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19th Hole

The eternal debate: What would PGA Tour pros shoot on average golf courses?

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It’s fitting that in the same week that the PGA Tour (somewhat curiously) revealed its new slogan, “Live Under Par”/#LiveUnderPar, GolfWRX member borker brought up one of the age-old questions in golf: Just how much better are the pros than us average duffers And further, what would the average PGA Tour pros shoot, should he find himself pegging it at the local muni?

Saying that a Tour pro’s handicap is +5 may not be as striking as, say, this nugget from borker, “John Rahm played Canyon West somewhere in Texas [and shot 59]. Looks like it is rated 72.6/136 from the back .” He included an image of Rahm’s score, but here’s a better shot c/o Compleat Golfer.

But GolfWRX member niccho has done one better with his comment, pulling a 2007 Washington Post article by Eli Saslow from the archives wherein Steve Marino (not the Tour’s most accomplished golfer) tees it up with a scribe at a Washington, D.C. muni.

From that piece…

“[Marino] shot a 68. Make that an ugly 68…The par-4 first hole was emblematic of Marino’s round. He crushed a drive 320 yards down the right side of the fairway, almost all the way to the green, only to find the ball settled in a pile of twigs. Marino wasted his next shot chopping the ball out into the grass, and then he pitched his third shot to within 12 feet of the pin. He struck what felt like a pure putt, but the ball ran over sand and stopped a few inches short of the hole. Marino stood on the green and shook his head. “Ridiculous. Just ridiculous,” he said. Then he tapped in for bogey.”

As many members point out in the thread, it’s difficult to hole a ton of putts at ye olde muni, and canning anything from distance is out of the question. Thus, even if a pro finds 18 greens in regulation, expecting him to make even half the putts is unrealistic.

Marino himself spoke to this in the WaPo article

“It’s just kind of like you hit it and guess where it goes on this course,” Marino said. “I don’t think I’d ever shoot over par on a course like this, but I’m not sure I could ever go really low. On nice courses, you know when you hit a good shot that you’re going to get rewarded for it. So if you’re playing great, you score great. Here, you just never know.”

Returning to the subject of Rahm’s 59 at Canyon West, wcbjr says this

“There is nothing difficult about Canyon West. Being from the area, I’ve played it a dozen times or so. But that is still a ridiculous score with the current course condition. Greens and Bermuda coming out of dormancy, and I believe it was very windy that day.”

That said, Rahm was certainly putting on better greens than Marino was in ‘07 at East Potomac.

What say you, GolfWRX members? Ever played with a pro at a pristine country club track under normal conditions? What do you think a PGA Tour card holder would shoot at the roughest muni in your next of the woods?

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Daniel

    Apr 17, 2018 at 8:22 am

    About 10 years ago I was working at a CC just outside Charlotte, NC. A member came out one day with Johnson Wagner. I talked to the member later and he told me Wagner shot 64 and didn’t make any long putts or chip in….These guys are good.

  2. Todd Dugan

    Apr 14, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    This is pretty simple. Pros have handicaps also, usually. +5 is pretty typical for a PGA Tour pro. So, if your course is rated 70 from the regular men’s tees, for example, on a slightly better than average day, a Tour pro would shoot 65. Some days lower, some higher. People will try to obscure this reality, mostly to make themselves feel better, but it’s simple math, really.

    • John

      Apr 14, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      You dont seem to understand how handicaps work lol, shooting handicap is meant to be an achievement… I play off 2 (no social rounds, comps only) if I shoot 2 over that’s a good score

      • Todd Dugan

        Apr 15, 2018 at 3:10 pm

        Your handicap index is the average of your 10 best scores out of your last 20. Not an “achievement”, but “better than average”, as I said.

        • ROB HARRIS

          Apr 15, 2018 at 5:29 pm

          NOT TRUE.
          YOUR HANDICAP IS 80% OF THE BEST 10 SCORES OUT OF YOUR LAST 20. AND YOU THROW OUT THE HIGH ONE AND THE LOW ONE OF THE 20.

          • ROB HARRIS

            Apr 15, 2018 at 5:33 pm

            IS IS MUCH, MUCH EASIER TO SCORE ON A COURSE THAT IS IN PERFECT CONDITION WITH PERFECT GREENS THAT HAVE HARDLY ANY GRAIN AND FAIRWAYS CUT AS LOW AS MOST MUNI GREENS SO YOU CAN GET THE CLUBFACE ON THE BALL.
            AND EVERYTHING SET UP WITH PIN PLACEMENTS AND PERFECT DISTANCES TO FLAGS, BUNKERS, ETC.
            PRO GOLFERS ARE SPOILED BEYOND BELIEF..
            I AM A PLUS 2 AMATEUR AND WON MANY TOURNAMENTS.
            IT’S VERY HARD TO SCORE ON A GOAT RANCH

  3. acew/7iron

    Apr 14, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Would they get to use the books that show all the slope on every green?

    That alone should save anybody 5 strokes on the day even on a course you have never seen.

  4. A. Commoner

    Apr 13, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Such nonsense. Why not just debate “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

  5. Man

    Apr 13, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    They would struggle to get out of rock hard bunkers with no sand in them.
    They would also struggle to concentrate when they know there’s no money reward at the end, so they just won’t get into playing that well because they won’t care.
    This is a non-debate. You’ll never be able to see them do their best at your local mangled muni.
    But the first hole example in the article comes close to what they would experience at most of our local munis.
    The only person who might have had a laugh doing it and playing properly and scoring well on such poor conditions would have been Lee Trevino as he grew up on hard pan and bad lies

    • SteveK

      Apr 14, 2018 at 12:50 am

      “…money reward…” you say?!!
      So if there is no money involved they would casually score in the 80’s?!!
      But if there is a money wager and competing with another pro they would score in the 60’s ??!!!

      • Man

        Apr 14, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        You better put up a decent sum. Otherwise yup, they’re not going to care about a casual meaningless round at the janky local muni.

    • The Law Professor

      Apr 16, 2018 at 10:57 am

      It is true that Lee once claimed things were easier for him when he first came out on tour, because he was so used to playing under horrible conditions. Read that years ago–of course, one never knows with Trevino, who’s not above spinning a good tale when the cameras or on or with a reporter and a notebook at the ready.

  6. ogo

    Apr 13, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    The only way a tour pro would find a local golf course challenging is to only carry a 7-iron, SW and putter…. to play par golf. 😀

  7. PG

    Apr 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    https://www.reddit.com/r/golf/comments/6ymle2/when_a_tour_pro_returns_home_for_midweek/

    Saw this a while back, I would suggest this would be fairly typical score for a touring pro on a “normal” course.

  8. Aaron

    Apr 13, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    In 2001 during The International at Castle Pines Golf club a friend of mine who was playing reached out and asked if I could help them get on at another local course in Castle Rock. I was able to arrange a round for them at Red Hawk Ridge. I’m not going to throw out names as I don’t have their permission to do so but as we stood on the first tee I was very curious as to what I was about to take part in. All 3 guys birdied the 1st and 2nd holes and none of their approach shots were outside of 10 feet. It was more of the same with a barrage of birdies an eagle and a few pars that were attributed to lipped out putts. As they were playing they were having a blast giddy with excitement and talking about wishing the courses on tour were easy like this. As we neared the end of the front 9 a small crowd of people including the Head Pro were out there following the action. At the 9th tee the guys decided to cut it short at 9 holes. The results were pretty incredible. The best player in the group who at the time was top 30 in the world and got inside the top 10 a couple years later shot a 27 on the front 9, the other 2 guys who were outside the top 50 in the world shot 30 and 31. I was a club pro at the time and shot a 34. The crazy part of this is that all 3 players failed to make the cut that week. It was an eye opening experience for sure.

  9. Rev G

    Apr 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It all comes down to putting and if the greens are true enough for them to make putts. If they play a public course with good greens I would say 65 is going to be their average score and better if they’re on that day. If the greens are iffy then 68 – you gotta figure they’re going to reach all the par 5’s in two and maybe one or two par fours – But they’re also going to get screwed on a few holes simply because of the conditions.

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19th Hole

Bryson does Bryson: DeChambeau spotted using a compass to read greens

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Plenty of armchair humorists and hot take artists remarked on Bryson DeChambeau’s use of a compass during the Travelers Championship this weekend.

Unfortunately (perhaps) for DeChambeau, the PGA Tour spotted the former physics major utilizing the device.

While it’s highly irregular/quite expected from DeChambeau, the powers that be aren’t certain of the legality of compass use.

“They said we just want to let you know we’re investigating this device and seeing if it’s allowable or not,” DeChambeau said.

The SMU alum also threw this bit of shade at the Tour: “People are saying it’s an unusual device, that’s at least what the tour’s saying… It’s funny people take notice when you start playing well.”

Let’s press pause here for a second to address the elephant in the room: What the heck was Bryson doing with the compass-and-yardage-book routine.

Here’s what he told reporters

“Figuring out true pin locations. The pin locations are a little bit off every once in a while, so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot.”

True pin locations. Is that like true gravity? Anyway, DeChambeau has reportedly been using the device since 2016… How is this the first we’re seeing of it? Does he only bust out the compass when he suspects

It also wasn’t the first time DeChambeau has used the device, he said, noting that he’d been doing so since the 2016 PGA Tour stop in Las Vegas. Reportedly, the Tour’s investigation concerns whether the compass is an “allowable” device (per Will Gray).

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Rules junkies: Is Bryson in violation? Mathematically inclined/cartographers: Is the technique an asset in cases of “untrue” pins?

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19th Hole

Baba Booey for Life! Does this GolfWRX member have a point?

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Oh boy, here’s a heater. On the subject of Baba Booey-ing at golf tournaments, WRX member Stickner started a thread, writing

“For those that think nois.e while a player hits shouldn’t be allowed, you must also believe that fans should NEVER make noise.

“A player with a large gallery jars a 70 footer for eagle to take the lead. The crowd erupts! This should not be allowed.

“Why you ask? There are other golfers well within earshot of the noise. This could disrupt their game. Why does the nearby player you can see deserve the “courtesy of quiet” but the one 400 yards away that you can’t see doesn’t?

“We have all seen players back off because the crowd erupted on another hole. What happens when that eruption happens in the backswing right before the player is about to transition to the downswing? Those boisterous hooligans need to keep their traps shut as this is a gentleman’s game right?

“Being quiet while someone plays golf is silly. My guess is that the elitist snobs that played this game a century ago needed a scapegoat when hitting a bad shot and noise became their scapegoat.”

He wraps his rant in, well, the most appropriate way possible: “BABA BOOEY FOR LIFE B&^%HES!”

Now, this flies in the face of the “isolated noise during the golf swing is extremely distracting” argument that is popularly leveled in defense of silence. But let’s see what GolfWRX members think about Stickner’s comments.

MtlJeff says

“While i am not in favor of intentionally yelling during a swing, your point is an interesting one. I hadn’t really thought of it like that, the loud roars often get overlooked when it comes to the “distracting noise” narrative.”

Eagle1997 says

“Planned vs. Spontaneous. Jabroni Factor only applies to one.”

Blackngold_blood says

“I am fine with cheering for a great shot or groaning for a bad one. My problem with…bababooey and mashed potatoes is the fact that it has nothing to do with GOLF! All the person is doing is screaming “Look at me, I need attention!” Or how about the even less classy “How’s your ankle” that was shouted at Finau after he hit his last approach to 18. I get the point that these are professional athletes and golf is becoming more mainstream but the immature comments need to stop.”

Naptime says

“Background noises and distant noises can be perceived as while noise. If you play next to a highway you adapt and become less aware of it. But if a trucker blasts a horn in your swing it would startle and at least for me would probably result in a hot grounder to third base. Yelling Baba Booey or any other lame comment after a swing doesn’t startle the swinger, just make the shouter sound like a doofus who can’t hold his alcohol.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Does Stickner have a point? Should the rules of the wider sports world apply to golf, or does golf fandom require a particular understanding of when to be quiet and when to cheer?

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19th Hole

Both Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth laughed at Phil Mickelson’s 13th hole antics

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The image of 48-year-old Phil Mickelson jogging after his golf ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock, Saturday, was bizarrely comedic. Even if you condemn Mickelson in the strongest of terms, taken on its face, the scene is a silly one.

That said, it’s interesting that two of the biggest names in the game had the same response: laughter.

Speaking before the Travelers Championship, Rory McIlroy said

“I saw what happened…and honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing, and as a player who has been in that head space before in a tournament, I can see it happening.”

Jordan Spieth voiced similar sentiments earlier in the week

“I laughed, I thought it was really funny…Phil knows the rules…There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that? He’s playing the best score he can.”

There are a couple of widely different perspectives (and plenty in-between) here.

One: Thank goodness Spieth and McIlroy aren’t uptight dogmatists when it comes to the rules, and they appreciate the humor in an absurd situation.

Two: Spieth and McIlroy, as significant figures in the game, ought to stand up for the integrity of the rules of golf, condemning Mickelson’s behavior…and perhaps question whether disqualification was in order (as Jason Day and other pros have done).

Which camp you find yourself in likely aligns with how you view the Mickelson incident: A humorous and well-deserved middle finger to the USGA or a reprehensible act for which Mickelson was not sufficiently punished?

Beneath Mickelson’s behavior and the responses of McIlroy and Spieth is the ever-growing rift between the USGA and PGA Tour players–as well as a level of annoyance with/disdain for the organization’s Rules of Golf.

Remembering how Mickelson spearheaded the overhaul of the PGA of America-run U.S. Ryder Cup team and its procedures when he called out captain Tom Watson in 2014, it was the same sort of situation: “Is this calculated, or has he lost his mind?” everyone seemed to be asking.

In the wake of those remarks, players rallied behind the veteran, and he assumed a leadership position in the reform effort. Whether we see something similar with respect to the pros and the USGA/U.S. Open, it certainly looks like the political will for change is there among Tour players, as McIlroy and Spieth’s remarks suggest.

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19th Hole

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