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Five reasons: Tiger should not play the weekend

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Irony is working overtime this Masters weekend. Tianlang Guan was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play and the social media world exploded with cries of jingoism and favoritism.

Fortunately for Guan, he took the high road and indicated that he understood and would accept the penalty without complaint. It helped that he made the cut by one slim stroke. The Guan incident, since he is quite distant from the leaders, will drip into the background, thanks to another rules incident involving a competitor of a much higher profile.

Tiger Woods clanked his third shot on the 15th hole off the flagstick and into the pond fronting the green in Round 2. He then appeared to retreat to the point of the third stroke, drop a ball and play on, making bogey.

During the post-round press conference, rule 33-5 came into play, because Woods told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi that he intentionally had dropped his ball two yards behind the point of his third shot. That drop should have resulted in a penalty that Woods did not account for in his score, which means he signed an incorrect scorecard that should have disqualified him from the tournament.

Instead of disqualification, the Masters competition committee invoked a revision to rule 33-7, which gave Woods a two-shot penalty instead. This decision has not sat well with golf pundits and aficionados, who wondered why the world’s No. 1-ranked player would get off so easily.

Tiger has teed it up in Round 3 of the Masters, but here are five reasons why he is making a huge mistake.

No. 1: His reputation is at stake

Tiger’s personal difficulties sullied his on-course reputation and he has spent the last several years rebuilding his golf game. Had he disqualified himself in the spirit of personal integrity and karma, he would taken great strides to improve his reputation with sponsors and fans.

No. 2: Eliminate a perception of favoritism

Dustin Johnson (2010 PGA Championship) and Tianlang Guan (2013 Masters), among others, were assessed controversial penalties in major championships. They accepted the rulings and moved on.

Despite the fact that Tiger is adhering to the letter of the law and accepting the ruling as handed down by the Master Tournament Committee, the integrity of the game and its tournaments is exposed for debate and attack to the world. Is some sort of collusion at play to keep the most compelling figure in golf on golf’s most recognizable stage? We can’t be sure, but withdrawing would eliminate all shred of doubt.

No. 3: It’s tainted

If Tiger were to win the Masters this week, it would be tainted — plain and simple. Tiger should have known where to drop. No matter what he does over the next 36 holes, people will contrast this moment with Bobby Jones’ famous, “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank” episode when he called a one-stroke penalty on himself for a moving ball that no one but he saw move.

No. 4: Jack Nicklaus’ record

Tiger’s motivation and impetus for greatness has always been Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record. Tiger won six amateur USGA championships (way more than Nicklaus) and now holds 14 professional major titles, second only to Nicklaus’ 18.

Imagine this scenario: Tiger storms back from five shots down to win the 2013 Masters, which serves as a springboard to him eclipsing the 18 titles for most professional major championship victories in a career . . . but he only eclipses the victory tally by one? Will anyone recognize him as the greatest major champion of all time?

No. 5: It’s nothing personal

Debatable? Yes. Revocable? No. Just as Tiger’s disqualification should not be. Tiger broke a transparent rule, one with no room for interpretation. Professional golfers are disqualified from events on a regular basis on the PGA Tour. Even the world’s No. 1 golfer can make a mistake, and like every other professional, he should be held accountable. It’s nothing personal.

Click here to read a different take by GolfWRX Featured Writer Grant Shafranski — “Blame The Rules Committee, Not Tiger.”

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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.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. edward davison jr

    Apr 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

    In two cases — Brian Davis ticking a reed in a waste area at Hilton Head and Ian Poulter’s coin moving slightly when he dropped his ball on the green during a playoff — the players called the penalty on themselves.

    Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker he didn’t know he was in at the PGA Championship, and the PGA of America notified him of the two-stroke penalty before he signed his card, knocking him out of a playoff. Juli Inkster also was disqualified for swinging a weighted club during a long wait on the tee. That infraction was called in by a viewer

  2. C Nas

    Apr 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I don’t think Tiger should have been DQ’d. The objective in any sports’ rulings is to get the call “right”. The two stroke penalty was the proper ruling for his improper drop. That’s a severe penalty. It came late (after Tiger’s TV interview) but they got it right. Initially they ruled no violation, that’s why Tiger had already signed his card. And as far as signing an incorrect card, that rule is archaic and that’s why it has been modified. The old guard cries that, “we’ve played under that rule for eons”. Hey, they used to play with hickory shafts and persimmons. Times change, rules change. What about Scott’s long putter? That may be on the way out, but it won’t mar his victory; he’s using it under the current rules. Things change. With today’s technology, everyone knows what everyone did “ON THE COURSE”. What you do in a tent after your round shouldn’t matter much anymore. Let the officials keep scores. There’s got to be a way!

  3. Dave Petersen

    Apr 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    So, was Tiger’s drop within the length of Scott’s putter from his original location?

  4. mike worgul

    Apr 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    the question i have is why they waited till sat morning to talk to tiger when they had evidence after the espn interview that he did in fact violate the as near as possible previous spot rule. i mean he did the interview right after he finished the round and im sure some official at augusta had listened to it. but ridley went out to eat with his family and more time passed.for a tournament that prides itself on getting everything right i believe in this case they did everything wrong.i wonder how palmer,nicklaus,player,and the many players really feel about this issue.all you here now is bloviating

  5. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for all these comments and interpretations. I am encouraged by the exchange of opinions and ideas.

  6. Adam

    Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The real issue here is that it’s a poorly written rule. “The nearest point”? How vague can you be? How many people look at that divot and where he played the drop from and think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it? Almost everyone I’m sure. Should he have tried to drop it directly in his divot? They need to ammend the rule to within a club length of the spot, same cut of grass, and no closer to the hole. That makes perfect sense and is not gaining any advantage. To say Tiger was going to hit the exact same shot and moving, essentially, one club length behind his divot gives him an advantage is ridiculous.

    The call in rule is also insanely unfair. Tiger is at a DISADVANTAGE since he gets by far the most air time. Tiger does not need to WD for the integrity of the game, he’s the first example of a positive rule change to protect players from an already outdated scorecard signing rule.

    • Rob

      Apr 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Tiger misspoke when he said he dropped a couple of yards behind his previous shot. Video review showed the distance to be closer to a foot. “As near as possible” is very vague. The main thing it seems is not to end up closer to the hole. Branded Chamblee and Nick Price are card carrying Tiger haters and acted like buffoons yesterday. The rules committee reviewed the video and found nothing wrong Friday so there should have been no penalty and that should have been the end of it.
      There’s a concerted effort to derail Tiger’s goal of eclipsing Jack’s 18 majors so this BS doesn’t surprise me.

    • rj

      Apr 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I agree with you adam. I dont think I have ever seen anybody drop the ball in their divot. the rules committee needs to modify this rule instead of worrying about wedge grooves and putter lengths.

  7. J

    Apr 14, 2013 at 10:59 am

    It’s an invitational Tournament. Plain and simple. ANGC decides the rules, enforces the rules and they spoke. It’s not against the spirit of the rules as the rules have been modified due to self important a-holes sitting around trying to be included in something that has nothing to do with them.

    Tiger reported the drop. The officials made a decision and later changed their mind.

    Sounds like Tiger tried to get a proper ruling before signing his card, was given a ruling that was later changed… I’m unsure why all the detractors in this situation are neglecting that fact.

    It’s simple, and those calling for his withdrawal are nothing more than vultures who look for yet another reason to pile on Tiger Woods. It’s amazing the amount of emotion devoted to wishing ill-will of a stranger. Just because you see him on television doesn’t mean you know him. The rules were changed to allow for situations like this… Or does that escape everyone’s attention?

    Soooo…. He broke a rule and was punished. The punishment was handed out by the people in charge. Everyone calling for further, self imposed punishment…. Get over it. You don’t know Tiger Woods… Stop letting a stranger inspire emotion, especially negative emotion, and you might find a little more enjoyment out of watching history.

  8. john

    Apr 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

    the only reason tiger signed an incorrect scorecard is because the committee said his drop was fine and the only reason they changed their minds is because Tiger admitted on ESPN that he dropped it farther to give him an advantage which made the drop illegal in the committees mind. however tiger had already signed his scorecard at that time and did not think he signed an incorrect scorecard at the time.

    disqualification is warranted for signing an incorrect scorecard but no one has ever been disqualified for an improper drop.

    you can argue that tiger should know the rules and the committee should not have given tiger the ok but honestly if tiger knew the rules and he knew he was on national television why would he try to get away with it in front of millions of people. tigers behavior did not warrant a disqualification only a 2 stroke penalty which is what happened. i dont think there is any special treatment going on and i also dont know any other sport where a viewer can call in and influence the officials decision and also where an ESPN interview influences a committees decision. there is something at fault here but its not tiger.

  9. whids

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:14 am

    The rules of golf are crystal clear when you hit a ball into lateral water hazard. Tiger made an incorrect drop and should have been informed of this by the Masters Rules Committee that reviewed the drop several times but, saw no wrong doing. The Rules Committee screwed up and so did Tiger, Under the current (and revised rules) Tiger was given the correct penalty. He has no reason to DQ himself, he is following the rules that are in place. If this was 3 years ago, Tiger would have been DQ’d and he would have been fine with it because those are the rules.

  10. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Jerry…I don’t share your interpretations and hopes, but I’m glad that you took the time to comment.

    • Letter of the law

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

      The rules were administered to Tiger correctly. Plain and simple. The rule of 10 years ago does not apply. Those suggesting Tiger should withdraw are suggesting he not follow the rules but go above and beyond what the rule book requires and showing their lack of rules knowledge. Brandle Chamblee made a fool of himself yesterday saying, “This will follow him around for the rest of his career”. Sounds like a bitter Tiger hater.

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Many of the commentators/ pros seemed to only have part of the story or only listened to the anti-Tiger viewpoint. There seems to be many Tiger haters on or around the tour these days. I believe any other player would have been penalized the same way and I believe Tiger’s negative perception is one of the only reasons this topic has escalated.

        So it’s ok to penalize Tiger to the letter of the law and even call for him to further penalize himself, yet everyone wants to give the 14 year old a pass for violating timing rules multiple times on the back nine, possibly not only giving him an advantage but possibly throwing off the timing of players behind him. Seems like a popularity contest in the public eye to me.

        • Steve

          Apr 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm

          Exactly. If it was anybody but Tiger, (A) no one would care, or (B) most of these people would be in favor of the decision.

          • TWShoot67

            Apr 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

            Hit the nail on the head. If this happened to anyone else this story would have never been written. RONALD MONTESANO, go review the all of the Masters and see if you can find another infraction, and write with that same vigor. get real you sound like sour grapes and each time you try a new analogy you dig yourself further into the hateraid bowl!

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

          Nope…no one but Tiger influenced Tiger. There were two other players in Guan’s threesome and one suspects they contributed to the slow play.

  11. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Blanco and Petty, at what point do we draw the line? The new interpretive revision basically lets cheaters and ignoramuses get away with whatever they desire. When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

    It would have made a statement to the professional golf world that transgressors are held accountable. If Guan can get penalized when dozens of slower tour players get away with it, why can’t Tiger? Now, other golfers will use the “Tiger Non-Ruling” as precedent for getting away with … everything!

    • Steve

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Get away with whatever they desire? You’re acting like he didn’t get penalized… He took a 2 stroke penalty and moved on.

      When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

      Is he going to suspend your license for speeding? That’s be the same as a DQ. No, he’s going to give you a fine, which would be like a penalty stroke, not a DQ. Again, Tiger didn’t get off free like you are trying to make it seem like.

      • Steve

        Apr 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        That’d be the same* (dang autocorrect!)

      • Ronald Montesano

        Apr 14, 2013 at 6:11 am

        Correct, he didn’t get off free. In both cases (the hypothetical speeding and the actual golf event) the intensity of the offense does determine the severity of the penalty.

        Speed far above the limit and you will lose your license, right? This was a case where Tiger (as many non-violent golfing transgressors before him) deserved to be penalized with a disqualification and got off with less.

        It is shaping up to be a fine conclusion. I give Tiger even odds to win the tournament.

  12. Jerry

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    The rules comitee should not have been needed. Tiger and Lance are part of the same culture. Sad day for golf. Tiger needed to w/d on his own admission. Let him always be known as a cheater/loser in life with his buddies Barry and Lance and any other so called golf amateur who thinks he was ok to play today. The other pros were cowards to defend him. Like to hear from Arnie and Jack. Hopefully this leads to a continuation of no more majors like the Cubs.

  13. petty

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    There are millions of eyes watching him – you really think he intentionally tried to cheat and get away with it as well?
    He made a mistake and was penalized 2 strokes – time to move on . . . .

  14. Blanco

    Apr 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve watched the shot, the hoopla, the post hoopla, the analysis… It’s clear to me that TW felt he was within the rules at the time of the drop. It’s even more clear that despite your “tainted” moralizing, the rules of golf expressly forbid a DQ in this case. Despite your weak arguments, TW, like Guan, “took the high road” and admitted his mistake after conferring with officials.

    If he wins, and I hope he does– there will be no asterisk, no tainted legacy; just the same old armchair zebras with the same grudge.

    • Bern

      Apr 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Amen

    • sam

      Apr 14, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Tiger could not have felt he was within the rules of golf. The rule says to drop the ball as near as possible to the spot it had been hit from. Instead Tiger moved it back to a spot he felt he could hit a better shot. Also the committee favored him by not calling him in to discuss drop, instead because they didn’t want him penalized at all they approved a clearly improper drop, after their “careful review”

  15. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    We’ll take these one by one…Jingo, either he’s oblivious to a rule like DJ was at Whistling Straits or he’s a cad, right?

    Amber, I agree that they went out of their way to penalize Guan, so why wouldn’t they hold a high-profile player to the same standard? I suspect that the Masters competition committee recognized a way out and took the path of lesser resistance.

    Mat, I’d love to know what in the article led you to believe that it was written for a trolling purpose. Trolling for what? Your input is important.

    Chris, we can hope that they would not have DQ’d the young man. Imagine if he had missed the cut by that one stroke and then Tiger had gotten away with his misstep in the same three-hour period. Now THAT would have given us something to write about.

  16. jingo

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Tiger DQed – doesn’t matter his intention – what a cad!

  17. Mat

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Oh gag me. The rules were adjusted EXACTLY for this reason. The rules officials didn’t think he did anything wrong until later in the evening. So he, his caddy, his playing partners, and none of the officials knew. Now, instead of being harsh, the rules were adjusted for all players to remove one of the dumbest outcomes in sport, and you think he should be somehow altruistic by eschewing the new rule and applying for your mythical sainthood?

    This article is basically trolling. No substance, and nothing of value.

    • Amber

      Apr 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Agree with this. You’d think there would be an official on hand especially during his decision making and yet they went out of their way to approach the 14 year old. Come on, its pathetic how much people want to jump at the option of defacing Tiger more than he’s already done to himself over the years. Just let them play golf.

    • David

      Apr 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      The rule is for High Def slow mo replays causing wrong cards to be signed, not for people not knowing the rules.

  18. Chris

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Well said!

    No doubt had it been the 14 year old Guan that signed an incorrect scorecard he would be DQ’d and watching from the sidelines.

    Two glaring examples in one tourney of how selectively the rules may be applied.

    • Evan

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

      I think we can eliminate the idea floating out there that Tiger intended to cheat or get an advantage outside of the rules. I think commentators like Faldo are using words that make the casual golfer or non golfing spectators (which the masters has many) think that Tiger has done something intentional. Old pros say these things because they are part of an old club that thinks you should fall on your sword whenever possible. I would also like to state that I am not a ‘Tiger fan’ except for appreciating his play when it’s good. I typically root for the field.

      1. He has NO history of taking liberties outside of the rules of golf and has been the most watched golfer of all time, not even close.

      2. Anyone saying that he got off easy is crazy in my opinion. He played that hole (15) perfectly, twice, and got extremely unlucky. Without hitting the flagstick, Tiger would have most likely made 4 and would leading the tournament right now. Instead he carded what amounted to an 8 on 15 (without hitting a bad shot). I think, and most people that have played in a tournament or higher level of golf would agree that two shots on top of the already bad break he took on 15 would be devastating and no player could keep it together and stay in contention.

      3. On hole 15 and afterward (until his interview), no one questioned that any rule had been broken. Any player other than Tiger Woods would probably not have talked in detail about the drop, which was the only thing that incriminated him.

      4. I like the ruling by the committee, I think it was plenty severe especially considering what he already endured on that hole. A DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard is primarily in place to prevent players from scoring the card INCORRECTLY! The penalty needs to fit the crime… if I play a round of golf in 76 and I incorrectly (on purpose or not) score the card a 72 and it is signed, the only way to remedy my position in the tournament is a DQ. A two shot penalty at the end of the round would only give me a 74, still improving my position by two shots. That is why importance is placed on signing a properly scored card to prevent any type of score ‘fixing’, not to overlap with rulings and misinterpretations on the course.

      5. I think the rules of golf and course layouts (hazards and OB) need to be simplified. Even rules officials have to consult there USGA book. There are many important rules in golf that should be respected and upheld but there are so many variations and interpretations that it slows the game down and makes it intimidating. I think the USGA should try to revise the rules to half the size or less than the current rule book is. I don’t think it would take anything away from the game. How many pros have been penalized or DQ’d over the years for rules that simply don’t make since, are overly complicated, or we could just do without?

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

        Also I might like to add that in any other sport or with any other athlete we would not be calling this ruling into question or mentioning an asterisk if he wins. Leave the rulings to the rules officials, stop playing armchair referee. I feel this has taken a bit away from a so far great Masters tournament.

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

          Evan and J (is that short for Joshua)?

          I absolutely agree that no phone call should ever be brought into a rules debate. No other sport allows it and golf should not, either.

          HOWEVER, we have to follow the rules as they are currently written in order to avoid chaos and mockery of history (J, you referenced history, right?)

          I was initially supportive of the amendment to rule 33, but if it is used like it was at the Masters, it will offer a loophole to avoid nearly every penalty on the books.

          • Evan

            Apr 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

            I don’t believe (and neither does the Masters committee) that the ruling makes a mockery of history. I believe that they feel that what transpired does not even close to warrant a DQ and took awhile to sort out if he should even be penalized 2 shots. It seems they chose the best option within the rules. To question the Masters officials and committee members is quite bold IMO as these are some of the top officials in all of golf and the Masters is not a tournament that is swayed or intimidated by any single player. Even Tiger Woods.

          • bob

            Apr 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm

            rules committees like referees,umpires and other officials need to be reminded that the game iss played by PLAYERS ,watched by SPECTATORS ,AND CONFUSED by OFFICIATORS. O yah I am still waiting for VJs suspension.

    • TWShoot67

      Apr 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      your dead wrong. tiger didn’t have a ref come up to him at anytime during or after round. why don’t you leave your hatred for Tiger out of what really happened>

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Opinion & Analysis

Be Curious, Not Critical, of Tour Player Swings

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After a foul ball by a tour player, the talking heads on TV are often quick to analyze the “problem” with that swing. Fair enough, I suppose. Even the best players are human and our game has more failure than success. But I’d like to offer a different take on swings of the best players in the world.

First, let’s remember how good these guys and gals really are. If you met up with the lowest ranked player on any professional tour at a public course one day, I’ll bet that golfer would be the best golfer most of you have ever played with. You’d be telling your buddies in the 19th hole about him or her for a very long time. These players have reached a level of ball striking most people only dream about. That’s why I’m more curious than critical when it comes to a tour player’s swing. I’m not thinking about what he/she needs to do better; I’m thinking, “How do they do it so well?” In other words, I want to know how they put their successful move together. What part goes with the other parts? How did their pattern evolve? What are the compatible components of their swing?

Let’s use Jim Furyk as an example. Furyk has what we might call an “unconventional” move. It’s also a swing that has won nearly $70 million and shot 58 one day. But I’ll offer him as an example because his swing illustrates the point I’m making. From a double-overlapping grip, Furyk picks the golf club up to what might be the most vertical position one would ever see from a professional. Then in transition, he flattens the club and drops it well behind him. Now the club is so flat and inside, he has to open his body as quickly as he can to keep the club from getting “stuck.” Let’s call it an “up-and-under loop.”

Let’s take Matt Kuchar as a counter example. Kuchar’s signature hands-in, flat and very deep takeaway is pretty much the total opposite of Furyk. But he comes over that takeaway and gets the club back into a great position into impact. We’ll call that an “in-and-over” loop.

Both are two of the best and most consistent golfers in the world. Is one right and the other wrong? Of course not. They do have one thing in common, however, and it’s that they both balanced their golf swing equation.

What would happen if Kuchar did what Furyk does coming down? Well, he wouldn’t be on TV on the weekend. If he did, he’d be hitting drop kicks several inches behind. That doesn’t win The Players Championship. The point is that the Furyk downswing is incompatible with the Kuchar backswing, and vice versa, but I’m guessing they both know that.

How can this help you? My own personal belief and the basis of my teaching is this: your backswing is an option, but your downswing is a requirement. I had one student today dropping the arms and club well inside and another coming over the top, and they both felt better impact at the end of the lesson. I showed them how to balance their equation.

My job is solving swing puzzles, a new one very hour, and I’m glad it is. It would be mind-numbing boredom if I asked every golfer to do the same thing. It’s the teaching professional’s job to solve your puzzle, and I assure you that with the right guidance you can make your golf swing parts match. Are there universal truths, things that every golfer MUST do?  Yes, they are the following:

  1. Square the club face
  2. Come into the ball at a good angle
  3. Swing in the intended direction
  4. Hit the ball in the center of the face (method be damned!)

But here’s the funny part: Let Kuchar or Furyk get off base and watch every swing critic in the world blame some part of the quirkiness of their move that has led to their greatness. When players at their level get off their game, it’s generally due to poor timing or that they lost the sync/rhythm that connected their individual parts. The same holds true for all of us. We have to find the matching parts and the timing to connect them. You might not need new parts.

After all, weren’t those same parts doing the job when you shot your career low round?

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Opinion & Analysis

The numbers behind “full scholarships” in NCAA men’s college golf

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If you are in the world of junior golf, you’ve probably heard about a young man you know who’s getting that coveted full ride to college, maybe even to a Power-5 school. With all the talk in junior golf about full scholarships, and a lot of rumors about how many are available, we decided to poll coaches and gather some real data about “full scholarships.”

So, what did we find out? In total, we got responses to a voluntary online survey from 61 men’s D1 coaches, 19 men’s D2 coaches and 3 NAIA coaches (83 total). On average, the coaches in the survey had 11.8 years of coaching experience. Of the coaches that responded, 58 of the 83 coaches reported having zero players on full ride. Another 15 coaches surveyed reported having one player on full ride. This means that 69 percent of the coaches surveyed reported zero players on full scholarship and 18 percent reported one player on full scholarship, while another four coaches reported that 20 percent of their team was on full ride and six coaches reported between 2-3 players on full ride.

We then asked coaches, “what percent of golfers in Division 1 do you think have full scholarships based on your best guess?” Here’s what the responses looked like: 25 coaches said 5 percent and 36 coaches said 10 percent. This means that 73 percent of respondents suggested that, in their opinion, in men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA, there are less than 10 percent of players on full ride.

Next, we asked coaches, “what was a fair scholarship percentage to offer a player likely to play in your top 5?” The average of the 83 responses was 62.5 percent scholarship with 38 coaches (46 percent) suggesting they would give 30-50 percent and 43 coaches (52 percent) suggesting 50-75 percent. Only two coaches mentioned full scholarship.

The last question we asked coaches, was “what would you need to do to earn a full scholarship?”

  • Top-100 in NJGS/Top-250 in WAGR – 41 coaches (49 percent)
  • 250-700 in WAGR – 19 coaches (23 percent)
  • Most interesting, 17 coaches (20 percent) noted that they either did not give full rides or did not have the funding to give full rides.

The findings demonstrate that full rides among players at the men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA levels are rare, likely making up less than 10 percent of total players. It also suggests that if you are a junior player looking for a full ride, you need to be exceptional; among the very best in your class.

Please note that the survey has limitations because it does not differentiate between athletic and academic money. The fact is several institutions have a distinct advantage of being able to “stack” academic and athletic aid to create the best financial packages. My intuition suggests that the coaches who responded suggesting they have several players on “full rides” are likely at places where they are easily able to package money. For example, a private institution like Mercer might give a student $12,000 for a certain GPA and SAT. This might amount to approximately 25 percent, but under the NCAA rules it does not count toward the coach’s 4.5 scholarships. Now for 75 percent athletic, the coach can give a player a full ride.

Maybe the most interesting finding of the data collection is the idea that many programs are not funded enough to offer full rides. The NCAA allows fully funded men’s Division 1 programs to have 4.5 scholarships, while Division 2 programs are allowed 3.6. My best guess suggests that a little more than 60 percent of men’s Division 1 programs have this full allotment of scholarship. In Division 2, my guess is that this number is a lot closer to 30 percent.

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Opinion & Analysis

Oh, To Be An (Oregon) Duck

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A few weeks ago I flew into Eugene, Oregon on a mission. I’d come to work with one my students who is a member of the Duck’s varsity golf team. I had never been further south than Seattle or further north than Monterey, so this part of the world was new to me.

What I did know was that the Bandon Dunes area had become a destination for some of the greatest golf in the world, rivaling other famed resorts around the country. The resort is just outside the quaint town of Bandon, which is a good two-hour drive from Eugene. The resort’s four courses — Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails, Pacific Dunes, and Old McDonald — each have their own personality, but at the same time they have one thing in common: the four architects that designed them took full advantage of the natural topography, deftly weaving holes in and out along the Oregon coastline.

I was looking forward to playing two of the courses before leaving: Pacific Dunes and Old McDonald. You may find this hard to believe, but those two rounds would be my first and second of the year after a busy summer season on the lesson tee. And for that very reason, I had no expectations other than to make a few pars and enjoy the scenery.

After retrieving my luggage from the turnstile, I made my way toward the exit with luggage in tow. My rental car was just across the street in an open-air lot and as I pushed through the airport doors, I was greeted by a gust of wind and a spray of rain. “Welcome to Eugene,” I thought to myself.

The sudden burst reminded me of playing in Scotland, where the rain gives way to sun only on occasion. I surmised that the weather in the Eugene would be similar. “Don’t forget your rain suit,” a fellow professional reminded me when I told him about my trip. As it turned out, that was good advice. He had been there before around the same time of year. “You’ll be lucky if you get one good day out of three,” he said.

As I drove through the area to my hotel, what struck me the most were the large hills that commanded the landscape and the thick white clouds that seemed to cling to them like giant cotton balls.  I found a comfortable hotel just outside Eugene in the small but quaint town of Cottage Grove. In charitable terms, you could characterize my hotel as “a tribute to the past.”

I woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning, dressed and made my way downstairs to the lobby. The rain had continued through the night and as I prepared to leave the hotel,  it started to come down even harder. I stood in the lobby, waiting, while listening to the rain drops pounding on the roof,  a steady beat at first, then rising and falling like a conga drum.

I’d agreed to meet my student at 10 a.m. for a practice session and then he was slated to play nine holes with the team later in the afternoon. Based on the weather, I was concerned that the day might be a total rain-out. What I didn’t know at the time was that the school has a portable canopy that allowed the team, rain or shine, to practice on natural grass. I ran to my car ducking rain drops. The forecast called for a chance of sun in the afternoon. And this time the weather man was  right.

That afternoon I was invited to watch my student and the rest of Casey Martin’s boys play a quick nine holes at Eugene Country Club, the team’s home course. The layout is one of the most unusual that I’ve ever seen with giant trees bordering every fairway. The tips seemed to stretch up and up into the sky, piecing the low-hanging clouds above, as if they were marshmallows on a stick.

The Ducks have fielded a strong team the past two years, winning the NCAA Division 1 Championship in 2016 and then finishing second this year. A good deal of credit for that accomplishment goes to Casey Martin, who has coached the Ducks since 2006. For those who are too young to remember, Casey Martian was a teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford University. He later competed on the Nike Tour. Casey earned his PGA Tour card in 1999 by finishing 14th on the Nike Tour, but his earnings through the 2000 season were not enough for him to retain his card, relegating him to once again to playing on the development tour. He played sporadically up through 2006. The following year, Casey assumed the job of Head Coach, which brought him back to his native Eugene.

In earlier years, Martin’s play career as a professional was hindered by the fact that he could not play 18 holes without a golf cart due to a birth defect in his right leg. The PGA Tour Board ruled against his use of a cart, maintaining that the physical act of walking was considered an integral part of the competition. Believing that he was in the right, Casey filed a suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. His case made its way to the Supreme Court where he won. As for his competitive record, by his own admonition, he is disappointed that he didn’t play better as a professional. A primary focus of his coaching then, as he conceded, is to teach his players not to make the same mistakes he did in his own career. What struck me as unique was the passion and intensity with which he coached. I would venture that it’s the same level of intensity that he brought to the golf course when he competed.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to watch a closed-door, defensive-team practice at Duke University with Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) on the floor. He had divided the team into two groups with one at either end of the court competing against each other. His legs straddled the center line as if he were Colossus with his head swiveling back and forth as if on a stick. The impression was that he saw everything and be never missed anything. And then when he saw a player make a mistake, he would blow his whistle sharply. The players would immediately stop moving as if they were frozen in place. And then, in peg-leg style, he would hobble across the floor favoring one leg over the other. He was clearly in need of a hip replacement at the time.

I’ve had both of my hips replaced, so I could easily imagine the pain that he was experiencing as he peg-legged it from the center of the court to either end. I suspected that he had decided that surgery would have to wait. The season was just a few weeks away, and given that his team was largely composed of freshman, he could not afford to miss a day. Casey Martin doesn’t blow a whistle, nor does he run a defense practice, but as he climbs out of his cart, deftly working his way to a vantage point where he can see his players from every angle, I’m reminded of the halting walk of Coach K.

There is something else that these two man share in common — an intense desire to win. They settle for nothing less than great. And when you look into their eyes, you can see that there is an intensity that burns from within that is vastly different from the man on the street.

As you might remember, I was scheduled to play a round on Pacific Dunes and another on Old McDonald. The two courses are both spectacular layouts with ocean views. And the weather… I drew two perfect days, defying the odds my friend had laid down. It was sunny and 65 degrees with just a hint of wind. How did I play? Let’s just say that I made a few pars. What I found was that striking the ball well is no guarantee that you will score low on these courses. The green complexes are diabolical. The best advice I can give you is to throw you scorecard away. You’ll enjoy yourself more.

The next morning, I was on an early morning flight back to Minneapolis only to discover that we were experiencing Indian Summer with temperatures 20 degrees warmer than usual. But as Minnesotans, we all know what is waiting for us just around the corner.

I’ll leave you with this thought. After watching Casey Martin and the players on his team play and practice, I’m sure of one thing. And that’s when next year’s NCAA Championship comes around, Casey Martin will have all of his Ducks in a row.

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