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Opinion & Analysis

Augusta isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Think again…

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Augusta isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That would be the dumbest thing said in the history of… well, anything.

I’ve attended PGA Tour events as a player and coach. I’m also the son of a former Major League Baseball player, which is a big reason why I’ve been lucky enough to be in the stands for many deciding championship games in most major sports. I say all that to say I’m not one to be awed by the atmosphere. I also received an invitation to play Augusta 25 years ago, only to respectfully decline in order to play in a Web.com Tour event.

My affair with Augusta began in 1986. Yes, that 1986. I was a freshman at UCLA and that Masters Sunday I was on the lesson tee at Bel Air Country Club with my good friends Bob May (yes, that Bob May) and my teammate Ken Tanigawa, who is now a rookie on the Champions Tour. There were also a few other juniors there as well. The UCLA coach asked us who we thought would win.

“Seve.”

”Seve.”

”The Shark.”

”The Shark.”

“Nick Price.”

He then came to me. Being a typical contrarian I said, “Jack is going to shoot 64 and everyone else is going to start choking, putting balls in the lake and leaving 8 footers short.” No, I’m not kidding, I really said exactly that, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

After I left the course, I went back to my apartment and was about to watch the final round when my friends asked me to go play pickup basketball. I put on a VHS tape (yes, I’m that old) and went to play basketball. At the time, I had no aspirations for pro golf; I wanted to be a doctor. When I came back from hooping it up, I turned on the TV and was shocked to see Nicklaus had been declared the winner as Greg Norman had just missed his putt on No. 18.

I was even more shocked to see the final round unfolded almost exactly as I had predicted. Seve’s snap hook into the water on No. 15; Norman’s block into the stands on No. 18; Kite’s steer job eight-footer on No. 18 that was short.

I spent the next four hours watching, and something came over me that I had not ever experienced. It was something that most 18-year-old boys are too emotionally stunted to feel: overwhelming sentiment. As the birdies (and eagle) mounted, I started sobbing out of sheer excitement and joy. When Nicklaus almost made a hole-in-one on No. 16 and Jim Nantz uttered his famous, “The Bear… has come out of hibernation,” I had a complete emotional meltdown.

Even today, just thinking about that moment and line makes me well up (it’s happening even as I type this). If I were in a movie, I would need no acting classes to learn how to have an emotional reaction. Just play the 16th hole of the 1986 Masters for me. When Jack made the putt on No. 17 (the guy in the background covering his ears always cracks me up), I lost my mind and did a celebratory lap around my complex. That day, I no longer wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to play my way to Augusta and win just like Jack.

Thirty-two years later, after many failed attempts at the PGA Tour and my dumb decision to decline an invitation to play there, I made my first trip to Augusta last week for the 2018 Masters. You can see the videos and photos I took on my instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/montescheinblum/

The parking… free. The concessions… less expensive than any muni. The Augusta merchandise was so reasonably priced, I spent way more than I planned to. It was like going to Costco. I was going to buy one small token to commemorate my trip, but the prices were so ridiculous I lost my mind.

For the first 50 years of my life, I had no clue what sugar plumb fairies were. As I walked out onto the grass and the expanse of the course was in my view, the sugar plumbs weren’t just dancing — they were throwing a rave in my head. If you asked me when Christmas was, I’d have said it started 30 seconds ago.

At that point, I was no longer a former pro, high-level golfer whose hopes of playing in the Masters were dashed long ago. I was that 18-year-old boy at the genesis of his career… and a tourist. I felt like skipping and galloping my way down to Amen Corner and around Nos. 15 and 16. I have played more than half of the top-50 golf courses in the world. I’ve also played about 10 U.S. Open tracks and all of the Open Championship tracks except Murifield. With all due respect, all of them are dumps in comparison… all of them.

As I arrived at Amen Corner, I nearly cried with the same joy as when my two children were born, but I survived the onslaught of emotion. Walking down the right side of the 15th fairway, I was amazed at how wide the fairway was before the trees on the left pinch in… and how ******* scary (profanity is sometimes necessary to convey degree) the second shot into that paper thin deep green looks from the top of the hill.

It was now time for me to see No. 16, the symbol of my emotional outburst over 30 years ago. The place I approached from was under and to the left of two giant grandstands that cover the tee box. When I emerged, it was nirvana. It is one of the most gorgeous holes I have ever seen, and I’ve played No. 18 at Pebble Beach and No. 12 at Old Head. The lake and hole was to my right, and a giant hill that turns into a makeshift grandstand of die cast folding chairs on my left.

No one was around and I lost it. I was a mess. There were no tissue concession nearby and only the fancy “Players Only” bathroom in sight. I was denied entry by the attendant when I complained of “sunblock burning my eyes.” He did get me some tissue and a wet paper towel to wash the “sunblock” out.

That brings me to another point. I have never been to any sporting event, or anywhere for that matter, where the volunteers and security are so nice and polite. No power trips. “Sir, you’re not supposed to stand there. I would really appreciate it if you would keep walking.” It’s probably why the other fans are so polite. Everyone is so happy to be there. There is no pushing or shoving. People say “excuse me.” They make room for you. They “sit down in front” without you even asking. Nobody is yelling: “Mashed Potatoes” or ”Baba Booey” or ”You Da Man” or ”Get in the Hole.” The Masters is the way society should be.

I simply cannot overstate the magnificence of the course conditions and the elevation changes in the holes and greens. The perfection of design and just sheer awesomeness is on all sides of you at all times. At other golf courses, the severity would be Mickey Mouse. At Augusta, it’s purposeful.

The famous pimento cheese sandwich (all of $1.50) is as succulent as a Maine Lobster tail in drawn butter at a five-star restaurant. The Coca-Cola is as refreshing and delightful as the finest Dom Perignon… and it’s because you’re at Augusta National Golf Club. Brussel sprouts, tofu and even McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwiches would be edible on the grounds of Augusta.

After the Wayne’s World dream sequence faded, I thought it was about time to watch some actual golf. I took some very nice video of Henrik Stenson (above). Stenson became a victim of the very difficult right pin on No. 14, where he spun down into the collection area where par was unlikely. While I was filing the scene he hit a second ball from the same spot, adjusted and hit it in gimme range.

Most of the golfers had played their practice round before I got there, so I saw very little actual golf until I decided to go watch some of the par-3 contest. I saw and got video of Rickie Fowler lipping out and almost making an ace on No. 1… only to have Jordan Spieth hit nearly the same shot and spin it back to a few inches. Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed and a few others followed and again, I got some very nice video of their shots.

As I was about to go walk the less famous, but probably more difficult front nine, I heard, “Here comes Nicklaus, Watson and Player.” Holy ***! My boyhood hero and two of his great rivals headed to the first tee. For you old time Saturday Night Live fans, I was definitely verklempt.

I saw an amazing time machine-level event. Nicklaus, Player and Watson all hit it within 2-3 feet and as you know, Watson won it all. I am sorry (and happy) to say I missed the grandson’s hole-in-one on No. 9. If I had been there, a 50-year-old man blubbering like a small child would have made SportsCenter’s Not Top 10. I couldn’t wait to come back and watch actual tournament play on Friday.

When I arrived on Friday, I was made aware of yet another one of Augusta’s awesome traditions: the folding chair stands. You go buy a very high quality folding chair that comes in an over the shoulder carrying case (for only $30). There is a spot for a luggage-style name tag, and all over the golf course in very choice spots on every hole there are areas marked for these chairs to create makeshift grandstands. You get to the course, find your favorite spot, open your chair, drape the case over the back and go off to all places viewing the greatest golf has to offer. Your spot is reserved for you whenever you choose to return.

I chose a spot midway up the 16th hole (where else did you think I would pick?). I could see and follow the tee shots all the way to the green and watch the putts fall as they may. It was also the perfect angle to look back up the 15th fairway to the top of the hill and watch the nausea-inducing shots into the green. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the actual golf, as that was being covered by the media, but I did witness some pretty amazing stuff.

I stood in a very nice spot behind the 14th tee and watched the game’s best from less than 10 paces behind the tee. Finau, Bubba, Jordan, Rickie, DJ, JT, Rory, Gary Woodland (who was the most impressive) and many, many others. I then ventured to possibly the best spot in the house: the 11th tee. It’s way back up the hill in a secluded spot. You can literally get on the ropes and be 10 feet from the golfers. Day, Reed, Oosthuizen, Rose, Garcia and many, many more.

What I also saw on the 11th tee was four young lads having a special moment. I’d say they were between the ages of 16-18. They were clad in black pants (it was 80+ degrees) and a Nike red shirt. I know it’s obscure, but I’ll force you to guess who they were fans of. When the tee sheet showed that the next group was going to include one Eldrick Woods, the anticipation the four young men were creating was rubbing off on the rest of us.

I have stood next to Tiger on a PGA Tour range and chatted with him briefly. This was not my first rodeo… but that was not during the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Just like the Fab Four standing shoulder to shoulder right next to me, I and the other patrons were showing a level of anticipation that can only be seen by teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert… only in this case, the man walking up to us merits this sort of adulation and worship.

Tiger was not playing well, and he had his head down when he walked on the tee. When he looked up, the first thing he saw was his four doppelgängers and he laughed out loud. He was visibly touched and gave all four a fist bump. I am sorry to tell their moms, but I believe they will never wash those hands again.

After the interlude with Eldrick, I decided to go to my spot on No. 16. Among other things, I saw Oosthuizen get up and down to the right pin from the right bunker, hitting it to six inches. It was maybe one of the five greatest shots I have ever seen in my life as a fan and player. Even Oosthuizen laughed. I also saw DJ from the same line on the edge of the green, 10 feet away, putt the ball down the slope 40 feet away and make the comebacker for par, much to the delight of the roaring crowd.

I also saw Leishman’s great hook around the trees into No. 15. There was a huge bang when his ball was landing, and it seemed to those of us on No. 16 that he had hit the grandstand and kicked across the green to that spot. Not until I saw the highlights did I know it was a coincidence. After some wonderful time on No. 16 and watching the shots down the hill on No. 15, the day was over, as was my time at Augusta. I had a 13-man golf school in Atlanta Saturday though Monday and wouldn’t have a chance to come back.

I destroyed my credit card balance at the pro shop on the way out, which only had a 5-10 minute wait as they have 16 checkout stands with four attendants at each. As I walked to my car and lamented not being able to see the back nine on Sunday, I couldn’t help but start planning my next trip. I started to pull up Priceline to check hotels for next year, but my cell phone was in the car as they are not allowed on the grounds. The Masters actually has scanners checking people trying to sneak them in.

“Crap, already sold out for next year, except a zero-star hotel for $800 a night. Wait a minute… the course where I am holding the school is less than two hours away from Augusta. The last tee time is not until nearly 3 p.m. I bet if I ask the guys to start early, I can make it back to watch the last few groups tee off on No. 1 and catch anyone making a charge on the back 9.”

Saturday at lunch, I asked the group if they’d do me a favor. Unanimously, they said they were going to kick me out at noon on Sunday as they were sick of me already. They say the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine Sunday, and I was about to experience that first hand.

I got there about 40 minutes before the final group teed off. I rushed down to No. 16 only to find every inch of choice space taken already. Even the terrible space was overloaded. I shouted an expletive and a nice lady tapped me on the shoulder. I profusely apologized and relayed the reason for my angst. She knew why I uttered the profanity, totally understood, and she told me she and her husband were leaving the choicest of spots just across the bunker about 15 paces from the famous Sunday back left pin that provoked the tear dropping line from Jim Nantz in 1986.

I was overjoyed. I rushed back up the hill to watch the last two groups tee off on No. 1, then back down to my spot were I enjoyed myself immensely. I noticed Jordan Spieth was making a charge. They talk on TV of the roars echoing through the trees. That is a false representation. If you’re in the right spot and the roar is in the right place, it is a literal tsunami of sound waves rushing up and down the course through the shoots of trees.

I hurdled several people and moved my 230 pounds of childlike enthusiasm toward the No. 11 tee, where I followed Spieth up close for the rest of his riveting back nine. I saw the tee shot on No. 12 where he raised in hands in mach triumph for avoiding the disaster of two years ago and the made putt that sent Amen Corner into a frenzy. I was as close as anyone when he switched to the hybrid on No. 13 and was in my choice real estate when he bombed it in on No. 16. I surpassed my normal 11-inch vertical leap by at least 6 feet it was so exciting. I also saw the disastrous Spieth Spur Strike or Jordan’s Juniper Jostling, if you will.

That disappointed me. I wanted to see the history, but I did see Rickie’s great birdie and Reed’s gut checking save to win, both on No. 18. Paulina Gretzky (DJ’s wife) was standing shoulder to shoulder with me when DJ tee’d off on No. 12 Sunday. So just like the boys on No. 11 Friday, I’m never washing my shoulder again… or maybe just the shirt.

My amazing 32-year journey was close to the end. I bolted for my car with a quick stop to ruin some more plastic in the pro shop. I hope everyone knows they’re getting Augusta swag for Christmas.

In the movie Field of Dreams, the Ghost of Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) asks Ray Kinsella (Kevin Kostner) if the field they are on is heaven. Ray responds, “No, it’s Iowa.” With all due respect to Iowa, heaven is in Augusta, Georgia. This is one light from the afterlife you definitely want to walk toward.

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Monte Scheinblum is a former World Long Drive Champion and Web.com Tour player. For more insights and details on this article, as well as further instruction from Monte go to rebelliongolf.com

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Matt B

    Apr 13, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    A very enjoyable read. Thanks Monte!

    (P.S. Surely it’s “mock” triumph and Kevin Costner!)

  2. golferOG

    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Great read but for someone with as much respect for Augusta you should know it doesn’t have a front/back nine. If you pay attention they refer to the separate nines as the first and second nine. Research how different analysts have been corrected for such mistakes

  3. Tom54

    Apr 11, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Monte that was a well written article. I read it all through to the end. I was lucky to attend the ‘09 Masters and I too felt like it was a religious event. We were shuttled to a gate not exactly knowing where on the course we were. Imagine what it was like when we walked past some bleachers only to find that we were right by the famous 13th green! My friend and I walked every hole because we wanted to see it all. Every thing you wrote about in your essay perfectly describes why this course, this tournament, and everything about the Masters cannot quite adequately be described unless one is lucky to see it first hand. Thanks for pretty much describing what it truly is all about

  4. A. Commoner

    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Pretty similar to reading a few pages in a sophomore’s personal diary.

  5. Art Williams

    Apr 11, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Last I read DJ and the Great One’s daughter were still single. How did you manage all those tickets? Connections? Great story for someone who turned down an offer to play golf at the Cathedral of courses.

  6. ogo

    Apr 11, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Even Flow or Evenflo ??!!!
    https://www.evenflofeeding.com/

  7. Neil C

    Apr 11, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Monte, I never knew you were such a great writer. That was awesome.

  8. RLawrence

    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:54 am

    You absolutely made my day Mr. Scheinblum! I felt as if I were there with and you actually caused my eyes to well up as you described your own excitement. I hope you write more articles in the future as I am hooked. Thank you.

  9. larrybud

    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:51 am

    FYI “I’m a medium”

  10. jc

    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:39 am

    nice article monte,,,remember you and your dodge viper at upland hills…

  11. Socrates

    Apr 10, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Who are the 7 losers who voted Flop, OB or Shank?

    • Willy Wonka

      Apr 11, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      It’s now 11-1-1.

      These people hate golf, hate Monte or hate themselves.

  12. ogo

    Apr 10, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Even Flow or Evenflo ?
    https://www.evenflofeeding.com/

  13. Wayne

    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Last Tuesday, I celebrated my 53rd birthday at Augusta with my oldest son. Just like Monte, I have never seen a course as beautiful. I’ve been to 4 other tour stops and while nice, they just don’t compare. I cannot accurately articulate what I saw and my feelings that day. Monte’s story is very similar to the way I felt. Thanks for the well written story.

  14. Mike Pollard

    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Two years ago I had the same experience after waiting for nearly 60 years to attend my first MASTERS! I teared up then and again reading your about your experience……..it affects us all in a similar way.

    ps…….let’s figure out a way to do it AGAIN!!

  15. Tony Lynam

    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Monte,

    I too am in my 50s and went to my first Master last Friday. As you go down the walkway with the practice area to your left, the sun was just starting to come up and I saw my first glimpse of that practice area and my eyes filled with tears. Then walking past the Patron’s golf shop and seeing the magistracy score board with all the country flags, I felt like Rudy walking onto the Notre Dame football field for the first time, LOL. Walking down to Amen Corner I was overcome with emotion again! P.S. I spent more than I had planned on too in the golf shop.

  16. J Zilla

    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Sugar PLUM* Fairies.

    Sugar plumb fairies are what plumbers need to unclog my toilet most of the time.

  17. Ernest J.

    Apr 10, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    The 3 DB’s that Shanked this article have obviously never been on the grounds at Augusta! Very well DONE Monte!

  18. Patrick

    Apr 10, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Hands down THE best major of them all…. I wish all tournaments were ran like this. Not hearing one baba booey, get in the hole (par 5 tee shot), mashed potatoes… was just the best.

  19. Ted McRoger

    Apr 10, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    What society should be is right. We would have it but we let the left destroy everything commencing 50 years ago.

    • Gill Weir

      Apr 10, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Totally agree Ted. We have self sabotaged this great Country of ours to regressivism. Augusta will always be a pipe dream of what could have been.

  20. Chuck aka wmblake2000

    Apr 10, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Now that was a write-up! Took me right on the journey with you. So glad you got to go Sunday, that your students accommodated. I think my favorite was the 4 boys in black/red… this memory will last their entire lifetime.

  21. Derek

    Apr 10, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Great article Monte! It is truly a one of kind experience – can’t wait to swap some stories during the Sioux Falls school. I’ve been lucky to go to a practice round in 2016 and 2018 each now, and am hoping to add a tournament day in the future.

  22. Brandon

    Apr 10, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Nice write up Monte! Good to meet you on Sunday back behind the 17 green.

  23. DrKell

    Apr 10, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Was at the Masters last week as well. I think this just about sums it up…
    A great read.

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Opinion & Analysis

A Letter from the Editor: Big changes are happening at GolfWRX

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For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Andrew Tursky. I recently went from the right-hand-man of former GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief Zak Kozuchowski, to running the show here at GolfWRX as the Editor-in-Chief myself. In my new role, I’m going to help GolfWRX fulfill its fullest potential as the best golf website in existence, and that means making a number of immediate changes, all of which I’ll highlight below.

First, a look back. Over a decade ago, GolfWRX started as a small community golf forum for golfers to discuss golf equipment, courses, instruction, rules, bargains, and everything else golf related. The forums continue to grow everyday, and they’re stronger than ever with over 250,000 members who are the most knowledgable and passionate golfers on the planet. They also helped us determine the Best Driver of 2018. Additionally, sometime around 2011, Kozuchowski took GolfWRX.com from simply a community golf forum to a golf media powerhouse by adding a front page section of the website, equipped with ultra-professional editorial. He built a team of Featured Writers — consisting of some of the biggest names in the golf industry — to help produce content that readers love and need. Since 2013, I’ve been helping Zak run the site by writing/producing original content myself, and working with the Featured Writer team. Currently averaging over 1.8 million unique readers per month, GolfWRX has been doing just fine. But I believe so strongly in the GolfWRX brand that I don’t want to settle for “just fine.” I believe we have more to offer, and I want every golfer in the world to garner entertainment or knowledge from our website.

As such, and building upon the foundation that is GolfWRX.com and the forums, I’ve been empowered by the “powers that be” at GolfWRX — you know, the guys who cut paychecks — to grow and shape the best golf website on the Internet.

So what does that mean going forward? Well, that’s what I wanted to discuss.

Here at GolfWRX, we’ve always been great at telling stories through the written word and images, and we will continue to do so with our Featured Writers team and legion of golf writers who love and know the game of golf. But after taking over the editorial direction of the website, I also wanted to help give GolfWRX a voice and a face. There are so many amazing people in the world of golf, and I wanted to provide platforms for us to help them tell their stories… to provide our readers the chance to see how golf clubs are made, how courses are designed, why professionals play certain equipment, and so much more. I wanted to bring readers where they’ve never been and hear from the people they’ve never heard from. Here at GolfWRX, we have the opportunity to speak with amazing people and play golf at amazing courses, and it’s about time the GolfWRX readers got to enjoy those experiences with us.

Therefore, we’re implementing our own original video and radio initiatives.

On the video-end of the spectrum, GolfWRX has recently hired Johnny Wunder full-time to the GolfWRX Staff. He’s a Hollywood producer (check out his new film Josie, starring Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones, that was recently in select theaters across the country!) and is also the new Director of Original Content at GolfWRX. If you’ve enjoyed the Bob Parsons interview, Paige interview, PXG Gen2 Editor’s Journal, or how PXG irons get built, you have Mr. Wunder to thank. Also coming soon are experiences with Mike Taylor at Artisan Golf, David Edel, Bert Lamar of Iliac Golf, the Criquet Golf team in Austin, a short game series with Gabe Hjertstedt, a new fashion series and much more. We’re extremely excited to bring our own original content to the world, and help highlight the people in golf who we think deserve a platform. See the things you’ve never seen, go places you’ve never gone, and meet people you’ve never met; that’s what we want to do with our new GolfWRX original video content. We truly hope you enjoy it, and learn a lot from the content we produce.

We’ve also started three great podcasts — the “19th Hole with host Michael Williams,” “Two Guys Talkin’ Golf,” and “Gear Dive” — with plans to expand in the very near future. Check all of them out here on SoundCloud, or here on iTunes.

The 19th Hole is hosted by Michael Williams, who was the PGA Mediaperson of the Year in 2014 and is a longtime titan in both golf media and radio in general; he has produced and hosted shows on CBS Radio, Fox Sports Radio and Voice of America. Michael is a true professional, knowledgeable golfer, and knows how to conduct one heck of an interview. So far on the show, his guests have included Greg Norman, Bob Vokey, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Scott Van Pelt, Byron Scott, Michael Breed, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Nantz, Roger Cleveland, Mike Taylor, and many more.

Two Guys Talkin’ Golf (TG2), is hosted by equipment expert Brian Knudson and myself, a former Division I golfer and GolfWRX Editor. Together, we discuss all things golf, but mostly focus on golf equipment… and the occasional hot take. TG2 welcomes guests on the show as well, ranging from GolfWRX forum members to club builders to Tour professionals to caddies. If you’re hungry for more equipment knowledge and high-level golf conversation, TG2 is your type of podcast.

The third, and all-new podcast, is called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder. What you can expect is a weekly podcast where Wunder interviews anyone who’s anyone “in the know” of golf equipment… and he’s going deep. To give you an idea, his first guest was legendary clubmaker Larry Bobka who made Tiger Woods’ old Titleist irons.

Also, as I discussed before, GolfWRX is great with telling stories via the written word. To make sure we continue to do so, we’ve hired Ben Alberstadt who’s been writing for GolfWRX for over 5 years now. He was previously a freelance journalist who worked with a variety of media and news outlets, and he now wears the GolfWRX hat full time. I cannot be more excited to have him aboard the ship because he’s a true, hard-working journalist and he’s great at telling a story in his own unique style. If you’ve read any of his stuff, you know what I mean.

And as for me, I promise to continue providing GolfWRX readers with the content they want and need to read/hear/see on a daily basis. It’s my duty to help our readers be the most knowledgable golfers and golf buyers, and be entertained while learning more about the sport we all love. I simply love GolfWRX and our readers/listeners/viewers, and I want you to have the best website of all time to visit every day… a website to be part of and proud of.

What do I ask from you GolfWRX readers? Your feedback! If we write a bad story, tell us why you think it’s bad. If we publish a video you like, tell us why in the comments or on social media. If you love the new podcast, tell us that you loved it and support by subscribing. (If you want all of our podcasts transcribed, we’re working on it!) We want to have the best website in the world, and we want to provide information to golfers in the way they want to consume it. We care deeply about your opinion. GolfWRX began as a forum community, and we will always be a community. Personally, I was a GolfWRX reader myself before ever writing for the site. So was Alberstadt and Williams and Knudson and Wunder. We love golf and we love GolfWRX. We want to see it thrive, and you, the readers, are a huge part of that success.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope you continue to be a GolfWRX reader and participant. And if you do, make sure to tell your golfing buddies how much you love the site… in real life or on social media. The more we grow, the better stories and podcasts and videos we can create. I love and appreciate the opportunity to be your GolfWRX Editor, and I won’t let you down!

 

Hit em between the tree line,

Andrew Tursky

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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Just as in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will once again provide a change in format for the players this week. Players will team up once more at TPC Louisiana for a combination of Best Ball (Rounds 1 and 3) and Alternate Shot (Rounds 2 and 4). Unfortunately, the change in format means that there is no DraftKings this week.

The course is long at over 7,400 yards, but it’s also very generous off the tee. TPC Louisiana offers the opportunity to go low, and players took advantage last year despite the inclement weather conditions. It took a Monday playoff to separate them, but eventually Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt pipped Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown by making birdie on the fourth playoff hole to take the title after both teams had posted 27-under par in regulation.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson 7/1
  • Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay 12/1
  • Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley 14/1
  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 14/1
  • Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan 16/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello/Sergio Garcia 22/1

For the first time, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar (14/1) will team up for this event. Last year, Watson played alongside J.B Holmes. The two performed well, finishing in a tie for fifth place. TPC Louisiana has been a course that has suited Watson’s game over the years, his prodigious length being a significant factor. Along with his T-5 in 2017, Watson has a victory and three other top-20 finishes at the course when the event was an individual stroke-play tournament.

While Watson can be feast or famine at times, Kuchar is Mr. Consistent. He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year, and he has been a top-10 machine over the past few years on the PGA Tour. Despite this, Kuchar hasn’t been able to convert many of his top-10 finishes into wins, but playing alongside Watson this week — who has already notched two victories in 2018 — may help his cause. Over their last 24 rounds, Watson ranks third for Strokes Gained-Off the Tee and eighth in Strokes Gained Total. Over the same period, Kuchar has been predictably consistent, ranking in the top third in the field in every major Strokes Gained category. It’s an intriguing partnership, with Watson’s explosiveness combined with Kuchar’s consistency, and it’s a cocktail that should prove to be a formidable force at TPC Louisiana.

Two men with the hot hand coming into this event are fellow Americans, Jimmy Walker and Sean O’Hair (25/1). Last week at the Valero Texas Open both men excelled, posting the highest finishes of their year thus far. Walker finished solo 4th, while O’Hair grabbed a T-2. It’s the pairs first time playing TPC Louisiana together, but Walker has some good course form to lean on. Back in 2012 and 2013, he posted back-to-back top-20 finishes, which shows that TPC Louisiana is a course that fits his game. Accuracy off the tee has never been Walker’s strength, but the generous fairways may be one of the reasons that he has performed well at this course.

O’Hair has been in good form as of late. The Texan has three top-15 finishes in his last six events, and last week he recorded his highest Strokes Gained Total at an event in years. Walker also seems to have turned a corner with his game. Along with his excellent performance last week, he managed a top-20 finish at the Masters, and his Strokes Gained-Total at the Valero was his highest since his 2016 PGA Championship victory. With both men coming off their best performances in a long time, they should be confident. The duo looks to be a decent value to mount a challenge this week.

Last year’s runners-up Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (40/1) are hard to ignore at their price this week. Brown has struggled mightily for form in 2018, missing six cuts out of 11 events played so far this year, but the prospect of playing alongside Kisner may be the boost that Brown’s 2018 is needing.

Kisner’s form has been strong as of late. He backed up his runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with a T-28 at Augusta before grabbing a T-7 at the RBC Heritage. At Harbour Town, Kisner’s iron play was especially sharp, with his Strokes Gained-Approaching the Greens total being the highest since the Memorial last year. Despite Brown’s slump, in a highly tricky format to predict, the pair showed enough chemistry last year and an ability to excel in the format, which is enough for me to consider their price a little undervalued this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jimmy Walker/Sean O’Hair 25/1
  • Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown 40/1
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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons

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Legendary club builder Larry Bobka joins us in the first episode of our new podcast called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder, GolfWRX’s Director of Original Content. Gear Dive is a deep look into the world of golf equipment, and Wunder will be interviewing the craftsman, the reps and the players behind the tools that make up the bags of the best golfers in the world.

Bobka, our first guest, is a former Tour rep and club builder involved in some of the most important clubs of the past 25 years. From his days at Wilson Golf working with legends such as Payne Stewart, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, he transitioned into the Golden Age of Titleist/Acushnet building clubs for Tiger Woods, Davis Love, David Duval and Brad Faxon. He currently runs Argolf where he builds and fits handmade putters for Tour players and amateurs alike. He’s one of the Godfather’s of modern golf equipment.

Skip to 45:30 for the discussion about Tiger’s Titleist irons.

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

What do you think of the new podcast? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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