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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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The 19th Hole (Ep. 165): One-on-one with Shane Bacon

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Host Michael Williams talks with the co-host of the Golf Channel’s Golf Today about the Open Championship and Collin Morikawa’s place in the history books.

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What’s old is new again

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All of a sudden, today’s newest trend in golf is yesterday’s clubs.

Golfers are making a move towards old classics the way car enthusiasts would ogle a classic Porsche 911 before they would look twice at a new Tesla Model 3. On the spectrum of art to science, Tesla is peak science and focused on efficiency in every fathomable way. The other will absolutely get you from A to B, but you are more likely to have a smile on your face while you take the detour along the water while enjoying the journey to get there. It is the second type of club that is enjoying this latest resurgence, and I can’t get enough.

New businesses are springing up to refurbish old clubs such as @mulligansclubmakers and @twirledclubs with price tags approaching (and exceeding) the RRP at the time of release of many of the clubs in question. These old clubs are often found in pictures of major champions being used in the 1970s and 1980s, which serves to make them more valuable and interesting to enthusiasts. Other clubs are simply polished examples of the clubs many of us owned 25 years ago and now regret selling. The more polish on an old blade, the better, with classic designs from brands like Wilson Staff, Mizuno, or MacGregor seeing demand and prices increase every month. Seeing these old clubs reimagined with shiny BB&F co ferrules, updated shafts, and grips can get some golfers hot and bothered, and they will open their wallets accordingly.

Around 15 years ago, I bought an old set of blades from the brand Wood Brothers. For many years, I was unable to find out a single thing about those clubs, until @woodbrosgolf came out of hibernation this year onto Instagram and into a frothing market for handmade classic clubs from a forgotten past. I was able to get information that the blades had come out of the Endo forging house in Japan, and my decision to keep the clubs in the garage all these years was vindicated. Now I just need an irrationally expensive matching Wood Bros persimmon driver and fairway wood to complete the set…

Among other boutique brands, National Custom Works (@nationalcustom) has been making pure persimmon woods with the help of Tad Moore to match their incredible irons, wedges, and putters for some time, and now the market is catching up to the joy that can be experienced from striking a ball with the materials of the past. There is an illicit series of pictures of persimmon woods in all states of creation/undress from single blocks of wood through to the final polished and laminated artworks that are making their way into retro leather golf bags all over the world.

There are other accounts which triumph historic images and sets of clubs such as @oldsaltygolf. This account has reimagined the ‘What’s in the Bag’ of tour pros in magazines and made it cool to have a set of clubs from the same year that shows on your driver’s license. I hold them wholly to blame for an impulse buy of some BeCu Ping Eye 2 irons with matching Ping Zing woods… The joy to be found in their image feed from the 70s and 80s will get many golfers reminiscing and wishing they could go back and save those clubs, bags and accessories from their school days. If you want to see more moving pictures from the era, @classicgolfreplays is another account which shows this generation of clubs being used by the best of the best in their heyday. Even better than the clubs are the outfits, haircuts and all leather tour bags to match.

It seems that this new generation of golfer – partially borne out of COVID-19 — is in need of clubs that can’t be sourced fast enough from the major OEMs, so they have gone trawling for clubs that were cool in a different time, and they want them now. Those golfers who match the age of the clubs are also experiencing a golfing rebirth, as the technology gains from the OEMs become incremental, many are now finding enjoyment from the classic feel of clubs as much as they are searching for an extra couple of yards off the tee.

Either way, the result is the same, and people are dusting off the old blades and cavities from years past and hitting the fairways more than ever before. With the desire shifting towards fun over challenge, they are even creeping forward to the tees that their clubs were designed to be played from and finding even more enjoyment from the game. If only I hadn’t got rid of those old persimmons in high school…

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The Wedge Guy: Top 4 reasons why most golfers don’t get better

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A couple of years ago, I attended a symposium put on by Golf Digest’s research department. They explored the typical responses as to why people quit or don’t play more – too much time, too expensive, etc. But the magazine’s research department uncovered the real fact – by a large margin, the number one reason people give up the game is that they don’t get better!

So, with all that’s published and all the teaching pros available to help us learn, why is that? I have my rationale, so put on your steel toe work boots, because I’m probably going to step on some toes here.

The Top 4 Reasons Golfers Don’t Improve

  1. Most golfers don’t really understand the golf swing. You watch golf and you practice and you play, but you don’t really understand the dynamics of what is really happening at 100 mph during the golf swing. There are dozens of good books on the subject – my favorite is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” But pick any good one and READ IT. LEARN IT. It will help you immensely if you understand what the swing is really all about. Use a full length mirror to pose in key positions in the swing to match the drawings and photos. All the practice in the world will not help if you are not building a sound fundamental golf swing.
  2. Learning golf doesn’t start in the middle. A sound golf swing is built like a house. First the foundation, then the framing, roof, exterior walls, interior, paint, and trim. You can’t do one before the other. In golf, it all starts with the grip. If you do not hold the club properly, you’ll never accomplish a sound golf swing. Then you learn good posture and setup. If you don’t start in a good position, the body can’t perform the swing motion properly. With a good grip and a sound setup posture, I believe anyone can learn a functional golf swing pretty easily. But if those two foundations are not sound, the walls and roof will never be reliable.
  3. Most bad shots are ordained before the swing ever begins. I am rarely surprised by a bad shot, or a good one, actually. The golf swing is not a very forgiving thing. If you are too close to the ball or too far, if it’s too far forward or backward, if you are aligned right or left of your intended line, your chances of success are diminished quickly and significantly. The ball is 1.68 inches in diameter, and the functional striking area on a golf club is about 1.5-inches wide. If you vary in your setup by even 3/4 inch, you have imposed a serious obstacle to success. If you do nothing else to improve your golf game, learn how to set up the same way every time.
  4. Learn to “swing” the club, not “hit” the ball. This sounds simple, but the golf swing is not a hitting action: it’s a swinging action. The baseball hitter is just that, because the ball is in a different place every time – high, low, inside, outside, curve. He has to rely on quick eye-hand coordination. In contrast, the golf swing is just that – a swing of the club. You have total control over where the ball is going to be so that you can be quite precise in the relationship between your body and the ball and the target line. You can swing when you want to at the pace you find comfortable. And you can take your time to make sure the ball will be precisely in the way of that swing.

Learning the golf swing doesn’t require a driving range at all. In fact, your backyard presents a much better learning environment because the ball is not in the way to give you false feedback. Your goal is only the swing itself.

Understand that you can make a great swing, and often do, but the shot doesn’t work out because it was in the wrong place, maybe by only 1/4 inch or so. Take time to learn and practice your swing, focusing on a good top-of-backswing position and a sound rotating release through impact. Learn the proper body turn and weight shift. Slow-motion is your friend. So is “posing” and repeating segments of the swing to really learn them. Learn the swing at home, refine your ball striking on the range and play golf on the course!

So, there you have my four reasons golfers don’t get better. We all have our own little “personalization” in our golf swing, but these sound fundamentals apply to everyone who’s ever tried to move a little white ball a quarter-mile into a four-inch hole. Working on these basics will make that task much easier!

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