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Opinion & Analysis

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



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 or Q-School participants. This year those numbers have flipped, and four spots must be given to the 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 Comment

  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

Paige Spiranac explains her decision to pose for the 2018 SI Swimsuit



During the PXG 0311 Gen2 iron launch event, I caught up with Paige Spiranac to talk about a variety of topics including her advice to young girls in the golf world, how her life has changed since becoming a golfing celebrity, her relationship with PXG, her decision to stop playing professional golf, and she explains why she wanted to pose for the SI Swimsuit issue.

Enjoy my interview above!

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Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview With 36 Golf Co.



Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email for consideration. This interview is with Jay Vogler of 36 Golf Co (Pictured above caddying for business partner Chevy Mayne).

Talk to me about 36 Golf Co. What are you guys all about?

We’re all about getting people out to the course, having fun and not taking golf too seriously. We’re trying to create a brand for people who love the game, but aren’t necessarily trying to turn pro. The whole idea started when I was walking through a hockey shop and saw all these hockey lifestyle brands and I was like, “Why doesn’t this exist in golf?” We’re mainly targeting the 18-35 crowd; folks that kind of have a laid-back approach. We think it doesn’t matter if you wear cargo shorts and a T-shirt as long as you’re respecting the game and taking care of the course. It’s more important to replace your divots, repair your ball marks and keep up with the pace of play than it is to wear a collared shirt.

There are a lot of people launching brands in the soft goods world these days (clothing, towels, head covers, etc.). As a result, that world can be a little crowded. What makes 36 Golf Co. different from everyone else out there?

Our corner of the market, if you will, is trying to create a community of people who see the game the same way we do. We want to see the game grow, especially among the millennial age group. We think participation is lacking in that demographic, and we want to play a part in making the game a little more accessible for them. We want people to connect over our attitude toward golf. If you see a guy walking down the street wearing a 36 hat, we want you to think he’s approachable and he’s down to hang out and talk about golf and life without being pretentious. We’re out there to lower some of the barriers to entering the game.

Since I know you’re all about growing the game, what do you think it needs? What do you think is the biggest “problem” with golf that’s keeping people away from playing it or trying it?

I think perception is probably the biggest thing honestly. I picked up the game five years ago when I was 22 and I came from skateboarding and snowboarding. When I got into the game, a lot of people make a weird face and were like, “You play golf?!” It’s totally a perception thing, but once you get past that, it’s just such a fun game. From the first time I flushed a 7-iron at a driving range, I was hooked, but a lot of people don’t even get that far. We’re just trying to lower the barriers to the game and put a community out there.

36 Golf Co. “The Looper” Meshback Hat

If you could change one thing about the game of golf, what would you change? It doesn’t have to be something in the USGA rule book necessarily.

Obviously, I would get rid of dress codes. That’s my big bugaboo with the game. If I was just going about my daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing pants and a collared shirt and I think a lot of people would be in that same boat. If we let people come as they are, I bet participation would go way up. Appearance, respectfully, only matters so much. You can wear a collared shirt and still be a jerk and not repair your ball marks.

When you got the idea to start this company, how did you actually go about making that happen? Did you just google shirt suppliers or something? What was that process like?

Yeah, I pretty much spent the first month on Google looking for suppliers. I have a design background, so we did the design and the website ourselves, so that was good. Finding the right suppliers who were willing to work with us and had quality stuff was difficult.

What’s the biggest road block you’ve experienced with 36 Golf Co.? Launching it, marketing it, logistics, billing, whatever…

Starting a business in general was just…so much to take in. It’s overwhelming. Accounting, problems with suppliers… but if you don’t just start it then you’ll never know. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s not that any one thing was so difficult. It was just the amount of things that come your way.

36 Golf Co “The Sniper” Snap Back Hat and “Fleck” T Shirt

What are you most optimistic about with 36 Golf Co? What’s got you excited these days?

We just went to a show this past weekend in Toronto, and we just met a lot of people who really seemed to get what we were about and were excited to be a part of it themselves. That’s what gets you excited; when people really understand your vibe and want to be a part of that community and rep your brand for no other reason than it resonates with them. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s play a game. Imagine golf was like baseball and you got to pick a “walk-up song” when you got to the first tee. What song are you going with?

Haha. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jurassic 5 lately, so we’ll go with “What’s Golden.” I feel like that’d be a pretty good hype song.

If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which one would it be? It has to be a course you have played before or have access to, though. Don’t just say Augusta.

There’s a little course called Bathurst Glen just north of Toronto. I used to work there, but it kicks my butt every time I go. It’s a friendly spot, which I enjoy. I struggle playing really nice golf courses. They kind of stress me out.

Chevy Mayne of 36 Golf Co. in the “OG” T Shirt and “Frost Delay” Snapback Hat

It’s kind of old news, but I’ll ask the following since it’s right up your alley. What was your take on the LPGA dress code announcement last year?

Oh man. I was like, “What the hell are you thinking?” You know, when they said that I was showing it to my girlfriend who’s a non-golfer and she was like, “I don’t understand what the problem is.” It’s not like they’re wearing thongs or something. Obviously, I think that golf needs to be tailored to welcome people into the game, and I think that sent the wrong message.

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Let us know what’s coming from 36 Golf Co.

We have limited resourced with just two people, but we have tons of plans. Our main products right now are our hats, which are mainly modern styles. You know, snapbacks and flat brims. We also have T-shirts and quarter zips available. All of that is on our website at We will be getting some golf shirts in soon, which we are calling our “collared T-shirt” this spring, so that’s going to be the most exciting launch for us in the near future. Follow us on Instagram @thirty6ix_golf_co and on twitter @Thirty6ix_golf to keep up with our brand and join our community.

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Opinion & Analysis

How valuable is hitting the fairway, really?



Hitting more than 50 percent of fairways has long been considered a good goal for amateur golfers. The winners on the PGA Tour tend to hit 70 percent. I have long maintained, however, that it is not the number of fairways HIT that matters. Instead, it is the relative severity of fairways MISSED.

Think about it. By the one-dimensional Fairways Hit stat, every miss is the same. A perfect lie in the first cut is exactly the same as a drive in a hazard… or even OB. There is nothing in the 650+ PGA Tour stats about this. In all, there are 60 stats in seven categories that relate to driving performance, but none about penalties! Like PGA Tour players don’t make any?

Let’s see exactly how important the old tried-and-true Driving Accuracy (Percentage of Fairways Hit) really is. To test it, I used two data clusters: the 2017 PGA Tour season (14,845 ShotLink rounds) and my database for the average male golfer (15 to 19 handicappers – 4,027 rounds).

For the graph below, I started with the No. 1-ranked player in the Driving Accuracy category: Ryan Armour. He certainly was accurate by this measure, but why did he only rank 100th in 2017 Strokes Gained Off the Tee with a barely positive 0.020?

Next I looked at the actual top-5 PGA Tour money winners (J. Thomas, J Spieth, D. Johnson, H. Matsuyama and J. Rohm), the 2017 PGA Tour average, and all PGA Tour players that missed the cut in 2017. We all know the significant scoring differences between these three categories of players, but it’s difficult to see a meaningful difference in the fairways hit. They’re not even separated by half a fairway. How important could this stat be?

For those that have not tried, our analysis includes Strokes Gained and Relative Handicap comparisons. That enables users to easily differentiate between FIVE MISS categories below based upon severity. The final three categories are what we consider to be Driving Errors:

  1. Good lie/Opportunity: One can easily accomplish their next goal of a GIR or advancement on a par-5.
  2. Poor Lie/Opportunity: One could accomplish the next goal, but it will require a very good shot.
  3. No Shot: Requires an advancement to return to normal play.
  4. Penalty-1: Penalty with a drop.
  5. OB/Lost: Stroke and distance penalty, or shot replayed with a stroke penalty.

As we are fortunate enough to work with several PGA Tour players at Shot by Shot, we have access to ShotLink data and can provide those clients with the same valuable insight.

Let’s see how the frequency and severity of driving errors relates to the above groups of players (removing Mr. Armour, as he simply helped us prove the irrelevance of Driving Accuracy). The graphs below display the number of Driving Errors per round and the Average Cost Per Error. Note the strong and consistent correlation between the number and the cost of errors at each of the four levels of performance.

Finally, the average cost of the errors is heavily driven by the three degrees of severity outlined above (No Shot, Penalty, OB/Lost). The graph below compares the relative number and cost of the three types of errors for the average golfer and PGA Tour players. The major difference is that PGA Tour players do not seem to have a proper share of OB/Lost penalties. I found only TWO in the 14,000+ ShotLink rounds. While I accept that the most severe faux pas are significantly less frequent on the PGA Tour, I also believe there must have been more than two.

Why so few? First and foremost, PGA Tour players REALLY ARE good. Next, the galleries stop a lot of the wayward shots. And finally, I believe that many of the ShotLink volunteer data collectors may not actually know or care about the difference between a Penalty and OB/Lost.

Author’s Note: If you want to know your Strokes Gained Off the Tee (Driving) and exactly how important your fairways and the misses are, log onto for a 1-Round FREE Trial.

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19th Hole