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Opinion & Analysis

A tournament’s right to choose: The David Duval saga

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In a bit of breaking news, this week David Duval took to Twitter to voice his displeasure at not being included in the Humana Challenge on a sponsors exemption. The tournament, slated to take place the week of January 14th to 20th, had apparently notified him of this recently as the following was posted to Twitter on January 7th:

“So it’s official. I will not get a spot at the Humana. I guess having the defining moment in the history (of) the event doesn’t matter.”

Fellow pros and fans have jumped to his defense, including John Cook and Steve Flesch, the latter going as far as to accuse the tournament of political BS. The outpouring of support led Mr. Duval to respond by posting another comment asking people to stop hating on the tournament as it still holds a special place in his heart.

Watching David Duval’s comeback attempts over the years have stirred a whirlwind of emotions for his fans, hoping that he will break through and show the form of the man who shot 59 to win the Bob Hope Chrysler tournament in 1999. This author is no exception, once taking a day off from work to watch the 2009 final round at Bethpage Black and finding myself rooting for Duval even more then my fellow lefty and favorite player, Phil Mickelson. It is certainly OK to like David Duval or even be totally fine with the Humana granting him the exemption he sought. Unrestricted sponsors exemptions are exactly that, unrestricted. But before we jump on the tournament, ask yourself: What, really, would David Duval in 2013 have added to it?

The Humana Challenge is not the most star studded field of the year — a quick look at the participants this year and you will notice some top ranked players like Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and FedexCup winners Brant Snedeker and Bill Haas. These guys are mixed in with a mostly emerging field of youngsters and up and comers. A WGC event this is not, and I guess pro ams and multiple courses will do that. But is that a reason to give an invite to Duval?

An argument could be made that Duval would help ratings as he’s a recognizable face. But that is really only going to benefit a tournament if he plays the weekend. In 12 sponsors exemptions in 2012, David Duval only made two cuts and did not finish higher then 60th. In fact, in all of 2012 he only broke 70 three times in official rounds. He was not near the top of the leader boards in a real position to help the tournaments attract viewers, and there wasn’t much evidence to say he would be this time. You might also think that tournaments have a bunch of these things to give away, but that isn’t really the case either.

There were some rule changes in 2013 that reduced the amount of unrestricted invitations sponsors could give. Historically, there have usually been four players that could be chosen this way, along with two spots that had to be given to Web.com or Q-School participants. This year those numbers have flipped, and four spots must be given to the Web.com or Q-School participants. That leaves only two positions left to decide on Mr. Duval, someone who has not had a lot of success lately.

Would the tournament be better off taking a chance on someone else, like tournaments did in 2012 choosing Patrick Cantlay (5 of 7 cuts made on exemptions), Boo Weekley (5 of 10), Joe Durant or Erik Compton (3-5 and 3-4), or even Ryo Ishikawa, who turned a sponsors exemption into a 2nd place finish in Puerto Rico? Duval had a very tough year in 2012 and in 2011 missed 15 of 24 cuts, finishing 171st in the Fedex standings. I’m not trying to slam Duval. He seems like a really likeable guy, but 1999 was a long time ago.

In 1999, Tiger had one major, was coached by Butch Harmon and was single (well, I guess some things are the same).  The tournament wasn’t called the Humana, and Twitter wasn’t even invented yet. Heck, Facebook wasn’t even invented yet. Not to mention the Humana is already getting a bump publicity wise with the return of the popular Phil Mickelson (in 2012 they said attendance went up and the tournament was watched in more households then 2011).

It’s been a while and I can understand the tournament wanting to give someone else a chance, maybe a young guy as oppose to a veteran with far more missed cuts then made ones in the past five years. That isn’t necessarily political BS, just the feelings of a tournament and itss sponsors who have the right to feel however they want about two people a year. David Duval’s miracle 59 to win the tournament will live on — this doesn’t take that away from him. I hope we will see him back there soon, as a qualifier.

Click here to read Featured Writer Chris Hibler’s story, who said that Humana Challenge officials snubbed Duval.

 

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

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  1. donald davis

    Jan 12, 2013 at 3:11 am

    move on. get a card.david duval is old news. give the exemptions to people who can compete. he can always try to monday qualify. he had his day and it sure seems like he was more interested in his time away form the game , injuries and lack of focus.

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Opinion & Analysis

Have you got Golfzheimers?

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While it has taken more than a quarter century of teaching golf to arrive at this point, I have come to the conclusion that there is an as-yet-unnamed epidemic condition afflicting a great majority of players. This condition is so prevalent that I think it is high time it was given a name. So let me be the first to navigate those uncharted waters and give it one in hopes that, once formally recognized, it will begin to be more seriously studied in search for a cure. I will call this condition “Golfzheimers,” as it is the complete inability most golfers have to remember the vast majority of good shots they have ever hit (even those hit only moments before), while having the uncanny ability to instantly recall every chunk, shank, skull, and chili-dip they’ve hit since sometime back around when balls were still covered with balata.

Now trust me, I’m not making light of a very troubling and serious disease. My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, and it is a heartbreaking condition.  n truth, I could have just as easily named this “A Golfer’s Senior Moment,” since the term is ubiquitous enough, if I really believed someone would actually take offense (and I am truly sorry if you do).  I didn’t, though, because it was after a conversation with my late grandmother one day that I was suddenly struck with how oddly similar her lack of short-term memory, combined with her ability to vividly remember things that happened 40 or 50 years ago, was in some ways to how most golfers tend to think.

As long as I have been playing and teaching, I’ve been searching for different ways to learn to accept bad shots, keep them in perspective, and move on without letting them affect the next shot, hole, or round. When it comes to swinging the golf club, I can generally teach someone how to hit pretty good shots in a fairly short period of time, but teaching them to remember them with the same level of clarity as those of the more wayward variety often seems like trying to teach a blind man to see. Despite a general awareness of this phenomenon by most players and its detrimental effect upon their golf game, little has been suggested until now as to why it exists and what if anything golfers can do about it. And while research in the field of neuroscience suggests that our brains are hard-wired from the caveman days to catalogue and assign more importance to events that are considered dangerous or threatening, what about the game can have become so dangerous (other than to our egos) that we all seem to be fighting such an uphill battle?

Numerous psychological studies have found that the majority of people can remember five bad experiences more readily than five good ones, and assuming this is true, it speaks a great deal about how we have been conditioned to think since an early age.  The concept of scarcity, a term popularized in the self-help world, essentially describes a lens through which many of us have been conditioned to look upon our world, our lives, and apparently our games, with far too much regularity. It is through the use of this concept that many of our parents kept us at the dinner table as children, far beyond our wishes and long after our dinners were cold. We were guilt-ridden, not because we might be unappreciative of the time and money that went into providing us with that dinner, but because there were millions of starving children in China or some other far-off country that would have been tripping over themselves for even the remnants of that liver and onions our mothers had beset upon us.

As a proud parent, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve used the scarcity tactic a time or two myself during moments of desperation. Being naturally an optimist, though, I try to avoid succumbing to its siren song because I prefer to teach my daughters a far better lesson. At the same time, my girls are proof positive of these same studies and our ability to recall, as evidenced by another thing we do at that very same dinner table — we play a game called high and low. I’m sure you’ve heard of it; it’s where you ask your kids what their high and low moments were during the day. With my kids, I ask them to tell me the low first, preferring to close their day’s reflection with something positive, but it’s uncanny how often recalling something positive makes them really pause and reflect, while if something negative occurred, their recall of it is nearly instant and typically very descriptive.

The good news for both my daughters and the general golfing public, however, is there is a very effective way to short-circuit this type of thinking, and it comes from the field of hypnosis. From this moment forward, make a point not only to remember every good thing that happens to you, but to stop and savor it. If you are paid a compliment, don’t just brush it off. Stop to relish it for a moment and recognize the responsible person with more than just the perfunctory, “Thanks.” If you accomplish a goal, regardless of how small, reward yourself in at least some small way, all the while reminding yourself how good it feels to follow through on your intentions. And if you actually hit a golf shot well, reflect a moment, make a point to enjoy it and remember the moment vividly, and actually thank your partners when they say, “Nice shot” rather than blowing it off with some sort of, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while” type of comment.

Hitting the golf ball well is actually a near miraculous achievement when you consider the complexity of the swing and the incredible timing and hand-eye coordination it requires. Enjoy it (or anything else for that matter) when it actually comes off right. Do it several times a day for a month or more and there will be subtle changes in your brain chemistry, how you feel, and your outlook on life. You will notice, and so will those closest to you.  Make it a long-term habit and you might even be able to avoid ever having your playing partners ask this unfortunate question: “Have you got Golfzheimers?”

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Opinion & Analysis

The History of Course Design is Yours to Play at Oglebay

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There is a much-talked about “New Golden Age” of golf course design underway that is driven by demand for ever-more spectacular courses at the top end of the resort golf market. Destinations such as Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Sand Valley and others provide the traveling golfer a spectacular golf experience; unfortunately, it comes at a price tag that is equally spectacular. When a week playing golf in Florida can cost as much as a week in Scotland, where do you go for a golf getaway that doesn’t require a second mortgage?

Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, doesn’t just provide an affordable golf vacation option; with its three golf courses, it provides players the chance to experience a condensed history of American golf course design through its three courses. The resort sits on land that was once owned by a wealthy industrialist and is now a part of the city park system. Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, Oglebay draws the majority of its golfers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s kind of cool that when you drive to Oglebay from the Washington, D.C., you hit all of those states except Ohio, which is just a few minutes away from Wheeling. The area is especially picturesque in the autumn months when the changing colors of the leaves are at their peak.

The property has a rich history in the business and sporting history of West Virginia, but the three golf courses, Crispin, are a special prize that taken together form a primer on the history of golf design in the past 90 years. The 5,670-yard Crispin course is a one-off design by local golf enthusiast Robert Biery that was completed in 1930 and is a fascinating study of design techniques of that era. The slopes and elevation are severe and extreme by today’s standards. A clue was the raised eyebrow of the assistant pro when I said that I would walk the course. Uneven lies are the order of the day, the product of a time when there was neither the money nor equipment readily available to create gentle slopes and even surfaces; the course is true to the original contours of the West Virginia hillside.  There is little relief on the greens, which run a little slower than typical greens but make up for it in size and slope. It is by far the shortest of the three courses but the par-4 8th hole and par-5 9th holes are a thousand yards of joy and pain.

Hole No. 6 at the Klieves course

The Klieves Course is a 6,800-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer design that was completed in 2000. The design features broad fairways, mildly undulating greens and opportunities for heroics on short par-4’s, all the prototypical characteristics of modern resort golf courses. While some architects choose to torture and torment, Palmer courses put a premium on fun and this one is no exception. The par-5, 515 yard 6th is a great example of the risk/reward available without that challenges the resort golfer without the need to humiliate. The course is very well maintained tee to green, and you’ll want to keep a fully charged battery to take photos of the vistas from the elevated tee boxes.

Hole No. 13 at the Jones course

In my humble opinion, the true gem is the Robert Trent Jones course. The 7,004-yard, par-72 Course carries a healthy 75.1 rating/141 slope from the back tees. It utilizes a gorgeous piece of land that meanders across the West Virginia hills to give a mesmerizing collection of holes that are equal parts scenery and challenge. Both nines start from elevated tee boxes hitting down into valleys that offer classic risk/reward propositions. Usually I have no problem identifying a favorite hole or two, but on this course it’s difficult. Having said that, the stretch of No. 4 (par 3, 193 yards), No. 5 (par-5, 511 yards) and No. 6 (par-4, 420 yards) are among the best I have played anywhere as a show of nature’s beauty and the at of laying out a golf hole. And the four par 3’s are not the place to pic up an easy birdie. The only one less that 190 yards from the tips is the 158-yard 15th, which is protected by a small, undulating green. All in all, it’s a perfect representation of the genius of Robert Trent Jones.

The golf is good at Oglebay and the prices are better. You can get in 18 at the Oglebay courses for as little as $32…on the weekend. And when you’re not playing golf, you can take advantage of the myriad of outdoor sports activities, tour the Oglebay mansion, hit the spa or visit the Glass Museum on the property (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). There’s a lot of great new golf resorts out there and that’s a good thing for the golf industry, but destinations like Oglebay prove that there’s a lot of life left in the old classics as well.

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Podcasts

Two Guys Talkin’ Golf: “Are pro golfers actually underpaid?”

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Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX editor Andrew Tursky argue whether PGA Tour players are actually underpaid or not. They also discuss Blades vs. Cavity backs, Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Thomas and John Daly’s ridiculous 142 mph clubhead speed.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

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