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Opinion & Analysis

The PGA Tour should blood test everyone for both drugs and wellness



Is there a better way to handle testing?

In a gentlemen’s game that has always policed itself, the policy of drug testing is tantamount to putting a square peg in a round hole. It just feels like it doesn’t belong and like it could be administered in a more tactful manner. As it stands, the practice seems to diminish an element that is critical to any strong relationship: trust. There’s a better way.

Recently, a lot has been made of the peculiar case of Mark Hensby. He did not take a urinalysis and was subsequently suspended by the Tour for a year. The suspension seemed to be more of a story of confusion and crossed wires than anything else, and Hensby offered a heartfelt apology for his actions. In the apology, Hensby mentioned that he had previously taken, and was expecting to take, a blood test.

Moving forward into the 2018 PGA Tour season, blood testing will become more and more prevalent on the PGA Tour. This gives the Tour a better way to test for HGH and other drugs that a urinalysis won’t catch. But it could also be a big opportunity for the Tour to improve the life of players and even the fans. Seems odd, but it’s happened before.

Years ago, I was at a golf course and overheard two retirees on their way out of the parking lot. “See you tomorrow,” one man said to his friend. “Nope. Arnie says I’ve got to get my prostate checked. So should you.” Arnold Palmer’s positive diagnosis for prostate cancer in 1997 became the lunch pad for a prostate cancer awareness campaign that saved lives.

The Tour should once again be looking to ring that same bell of health awareness. It might not be prostate cancer, but it could be pre-diabetes, testosterone, vitamin deficiencies, cholesterol management and immunization strength. All promoted in a positive and proactive light. Some privacy issues obviously need to be addressed, but imagine Champions Tour players talking about how healthy and legal testosterone treatments have improved their game and overall quality of life. Or a player finding out through the mandatory blood work that he is pre-diabetic and how the changes he made in his life have had a positive impact.

Let’s test for more than just drugs; let’s test for wellness. Some employers are already doing this using online lab services to give employees drug and wellness tests. These tests are available to anyone who is interested in a healthier life, which a lot of PGA Tour fans are. The fatigue we may feel on the closing holes may be less about cardio and strength and more about vitamin or testosterone levels. Insights like these are available to all of us now — not just the Tour players — and they’re valuable. But the unique ability to raise the awareness of holistic wellness for players and fans belongs to the PGA Tour.

We are all familiar with the These Guys Are Good slogan. Now let’s add These Guys Are Getting Better.

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Laz Versalles is a husband, father and golfer who lives in Santa Monica, California. A former club professional, Laz now works in healthcare, coaches a middle school golf team and strives to break 80 whenever he gets a chance to play. A native of Minnesota, Laz is a lifelong Twins and Vikings fan and believes Randy Moss is the most dominant football player than ever walked this earth. You can follow Laz on twitter @laz_versalles



  1. Mikele

    Dec 22, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Drug testing via blood work is good. There rest of it is not the Tour’s business or anyone else’s business other than the individual. The idea that the tour should stick its nose into this area of a players personal life is reprehensible and an inappropriate intrusion beyond the workplace. I wonder how many advocates of this rant and rave about government interference in people’s personal lives and regulation.

    • Laz Versalles

      Dec 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Consent would definitely be a part it. If a senior tour player found out via blood test that he had a vitamin deficiency, it would give that player on opportunity- totally up to them- to share it with fans. Hence the example of Arnie’s prostate cancer campaign. Nothing reprehensible and inappropriate about health awareness.

  2. Robin

    Dec 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Tim Finchem was scared to test Tiger Woods. Especially after the sports illustrated article where %25 of Pga pros thought TW was on some type of peds.

    • Hate WRX Trolls

      Dec 22, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Pure BS. Tiger was regularly tested. I worked for the Tour when he was at the height of his career. I know it to be fact. You’re just another rumor mongering tool. Now go back and read the actual article you cite and come back when you understand what it says and the discussion of facts.

      • steve

        Dec 25, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        tiger was never tested and was he not suspended on this last incident were there was 3 drugs in his system for which he had no prescription for I know this for a fact

  3. FG

    Dec 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    It’s still illegal to get testosterone treatments on any tour, regardless of the doctor’s permission and patient’s condition…

    • SK

      Dec 23, 2017 at 3:11 am

      Testosterone shots in the rear end may boost your testosterone levels for a few weeks and then you need another shot…. and then it get’s dangerous. As you age your testosterone levels drop and there’s nothing much you can do about the decline.

      • Laz Versalles

        Dec 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        There’s more than one way to treat low T. Unrelated: I played a round a day after getting a B-12 shot and it was eye-opening. Super tuned in and focused. Still three-putted four times, but they were aggressive run-it-by-hole three putts.

        • roger

          Dec 23, 2017 at 2:40 pm

          High Testosterone and prostate cancer are related. As you age your prostate goes through a buildup of cancerous cells, and getting testosterone shots may accelerate prostate cancer. If you are desperate in your golf game do you want to risk your long term health just to knock off a few handicap points?

  4. DoubleMochaMan

    Dec 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    That sounds like a good idea… for the health of the players on tour. Everyone with a PGA Tour card or those who play in a PGA Tour event without a card should take the test. All results should be strictly private. It’s a win-win, unless I am overlooking something. And if a pro does not want to know the results that is okay, too. Unless the result is the presence of banned drugs in their system. That, too, remains private, but corrections are requested.

    • Laz Versalles

      Dec 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      It’s a heck of an eye opener. I’ve recently made a big push towards living a healthier lifestyle and knowing where you stand from a blood work perspective helps. Example: I took a vitamin B-12 shot yesterday and have felt great all day. Probably going to do it ever 2 weeks or so.

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Opinion & Analysis

“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods



What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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Opinion & Analysis

12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential



What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Valero Texas Open



With one of the weakest fields of the year, TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open this week. Only one player from the top-20 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up here. That man is Sergio Garcia, who co-designed this course with Greg Norman.

Just like last week at the RBC Heritage, the wind can wreak havoc at TPC San Antonio. The course features an exposed layout, making the level of wind is often unpredictable. Expect it to be a factor yet again this year. Unlike last week, the longer hitters do have an advantage on this course, which measuring more than 7,400 yards with little rough off the tee.

Last year, Kevin Chappell held off a charging Brooks Koepka to post 12-under par and win his first title on the PGA Tour.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Sergio Garcia 14/1
  • Matt Kuchar 18/1
  • Charley Hoffman 18/1
  • Luke List 25/1
  • Ryan Moore 28/1
  • Kevin Chappell 28/1
  • Adam Scott 30/1

From the top of the market, it’s hard not to love Luke List (25/1, DK Price $10,000) this week. The big-hitting American is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour, but he is knocking on the door relentlessly. In his last eight events, List has finished no worse than T-26.

He was so close once again last week, and he should take plenty of confidence from that performance onto a course that theoretically should suit him much better. On this long track, List will have a significant advantage as one of the longest hitters on Tour. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 1st in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green. List is also flushing his irons. He was second in the field last week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, and over his previous 24 rounds he sits 3rd in the same category.

It’s not only his long game that is highly proficient right now, either. List’s short game has been stellar over this impressive stretch, too. He ranks 8th for Strokes Gained-Around the Green and 28th for Strokes Gained-Short Game over his last 24 rounds.

The one department holding the big man back is his putting, where he ranks 145th for the season. The rest of his game is so sharp at the moment that he’s in the enviable position of not needing that hot a week with the flat-stick to win. He only needs an average week on the greens to finally break through and claim his first PGA Tour event. There’s nothing to suggest List isn’t going to play well once more this week, and at 25/1 he seems undervalued.

Returning to a track that he adores, Brendan Steele (33/1, DK Price $8,900) is always a danger at this event. As well as winning the title here in 2011, Steele has finished in the top-20 three times since then. Whatever it is about TPC San Antonio, it’s a course that brings out the best in Steele’s game.

It’s been an excellent season for the West Coast native, too. He won his opening event of the season at the Safeway Open and has since finished in the top-30 six times. One of the main reasons for his strong run of form has been his work with the driver. Steele is ranked 1st in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds, and he has only failed to post a positive Strokes Gained statistic in this category once since this event last year.

Recently, Steele’s game is showing trends that he may once more be close to hitting the form that saw him win at the back end of last year. In his previous 24 rounds, the Californian is ranked 10th in Ball Striking and 7th in Strokes Gained-Total. Always a threat at this event, Steele is coming into this week with all parts of his game in sync. He should be a live threat once more in San Antonio.

Another man who has played well all year is Xander Schauffele (35/1, DK Price $8,800). The Californian has made seven of eight cuts this year, and he has finished in the top-25 in four of those occasions. Excellent off the tee, TPC San Antonio should suit the 24-year-old this week, too. Schaufelle ranks 7th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 17th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds.

With wind likely to play a factor this week, pure ball striking will be necessary. That shouldn’t be an issue for Xander, who sits 7th in Strokes Gained-Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. There is nothing off about Schauffele’s game right now. He ranks 21st in Strokes Gained-Putting over his previous 12 rounds and 5th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green over the same period. It’s only a matter of time before the two-time PGA Tour winner puts himself in the thick of contention again, and there’s no reason why it can’t be this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Luke List 25/1, DK Price $10,000
  • Brendan Steele 33/1, DK Price $8,900
  • Xander Schauffele 35/1, DK Price $8,800
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19th Hole