Connect with us
Advertisement

Opinion & Analysis

Are You…an Iceman?

Published

on

Beware readers, we are delving into the furthest reaches of coolness as it pertains to golf. No one has ventured into golf’s innermost cool zone since David Duval shot his final-round 59 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic all of thirteen years ago. Since that time, golf has changed much and there are many harsh truths that we have forgotten when it comes to what is and what is not cool in golf.

In the past, the art of “cool” was slowly introduced to golfers by other club members as they took up the game. The rich tradition of reserved play, quiet confidence and sharp dress is a gift to golfers of all walks by the golf gods themselves. However, as more and more people abruptly took up the game, the uninitiated are overwhelmed by consumerism and walk as sheep among the wolves (OEM’s I love you, but really?). There is little mentorship in golf right now… but I digress. We have forgotten what is cool in our sport, my friends, and we need an Iceman to set us straight.

Who is an “Iceman?”

There have been relatively few Icemen in golf, and yet it seems like there has always been one around in any era of play…except for this one. You may already have formed your own thoughts regarding which players I am referring to, at least to an extent. In addition to David Duval, you could also include Raymond Floyd, Ben Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum and maybe a few others.

Let’s take a moment to make some observations about what made the aforementioned players “Icemen.”

David Duval

First, there are the sunglasses. You never knew what this guy was thinking at any time because he covered most of his facial expressions in a pair of wrap-around shades. If “the eyes are the pathway to the soul,” you would never see Duval’s through those shades. And you weren’t going to get much else from the way he comported himself.

Nothing throws other players off more than a quiet dude wearing shades who doesn’t let on that anything bothers him. You just can’t read the emotional ups and downs, so you push harder to get a reaction out of him and end up doing something stupid in your match – just like he planned. Even if he is playing poorly, you wouldn’t know from the way he reacts; and this bothers some players who expect to see some kind of reaction. We all know that once we see a “defeated” looked on someone’s face during a match that we have already practically won it. After all, competitive golf includes a degree of gamesmanship. It makes things tougher when an opponent never shows a defeated reaction to you. It is the quiet suggestion that, “I will never give up, you will never get in my head, and I will not give you any satisfaction.” That is as tough as it gets, folks.

Raymond Floyd

Ahhh…the infamous Floyd stare, or glare. Young dudes, have you seen this before? The opposite of Duval, in that many might have preferred that Floyd actually put on a pair of shades so they wouldn’t be creeped out by the look on his face when he was “in the hunt.” Floyd maintained this cold glare throughout every match, although it wasn’t always directed at people; it looked more like he was trying to frighten the golf ball into obeying him. He was the picture of concentration; the only thing that was going to bother Mr. Floyd is if he didn’t hit the shot he wanted. In any case, the expression never changed.

Do YOU have that level of concentration and commitment when you get over each shot? If you did, what would it tell a playing competitor if you could appear that “steely” and still not get upset even if you made a poor shot? I’ll tell you; it would say that, “If you were hoping I was going to make a mental mistake or get upset, you might as well give up now. YOU can’t win this match – I can only lose it.”

That is powerful stuff people, but is hard to pull off every time. I see many younger golfers (or at least new golfers) these days that can’t bring themselves to make consistent eye contact with another person. It takes a lot of confidence to simply stare right at someone on the tee when they are looking back. There is something immediately uncomfortable about it. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on gamesmanship (because it is only cool to an extent), but every once in a while, it can give you an advantage if you can somehow send the message to a competitor that you are keenly aware of what they are doing in their own game, and that it doesn’t throw you at all. For Floyd, it was all in the stare.

Ben Hogan

The “Wee Ice Mon.” Mr. Hogan earned that title by sharing his dislike of the greens at Carnoustie in 1953. That alone is a quality of an Iceman – simple honesty with yourself and with others. People simultaneously hate and crave honesty, but often are not fond of those who candidly share it. Mr. Hogan is usually described as something of an introvert, but apparently spoke his mind when asked. It is definitely cool to speak openly when invited to do so (if even people get riled up a little), however an “Iceman” would never simply go around sharing random thoughts in order to get attention. That would be tragically “un-cool,” and definitely not Hogan-worthy. Being honest lets you know whom your friends and where others stand in relation to you.

Another point about Mr. Hogan that puts him in the “Iceman” category is the amount of work he put into himself. After the round, are you the type to sit around getting tipsy at the clubhouse, or are you the lone wolf over at the range working on his swing? Can you say you know more people on the maintenance staff than you do in the pro-shop or clubhouse? Do you leave a 5-by-5 inch  divot “signature” out at the range each day? A true Iceman could and does, because that person doesn’t care for after-round bragging or unimportant small talk. No, he or she is more interested on what is happening on the course, reflecting upon the events of their round, and putting in the time to correct weak spots. Such a reputation makes its way around the membership. Hard work earns respect. Competitors know they are going to have to get lucky with such a player, because they certainly did not put in as much time into their games or preparation for a potential match.

Lloyd Mangrum

Lloyd Mangrum earned the name “Mr. Icicle” due to the relaxed way he played on the course. During World War II, Mangrum was offered a head professional position at Fort Meade that would have kept him out of the fighting…but he declined. He earned two purple hearts and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, taking shrapnel to his chin and knee. He was also part of the D-Day landings and was one of only two surviving members of his original unit during the war. I challenge anyone to mention a tougher professional in the history of the game of golf (Okay, maybe Larry Nelson).

Mr. Mangrum once said:

“I don’t suppose that any of the pro or amateur golfers who were combat soldiers, Marines, or sailors will soon be able to think of a three-putt as one of the really bad troubles in life.”

I have never served in a combat situation and would never pretend to know, truly, what Mr. Mangrum’s words really mean. However, my humble (personal) interpretation as it pertains to golf, is that there are no true risks taken in a game, as there are in real life.

While I am not suggesting that golfers should go out and play shots that are not consistent with good strategy, I do feel it important to point out that – it is just golf. I have always found it funny how announcers describe shots as “dangerous.” Well, there are NO shots in golf that are actually dangerous, so at no point should a golfer be fearful or nervous about playing a shot.

No “buts,” either. It IS just that simple: No guts, no glory. There are no college scholarships, there are no first place checks, there are no long drive payouts…unless you perform the shot. You have nothing to lose, because you haven’t yet earned anything. So, step up and make it happen!

Sometimes when you play against other golfers, you are forced to play a shot that you are uncomfortable with. So my question to you is, are you going to whimper and worry about what you may or may not be able to do, or are you going to be a cool customer and rip it close? Golfers who are Icemen keep things in perspective. Fear is detrimental and needless – there is always more golf to be played, and you will always get another shot; if not this year, then next year; if not here, then somewhere else. There are things to be afraid of in life, but golf is not one of them, so be fearless in your play, and don’t be afraid of performing poorly (or well) in any given scenario.

Who is NOT an Iceman?

Like I said earlier, there aren’t many of these individuals and we haven’t seen one recently in pro golf. So few possess the inner confidence, fearlessness, top-notch games, mature perspective, soft-spoken demeanor and true humility all at the same time. It definitely is a tall order, especially as the “team sport” mentality has crept into both professional and fan mentalities alike. It can be hard to properly categorize an “Iceman” when you suspect you see one, because there are so many types of criteria. Here are some ideas that can help you weed out the wannabees from the true cool customers.

Dress and Overall Appearance

This is going to be a tough one for some folks. While I don’t wish to offend anyone, there simply are do’s and don’ts when it comes to playing it cool. If you are the sensitive type, skip to the next section on “Equipment.”

Rule 1 – Don’t dress like the circus came to town. I have gotten eye-strain from playing with certain folks just because they are trying to do the whole bright, mono-color thing that is big on tour now. Oddly enough, I see more middle-aged men doing this than the kids the clothing is actually marketed toward. I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on fashion, but I am a child of the 70’s. I submit to you that, if people wouldn’t dare wear clothing with certain color schemes in the 70’s, then YOU shouldn’t be wearing it now. Let’s move forward from that dark era, shall we? Don’t become your own caricature.

Rule 2 – A belt buckle is not a codpiece. A CODPIECE is a codpiece. If there is one thing I know from growing up playing 80’s metal, is that any substitution for a decent codpiece, or loincloth, screams “poser.” It happened when Poison got the edge on Judas Priest (the band) and it is carrying forward now. It is even worse when those who don’t have a physique that really supports wearing such an accessory (like me, but I don’t) try to wear them. Let us consider carefully the disadvantages as well as the advantages of wearing such accoutrements. If you aren’t man enough sport the proper jewel-encrusted, leather codpiece out on the golf course (OR the grocery store), you aren’t going to make up for that with a three hundred dollar belt buckle either. Such are the woes of life.

Rule 3 – Don’t put your name on your gear. You want the nice, big staff bag? Fine. You want the Tour Issue baseball caps? Fine. You want the customized wedge with all the distracting symbols (and no good grinds)? Fine. You want the shiny belt buckle…nnn…well, that is NOT fine. Just…don’t put your name on them. No one wants to remember who you are unless you are on a professional tour. An Iceman would never invest in gear and apparel that cost more than your average used car. A good game should speak for itself, so why would you go about turning yourself into a billboard? Let’s face it, in any one given round with a total stranger, we are all likely to shoot poorly or medium-style at best. Why sign your name to an “epic fail” that others will (now) remember long after the round is done?

Equipment

A real Iceman would have a bag that avoided “trend” like a mid-cap tries to avoid the shanks…um, I mean…the U.S. Ryder Cup team tries not to lose…ummm, well you know what I mean. In any case, I believe my distinguished colleague Jeff Singer described how best to build an intimidating bag of clubs that is free of poserness, so I will refer you all to the proper thread…

Let me say, however, that an Iceman would never let his/her clubs speak for their game when ability alone should have that honor.

(and, finally…)

The “Teeth Test”

Do you ever notice that we are seeing more teeth in golf than ever before? I am tired of seeing TEETH! I don’t need to see your food tools, thanks, OR be reminded of how poorly you floss. No Iceman is going to engage in open-mouthed, self-congratulation at any time out on the golf course. If you want that kind of thing, go to a football game, sit with the drunks, and wait for an end-zone dance. Oddly, even the NFL has rules about self-celebration while the PGA Tour apparently does not.

An Iceman would never do this, as the focus on “self” is…well…selfish. A winning round, or losing round, should look no different than if you finished in the middle of the pack. Putting on a “show” is disrespectful to those you are playing with, as well as those you might be playing against. This truly is sportsmanship 101, and it is a shame that we have forgotten.

Seriously, could you ever imagine Jack Nicklaus putting on a fist-pumping spectacle on the 18th green of a major? Could you imagine Ben Hogan “riding the bull” during a Ryder Cup match? No, of course not! I bet some of you actually crossed yourselves and closed the shutters when you read that, didn’t you? This is team-sport behavior, and an Iceman is the antithesis of that. So, if you ever see a player giving him or herself a personal cheering session, they likely won’t pass the teeth test. A quiet smile or acknowledgement to the fans or gallery is one thing; roaring at the top of your lungs and riling the masses for your own benefit is another. Let modesty reign!

Why Do We Need An Iceman?

Stated simply, a golfing Iceman is the manifestation of the sum total of all that is cool in golf. He or she serves as the point of comparison that all golfers use to determine whether their actions, mannerisms, equipment selection, style of play, etc. fall on the “cool” side, or the “lame” side, of the spectrum. There have been no real Icemen on the PGA Tour since Duval, which is supported by the clear reality that we are inundated with equipment, apparel, marketing, and on course behavior that doesn’t pass the straight face test.

We need to bring “cool” back to golf. Not just cool, but principle and sportsmanship coupled with great play. The “Iceman” represents the best aspects of all of these, but we don’t currently have one. (No, Jason Dufner doesn’t count. He apparently doesn’t have a problem with people referring to him as a furry, burrowing mammal. Sorry, but some nicknames are cooler than others. His isn’t. You have only yourselves to blame.)

The golfing Iceman is a figure so inherently cool and reserved, that he or she pulls you into being a fan as a matter of course. No image enhancement, no Facebook pages, no Twitter, no “rep,” no BS. What you see is what you get, but what you see is the coolest person you could ever imagine playing golf. Not being a fan is almost harder than being a fan.

Weird Iceman “Facts”

(okay, they are MY facts, but what else have you got to do?)

  1. Only one professional (male) golfer has ever finished at the top of the money list and still been considered to be an Iceman, and that was Ben Hogan. Let’s face it folks, it is tough to be great and still look like you aren’t interested in how good you are.
  2. You can lose your Iceman title if your coolness drops below a certain point. Just look at poor David Duval. One of my favorite players, but he has (for now) lost his game. The title of Iceman comes with great expectations.
  3. Icemen hate the lead in a match. Simply put, it is cooler to chase than be chased.
  4. All Icemen are good putters. See how rare they are? I am guessing you had hopes there for a minute, didn’t you?
  5. Icemen will never show you their true distances with any club. Just assume there is much more in the tank than what you see.
  6. Icemen will only be found playing with others who are equally focused on their games. They may not be Icemen themselves, but are individuals who don’t place an emphasis on the social aspect of the game. As such, Icemen might be found in regular groups or as singles most often. If they are spotted as a single, they will NEVER crowd you; if they are in a foursome, you will never catch up to them.
  7. Icemen rarely talk about golf when they are away from golf. Sounds weird but also sounds totally true, right?
  8. Icemen are mostly self-taught and are skeptical of formal instruction.
  9. Icemen don’t take practice swings or look at their ball flight for more than a second or two.
  10. You will never find more than one Iceman at any club or on any professional Tour at any given time. They are very territorial, it seems.

There it is. What is YOUR opinion?

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

 

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

I am a professional musician, educator and researcher, in addition to being a golf coach for Hampden Academy in Maine. Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D., in curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. My past academic achievements include a Bachelor's degree (in music performance) from the University of Maine, a Master's degree (in jazz performance) from Florida State University, a second Master's degree (in education) from the University of Maine, and K-12 teacher and school administrator certifications in Maine. My current research interests include overlapping content points between music and golf, as well as studying/comparing/contrasting how people learn in both endeavors. I have worked in education for 12 years, including public school education and university instruction. I have taught in the Maine public school system, and at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Florida State University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. My main area of musical endeavor is drumset performance with an emphasis in jazz, where I have performed with Chuck Winfield (of Blood Sweat and Tears), Dr. Billy Taylor (of the Kennedy Center), Yusef Lateef (jazz legend), and numerous local and regional groups in the New England area.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. winstonalan

    Jan 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    This is amazing. From a fellow educator, thank you for breaking the monotony of benchmark exams.

Leave a Reply

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

Podcasts

Gear Dive: Mizuno’s Chris Voshall speaks on Brooks Koepka’s U.S. Open-winning irons

Published

on

Mizuno’s Chief Engineer Chris Voshall speaks on how Brooks Koepka was the one that almost got away, and why Mizuno irons are still secretly the most popular on Tour. Also, a couple of Tiger/Rory nuggets that may surprise a few people. It’s an hour geek-out with one of the true gems in the club biz. Enjoy!

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

Listen to the full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 66
  • LEGIT24
  • WOW26
  • LOL3
  • IDHT4
  • FLOP2
  • OB1
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Hear It, Feel It, Believe It: A Better Bunker Method

Published

on

The following is an excerpt from Mike Dowd‘s upcoming novel, “Coming Home.” 

After picking the last of the balls on the driving range, Tyler cornered Mack as he hit a few shots from the old practice bunker to wind down at the end of the day. Mack was hitting one after another, alternating between the three flags on the practice green and tossing them up about as softly as if he was actually lobbing them each up there underhanded.

Tyler just stood there, mesmerized at first by the mindless ease with which Mack executed the shot. Bunker shots, Tyler silently lamented, were likely the biggest hole in his game, and so after Mack had holed his third ball in a couple of dozen, Tyler finally decided he had to ask him a question.

“What are you thinking about on that shot, Mack?” Tyler interrupted him suddenly.

Mack hit one more that just lipped out of the closest hole, paused a few seconds, and then looked up at his protégé in what Tyler could only interpret as a look of confusion.

“What am I thinking about?” he finally replied. “I don’t know, Tyler… I’d hate to think how I’d be hittin’ ‘em if I actually started thinking.”

Tyler gave Mack a slightly exasperated look and put his hands on his hips as he shook his head. “You know what I mean. Your technique. I guess I should have said what exactly are you doing there from a mechanics standpoint? How do you get it to just land so softly and roll out without checking?”

Mack seemed to be genuinely considering Tyler’s more elaborately articulated question, and after a moment began, more slowly this time, as if he was simplifying his response for the benefit of a slightly thick-headed young student who wasn’t getting his point.

“You can’t think about technique, Tyler… at least not while you’re playing,” Mack replied. “There’s no quicker path back to your father’s garage than to start thinking while you’re swinging, especially thinking about technique. That’s my job.”

“Mack,” Tyler insisted, “How am I supposed to learn to hit that shot without understanding the technique? I’ve got to do something different than what I’m doing now. I’m putting too much spin on my shots, and I can’t always tell when it’s going to check and when it’s going to release a little. How do I fix that?”

“Well, not by thinking, certainly,” Mack fired right back as if it was the most ridiculous line of inquiry he’d ever heard. “A good bunker shot can be heard, Tyler, and felt, but you can’t do either of those if you’re focused on your technique. You feel it inside of you before you even think about actually hitting it. Watch, and listen.”

With that Mack swung down at the sand and made a thump sound as his club went through the soft upper layer of sand and bounced on the firmer sand below.

“You hear that?” Mack asked. “That’s what a good bunker shot sounds like. If you can hear it, then you can feel it. If you can feel it, then you can make it, but you can’t make that sound until you hear it first. Your body takes care o’ the rest. You don’t have to actually tell it what to do.”

Tyler still looked puzzled, but, knowing Mack as he did, this was the kind of explanation he knew he should have expected. Coach Pohl would have gone into an eight-part dissertation on grip, stance, club path, release points, weight transfer, and so forth, and Tyler suddenly realized how much he’d come to adopt his college coach’s way of thinking in the past four years. Mack though? He just said you’ve got to hear it.

“Get in here,” Mack said suddenly, gesturing to the bunker and offering the wedge to Tyler. “Now close your eyes.”

“What?!” Tyler almost protested.

“Just do it, will ya’?” Mack insisted.

“Okay, okay,” Tyler replied, humoring his coach.

“Can you hear it?” Mack asked.

“Hear what?” Tyler answered. “All I hear is you.”

“Hear that sound, that thump.” It was Mack’s turn to be exasperated now. “It was only moments ago when I made it for you. Can’t you still hear it?”

“Oh, remember it you mean,” Tyler said. “Okay, I know what you mean now. I remember it.”

“No, you obviously don’t know what I mean,” Mack replied. “I wanted to know if you can hear it, in your mind, hear the actual sound. Not remember that I’d made it. There’s a big difference.”

Tyler suddenly did feel kind of dumb. He wasn’t picking up what Mack was getting at, at least not exactly how he wanted him to get it, and so he sat there with his eyes closed and gripped the club like he was going to hit a shot, waggled it a bit as if he was getting ready, and then opened his eyes again.

“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I think I can hear it now.”

“Don’t open your eyes,” Mack almost hissed. “Now make it, make that sound. Make that thump.”

Tyler swung down sharply and buried the head of the wedge into the sand where it almost stopped before exiting.

“That’s not a thump,” Mack said shaking his head. “That’s a thud. You can’t even get the ball out with that pitiful effort. Give me that!”

He took the wedge back from Tyler and said, “Now watch and listen.”

Mack made a handful of swings at the sand, each one resulting in a soft thump as the club bottomed out and then deposited a handful of sand out of the bunker. Tyler watched each time as the head of the club came up sharply, went down again, hit the sand, and came back up abruptly in a slightly abbreviated elliptical arc. Each time Tyler listened to the sound, embedding it as he studied how the club entered and exited the sand. Mack stopped suddenly and handed the club back to Tyler.

“Now you make that sound,” he said, “and as you do remember how it feels in your hands, your forearms, your chest, and most importantly in your head.”

“What?” Tyler asked, looking back up at Mack, confused at his last comment.

“Just do it,” Mack said. “Hear it, feel it, then do it, but don’t do it before you can hear it and feel it. Now close your eyes.”

Tyler did as he was told, closing his eyes and then settling his feet in as he tried to picture in his mind what Mack had been doing. At first, he just stood there waggling the club until he could see the image in his mind of Mack hitting the sand repeatedly, and then he could hear the soft thump as the club hit the sand. He started to swing but was interrupted by Mack’s voice.

“Can you feel it?” Mack said. “Don’t go until you can feel it.”

“Well, at first I could see the image in my mind of you hitting that shot over and over again,” Tyler said, opening his eyes and looking at Mack, “and then I could hear it. It sort of followed right in behind it.”

“Ah, the image is a good starting point, but you can’t just see it and hear it, you need to feel it,” Mack replied, pointing to his head. “Feel it in here, and then you can feel it here,” he continued, putting his hands together like he was gripping a club. “Now close your eyes again.”

“Okay,” Tyler said, not sure he was getting it, but finally bought in. He settled in again and began waggling the club until he could see Mack swinging and hear the subtle thump of the sand. He let it just loop in his mind, over and over again, until suddenly he could feel it like he was the one doing it, and then he swung.

Thump came the sound as the flange of his wedge hit the sand. It was his swing, but it was different, maybe not to the naked eye, but in the speed, the level of tension, and the release. He opened his eyes again, almost tentatively, and looked at Mack with a combination of curiosity and amazement.

“I felt it that time,” Tyler said in a voice that seemed to resonate within from somewhere in the past. It almost sounded like Jackie’s in its exuberance.

“Yes… good,” Mack replied patiently. “Now close your eyes and do it again, but make sure you can feel it before you pull the trigger.”

Tyler settled in again, waited until, like the last time, he could see it, hear it, and then finally feel it… Thump… Something was slightly different this time, though, and Tyler opened his eyes to notice Mack kneeling down next to him. He had quietly deposited a ball into the place where Tyler had swung. Tyler looked up in the direction of the green and the target flag he had been aiming toward just in time to see a ball slow to a gentle stop about four inches from the flag.

“How’d you do that?” Tyler said, almost in wonder now.

“I didn’t,” Mack replied. “You did. You just had to stop thinking. See it, hear it, and feel it. Once you feel it, you can believe it. Anything more is more than we need. Any questions?”

As Mack turned to walk up out of the bunker, Tyler just stood there shaking his head a moment, looking at the spot in the sand, and then back up at the green as if to confirm the ball he’d seen roll to stop was still there. “I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

“Well… yes and no,” Mack said cryptically as he turned back to look at him. “You pretty much know how to hit all the shots, Tyler. You’ve hit every one of them at one time or another. You’ve just got to learn how to empty your head of all those instructions so you can focus on finding the shot you need when you need it. It’s in there somewhere.”

“It’s hard to explain,” Tyler said, “but a lot of times I walk up and think I somehow just instinctively know what shot to hit without even thinking about it. I just kind of see it and feel it. It’s when I start to analyze things a bit more closely, factoring in all the things I know are important to consider like the wind, keeping away from the short side, where I want to putt from, and the best trajectory or shot shape for the situation, that I often start to second guess that feeling.”

“Ever heard the saying paralysis from analysis?” Mack asked. “It pretty much describes those moments.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Tyler replied, “but all that information is important. You have to consider everything and not just make a rash decision.”

“Sure, information is important, but you can’t get lost in it,” Mack countered. “Whether it’s golf, or just about anything else in life, Tyler, you need to learn to trust your gut. You’ve hit hundreds of thousands of shots in your life, Tyler. All those shots leave a mark. They leave an indelible little mark that gets filed away in your brain subconsciously, getting stacked one on top of the other. And after years of playing the game, those stacks and stacks of shots create an instinctive reaction to each situation. It’s like gravity. It pulls you in a certain direction so much that most of the time you almost know what club you should hit before you even know the yardage. Trust that, Tyler. Go with it, and know that first instinct comes from experience. There’s more wisdom in those gut reactions than just about anything else.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said after considering it a moment. “I think that’ll really help.”

“You’re welcome,” Mack replied. “Now rake that bunker for me and clean the balls off the green. I want to get things closed up before dark.”

Your Reaction?
  • 50
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW6
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

5 things we learned on Saturday at the 2018 U.S. Open

Published

on

Whoops, we did it again. While not as dramatic as the 7th hole concern of 2004, the Saturday of 2018 seemed eerily familiar. The commentators were divided on the question of whether the USGA was pleased with the playing conditions. The suggestion was, the grass in the rough was higher than necessary, and the cuts of the fairway and greens were just a bit too close of a shave. No matter, everyone finished and the band played on. The hashtag #KeepShinnyWeird didn’t trend, but Saturday the 16th was certainly not ordinary. Five weird things we learned, on the way.

5) Phil’s breaking point

It wasn’t violent. No outburst or hysteria. We’d seen Phil leap in triumph at Augusta. Now we’ve seen the Mickelson jog, albeit under most different circumstances. Near as we can determine, for a moment Phil forgot that he was playing a U.S. Open. After belting a downhill, sliding bogey putt well past the mark, the left-handed one discerned that the orb would not come to rest for quite some time: a lower tier beckoned. As if dancing a Tarantella, Phil sprang toward the ball and gave it a spank while still it moved. Just like that, his quadruple-bogey 8 become a 10, thanks to the 2 strokes for striking a moving ball penalty. In true warrior fashion, Mickelson accepted the penalty without questions, intimating that it saved him another stroke or two in the end. Yeesh. Phil, we feel you.

4) DJ’s front-nine free fall

Just as unlikely as Phil’s whack-and-walk was Dustin Johnson’s front nine of 41. The cool gunslinger of Thursday-Friday faced the same turmoil as the other 66 golfers remaining, and the outward nine did not go according to his plan. DJ got past the opening hole with par, after making bogey there on Friday. Number two was another story. Double bogey on the long par three was followed by 4 bogeys in 5 holes, beginning with the 4th. The irony once again was, Johnson struggled on holes that the field did not necessarily find difficult. Hole No. 2 was the 10th-ranked hole for difficulty on day 3, while 4 and 7 were 13th and 11th-ranked, respectively. Hole No. 6 and 8 did fall in the more difficult half, but not by much. At day’s end, however, the tall drink of water remained in contention for his second U.S. Open title.

3) The firm of Berger and Finau

Each likely anticipated no more than a top-15 placing after 3 days, despite posting the two low rounds of the day, 4-under 66. Those efforts brought them from +7 to +3 for the tournament, but Johnson and the other leaders had yet to tee off. Every indication was lower and deeper; then the winds picked up, blustery like the 100 acre wood of Winnie The Pooh. Both golfers posted 6 birdies against 2 bogeys, to play themselves into the cauldron of contention. Berger has one top-10 finish in major events, while Finau has 2. None of those three came in a U.S. Open, so a win tomorrow by either golfer would qualify as an absolute shock.

2) Recent winners fared well

In addition to Johnson, the 2016 champion, Justin Rose (2013) and Brooks Koepka (2017) found themselves near or in the lead for most of the afternoon. Since Shinnecock Hills offers much of what characterizes links golf, it should come as no surprise that 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson is also within a handful of strokes of the top spot. Rose played the best tee-to-green golf of the leaders on Saturday, but was unable to coax legitimate birdie efforts from his putter. Koepka was the most impressive putter of the day, making up to 60-feet bombs and consistently holing the clutch par saves. On another note, given his victories at Chambers Bay (2015 U.S. Open) and Royal Birkdale (2017 British Open), the missed cut by Jordan Spieth was the week’s biggest surprise.

1) The wind

The most unpredictable of nature’s weapons, the winds of Shinnecock Hills exposed flaws in the course preparation. Areas that would have held off-line putts, were dried out enough to escort those efforts off the shortest grass, into the runoff compartments. The zephyrs pushed tee balls and approach shots just far enough astray to bring all the danger zones into the recipe. Prediction for tomorrow is, any golfer within 5 shots of the lead has a chance at the title. A Miller-esque round of 63 would bring anyone into contention, if the wind continues to blow. No event appreciates drama more than the U.S. Open, and Sunday at Shinnecock promises plenty of it.

Your Reaction?
  • 24
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending