Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

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

Published

on

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.

Your Reaction?
  • 25
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB3
  • SHANK28

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

12 Comments

12 Comments

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Podcasts

TG2: What’s this on the back of the Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal irons?!

Published

on

Speculation about Mizuno’s new JPX 919 irons that recently popped up on the USGA Conforming Clubs list, as well as in-hand photos of new Srixon Z785 and Z585 irons. Also, Editor Andrew Tursky and Equipment expert Brian Knudson talk to a special guest, Steven Bowditch’s caddie from the 2018 John Deere Classic (who he found on Twitter).

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

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The 19th Hole: Mark Rolfing and architect David Kidd on Carnoustie’s challenges

Published

on

It’s Open Championship week at Carnoustie! This week, Michael Williams hosts NBC and Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing and award-winning architect David Kidd (Bandon Dunes) to talk about how the pros will try to tame “Car-nasty.” It also features Jaime Darling of Golf Scotland on the many attractions around Carnoustie outside the golf course.

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

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

How often should you actually get “Up-and-Down” based on your handicap?

Published

on

‘Up and Downs’ have long been the accepted measure of skill in the short game. The chart below shows average performance in this area for the PGA Tour and an array of handicap levels. How do you fit in?

A few points of definition: The above refers to short game shots around the green, other than from the sand. [Stay tuned: sand shots will be my next article.] I consider the short game to be all shots from within 50 yards of the hole. This distance was a topic of debate 30 years ago when I was developing my golf analysis program. I was fortunate to be working with Golf Digest Golf Schools and some of the top instructors were good enough to embrace the better form of game analysis that I was creating. In particular, I owe a great deal to Chuck Cook, Jack Lumpkin and Hank Johnson. Their help and encouragement in my early stages gave me a much needed boost of momentum. Little did we know that what I then called “Strokes Lost and Saved” would ultimately become the accepted standard of analysis on the PGA Tour — now know as “Strokes Gained.” Anyway, we agreed that 50 yards was the right distance range for the short game for two reasons:

  1. It represented the short game for virtually every handicap level, men and women.
  2. It was a short enough distance that it didn’t need to be sliced even further.

That said, I do NOT believe that “Up and Downs” are an appropriate or accurate measure of short game skill for two reasons:

  1. It represents the combination of two skills: Short Game and Putting.
  2. It ignores the ERRORS or shots that actually miss the green.

In my 30+ years of studying performance at all skill levels, I have found that it is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of bad shots (errors) that do more to influence a player’s scoring level than do all the good shots. Accordingly, I built the ability to capture data on the common errors in the game into ShotByShot.com.

The true measure of a player’s short game skill is their Strokes Gained in that facet. BUT, that is simply a number — a positive number is good and a negative number, not so much. But how then to best display the skill that is associated with the Strokes Gained number? I believe the combination of three stats to be the correct way to display short game skill:

  • Average putting distance, when the green is successfully hit.
  • Percent shots hit to within 5 feet of the hole
  • Percent errors, or shots that miss the putting surface.

Where does your game fall in these two important categories?

Note, that the two lines cross at about a 16 handicap. That is actually a better than average golfer yet for every Chip/Pitch shot that they successfully get to within 5 feet of the hole, they are also chunking or sculling one and missing the green altogether. Work to dramatically reduce the errors and that 16 will drop to 12 or 13?

You might ask: How can the PGA Tour make more errors than the scratch golfer? Good question! I have two explanations:

  1. They really are that good! Regardless of the relative difficulty of the shot, Tour players will go for it. They have the confidence that when they miss they will get the next up and down. At the same time, the amateur that has reached the lofty level of Scratch has generally done so thru rigorous consistency and the avoidance of errors. At the low handicap levels, a bogey can be acceptable but a mistake that results in a double is NOT.
  2. The tour Shotlink data considers the fringe of the green to be a miss whereas I recommend that players count the fringe as a green hit and a putting opportunity. Your long game has been efficient enough to get there and should be rewarded with the GIR. At the same time, to count the shot from the fringe as a short game shot will unfairly reward your short game skill for what was actually a putt.

That reminds me again of my very early days when Chuck Cook said to me: “Pete, Tour players don’t make errors in the short game!”  See Chuck, I was right, they do! For a Complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to: ShotByShot.com.

Related

Your Reaction?
  • 276
  • LEGIT23
  • WOW10
  • LOL7
  • IDHT3
  • FLOP4
  • OB2
  • SHANK17

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending