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Opinion: Why all of golf’s majors should pass on 2020

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As a lover of language, the word selections of golf’s major-championship bodies intrigue me. They plan to delay, postpone, and suspend their events until a later date. It won’t be long before Thesaurus.com’s suggestions are invoked, and we prorogue, adjourn, and defer these tournaments until an undetermined, future date. I have a problem, a serious beef, with the notion that these events might be played. I’ll summarize in two arguments.

Other tournaments own those weeks

Look over the planned tour schedules of 2020. There is little to no room (i.e. open weeks) for events to slot in. The Masters, reportedly, is looking at an October date. Will they contact Shriners, Houston, Nine Bridges or ZOZO and ask them to step aside, or will they not even pay that courtesy? The PGA announced the postponement of its flagship event. The USGA is on the verge of announcing … something about the U.S. Open. No doubt the R&A will follow with an update on The Open Championship. Yes, these are major championships, ones that golfers dream of winning, and around which legends build their schedules. This designation does not give them any right to effectively reduce the efforts of organizers, volunteers, staff and fan base of any other event, to an afterthought. Take what fate has tossed your way, 2020 Majors, and leave a hole in the history books.

Humanity

Does a golf tournament hold any higher worth than other human endeavors? It will take something miraculous to conduct a professional golf tournament in the next 12 months. Doing so would require the assurance for all involved (players, rules officials, staff, and volunteers) that conditions are 100 percent safe. Without a vaccine, without a cure, this guarantee cannot be offered. Let’s not forget, that survival does not mean immunity. There is no suggestion that, once cured; safe. Given our social nature, we humans might reinfect each other, again and again. Why run that risk? Golf doesn’t need the bad publicity that “we matter more than your safety does” will bring. The families of tournament participants, workers, and supporters, also don’t need the worry that exposure will bring.

There are many more arguments to make, in support of this recommendation. There is no need to take up any more of your time, to make them. Join me and ask the Augusta National, the LPGA, the PGA of America, the USGA, and the R & A, to take the humane path and adjourn their premier events for a year. Their sacrifice will ensure solidarity with the rest of us.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Pelling

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:34 am

    The absolute dumbest thing I’ve seen is golfers who think (selfishly) that’s it’s ok and safe to golf because they don’t touch a rake, a flagstick, or take a ball out of the cup. No, it’s not! Why are you different? You aren’t special, you’re just a moron! Go social isolate and quit infecting the rest of us…

  2. travis

    Mar 28, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    If the majors can’t find a date that works, so be it – would be the same issue if a freak storm completely rained it out. But to simply punt on the entire year of golf right now is ridiculous, it’s not “helping humanity.” Drive the economy another way? How? You do realize that every business that is majorly affected by this virus is having this same conversation, right? It’s not just the PGA Tour or professional sports that is talking about maybe not returning this year – its everyone. And if everyone just said “we are going to shut down for the year,” the economy would collapse. Unemployment would reach unfathomable levels, government programs would crumble, and the world market would bottom out.

    The PGA Tour and golf itself is a billion dollar industry that employs tens of thousands (maybe hundreds) of people at all levels (including this website). To shut it down would be irresponsible. I personally think the PGA postponement is premature, but I don’t know the timetable they have to work under to make an event like that happen, so it could make sense.

    But at some point the economy is going to have to come back online, and all businesses are going to have to be flexible and have to preserve their ability to turn the faucet back on quickly to help save the economy. And risks are going to have to be taken. There will reach a time for each business affected where the risk of possibly getting sick doesn’t outweigh the risk of the business failing and people not being able to put food on the table for their families.

    Making drastic decisions 4-6 or more months in advance could be a death sentence for thousands. No reason to make that decision until you absolutely have to.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      And how do you feel about the tournaments that ARE SCHEDULED (shouting, I know) on the PGA Tour 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 wraparound? What sort of treatment do they deserve? I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  3. James Mac

    Mar 28, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    I totally agree that this article is your opinion.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:02 pm

      You have my attention. How do you feel about what is contained within?

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  4. DoTheRightThing

    Mar 28, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    I’m with you Ron. The greater good absolutely needs to come first, not me me me. There are thousands of workers on the medical front lines who are putting their health, and even their lives on the line, to help others live and to work tirelessly to even slow down this pandemic. And thousands of others who are working to support the front-liners. And yes we need to do what we can, safely, to maintain economic activity without worsening the virus spread before we develop vaccines. But while I love golf and other sports, they matter very little in the big picture currently … history is filled with holes and gaps caused by crisis events, when we had to pause to do the right thing.

  5. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 28, 2020 at 8:31 am

    You all click shank, but you know that I’m correct. Lives and living matter more than these associations and making money. Drive the economy another way, like by giving back instead of taking in.

    • Brandon

      Mar 28, 2020 at 9:14 am

      This is a weak take. There is no economy to drive when everyone is stuck at home not working. I know this is a golf website and most of the readers probably have large amounts of cash in their savings that they can fall back on in a time like this, but for the vast majority of the country this isn’t the case. The 1200 dollar check the government is sending will cover half of my rent on a shitty 1 bedroom apartment here in the Bay area. People need to work. You can’t just shut down the country indefinitely and rob people of the ability to support themselves because of a boogie man that will only manifest as a cold for 95% of the people who catch it. It’s a harsh reality, but the best thing to do just to get back to normal as soon as possible. The fit people who can handle a viral infection will be fine, and the weak people with compromised immune systems will be culled from the herd. This has been happening in one form or another to every carbon based life form since the beginning of time.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Mar 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        What does what you typed, have to do with what I wrote? You act as if the Bay Area is the only one impacted by the crisis. Think about other communities for a moment. They have been prepping, just as SFBA has done for PGA.

        I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

    • A. Commoner

      Mar 28, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      RM: your article is flawless as to logic, values, ethics, and thought maturity. It is incomprehensible how one could trash it.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Mar 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        You had me at “flawless.”

        I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  6. Che Guevara

    Mar 27, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Setting up an event that has already been planned in advance takes 1.5 weeks. You seem to not understand that the PGA Tour is not in charge of any of the majors. The USGA does not care about the Shriner’s or Houston Open and owes them no courtesy
    96% of fans watch from their couches, so it’s really only the players and event workers that need to be assured safe. It’s about golf and history, not about revenue
    Using your logic, there would be no majors played ever again, since the virus will be around in perpetuity just as the flu is
    I typically like your writing but this one is leaving me scratching my head Mr. M

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Listen to me, Fuser. We go way back, back to when you were playing rugby in Buenos Aires. We traveled the south american continent together, on a shitty Norton motorcycle that we called “La Poderosa.” Yes, I remained in Venezuela; do you still hold that against me?

      Oh, man, wow, that was stream of consciousness. OK, back to your madness. No, you are extrapolating, friend. Yes, the virus will be around in perpetuity, but within 48-64 weeks, we should have found a vaccine and other treatments. Those will help us deal with other coronavirus that undoubtedly will rear their ugly heads. Your logic is not my logic.

      The USGA, the PGA, the R&A, the ANGCWPC should CARE about the PGA Tour; without it, they don’t have great golfers for their “majors.” Heck, you and I would be playing, without the world’s professional touring professionals. Time for them to say, for once, it’s not about me.

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  7. todd

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Big time shank, the smaller tournaments need to yield, Majors are what people remember and what the players want to win most, as far as humanity, it’s too early to tell, it’s not even April, it’s possible we get passed this thing by May-June, that leaves 4 months of play, which should be centered around the majors.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm

      Past, not passed. We’ve already been “passed” by it. It has us in a choke hold. Are the strings attached to your hands, controlled by a puppeteer? Guess who matters in the world? The smaller tournaments, the common people, not the celebrities. Is this Kanye? One of the other Kardashians? I think that it is.

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

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Opinion & Analysis

Everyone sucks at golf sometimes

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“Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with tools singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

This quote dates back over 100 years, and has been credited to a number of people through history including Winston Churchill and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Although the game and the tools have changed a lot in 100 years, this quote remains timeless because golf is inherently difficult, and is impossible to master, which is exactly what also makes it so endearing to those that play it.

No matter how hard we practice, or how much time we spend trying to improve there will inevitably be times when we will suck at golf. Just like with other aspects of the game the idea of “sucking” will vary based on your skillset, but a PGA Tour player can hit a hosel rocket shank just as well as a 25 handicap. As Tom Brady proved this past weekend, any golfer can have a bad day, but even during a poor round of golf there are glimmers of hope—like a holed-out wedge, even if it is followed by having your pants rip out on live TV.

I distinctly remember one time during a broadcast when Chris DiMarco hit a poor iron shot on a par 3 and the microphone caught hit exclaim “Come on Chris, you’re hitting it like a 4 handicap out here today” – the shot just barely caught the right side of the green and I imagine a lot of higher handicap golfers said to themselves ” I’d love to hit it like a 4 handicap!”. This is just one example of the expectations we put on ourselves even when most golfers will admit to playing their best when expectations are thrown out the window.

– Gary Larson

Dr. Bob Rotella says golf is not a game of perfect, and that’s totally ok. The game is about the constant pursuit of improvement, not perfection and with that in mind there are going to be days when no matter what we just suck.

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Opinion & Analysis

By definition, there will be no 2020 U.S. Open. Here’s why the USGA should reconsider

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In 1942, the USGA decided to cancel the U.S. Open because it was scheduled so soon after U.S. entry into WWII.  They did this out of respect for the nation and those called to war. There was a Championship however called The Hale America National Open Golf Tournament, which was contested at Chicago’s  Ridgemoor Country Club. It was a great distraction from the horror of war and raised money for the great cause.

All the top players of the era (except Sam Snead) played, and the organizers (USGA, Chicago Golf Association, and the PGA of America) did hold qualifying at some 70 sites around the country. So effectively, it was the 1942 U.S. Open—but the USGA never recognized it as such. They labeled it a “wartime effort to raise money” for the cause.  Their objection to it being the official U.S. Open was never clear, although the sub-standard Ridgemoor course (a veritable birdie fest) was certainly part of it.

The USGA co-sponsored the event but did not host it at one of their premier venues, where they typically set the golf course up unusually difficult to test the best players. Anyway, Ben Hogan won the event and many thought this should have counted as his fifth U.S. Open win. The USGA disagreed. That debate may never be settled in golfer’s minds.

Ahead to the 1964 U.S. Open…Ken Venturi, the eventual winner, qualified to play in the tournament. His game at the time was a shell of what it was just a few years earlier, but Kenny caught lighting in a bottle, got through both stages of qualifying, and realized his lifelong dream of winning the U.S. Open at Congressional.

Ahead to the 1969 U.S. Open…Orville Moody, a former army sergeant had been playing the PGA Tour for two years with moderate success-at best. But the golfing gods shone brightly upon “sarge” through both stages of qualifying, and the tournament, as he too realized the dream of a lifetime in Houston.

Ahead to 2009 U.S. Open…Lucas Glover was the 71st ranked player in the world and had never made the cut in his three previous U.S. Opens. But he did get through the final stage of qualifying and went on to win the title at Bethpage in New York.

Ahead to 2020…The USGA has decided to postpone the event this year to September because of the Covid-19 virus. This was for the fear of the global pandemic. But this year there is a fundamental difference—the USGA has announced there will be no qualifying for the event. It will be an exempt-only event. By doing so, the event loses it status as an “open event,” by definition.

This is more than a slight difference in semantics.

The U.S. Open, our national championship, is the crown jewel of all USGA events for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is just that: open. Granted, the likelihood of a club professional or a highly-ranked amateur winning the event—or even making the cut—is slim, but that misses the point: they have been stripped of their chance to do so, and have thereby lost a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to realize something they have worked for their whole lives. Although I respect the decision from a  health perspective, golf is being played now across the country, (The Match and Driving Relief—apparently safely)

So, what to do? I believe it would be possible to have one-day 36-hole qualifiers (complete with social distancing regulations) all over the country to open the field. Perhaps, the current health crisis limits the opportunity to hold the qualifiers at the normally premier qualifying sites around the country but, as always, everyone is playing the same course and is at least given the chance to play in tournament.

In light of the recent “opening” of the country, I am asking that the USGA reconsider the decision.

 

featured image modified from USGA image

 

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TG2: Reviewing Tour Edge Exotics Pro woods, forged irons, and LA Golf shafts

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Reviewing the new Tour Edge Exotics Pro wood lineup, forged irons, and wedge. Maybe more than one makes it into the bag? Fujikura’s MCI iron shafts are some of the smoothest I have ever hit and LA Golf wood shafts get some time on the course.

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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