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19th Hole

The right mindset for examining Waste Management Phoenix Open rowdiness

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More than 700,000 rowdy souls (some were even golf fans) attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week. Given the uptick in player heckling this year, a pre-tournament streaker, and the usual insanity at the par-3 16th, there’s been plenty of debate about the singularity that is the WMPO.

This isn’t so much to rehash the entire debate, but rather to point an important element we tend to overlook in voicing our approval or disapproval for the Waste Management atmosphere: the genteel whitewashing of the game’s (and the Tour’s) history.

Golf Magazine’s Josh Sens points out this fact in response to the question, “Have the massive crowds, vocal fans and party atmosphere at the WMPO become untenable?”

“…But let’s not pretend that the Waste Management has a monopoly on bad behavior. I don’t have a lot of patience for tut-tutting traditionalists saying the Waste Management is an affront to the blissful way things were. Bad behavior takes a lot of forms and golf has a long history of unseemly behavior happening under a genteel guise. Well-practiced exclusion. Outright discrimination. The PGA Tour used to have a caucasian-only clause.”

“Just last week, at the Farmers Insurance Open, I stood next to a tournament marshal who encouraged the crowd to beat the pulp out of a guy who had yelled in Tiger’s backswing. I don’t condone a yahoo heckling Rickie Fowler or Jordan Spieth or anyone else. But all the self-proclaimed purist harrumphing about the Waste Management isn’t just tedious. It belies a truth. Golf likes to pretend that people who play and love the game are somehow intrinsically more honorable because of it. I don’t buy it. And I believe that people who hang out in glass clubhouses shouldn’t throw stones.”

A sense of nostalgia, rich history, these are things that may be particularly great about the game of professional golf in relation to other sports. However, perspective and resisting oversimplification are critical. While Sens may not be 100 percent on point in his remarks, he’s right to caution against setting up false dichotomies.  You can read what the rest of the Tour Confidential team had to say here.

My take as a panel of one here at GolfWRX: There’s always going to be an element of trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube at the WMPO. Crowds swell every year, and the spectacle (on all sides) is consistently ratcheted up by vested interests. Assuming these trends aren’t going to change (and not saying that they should), the only material questions are “where do we drawn the line for fan behavior at the Waste Management Phoenix Open?” and “are more fans crossing the line year over year?”

If the answer to the second question is “yes,” then the real fun begins: What ought to be done about it?

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Lerroux

    Feb 14, 2018 at 11:29 am

    The WMPO attracted nearly 720,000 fans throughout the week.

  2. kennyboy

    Feb 6, 2018 at 7:09 am

    I thought the atmosphere was totally unreal,loved it golf is for everyone.This event does more to create the want in folk to actually hit a ball than most others on the calander.To those who cant handle this in my opinion fairly mild behaviour i say have a beer enjoy. Cheers!

  3. Josh Sens

    Feb 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Ben. Curious: what in my comments did you find not to be on point? Thanks. Josh Sens

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19th Hole

Jeff Golden issues statement on Florida Mid-Am incident

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Jeff Golden is sharing more details about the events of May 16 at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

If you recall, police were summoned to Coral Creek Club during a rain delay in the Golden-Marc Dull final. Golden alleged Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs, punched him in the face during a parking lot altercation. Dull and Hibbs both deny the incident occurred.

Rather than paraphrase or pull quotes, it seems appropriate to post the majority of Golden’s statement as is, since it’s his attempt to speak for himself and set the record straight.

“When my name was announced on the first tee, my opponent’s caddie immediately asked an off color question. I laughed off the timing of that question, along with many other examples of bad etiquette to come. Alcohol appeared to be influencing his behavior. I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor. On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated because I was forced to back off my shot two different times when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the match referee following our group.”

“The ruling that came from the caddie’s comments on the ninth hole started because of a simple question that I posed: “Was that advice?” I thought this was the only way to slow down the caddie, clean up the etiquette and play a gentlemanly match. I felt justified in my decision, especially since my opponent then asked his caddie, “Why did you say that?” The caddie recused himself from the match, but he didn’t leave the property.”

“…I didn’t even get my bag out of my car when the caddie reappeared and said he’d like to apologize. I most likely had a smile on my face, because I was ready to put the past behind us, and he punched me in the face. I was knocked to the ground, and by the time I looked up, he was walking away, to my surprise, toward the clubhouse. The pro shop is a separate building, so that’s where I immediately went for help. The inside of my mouth was bleeding and my face was throbbing. I realized my hand was also hurting –that’s what broke my fall instead of my head.

“The pro shop employee called the police and was extremely helpful, getting me ice and offering any help I needed. The police arrived, and the deputy concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify pressing charges. I gave a recorded sworn statement to the deputy recapping the events.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf. Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated “ex-caddie” punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

“The FSGA gave me one option when the rain stopped. I had to play. My opponent had the option to concede the match and take responsibility for his caddie, but he told me he had nothing to do with what occurred.”

Golden further indicated that he conceded the match because of “physical and emotional distress, pulsing pain in my face, dizziness and cuts on my right hand.” He indicated he was surprised the FSGA didn’t suspend the match.

With respect to that point, it’s probably worth pointing out that FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that Golden “didn’t want to play anymore.”

“Regrettably, the golf course was very playable and Jeff understood that he needed to resume the match. I think he was just ready to go,” adding police “found absolutely no evidence of an assault.”

The FSGA hasn’t provided additional comment or modified that statement.

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19th Hole

Must be the Arby’s: Beef Johnston deadlifts 485 lbs

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Update: Thanks to WRX member Sam who pointed out: “The correct term for that lift would be a rack pull (weight does not start on the ground).”

An Instagram video posted by the European Tour’s Performance Institute shows Beef Johnston readying for a deadlift attempt.

Fueled by Beef ‘n Cheddars and curly fries, Johnston steps in for an attempt at hoisting 220kg (485 lbs).

To the uninitiated (me), the feat certainly looked impressive. But just how impressive? I fired up Google to find out…

Per PhysicalLiving.com

“Dan John, suggests in his book, Intervention: Course Corrections For The Athlete And Trainer, that the average weightlifter should be able to deadlift between 1 and 1.5 times their body weight. I think that’s a good general recommendation for most people who are interested in health, fitness, longevity, and quality of life. However, Coach Dan John also considers a deadlift using double your bodyweight to be a game-changer. So, there are certainly benefits to be had from doing more than the minimum.”

Johnston reportedly weighs 212 pounds. Thus, Beef lifted nearly 2.3 times his body weight.

Impressive stuff (don’t tell Brandel Chamblee).

WRXers who lift heavy things, what do you think?

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19th Hole

How could a child hitting a golf ball off his father’s face go wrong?

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We’re bringing you this video in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere: Young Sam Blewett attempts to hit a golf ball off his father’s face, and…

Now, most people are assuming that this three-year-old lad had no idea what he was doing. His father orchestrated the video, told the son, who had never held a golf club nor had any concept of the game to hit the ball, and wood-chopping at the ball followed.

Hot take: I don’t think that’s true. The Instagram account is the three-year-old kid’s (managed by his mother), and he certainly knows how to hit a golf ball properly. See?

So, I’m positing that the kid saw an opportunity to whack his dad in the dome with a golf club and couldn’t pass it up. Yes, young Sam knew exactly what he was doing.

And more power to him. Cunning AND capable with a golf club.

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19th Hole

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