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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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On Spec

On Spec: How coaching & fitting work together – A conversation with Scott MacLeod

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Host Ryan is excited to welcome to On Spec, Scott MacLeod – golf coach, fitter, writer, Class A CPGA Professional, and accomplished player.

Scott has an abundance of knowledge around the game of golf and the discussion revolves around the relationship between coaching and club fitting as well as how golf can be more inviting to new players.

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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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: Power golf is the new reality

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that professional golf may never be the same after “the Bryson DeChambeau revolution.” Before we get to how much he is changing the professional game, let’s give a big hats-off to Bryson. With the Tiger era coming to an end, professional golf needed a shot in the arm, and Bryson is poised to give it just that. If all is legal here, and we have no reason to believe it isn’t, we may be witnessing the biggest change we have seen in a long while on tour.

Saying that Bryson DeChambeau is long is like saying that water is wet. He is testing the limits of clubhead speed in professional golf. It is an experiment Bryson is willing to take on and use the PGA Tour as his laboratory. If he can continue to play at the highest level with clubhead speeds of 130 mph and ball speeds approaching 195-200 mph, a revolution in professional golf is clearly underway. There has always been a clear distinction between playing golf and long-driving golf. The speed the LDA guys generate is designed for one purpose: to hit the ball as far as possible—and hope to get one out of six in the grid. In other words, don’t worry about the foul balls. We thought these speeds could never be achieved in playing on tour. And although there is still a gap, Bryson is closing it.

DeChambeau is unique to say the least, but we cannot be so naive to think that he is the only professional who will test these waters. This is almost guaranteed to start a trend on tour. There are bigger, stronger athletes playing professional golf now (and every other sport), that much we know. But the fact that one man has stepped this far ahead 0f the field should and very likely will be a source of motivation for many others in the tournament game.

Muscle equals distance is the future of professional golf, and it is apparent that golf training is moving from the range to the gym. But even DeChambeau’s admirable discipline will not stay unique to him very long. There are and will be others ready to take up the gauntlet now that he has laid it down. The era of skinny flat-bellies may soon be a thing of the past. What effect will this have on the game itself? This is the current buzz in golf. There will soon be another.

One consideration sure to arise is how will golf course designs and/or renovations factor into this revolution? Let’s be clear: There is not a par 4 in golf where Bryson needs more than a driver/wedge or 9-iron to reach any green. A 5-degree driver followed by a 45-degree wedge to travel 500 yards is not something I ever thought I’d see-but it’s here and it’s not going away. Fans love the long ball and sponsors love fans. My question is, what do the governing bodies think of it, and what will they do about it. Is 20 under par OK with them? Knowing what the USGA does to their courses for the U.S. Open, it seems not. Will the PGA Tour begin to question current course designs? The R&A seems to think that the natural hazards and weather conditions are challenging enough, but even there when “hell bunker” and “beardies” are no longer in play, even the old boys might start re-thinking this whole thing.

Here are the Current USGA recommendations for something called “par” for men and women respectively.

Par 3 Up to 250 yards Up to 210 yards
Par 4 251 to 470 yards 211 to 400 yards
Par 5 471 to 690 yards 401 to 575 yards
Par 6 691 yards+ 576 yards+

These are great guidelines for most of us, but they are totally antiquated for tournament professionals. Based on what Bryson is doing now and others are soon to be, these guidelines could be at least 50 yards off for professionals. I’m not saying that lower scoring due to tremendous distance increases is a bad thing, in and of itself. Athletes (Bryson in particular) should be rewarded for all their hard work, but the general idea of golf courses being built to challenge players will soon need to reconsidered. Fairway bunker positioning is already obsolete on many tournament venues, and “rough” is less of an issue when the top players are plowing the ball out with 45-degree wedges and grooves that will spin the ball anyway.

Some say it’s still a game of getting the ball in the hole and it matters not how far they hit it or how low they go. I agree, but what I’m saying is that standing on the tee, players have always had two variables to consider:  distance to carry or avoid hazards and positioning. One of those is no longer a consideration, and the other is becoming less of a factor all the time.  It mattered when fairway bunkers were in play and the right angle to get at the hole locations when the guys were hitting middle irons into them. It matters much less so with 45-50 degree wedges and with the ball coming in from an outer space trajectory; In other words “shotmaking” is going the way of the mashie niblick. Take a few examples: Say, Augusta National…The bunker on the right side of #1 is not in play. The bunker on the right side of #8 is not in play. It’s not unlikely that the bunker on the left side of #18 is or soon will be out of play, and so on…This drastically changes the mentality of how to play those holes.

Often I hear, “Yeah, but the hoop is still 10 feet high in basketball, the football field is still 100 yards, and baseball parks still have a 400+ ft. centerfield fence”. But here is the difference:  Other sports are played against opposing players; the game of golf is played against the course. The field of play itself is the challenge, provides the defense, the other players be damned. And when the clubs, the golf ball and the bigger stronger players reach previously unheard of distances, we could easily lose what I call “the chess” aspect of the game; thinking about hazards, approach shot positions and so on.

Note: This is a professional tournament golfers only concern.  The rest of us have our hands full the way things are.

I am not objecting to lower scores due to better athletes and better equipment-hats off to Bryson for stepping up his game and starting the revolution. All I’m saying is golf has always been a challenge of how to manage a golf course—plan the entire course out from the first tee to the 18th green and that has long been its charm. Watching Hogan manage a golf course was watching a Van Gogh paint a masterpiece. I am concerned that the “bombs away” approach caused by power and equipment is changing that, and for the game to continue as we have always known it, golf courses will soon need to adapt to the changes. I, for one, would like strategy to stay part of tournament golf.

All of that said, it will be interesting to watch the ripple effect of the mad scientist of golf’s experiment.

 

 

 

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The 19th Hole Episode 131: Tiger YES, Ryder NO, Horton Smith OUT

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Host Michael Williams discusses Tiger’s return, the postponement of the Ryder Cup, and the name change of the Horton Smith Award by the PGA of America. Guests include Mike O’Reilly of Whistling Straits and Mike McCartin of the National Links Trust.

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