra points in football
      Several different rules in basketball
      No fighting in amateur hockey etc
      Golf isn’t for the professional golfer only a very small % of golfers ever shoot par most never break 90

    • George

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Yeah and the should not be. A amateur organization running a professional event is a JOKE.

  15. dbleAGLE

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    If you really want to help the rest of us give us a little book of slopes for every green we play and a caddy to confirm the break.

    Pros make tons of putts but then again…Pros get tons of info about EVERY putt we lemmings dont.

    Dilly Dilly Indeed

    • mM

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Yeah? But then Pros usually don’t ever play as a 4some as we do on public courses, and some public courses send out 5somes. And, the Pros are still playing their rounds in 5 hours with a 3some. With a 4some, it’s a guaranteed 6 hour round. When they play with Ams at places like Pebble Beach in the Pro-Am all the way thru to the weekend, their rounds take 6.5 hours. You really want us Ams to carry AIM point maps? Your weekend rounds will take 7 hours with your regular 4somes.

  16. Chris Carpenter

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    If you aren’t using your 14 handicap to pay your mortgage, speaking as “Everyman” may be a bit of a stretch. I’m guessing if [generic] you wanted to anchor your putter to eek out an 86, nobody would care. If [generic] you wanted to hit from a forward set of tees to enjoy your round and leverage your lower irons during a round rather than mid to high, that would be okay too.

    Amateurs are not pros and we don’t have to play under the same scrutiny or tight guardrails if we don’t want to. Play a breakfast ball. Carry 17 clubs. Anchor your putter. Play whatever tees you want. [Generic] We may need to take ourselves a bit less seriously as amateurs and remember to just play. If you’re playing in a tournament, play by the rules. Otherwise, literally everything you do on a course is just practice for the sheer enjoyment of the game. My opinion (worth about $0.03) has changed significantly since playing NCAA golf 20 years ago and being a middle-aged father of 3 who just wants to get a round in when I can now.

    • Oscar Farley

      Dec 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      The USGA should take 15 percent of what they give out to the already millionaire winners of tournaments and help supplement green fees for those of us that simply want to feed our families instead of paying jacked up weekend green fees.

      • George

        Dec 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

        Great, Just what the game needs. A Obama spread the wealth solution. The USGA nor anyone else you be paying to supplement anything in your life PERIOD.

  17. Michael

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    How about the “Game we call penalties on our selves” A game of honor, integrity and sportsmanship.
    Then they say you can’ post your solo games for a handicap!!
    So much for trust.

    • Darryl

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Sorry, I agree with the USGA on that one. When you play alone you’re not playing you’re practicing and those scores shouldn’t count.

      • B Johnson

        Dec 8, 2017 at 1:56 pm

        golf is an individual sport, but you cant play a legitimate round by yourself?
        anybody who wants to phoney their handicap still can do so
        I dropped the handicap …. dont miss it…it is just as legitimate to give a truthful answer to the question “what do you hope to shoot?“ on the first tee

      • OB

        Dec 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        I agree that solo golf is only a practice round and not playing to register a score with other golfers according to the Rules of Golf.
        I play a lot of solo golf in the evenings and I usually play with a 6/7/8/or 9-iron and lob wedge and play 6-12 balls to sharpen my short game. I do carry a full set too, but I play 3 balls over 9 holes (3 x 9 = 27 equivalent holes) because I already know how to walk! And when I do play 3 balls I can play scratch golf, but not with the same ball!!!
        😉

      • Steve S

        Dec 9, 2017 at 8:58 am

        I play a lot of solo golf. I’m retired and most of my golfing friends still work. That and I really don’t like people. They tend to distract me and ruin the round. Plus I can play much faster which is more fun and better exercise. If I want to register my handicap I will since I count all my strokes and play the ball as it lies. Makes the occasional sub 80 round that much more enjoyable and feel like I actually accomplished something. I’m a member of the USGA…mostly just to get the “free” US Open hat.

  18. Vic Man

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Dilly Dilly! Absolutely agree.

  19. Ma Ja

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    My main issue with courses that are pushing the ” Play 9″ initiative is that they want us to play 9, but they want to charge us for 18!!! How about “Play 9, Pay 9”???

  20. CB

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Jeff, you forgot to say:
    It’s me, the Amateur, who pays the greens fees at all the courses and support the courses from closing and help the professionals who run the courses and help them make money from teaching at the courses and driving ranges all across the country.

  21. JJVas

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

    As a 2 hcp, I completely agree. Tee it forward and play fast enough to not enjoy the $$$ you’re putting down… on a course that is now longer and tougher than ever before… but feel bad about your technology while you only get 20 yards on me when you need 60 to compete. Sound right?

    Don’t worry, just because every other professional sport is smart enough to have their own rules, doesn’t mean we have to be. As an added bonus, some 25-year old wearing Rickie Fowler pants who gave this a “shank” will always have his lecture ready for you because he has “perspective”. Good luck!

  22. Doug Stiles

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Be nice to see what idea he has for USGA to do something better. What exactly have they done wrong. do you want them to send some of the money Koepka won to you so you can play for free???

    You are picking low hanging fruit – Go play golf and enjoy the time away from real life.

  23. Stephen

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Each one of us should Play from the correct Tee box according to our abilities and then it doesn’t matter about course length. I am not in favor of making the size of the hole bigger. If your ball stops within 3 feet of the hole, pick up your ball and pretend your next putt went in and move on to the next hole like most average golfers do or should do, and quit slowing course play for the rest. If you hit eight strokes on any hole, and there are people waiting behind you to play, pick up your ball and move to the next Tee box. Not rocket science. Oh and get take a few lessons, and go to the golf range and practice your putting and hitting other clubs in your bag.

    • CB

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Or, America could be a bit more responsible like some other countries and force people to have to have licenses to play the game, after having gone through a quick test of their abilities and basic knowledge of the rules and etiquette of the game before they are even allowed to step onto a full-sized golf course.

    • DoubleMochaMan

      Dec 9, 2017 at 12:23 am

      Cool. If I didn’t have to putt out my 3-footers I’d shoot about 8 strokes lower.

  24. Bob

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The USGA is disingenuous about moving up. I am 70 years old and have moved to the senior tees. After hitting a 200 yard dive from the senior tee I am still 30 yards behind a 45 year old hitting from the white tees. I am hitting a 7 wood to the greens d the 45 year old is hitting a 7 iron. Yet the USGA in their wisdom requires that I lower my handicap by three strokes when playing against this guy. Thanks for making your game even harder for senior players. Several of my fellow senior players and Ihave Idropped our USGA membership and are not planning on rejoining soon. But as the author said they just don’t care about older players.

    • Another Bob

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Amen. This could hVe been written by me.

    • Scott

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Bob, First, it is called a handicap not a handbobmymoney. You get more strokes if you are a worse player. If you like to rake in putts from everywhere and like to have a vanity handicap, then you will pay the price when you bet. And if you play the course shorter you change angles, hazard distances, strategy, etc. Distance is not the only factor. Second, every golfer has strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the guy who hits it further is more wild or has a worse short game. Stop whining about giving up strokes when you are playing an entirely different course, no matter how far you hit it.

    • Murv

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      I agree completely.

  25. HDTVMAN

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Just like the NCAA. They are a bunch of know-nothing sliver-spoon-fed high society MORONS who are in it just for their EXCLUSIVE clicky country club trash buddies. They need to go away!

    • Joseph dreitler

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Sorry, but they do nothing special for those of us fortunate enough to belong to private clubs. Until people are willing to accept that the game THEY play is a different game than WE play, it is all talk. If we bad amateurs need to be able to say our equipment must be the same as theirs, we will pound 210 yard drives and flail 5 woods at greens while they hit it 340 with their drivers. MLB players need to use wooden bats because if they did not the ballparks would all have to be extended and rebuilt to 430 feet down the lines and 520 to dead center.

  26. Regis

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

    No one says that the author or anyone else has to play golf by USGA rules. No one says anyone has to even keep score. If your not in a tournament play whatever game you want. I’ve been a member of the USGA since 1986. I’d wager the author has never plunked down the 20 bucks to join. Not even for the free hat. I have some issues with some of ru!ings of the USGA (and the R and A -let’s not forget it’s a joint venture) but overall they do a great job. This “article” is just mean spirited and the fact that the author took up golf fairly recently should surprise no one

    • Chris Carpenter

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Well said. Not keeping score forces a significant shift in perspective about the game. There are times that it is relevant to score your round, but there are also times when the big picture of a course, layout, how your shots feel, what you are grateful for, etc…is less about score and more about taking in the whole experience and not just 86 measurements of it (if you’re a 14).

    • Uhit

      Dec 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      How big is the market for non conforming golf equipment (driver, wedges, balls)?

      B.t.w.
      If you want to grow the game, then you have to listen to the ones, who are the growth:

      The newcomers, who joined recently…
      …lets say, within the last decade.

      And I think it is no good idea, to touch the balls, they grew up with.

  27. ron

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

    The USGA is doing just fine The PROS deserve all the money they earn !! Check out other sports!!
    Anchoring is cheating … and never should have been allowed

  28. Steve Cantwell

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Leave it to a Canadian to come up with such a far-fetched fairytale!

    • Philip

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Seriously, as if Americans have never had some pretty far-fetched fairytales … keep countries out of it …

  29. Tbone

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Jeff plays at a private course. Enough said!

  30. Wyomick

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The USGA are a bunch of Twits. I stopped dating her when she said I couldn’t use my 10 year old clubs in her tournaments. I wasn’t going to buy new ones just so she’d go out with me. I don’t spend any more money on HER anymore.

  31. Bill

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

    If the USGA wants to help amateur golfers, why not make the hole just a little bit bigger. Most of us play on muni courses that have greens that the pros never see. I understand the cost factor with maintaining great greens,but why no help is a little with the size of the hole. It could easily improve scores, which improves interest.

    • Aggowl

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      The pros SHOULD play on imperfect course. They did years ago. NO ONE talks about the course condition being a factor in scoring, NO ONE. IT IS. Look at how putts had to be hit 30 to 40 years ago. It truly is a PUTTING SURFACE. RIDICULOUS!

  32. Paul Vicary

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Great article and oh so true. You can see where this is all heading. I see the cliff and hear the roar of the ocean.

  33. Matt

    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

    No one at the USGA is saying you, the 14 handicap, hits the ball too far. That argument is so bad it must be purposefully disingenuous.

    • Chuck

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Exactly! And the USGA didn’t want to take your old square grooves away, either. You were allowed to keep them. Because they didn’t even matter, when like most average retail amateur golfers, you were buying Surlyn and Ionomer (not expensive tour-level Urethane) golf balls.

    • Jody

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Yet before long they will change the ball and or the rules because .05% of golfers in the world hit the ball too far. They’ll say it’s in order to uphold the integrity of the game when in all reality they will just be making the sport harder for the majority. Then we’ll again be hearing the apocalyptic whistle about needing to grow the game, all while the USGA is being a major part of the problem! Football, baseball, and basketball all have different rules for the professionals and it doesn’t belittle the game or effect how most people view these sports. Why should golf be different?

      • Tal

        Dec 11, 2017 at 2:41 am

        Golf is different because you play the course, not the man so you can directly compare your game to the pros. It loses some magic without being able to do that.

  34. Rich

    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Right, because they haven’t just spent the last ~5 years rewriting the rulebook to make the game you enjoy easier.

    • John B

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

      If the USGA is so into the anchoring ban why aren’t they enforcing the rule. It’s quite clear they are still anchoring their forearm to their body. Read the rule, it’s a violation.

      • Rich

        Dec 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm

        Oh for goodness sake, give it a rest! 4 stroke penalties are being given out in professional golf costing players tournaments. I hardly think they are going to let players continually violate a rule week in week out withouth penalty.

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Opinion & Analysis

Women’s college golfers (and juniors) are getting significantly better, here are the stats

Published

on

Here’s the deal: If you are talking about women’s golf these days, especially at the elite level, you are talking about superstars! These girls are crazy good, and I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the data to help better inform everyone.

Let’s start with a couple key highlights from the first couple of weeks of the 2018-19 season

  • Sierra Brooks fires 65-62 (-17) at College of Charleston
  • Patty Tavatanakit from UCLA shoots 63, including 7 straight birdies
  • Alabama shoots NCAA record -45 at Belmar Golf Club
  • Atthaya Thitikul from Thailand shoots 60 in the final round of the World Junior Golf Championship to finish at 268 (-20)
  • Lucy Li shot 62 in the first round of the U.S. Junior Girls at Poppy Hills
  • Newly D1, California Baptist shoots -6 in the final round at University of South Alabama to finish -4 for the tournament

In 2018, Missouri women’s golf was likely the last team into the regional championship. To earn this right the team needed to average 295; scoring a decade earlier which would have likely made them a contender for being among the elite 10-15 teams in D1 golf! The fact is, in a little over a decade, the game has changed not a little, but a lot. Players from the past would have no chance to compete with today’s teams.

Why? Girls are simply stronger, better coached and more focused on golf. According to Joey Wuertemburger, a teaching professional with 100-plus college players

“The bar is getting raised every day, I’m seeing the next generation of women getting more athletic, which helps with the speed component but also with the ability to make changes quicker in their individual coaching programs.”

One example of the power of women’s golf is Emily Tubert. Emily, a former USGA champion, college golf standout at Arkansas and LPGA player recently hit it 322 yards in a nationally televised event. Emily is not even a complete outlier, look at club head speed data with driver collected by Trackman from the 2018-19 rosters at University of Arkansas

  • Player A: 108 mph
  • Player B: 106 mph
  • Player C: 101 mph
  • Player D: 97 mph
  • Player E: 96 mph
  • Player F: 93 mph
  • Player G: 90 mph

Arkansas is not an outlier either. Troy women’s coach Randy Keck notes two players on his team with club head speeds of 103-ish with the driver and a team average in the upper 90s. This means that players are hitting the ball on average at least 225 in the air. When playing courses of 6,200 yards, this gives them lots of opportunities to have short irons and attack short par 5s.

At the end of last year, according to GolfStat, four women’s teams (Alabama, UCLA, Arkansas, and Duke) had adjusted scoring averages under par, with the University of Alabama leading with 70.93. According to Mic Potter, head women’s coach at the University of Alabama, “Through eleven tournaments in 2017-18, our team was 111 under par. Thirty years ago, if a school averaged 300, or roughly 12 over per round, they were winning tournaments. In 2018 they are more likely to finish last. Student-Athletes are entering college more physically fit, with better technique, and more prepared to play at the highest level. This is reflected in their ability to score.”

The transformation of women’s golf can be seen throughout D1, as well as into other levels. One amazing example is the University of Indianapolis, the 2018 D2 women’s national champions and likely among the best D2 teams ever. According to Golfstat, for the 2017-18 season the adjusted score for the team was 73.45 which helped them win 11 times. Likewise, the women at Savannah College of Art had an amazing year in NAIA women’s golf with an adjusted scoring differential of 75.32.

At the junior level, players are equally impressive. Data collected suggests that the average girl going to play major conference golf has a scoring differential of about minus three for the past three years. This means that they shoot about three shots better than the course rating. That’s impressive until you consider that the best player in ranked in junior golf in the U.S., Lucy Li, has a scoring differential of minus 8.53. That’s almost two shots better than the player ranked second — darn impressive!

Women’s golf is on an excellent trajectory, which includes so much more depth, competition, and superior athletes who are driven to make their mark on the sport. Over the next five to seven years, it will be interesting to see these players develop in their quest to become the best players in the world — I cannot wait to see what happens!

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Equipment

TG2: Equipment leaks and launches for 2019 (TaylorMade, Callaway, Mizuno and more)

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It was the week of equipment leaks and launches on GolfWRX.com. Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss the new TaylorMade P-760 irons, Callaway “Epic Flash,” Mizuno ST190 drivers, more photos from the 2017 Nike VPR line, Evnroll putters and more.

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

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Podcasts

Full Transcript: The 19th Hole podcast interview with Barbara Nicklaus

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Check out Michael Williams’ full conversation with Barbara Nicklaus, Jack’s wife, on our 19th Hole podcast below. Listen to the full episode here!

Editor’s Note: We’ve been listening to your feedback about wanting transcripts for the podcasts. Obviously, we can’t transcribe every single podcast, but we’ll try to provide these as often as possible. Thanks for listening!

Michael Williams: I’ve been telling everybody since I’ve met you. If Jack is The Golden Bear, I’ve been calling you the Teddy Bear because you’re just the nicest person, so easy to get to know, and you just remind me of my own Mom.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, what a nice compliment. Thank you.

Michael Williams: You’re welcome. We know so much about Jack, his life is documented in so many ways and in so many places. Looking up and researching this chat, I couldn’t even find a biography for you online. There’s no Wikipedia page. There’s no nothing. You’re so humble. You’re so under the radar.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I think that’s a good thing.

Michael Williams: And a very rare thing these days, by the way. I wanted to give people and myself a little background on the person that you are. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, Jack and I both grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We were from different sections of town, so I didn’t meet him until the first week of our freshman year in college. My dad was a high school math teacher, and we just had a very nice … I don’t know what you call it. I’ve had a great life.

Michael Williams: When you were growing up, were you from a golf family? Did you know a lot about golf? Were you prepared to be the wife of a golf professional?

Barbara Nicklaus: No, actually when I met Jack, I really didn’t even know golf existed. Golf wasn’t a real popular sport back then, particularly in high school. So, I didn’t really know anything about it when I met him, and we dated. We met, like I said the first weekend of our freshman year in college, and we dated until about New Year’s Eve when you kind of run out of Mickey Mouse things to talk about. He sort of went back dating the girl he had been dating. I actually started dating the fella that she was dating. Then about February, my birthday, all of a sudden I started getting these cards in the mail. I got a birthday card from his sister, and one from his mom and dad, and one from Jack. So, he called me that day and then we’d been together ever since. We were married between our junior and senior year. I sort of decided maybe I should learn a little bit about golf, so I took it Winter quarter at Ohio State. We hit balls just in tin building and then they let us play five holes at the end of the quarter. It was really hilarious because I think I made three bogeys and two pars. I said to Jack, “I really don’t understand why you practice so much.” Of course, I haven’t broken 65 for nine holes since. That was my meeting with golf.

Michael Williams: It sounds like you’d taken the thing seriously, you could have been better than him.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, I think that was just a little miracle that never, ever, ever happened again.

Michael Williams: That is a great story. You married Jack, I believe, in 1960 and he went pro in 1961. He’d already had a great amateur career, but did you both know right away that you were headed for one of the all-time great careers? Could you feel it even at the beginning?

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely not. Like I said, we grew up in Columbus, Ohio. We planned on living in Columbus, Ohio. We were married between our junior and senior year of college. He was trying to sell insurance, and play golf, and go to school. He really expected to remain amateur. So, Jackie was born in September of 1961, and Jack turned pro in November. We’d been married for a year and half before Jack turned pro. Of course Bob Jones, was one of his heroes. Mr. Jones couldn’t have been nicer to him at a lot of amateur tournaments. It was a big decision, but when he wanted to be the best and he said, “If want to be the best, I have to play against the best.” In 1962, which was his first year on tour, his first tournament was the L.A. Open in January and he split last place with two other golfers at $100. He got a check for $33.33, so, big beginning.

Michael Williams: And you cashed it and spent every penny, didn’t you?

Barbara Nicklaus: I wish I had the check. I never even thought about it at the time, but it’d be pretty funny to have now.

Michael Williams: Yes it would. That check itself would be worth a lot more than $33.33.

Barbara Nicklaus: He didn’t even get to 34 cents. He only got 33.

Michael Williams: Yeah, I know, that other guy owes you a penny, okay. I’ll help you hunt that guy down. I know some folks. Famously, Tiger Woods as he started his pro career was aiming for Jack, in terms of his target for excellence. Was Bobby Jones the guy that Jack was aiming for?

Barbara Nicklaus: You know what, golf wasn’t really talked about in that sense as it is today. I think the first time Jack even thought about breaking Bob Jones’ career record, was when he was at … I’m not sure it was the Open or the PGA in Cleveland and someone said, “Well, if you win today, you break Bobby Jones’ record.” I think that’s the first that was even brought to attention. The majors just as the years have gone on, have gotten bigger in the public’s eyes. [Editor’s Note: Nicklaus won his 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf club outside Cleveland, his his third PGA and 14th major championship].

Michael Williams: So, at that point he really wasn’t aimed at any records or numbers or anything like that. It was more about achievement, in terms of his own personal goals.

Barbara Nicklaus: It was. It really was. It was, like I said, “If you wanna be the best, you play against the best.” Victories were what he was all about. He always says, “Golf is a game” And he loved it. I always say, “Very few men are really happy in their profession.” And I said, “How unbelievably lucky could Jack be to be happy in two. Playing golf and golf course design.” We both feel very blessed.

Michael Williams: The tour obviously was very different in those days from going on the road to the tournaments themselves. Everything was different. What are some of the biggest differences for you when you look at how the tour now is versus how it was when you were doing it?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, I love the way we started out, but I can’t say that the way the gals and guys are now isn’t better. We basically drove, drove from tournament to tournament. We had Jackie, so that was when you could put a port-a-crib … It would sit in the backseat of the car and we just dumped him back there and traveled. Michael, we’re so old, we didn’t have the disposable diapers back then, so you can imagine how are motel rooms smelled. It was a different atmosphere. If someone else’s husband happened to be playing better, than say Jack, I would keep her kids for the day or vice versa. It was a much smaller tour and more family, but what the wives have now is wonderful. They have a school for the kids, and so they’re all together. The tour’s grown unbelievably, but I still cherish some of those old-fashioned days.

Michael Williams: Were you particularly close to any of the players and their families?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, it really just depended. Winnie Palmer, Vivienne Player and I have been dear, dear friends for a hundred years [laughs]. We hated it when we lost Winnie. Vivienne and I are still really good friends. There’s a lot of them out there that I still see a lot. We just kind of started in the early 60s and the six of us traveled together a lot.

Michael Williams: I just wondered if it was a barrier to friendship, the fact that Jack was at another level than these other guys.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, I don’t think he was thought of it back then. He was really just starting out, and obviously Arnold was winning a lot, and Gary. Later on, Tom Watson came along and just a lot of the other guys, so it went in steps and everything fit together.

Michael Williams: Yeah. There’s sort of a smooth transition if you will between those generations and groups of players. You mentioned raising kids, the difference now between raising kids. You have, let’s see, one, two, three, four, five, I believe?

Barbara Nicklaus: Yeah, we do.

Michael Williams: Well, five majors of your own. One of them named Michael, quite wisely.

Barbara Nicklaus: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Michael Williams: Appreciate that! Raising the kids must have been just wild, yeah?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know what, Michael? When you say that, I have the attitude, “You know what, you do what you have to do.” Of course, everybody who knows me, knows this story, but I’ll quickly tell you. When I was at the Masters in 1962 and Jackie had been born the September before, so I’m on the back patio with some other wives. I’m bemoaning the fact that I missed my baby and this and that and the other thing. There’s sort of an older woman sitting over on the patio knitting. All of a sudden, she put her knitting down. She put her finger in my face and she said, “Listen little girl, you had Jack long before you had that baby and you hope to have Jack long after that baby’s gone. Now you grow up and be a wife.” I was kind of taken aback. It actually was Elita Mangrum. She was Lloyd Mangrum’s wife. I was kind of taken aback and then I didn’t see her for about 10 years. I saw her and I said, “Elita, you will never know what you did for my marriage.” I said, Jack would call me and I might have three in diapers and he’d say, “I’m lonely.” I said, “Elita, I was on the next plane to that tournament.” So, it was sweet because I can still see her finger in my face as a 22 year old wife.

Michael Williams: What a life changing moment, such a great story.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, it was and I’ve shared that with a lot of the younger wives. Just because you become a mother, you don’t stop being a wife. That was one of my biggest lessons.

Michael Williams: In your life, you’ve obviously had some great blessings and you’ve had some amazing experiences. You’ve led a singular life with a lot of success, but like all of us, life is not all success. You experienced your share of tragedy. The loss of your grandson Jake was a tragedy that’s unimaginable. But that same year you founded the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. That’s when your career in philanthropy really took full flight. If you would, just talk a little bit about the start of the foundation.

Barbara Nicklaus: Of course, the loss of Jake was unbelievable. It’s a double whammy because you feel so bad for your children and then you’ve lost this precious baby. But our thinking that we wanted to help children really started when our daughter was 11 months old. We had a scary experience with her and thought we might lose her. So we sat in the hospital looking at each other and saying, “You know what, if we’re ever in a position to help anyone we want it to be children.” We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to do that. We did start our Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation in 2004, I think it was. We lost Jake in 2005 and we were just helping smaller places. Well, when Jake died, we just jumped to a bigger level. That horrible statement, “Some good comes out of all bad.” Is true; Jake was such a precious child, and so we feel like we’re keeping his memory alive with a lot of the charity work that we’re doing in Jake’s name.

Michael Williams: I was amazed to hear the story about the Foundation. I knew something about it, but having attended the events during the summer, I saw the videos and met some of the people there. I tell you, honestly, and it’s not even just a turn of phrase. There literally was not a dry eye in the house when you talked about some of the ways that you’ve helped people. I love the fact that you take on causes that nobody else takes up. These unknown diseases and you’re applying charity and philanthropy and research where no one else is. No one else is helping, and you dive in and do those things. It must be a wonderful feeling.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, that’s a nice compliment, Michael. We started our foundation and we wanted it to be local. We wanted to grow it, so that we can be a global foundation. When we partnered with the people at Creighton Farms, we feel like we’re branching out from just our home area. Of course the last two years, it’s been benefiting PKU, which to tell you the truth, I had never heard of. [Editor Note: Phenylketonuria, also called PKU, is a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body. For the rest of their lives, people with PKU need to follow a diet that limits phenylalanine, which is found mostly in foods that contain protein].

It’s such a rare thing to happen, and such a distress for a family. That’s been wonderful to help that charity. We’ve helped Children’s National in Washington, D.C. and of course the beneficiary for the Memorial tournament in Columbus, Ohio is a nationwide Children’s Hospital. We just feel blessed that we’ve been able to help children.

Jack has been unbelievably great. He’s actually supported me all these years, and now that he’s not playing so much golf, we’ve really gotten him involved. I think he’s totally enjoying being a part of this charity and kind of just hearing what’s been after him. In fact, I tease him that I’d had to raise his salary twice this year. He laughs. He says, “Yeah, from zero to double zero.” But he’s a pretty good employee.

Michael Williams: That is awesome. When I talked to him again during the summer, I asked him whether he enjoyed the 18 majors and all the wins more or if he enjoyed the philanthropy more. He said he really enjoyed the philanthropy more and it was because he was a partner of, albeit a junior partner, to you. That’s what he said.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, oh, well I haven’t heard that, so I won’t tell him I heard that.

Michael Williams: Hopefully he’s listening to the show every week, but I’m just throwing that out there. Just before we wrap it up, I want to go a little bit more about your, back up to a little bit more about your role as a mentor on the PGA tour. Talk about the players themselves because you get to know some of these guys, these young men. Of course, they make more money, have different lives, but other than that, are they really different than the young men that were around when Jack was touring and during his career?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, you know it’s funny, Michael, ’cause you look at all the generations and this generation, all I can tell you is, gets it. I think they have the greatest group of young players. Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy, and Daniel Berger, and Jordan Speith, I mean just so many of these young guys. They get it. They’re giving back at early ages. It’s really fun to see. When some of the young girls will ask me some questions, I’m so complimented because I’m really probably not even close to being their mother now. I’m closer to being their grandmother. The girls are adorable. They’re special and they’re very supportive. It’s just fun to see.

Michael Williams: Did you ever give someone the Mrs. Mangrum speech?

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think an awful lot of the young girls, that’s one of the first things I always say. Because it’s been several years ago, but you know I have heard some say, “Well, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I have a baby to take care of.” Then all of a sudden, I see Elita Mangrum’s finger in my face again and I have shared with a lot of the girls. In a nut shell, it’s very true.

Michael Williams: So I’m gonna give you a fantasy scenario here. Let’s say you’re queen of the tour, empress of the PGA tour-

Barbara Nicklaus: Uh-oh. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Michael Williams: … It’s been handed down. The decree has already been written. Would you change anything? What would you change? What would you step in and say, let’s do this a little differently?

Barbara Nicklaus: I’d like to say … You know, I don’t think I’d change anything. Jack and I were 20 years old when we got married and took all four of our parents with us to get our marriage license. I feel like we’ve grown up together. I feel like we’ve been a team and a pretty good team. People say, “Well, what about being a golf widow?” I said, “You know what? Jack has always made me feel like I’m a part of his life.” If it’s a phone call or a wink or what.

Barbara Nicklaus: I said I’ll tell you a story. It was at Oak Hill at the US Open and after the round, there’s like 40,000 people on the golf course. After the round, he said to me, he said, “Where were you on the 8th hole?” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding. You know that I wasn’t there on the 8th hole?” I actually had stopped to talk to, well, it was Laura Norman, at the time. I did miss the 8th hole and I said, “How in the world do you know?” He says, “I know how you walk and I know where you are and I couldn’t find you.” That was probably the nicest compliment he ever gave me. ‘Cause I didn’t even think he knew I was on the golf course, even after say 30 or 40 years of following him. So anytime I feel like golf widow, that little story comes to mind and I just smile.

Michael Williams: You know, I’m a great big mush ball and it’s not fair for you to make me cry on my own stupid radio show, okay. It’s just not cool.

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, come on down and I’ll give you a hug.

Michael Williams: Sold. Last couple of questions. This is like total trivia. I happen to know what Jack’s favorite flavor of ice cream is and we share the same favorite flavor. It is in fact butter pecan…

Barbara Nicklaus: Yes, you are correct.

Michael Williams: Yes. What is your favorite flavor of Jack Nicklaus ice cream?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, some of them that haven’t been out very much they … I actually, to tell you the truth, love the vanilla.Then they have a nice black cherry, and they have a mango that’s good. There are a lot of flavors that really haven’t hit the public in force, but vanilla’s terrific.

Michael Williams: Yeah, we had a couple of bowls. Getting back to the Foundation. I know there’s a lot of people that are aware of the Foundation now, but don’t necessarily know how to contribute and/or participate. How can they get more information about contributing, going to events, that sort of thing?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, we have a website, which is Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. We are with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami now… It was Miami Children’s Hospital, and they changed the name two years ago to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. ‘Cause there again, we’re trying to get more of a global feel and have people know we now have treated people from every state in the union and 119 countries. We’re very proud of that … just for an example, 64 pediatric cardiologists, so we have just a terrific heart program, cancer program. Our foundation supports that as well as other charities around the United States. It’s our tiny little foundation and it’s growing. The Jake Tournament, which we do every year at the Bear’s Club here Jupiter, Florida, in memory of Jake, is probably one of our biggest fundraisers, and that goes to our foundation and to some of the hospital projects.

Michael Williams: Well, I can just say that we, collectively, the golf, sports, America in general, we’re so proud of you. We are in awe of you for being the mother that you are, the wife that you are, the philanthropist that you are, and just overall the person that you are.

Barbara Nicklaus: Oh, Michael, that is so sweet. It’s interesting because golf has given Jack and me so much more than we could ever give back to golf or the world. It’s opened a lot of doors for us and we feel blessed that golf has opened these doors and helped us to help other children. Thank you. I loved talking to you, Michael and I hope we’ll see you soon.

Michael Williams: Thank you so much, dear. I will be down there to pick up that hug.

Barbara Nicklaus: Okay, I’ll be waiting. We’ll also feed you dinner. So, come on down for a hug and dinner.

Michael Williams: Ice cream for dessert, no doubt, right?

Barbara Nicklaus: Well, sure. Absolutely.

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