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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Mel Reid Looks for Two in a Row

After grabbing her first LPGA Tour win last year, Mel Reid is back to defend at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Defending champ Mel Reid

The ShopRite is a familiar event for the ladies, having been played since 2010 (and from 1986 to 2006 as well) near Atlantic City in New Jersey. The course is part of a resort known as Seaview, A Dolce Hotel, and this is another 54-hole competition.

As I said, Mel Reid is the defending champ but a large number of the Top10 in the CME Race to the Globe are in the field. (I think Jin Young Ko at #3 is the highest-ranked of those players.) But a lot of the Solheim Cup players are back in action this week as well, so the field looks pretty stacked.

It's crunch time for the ladies though. After this event there are only four events left before the CME Group Tour Championship... and some of those are limited-field events, so we should see some serious jockeying for position in the rankings this week!

GC's live coverage starts Friday at 1pm ET.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

How to Compare Expensive VS Inexpensive Wedges (Video)

Rick Shiels says that comparing wedges is different than comparing, say, drivers because you're looking for something very different in their playability. Is a cheap wedge as good as an expensive wedge? Take a look at this video and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Sanderson Farms Championship

Twofer Tuesday drags its exhausted but jubilant body from the couch where it watched the Ryder Cup and heads for the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia

The Country Club of Jackson -- Mississippi, that is -- has hosted this event for eight years now. A par-72 measuring 7461 yards, it's a track that suits almost any player. Six of the last eight winners have been first-timers, so this is definitely a place where someone could break through for their first Tour win.

Even though last week's Twofer Tuesday picks don't count against my record -- I made LPGA picks rather than PGA Tour picks -- the fact that I did get a Top10 leaves me with some good vibes for my return to action this week. Let's see just how good those vibes really are!

  • My first pick is Will Zalatoris. I took Will at Silverado and he missed the Top10 by a single position. But now that he's a legit Tour member I expect him to get his first win pretty soon, so I'm taking him again.
  • And my other pick is Sergio Garcia. I admit upfront that this is a sentimental pick. Sergio is the only Ryder Cup player in the field -- I'm sure he came just because he's defending -- and I'm sure he's worn out after that emotional loss. But he's coming off a great performance at Whistling Straits (3-1-0) plus he won that inaugural Nicklaus-Jacklin Award. He may be tired but I'm hoping he's up for a title defense.

GC's coverage begins Thursday at 4pm ET. Now that we're back to racking up FedExCup Points, I think there's going to be a bit of a letdown for fans. But there's no telling how the Ryder Cup results may affect the players in the field who might make the teams next time. Even US vice-captain Zach Johnson, who's also in the field, might surprise us this week.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Ryder Cup

Winner: Team USA 19-9

Around the wider world of golf: Nasa Hataoka won the LPGA's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship; Kum-Kang Park won the Symetra Tour's Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout; K.J. Choi won the PURE Insurance Championship on the Champions Tour; Callum Davison won the Mackenzie Tour's GolfBC Championship; and Keita Nakajima won the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour.

Team USA hoists the Ryder Cup

Although I didn't do a regular Twofer Tuesday this week (that's a PGA Tour thing) I did pick a couple of LPGA players just for fun. I had Anna Nordqvist (MC) and Jin Young Ko (T6). I was one-for-two there, so that's pretty good for me. I'll get back to doing Twofer Tuesday this week

As for the Ryder Cup, what can I say? I don't think anybody expected this kind of record-breaking performance by Team USA. It's clear that my fears about the wind affecting putting were unfounded, although the wind did affect both teams' shots to the greens late Saturday and on Sunday.

I'll have some thoughts on Team USA going forward later in the week. But while I'm very happy that Team USA got their act together for this Ryder Cup, I'm unwilling to buy into the "watershed moment" sentiment that I kept hearing about Team USA this weekend. I seem to recall similar talk after the 2008 Ryder Cup because Azinger's pod strategy got us a emphatic win, which we were unable to duplicate for another eight years. I continue to believe we won in 2008 because Azinger is a good leader.

Steve Stricker has proven his abilities as a leader repeatedly, and this Ryder Cup was just another example.

Likewise, I want to see this "watershed team" win an away game. That hasn't happened since 1993.

At any rate, no matter how good the leader is, regardless of how strong the team is, teams just don't win unless they bring their games to the event. This time Team USA did... and Team Europe didn't, which had to happen eventually. They had an extremely good run of nine wins since that US win in 1993, but all good things come to an end eventually. That's just how life is, folks.

In the meantime I'll gladly celebrate the records Team USA set and/or broke Sunday, like DJ becoming the first 5-0 American player since 1979 and that record 10-point win. I'd also like to point out that while everybody was singing the praises of the young guns and lamenting how the "old guard" just couldn't get it done anymore, that half of Team Europe's points on Sunday came from Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. The Postman's undefeated 6-0-1 singles record may never be equaled by anybody!

So here's my salute to Team USA for saying they were going to get it done... and then actually stepping up and doing it. If you can walk the walk, I don't mind hearing you talk the talk!

The US had geared up for this—
And Europe fell in an abyss
Of USA records.
We walked off with two-thirds
Of Sunday’s points. How could we miss?

The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Five Ways to Improve Your Game Instantly (Video)

No, really, you don't need to practice these 'habits' in order to use them! Rick Shiels posted these five tips to improve your game INSTANTLY the very first time you try them. Some you may know, but I bet you'll find at least one new one to try.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The TaylorMade TP5 VS the Titleist Pro V1 (Video)

I know you're all watching the Ryder Cup so we'll keep this one short. Rick Shiels is testing his regular golf ball, the Pro V1, against TaylorMade's TP5... and his results may surprise you.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Couple of Last Thoughts Before the Matches

I've written a lot about the Ryder Cup the last week or so, but these are a couple of thoughts I didn't really mention.

Ryder Cup trophy

While I wrote a lot of stuff that I think shows Kevin Na would have been a good choice for Team USA -- I think they could really use his putting and attitude -- it's not that I think our current team is a bad one. I honestly don't know who I would leave out to put Na in. We'll never know who would have been the best choice but we will know if the current choices are good ones come Sunday night.

In fact, I really would have liked Kevin Na and Patrick Reed both on the team, but Na didn't get picked and Reed is out with injuries and illness. That's just the way things go.

As for who I think will win? I think it all depends on the weather, although not for the reason most fans do. Team USA will do just fine hitting the ball through the wind, they do it all the time.

No, I'm worried about putting in the wind. Team USA likes to set up the greens hard and fast, but the greens at Whistling Straits are pretty much exposed to the wind. And if they get sustained winds of 15-20mph on fast exposed greens... I don't like that combination at all.

Especially because -- as Team Europe has mentioned repeatedly -- they all grew up playing foursomes (alternate shot to us Yanks) regularly. Putting is one of the hardest things to do when playing foursomes because you can't get into a rhythm since you don't putt every hole. It's a whole different mindset. I suspect that mindset is why Team Europe makes so many more crucial putts than Team USA.

So, while I'm pulling for Team USA to win -- and they are on home turf, where their wins have come from over the last two decades -- I do believe the weather could play an unexpected role in determining the winner. After all, Team Europe only needs a tie to retain the Cup and the wind could easily make a half-point difference.

I'm just saying.

So now let's go enjoy the Ryder Cup. We certainly had to wait long enough for it this time, didn't we?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ryder Cup Musings: Spieth VS Na VS Poulter VS Horschel

In the second of these posts about why I think Team USA struggles at the Ryder Cup I promised you a free-for-all. Today we're going to compare four different players -- two Captain's Picks who I think we can all agree are solid picks and two players who are often considered similar in attitude but have never been picked:

  • Team USA pick Jordan Spieth
  • Team Europe pick Ian Poulter, aka "the Postman"
  • Kevin Na
  • Billy Horschel

The attitude similarity is important. All four of these players are considered 'bulldogs' who never give up. Poulter is the GOAT here with a 14-6-2 record (15 points) in six appearances, four of which required Captain's Picks. He has NEVER been defeated in singles (5-0-1). Jordan Spieth's record of 7-5-2 in three appearances is somewhat amazing in that he has NEVER won in singles (0-3-0).

I'm comparing Na and Horschel to these two, not to try and prove either should be picked for a Ryder Cup team, but simply to compare them to successful Captain's Picks and see if they measure up. The following table compares a variety of aspects in their games. Hopefully we'll discover what makes Spieth and especially Poulter so valuable in a Ryder Cup.

Yes, I know I said that "Statistics lie" in my previous post and here I am posting a bunch of stats. What I've tried to do is pick stats that are basically simple percentages (for example, how many of their drives hit the fairway) or simple averages (total distance of drives hit divided by total number of drives). Averages don't tell you the longest or shortest of whatever is being averaged, of course, so I've tried to add other numbers that might provide a bit more perspective. Still, I mention this to remind you that no stats can tell you everything, no matter how carefully you choose them.

That said, let's take a look at the basic stats I chose. All stats come from the stats pages and show the results at the end of the TOUR Championship.

  • OWGR and FedExCup rankings: At the end of the PGA Tour season.
  • Driving stats: I chose to use the "all drives" stats rather than the stats for specifically measured holes, as those tend to skew longer. I wanted an idea of how the guys play their regular drives.
  • GIR stats: Not only the general GIR stat, but stats from a few specific distances to show how playing from closer to the green improves their percentage. Ideally you'd like all of these percentages to be high numbers. I also added a stat that includes shots that land on the fringe since those lies are often as easy as putts.
  • Proximity to hole: From the fairway, from the rough, and from 50-75 yards.
  • Average approach distance: I find these interesting. How long are their typical approach shots to the green that result in birdies, pars and bogeys? Note that the birdies typically come from longer shots -- perhaps because the shorter shots are the result of bad shots that require scrambling.
  • Scrambling: From 20 yards and in, and from bunkers.
  • Putting: From various distances, plus the length of the putt made for birdie. The Birdie or better conversion stat tells how often they successfully make a birdie putt. And with the Average Distance of Birdie Putts, longer distances mean you make longer putts for birdie.
  • Scoring: Average score for a normal round and for their final round.

The numbers in parentheses beneath the stats show how the Tour lists their rank. I think this is important because it shows how misleading these numbers can be. For example, in the Scoring Average Actual stat, you can see that the difference between #28 and #76 -- 48 players -- is .64, less than two/thirds of a putt. So Horschel really isn't that much worse than Na in this stat.

Now that you know what's in the table, here it is.

PGA Tour
PGA Tour
OWGR Rank 09/12/21 - 14 25 49 18
FedExCup Rank
(end of season)
- 20 3 77 9
Driving Distance
All Drives
289.8 yd 295.1
Driving Accuracy
60.69% 53.92%
Driving %
300+ yds
All Drives
36.10% 44.17%
Driving %
320+ yds
All Drives
12.10% 13.98%
GIR % 65.14% 64.58%
Greens or Fringe
in Regulation
71.22% 70.57%
175-200 yd
54.96% 48.15%
100-125 yd
75.18% 72.97%
<75 yd
87.35% 85.04%
45' 7" 44' 9"
49' 6"
47' 8"
51' 1"
to Hole
37' 1" 38' 10"
37' 0"
39' 4"
39' 5"
Average Proximity from
50-75 yd
15' 10" 10' 1"
18' 0"
10' 4"
16' 3"
for Birdie
179.9 174.8
Distance for Par
165 yd 169.3
for Bogey
164.7 161.2
Scrambling %
from 10-20 yd
63.85% 66.15%
Scrambling %
from <10 yd
85.80% 83.51%
Scrambling %
57.94% 61.32%
Sand Save %
50.05% 55.93%
Putts / Round 29.1 28.05
Putting %
from inside 5'
96.70% 96.29%
Putting %
from 10-15'
30.19% 29.65%
Putting %
from <20'
7.18% 9.62%
of Birdie Putts
9' 5" 9' 3"
9' 0"
10' 2"
8' 11"
Birdie or Better
Conversion %
30.23% 36.06%
Scoring Average
70.95 69.94
Scoring Average
Final Round
70.62 71.00

One thing you'll learn quickly is that, although most of these guys are considered short hitters, look at how long some of their shots are. Take Poulter for example. While his 282 yards of the tee puts him near the bottom of the Tour's distance list, he still hits nearly a quarter of his drives (23.89%) over 300 yards!

In fact, this table makes it very clear why Poulter is so good... and it's neither his driving nor his approach shots. He's actually below average in those areas. Where he excels is in putting and scrambling. He's 9th in Proximity to the Hole from 75 yards and in, no worse than 9th in scrambling from 20 yards and in, 3rd in Putts per Round, T28th in the length of his typical birdie putt, and 11th Putting from 5' and in. And if that wasn't enough, his Final Round Scores are almost identical to his regular rounds, which backs up the idea that he thrives under pressure.

While Spieth isn't as good overall, his stats compare pretty well. There are some where he's better than Poulter and some where he's worse, 

What about our two Ryder Cup wannabes?

Although Horschel compares well in some areas, he has obvious gaps in others. For example, while he's longer overall than Poulter and a good putter from inside 15', he struggles with scrambling and proximity to hole. (If you're leaving your approach farther from the hole, you need to be a better putter from long distance.) And we know from experience that he's a streaky player, so that might count against him.

Then again, when he's on a streak he's gold. He is the defending WGC-Dell Match Play champion and won the BMW PGA at Wentworth, after all. That's some serious playing there!

As for Na, his overall performance is eerily similar to Poulter's. His putting is as close to Poulter's as you're likely to see, and he's better from the sand. But his scrambling isn't quite as good; given his average proximity from 50-75 yards, his wedge play needs some sharpening to catch the Postman. A little wedge work and he could be Team USA's answer to Poulter.

I guess the takeaway here is that distance, while it can be a potent weapon, doesn't seem to be the difference maker at the Ryder Cup. Scrambling and putting seem to be the difference -- and I mean CONSISTENCY across the skills needed around and on the green. And I think Team Europe is a bit better at that simply because the European Tour plays so many different types of course setups, as opposed to the uniformity of PGA Tour setups.

This post is getting awfully long so I'll call it here. I have some ideas about how Team USA could alter its qualification process to try and find players with some of Team Europe's intangibles, but I'll save that for next week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Could This Be 2021's Killer Christmas Present? (Video)

A $200 golf simulator? MrShortGame Golf tested the tittle X Home Golf Simulator (available from Amazon) against a TrackMan to see if it was any good. Not only can you use it with the included indoor practice club but you can use it with a regular club as well, plus it works with a PC or an iOS device. I don't know whether you'll agree with his conclusions or not, but it certainly looks as if the inexpensive simulator market is starting to get interesting...

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

Since the Ryder Cup will dwarf everything else this week, Twofer Tuesday gives the ladies some love by devoting some space to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Defending champion Austin Ernst

The Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers AR is the site of this 54-hole event, as it has been since it first began 14 years ago. You may remember that first playing in 2007 because it was an unofficial event -- rain forced the tournament into a mere 18 holes which Stacy Lewis, then a senior at the University of Arkansas, won.

As a general rule, the winners have all been fairly big names... or at least they are now. It seems as if everybody from Inbee Park to Lydia Ko has won here. The defending champion is Austin Ernst, who made this her second LPGA victory.

While I'm going to make two picks this week, like any other Twofer Tuesday, I won't count these against my weekly competition. I limit that to PGA Tour picks, just to keep things simple.

  • My first pick is Jin Young Ko. While that may seem like a no-brainer, the fact is that Ko has only played this event twice. She finished T9 in 2018 and T18 in 2019. But she's coming off a win in Portland and she's well rested. Given that she won the 2020 money list in only four events, I like a rested Jin Young Ko's chances!
  • My other pick is Anna Nordqvist. She took last week off for a well-deserved Solheim Cup break; now she's returning after a runner-up finish in 2020. While Anna can be a streaky player, this streak includes a victory at the 2021 ANA. If she's rested and confident -- as she should be -- she could pick up another win this week.

For obvious reasons the Ryder Cup will interfere somewhat with coverage of this event. But after GC's tape-delayed coverage at 9pm ET on Friday (remember, this is a 54-hole event) most of the Ryder Cup will be broadcast on NBC, so the second and third rounds of the LPGA event will be live on GC. On Friday there will also be streaming coverage starting at 11am ET.

If you don't care for match play, then the LPGA event is just what you're looking for.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 Fortinet Championship

Winner: Max Homa

Around the wider world of golf: Jin Young Ko won the rain-shortened Cambia Portland Classic; Janie Jackson won the rain-shortened Guardian Championship on the Symetra Tour; Kristoffer Broberg won the Dutch Open on the ET; Celine Boutier won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the LET; Jared du Toit won the ATB Financial Classic on the Mackenzie Tour; Darren Clarke won the Sanford International on the Champions Tour; Hyo Joo Kim won the KLPGA's OK Savings Bank Se Ri Pak Invitational; Yuna Nishimura won the JLPGA's rain-shortened Sumitomo Life Vitality Ladies Tokai Classic; Sang Hyun Park won the KPGA's DGB Financial Group Irvine Open; and Scott Vincent won the ANA Open Golf Tournament on the Japan Golf Tour. [Thanks, IC!]

Max Homa with Fortinet trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks got off to a rough start this season. I had Jon Rahm (MC) and Will Zalatoris (T11). Jon apparently got sick and Will bogeyed the 15th to drop out of the Top10. I was so close!

  • Top10s: 0 for 2
  • Winners: 0 for 1

There's not much I can add to what Max Homa did. While the rest of the field struggled, Homa calmly went -5 on the final seven holes to win by one. Maverick McNealy's double-bogey on 17 ended his run at the title and will sting for a while.

But what caught my attention was not what Max said about getting his third PGA Tour win but what he said about his wife. Apparently, as summed it up:

Although the Fortinet was his third TOUR win, it was the first witnessed by his wife, Lacey. He joked afterward that she had only seen one top-10 finish from him, so it was about time.
Clearly such an august moment in time cannot be overlooked. Therefore I have devoted his newest Limerick Summary to this significant occasion. Congrats, Max!

The field helped him, that much is true
But Max knew what he had to do…
And do it, he did.
For his wife this was big
Since she finally SAW him come through.

The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Ryder Cup Musings: Na VS Rahm

Thursday I did a post giving some of the reasons I believe Team USA struggles so at the Ryder Cup. Today I'm staging a big grudge match between Kevin Na and Jon Rahm to test some of those reasons.

This is a long post, folks, so grab a drink and some popcorn and settle back for a while.

Kevin Na and Jon Rahm

The primary reason Steve Stricker gave for not choosing Na was lack of distance... and Kevin issued his own statement that basically said Team USA needed better putting more than extra distance. I agree with Kevin and have expressed this idea many times, from my Solheim Cup post last week to a huge post in September 2014 where I recalculated EVERY SINGLE MATCH TWICE to demonstrate where the points were lost.

But the fact remains that statistics say distance is the key. We hear that drummed into our heads in the coverage of every tournament, don't we? The problem is that statistics lie and I hope to show you that in this post.

I know you'll protest. "Mike, numbers don't lie!" And I agree with you. But the problem is that numbers mean nothing until they're interpreted... and interpretations lie all the time.

Statistics are just interpretations of the numbers. They are an effort to make sense of them, but they can say different things depending on what you're looking at. You need to pick stats that accurately address the issues you're interested in.

My argument in the first of these posts is that we're using stats that DON'T address those issues. In this case, we're using stats that interpret four-round individual stroke play competitions to choose players for single-round match play that involves both single and dual player teams. And as it stands, we can't get direct information on these specific points.

But I believe we have been presented with a unique situation here where we can at least create some stats that are more suited to answering the questions we have. Best of all, we can create these stats using information comparing Na's performance to the #1 player in the world, Jon Rahm!

I'm using the FedExCup Playoffs as the basis for my calculations. Both men played all three consecutive events and spent the first two weeks trying to get as high in the rankings as possible, then trying to win the $15mil the last week. While this isn't exactly match play -- the two weren't trying to beat each other one-on-one -- it's probably as close as we're going to get.

What did the Ryder Cup points list see and use to award Kevin's points? It's very simple:

  • Jon Rahm finished 3/T9/2* for the Playoffs
  • Kevin Na finished T8/T17/3* for the Playoffs

The reason for the asterisks is that, had we not used the staggered start at the TOUR Championship, Na and Rahm would have had the same aggregate score and would have played off for the FedExCup. Based on these stats, Rahm clearly played better than Na... and we all know that, under normal conditions, Rahm is much longer than Na.

But those are 72-hole scores. What happened round-by-round, which is how we determine winners at the Ryder Cup?

I decided to find out... and as you can see, I did so many calculations that my scanner couldn't get all of my writing in these photos.

Two pages of calculations

I'm not going to try and tell you all the things I discovered during this stat gathering project. But what I found makes me question Team USA's criteria for choosing their players.

First, let me make one thing clear: I am NOT saying that my project proves Na should have been chosen for the team. All I'm saying is that the stats currently being used don't give us any real indication of what might happen in match play. Likewise, both Kevin and Jon have great match play records and they might make some different choices if they were actually going head-to-head. But I think this is as close to match play results as we can get from the regular Tour stats.

That said, let's get on with it.

Since match play is built on single 18-hole (more or less) rounds, I broke these three Playoff events into 12 "matches" and compared the scores. We'll start with the stroke play scores:

  • Kevin Na:
    67-66-70-68 || 72-65-69-67-|| 66-67-66-67
  • Jon Rahm:
    63-67-67-69 || 64-66-70-70-|| 65-65-68-68

Just from these numbers we can see some interesting trends:

  • Rahm has the lowest score in the first match of each tournament.
  • Na has the lowest score in two of the second matches of each tournament, Rahm one.

That means that Rahm takes Na 4-2 in the first six matches. But let's keep going:

  • Na wins two of the third matches of each tournament, Rahm one.
  • Na wins all three of the final matches of each tournament.

These are stroke play scores, not match play, but would you have expected Na to win 5 of the 6 weekend matches and all three on the last day? Sounds like Na is quite the closer!

Overall, Na beats Rahm 7-5. Unexpected, to say the least.

Now, if we go through and recalculate all the matches, using the stroke play scores to figure out who would win each hole if this was match play, we see basically the same thing. There are some slight changes simply because -- as I said in the first post -- not all strokes count in match play. Here's a quick example of how it works:

Say Player1 wins the first hole with a birdie and Player2 makes double-bogey. Player2 wins the second hole with a birdie and Player1 makes par. In stroke play Player1 has a one-stroke lead but in match play the two men are even. It doesn't matter how many strokes you win a hole by in match play, you're still just 1up.

Here's how the twelve matches play out:

  1. Rahm wins 4up.
  2. Na wins 1up.
  3. Rahm wins 2up. (He won by 3 in stroke play.)
  4. Na wins 2up. (He actually won by 1 in stroke play.)
  5. Rahm wins 6up. (He won by 8 in stroke play.)
  6. Na wins 2up. (Again, only a 1 stroke win in stroke play.)
  7. Match is halved. (Na actually won by 1 in stroke play.)
  8. Na wins 3up.
  9. Rahm wins 2up. (Only 1 stroke in stroke play.)
  10. Rahm wins 2up.
  11. Na wins 2up.
  12. Na wins 1up.

Overall, Na beats Rahm 6.5-5.5. One of Na's stroke play wins became a half in match play, but Na still comes out on top.

There is, of course, one more question to answer. How long are the Playoff courses where Na won? After all, we know Rahm is noticeably longer than Na and this would be a concern at a long course like Whistling Straits.

Or would it? Here are the lengths of the Playoff courses, taken from the PGA Tour tournament sites:

  • Northern Trust
    Liberty National GC, 7410yds/par-71
  • BMW Championship
    Caves Valley GC, 7542yds/par-72
  • TOUR Championship
    East Lake GC, 7346yds/par-70

Whistling Straits will play 7390yds/par-71.

There are a lot of things that contribute to how long a course plays, like the size, contours and grass on the greens; the bunkering, both in the fairways and around the greens; how narrow the fairways are; how high the rough is; how hilly the course is; and so on. I have no idea how I could possibly compare all those variables... but I do know how to compare the overall length, so that's what I'll do.

Here's my formula: Take the course's par, subtract 36 (that's two putts for each of 18 holes) -- that gives me the number of shots you expect to hit between tee and green. Then divide the course length by that number of shots. I can use that "average yards per shot" to compare the length.

  • Liberty National: 7410/35= 211.7 yards
  • Caves Valley: 7542/36= 209.5 yards
  • East Lake: 7346/34= 216.1 yards
  • Whistling Straits: 7390/35= 211.1 yards

Hmmmm. It would appear that Whistling Straits is the second SHORTEST of the four! The longest, East Lake, is where poor shortknocker Kevin Na matched the low score of the much longer Jon Rahm. In fact, Na performed his best on the longest course. Hmmmm...

I've proven my point. While this post doesn't prove that Team USA should have picked Kevin Na, I think I have proven that, on a round-by-round basis -- which is how match play is done, after all -- Kevin Na doesn't seem to be at any real disadvantage on a long course against a long hitter when both are playing well, and that perhaps Team USA needs to reevaluate the stats it uses to choose its team.

And that leads into my final post. Look for it sometime next week.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Before You Go for a Fitting (Video)

Planning to get new clubs? Before you go to be fitted, take a look at this video from Golf Monthly. It will acquaint you with the main things you should know before you go to ensure that you get the best results possible.

Friday, September 17, 2021

How to Pick the Best Golf Ball for Your Game (Video)

Rick Shiels's new video is a test of a golf ball you've probably never heard of, the Titleist ProV1x Left Dash. But more importantly, he included a link to MyGolfSpy's 2021 test of a large number of golf balls. It's a long article but it'll teach you all kinds of things about what makes a golf ball suitable for your game. Watch the video and then skip on over to the MyGolfSpy page for a real education!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ryder Cup Musings: Myths We Believe

The media is going nuts with all the storylines, wondering if Team USA can get their act together to defeat Team Europe. There's a lot of debate over what really determines why one team dominates another. Is there really one answer? Can the questions be answered at all.?

As we head toward the Ryder Cup I've decided to take a stab at finding some answers, although I won't promise a surefire method for producing a Terminator. But I think there are some valid observations to be made, some things we can say are important contributors to the current situation.

Some things that might be self-evident if we could just get out of our own way.

Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Currently I intend to write three posts I'm calling "Ryder Cup Musings." Today I'd like to look at what I'm simply calling MYTHS. These are things that everybody accepts as true, even though they might not hold up under closer investigation. And for obvious reasons -- I'm American, after all -- I'm focusing on four myths WE believe.

1) It's all about team bonding and chemistry.

I've ranted about this one before, but it needs to be reiterated simply because I don't think Team Europe believes it either. They will use the terms bonding and chemistry occasionally, but most of the time they just talk about matching one player's game to another's. Whether players get along personally or not isn't really an issue; if you're a team player, you deal with it, put the team first and do your job.

In fact, you may have heard Sergio speaking on GC earlier this week about his rocky relationship with Padraig Harrington, a relationship he says is much better these days but that never affected their ability to play together effectively. They respected each other's games and, when they arrived at the Ryder Cup, it was all about doing what was best for the team.

Is it any surprise that Sergio was Padraig's first Captain's Pick... or that we've known that he would be for months?

In any case, bonding and chemistry aren't a problem for Team USA. I actually worry that this belief in the importance of bonding is HURTING our ability to put a winning team together! I'm afraid our obsession with making sure players are 'comfortable' in their pairings may be creating an 'old boys network' where Captain's Picks are made based on existing friendships rather than actually picking the best players at the time of the Ryder Cup and simply putting together effective teams.

I also feel the need to add one very obvious fact -- namely, that team dynamics have nothing to do with qualifying for the team. You qualify on your own merits in events that measure your individual performance. Presumably, if you are a normal human being, you don't suddenly lose your abilities just because you're suddenly on a team. And given that these same players seem to perform just fine at the Presidents Cup, teamed with the same people, it would appear to be a moot point.

But that does bring up our second myth...

2) Our ranking systems enable us to pick the best players.

Last time I checked, our players qualify for the Ryder Cup by earning points at the Tour's weekly events. Do I need to point out that those events are 72-hole events based on individual stroke play performance? I'll come back to this point in a later post but since the Ryder Cup focuses on 18-hole (more or less) rounds of match play -- sometimes individually, sometimes in pairs -- choosing players based on the former will always result in teams that look better "on paper" than on the course.

A further problem comes from the course setups themselves. It's no big secret that American courses are set up differently than European courses. American courses lend themselves to 'bomb and gouge.' European courses run the gamut from links courses to tracks that -- and I mean no disrespect to those courses, but you've all heard this complaint from American players -- are somewhat 'ragged' and require more trouble shots than a 'well-groomed' American course. It means that American golf and European golf have some dramatic differences in what kind of 'good play' is required.

And the OWGR itself caters to this prejudice. Because the PGA Tour plays mostly on American courses, their players tend to excel at this kind of golf; and because everybody wants to play the PGA Tour because of the purses, the points awarded for good play on those courses are higher than the points awarded on European courses. That means Team USA's choices are best suited to play US courses. While Team USA's record in the Ryder Cup isn't all that great over the last couple of decades -- they're 3-7 since 1999 -- it's no surprise that those three wins came on American courses.

Ironically, the qualification process for Team Europe may explain part of their winning ways over the last two decades. While Team USA's points basically come from playing US courses, Team Europe uses TWO points lists -- one based in the Race to Dubai points list, which are gained playing on European courses, and one based on the OWGR, which are gained mostly from play on US courses.

So Team USA gets players who excel primarily on US courses while Team Europe gets some players who excel on US courses and some who excel on European courses -- which gives them players with a wider range of skills. And since Team USA's Captain's Picks tend to be players who also scored high on the points system (which translates to 'played well on US courses')... well, you can see a problem, can't you? 

3) Science is the key to creating a winning team.

I'm not just talking about stats here, although that can certainly cause some problems. I'm talking about personality profiles, equipment set up to maximize length at the expense of control, an overemphasis on technique and other similar approaches. I'm not saying all these things are bad -- for example, we desperately needed a system for training future captains and that change has been a good one. But that doesn't mean every system should be seized as a miracle-producing revelation.

Let me focus on one such system that truly perplexes me: pods. The concept is good; as I said earlier, Team Europe tries to match player's games for the best results. But pods don't really do that; rather, they try to match player mindsets... and that isn't the same thing.

Team Europe's pairings constantly catch observers and analysts off-guard. Players (like Sergio and Padraig, who clearly don't approach the game the same way) pair up and get points, based on little more than the Captain's assessment that their skills and current form complement each other. That is beyond what a pod can do.

Allow me to point out this interesting fact: Only THREE American captains have been successful with the pod system -- Paul Azinger, who originated the idea; Davis Love III, who won with it on his second captaincy; and Julie Inkster, the only captain to have won twice (once domestic, once away) with the system. I tend to think that this has less to do with the pod system and more to do with the captains.

  • Paul Azinger came up with the system but I think it has more to do with how he managed his players. His players still look back on what he did with awe.
  • Davis Love III's first team entered the 2012 Sunday singles leading 10-6... and then proceeded to throw away that lead, losing 8.5-3.5 on the final day and losing the Ryder Cup by a single point. They came back the second time determined to make it up to Davis. If you think a pod can create determination, I think you're deluding yourself.
  • And Julie Inkster is simply a Solheim Cup legend on the LPGA. Her teams won two Solheim Cups in a row... but even a pod couldn't make it a threepeat. And I feel that I should point this out -- the LPGA plays all over the world and thus their qualification system automatically looks more like Team Europe's two-points-list system. She simply took excellent teams and -- like Azinger, Love and all good captains -- led them.

In short, belief in your captain has more to do with victory than any science they may decide to employ.

4) Course setup doesn't really affect the strategy of good players.

I realize I'll get some blowback over this one, but I think you can simply rewatch the Paris Ryder Cup and see this at work. Despite the course being set up with fairly narrow fairways and very high rough to minimize the 'bomb and gouge' strength of Team USA, how many balls did you see hit long and deep into the rough?

The simple fact is that Team USA believes that 'might is right' and that they are good enough to overpower any course regardless of setup. I'm sure they would deny this, but it's clear this belief is the most basic requirement for getting a Captain's Pick. The argument is that length is always an advantage and I won't argue that. But I would amend that statement to read "length used wisely is always an advantage" and I don't see that in US play at all. And now that Bryson has won a major and WGC on courses where judicious use of length appeared to be the key, I doubt that we'll see much restraint at all by Team USA.

But we're playing a US course this time, so maybe it will work. This time. I'll return to this myth in the later posts as well.

So take this post as a rant, if you wish. I'm not saying that I have the key to success for Team USA; rather, I'm simply saying that you can't expect consistently good results if you aren't beginning from a sound base. And these myths simply aren't sound.

Yes, you'll want to see more than just a rant. You'll want to see what kind of info I'm basing my ideas on. I'll do that in the next two posts in this series.

I think you'll find them to be thought-provoking. I know they were for me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Back to Business for the LPGA

The Solheim Cup is over and it's back to work for the LPGA. This week the Tour heads up to Portland for the Cambia Portland Classic.

Defending champion Georgia Hall

Georgia Hall is the defending champion but I don't see her listed in the field. In fact, the field isn't as strong as I would have expected, given the history of this event -- but then again, we are barely a week removed from the Solheim Cup.

What history? This is the 50th playing of the Cambia Portland Classic, the longest-running non-major event on the LPGA Tour. And while this isn't the strongest field, it still looks pretty good.

  • Three of the Rolex Top10 are in the field -- Ariya Jutanugarn, Jin Young Ko and Patty Tavitanakit.
  • Some of the Solheim Cup players from both sides are there. Just glancing down the list I saw Yealimi Noh, Jennifer Kupcho, Austin Ernst, Mina Harigae, Brittany Altomare and Carlota Ciganda.
  • And of course a number of top players who weren't part of the Solheim Cup like Brooke Henderson, Nasa Hataoka, Maria Fassi, Sung Hyun Park, Moriya Jutanugarn, Jeongeun Lee6, Aditi Ashok and Jodi Ewart Shadoff are there as well.

The girls get a pretty decent broadcast window as well. GC's live coverage starts Thursday at 3pm ET. Counting this week there are only eight tournaments left on the schedule. Things should get pretty serious down the stretch... and it all starts NOW!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: Fortinet Championship

Twofer Tuesday ends its all-too-short sabbatical, drags itself from its easy chair and heads out to Napa for the Fortinet Championship.

Defending champion Stewart Cink and his son/caddie Reagan

No, you're not mistaken -- Stewart Cink (with son Reagan on the bag) is the defending champion at the Fortinet Championship. It's just that last year it was the Safeway Open. The Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa CA is still the site of the event; it's just got a new sponsor.

And, I suppose, a new trophy. That keg was pretty cool though.

So perhaps it's no surprise that I'm making a change this season as well. I've been doing Twofer Tuesday on a yearly basis, starting in January. But since the season is a wraparound, I'm going to a wraparound season as well. As a result, this week Twofer Tuesday starts from scratch. Hopefully this will make it easier for me to determine how poorly my picks are doing for the season.

Speaking of poor picks, I had quite a few last season. Can I do any better this time around? Let's take a stab at it, shall we?

  • I'm starting with Will Zalatoris. After all his efforts last year, he not only got Tour membership but was rewarded with the Rookie of the Year Award. Now, armed with some knowledge about how to pace himself -- and a Tour card that allows him to plan accordingly -- let's see if this well-rested athlete can get his season off to a great start.
  • And I'm taking Jon Rahm. I'm making no apologies for going chalk. Rahmbo tallied up 15 Top10s last season and I'm looking to get on the board early. He'll be looking to get his game sharp for the Ryder Cup. I think this mutual goal of good play could help me get a fresh start this season.

Because this event is held on the West Coast of the US, we'll be treated to some prime time golf this week. GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 6pm ET. Last year my Twofer Tuesday picks went 22 for 72, and I had two winners in 35 events. (Should have been three winners but the pandemic stole one of Jon's victories.) Hopefully my picks will do better this time around!

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 BMW PGA Championship

Winner: Billy Horschel

Around the wider world of golf: David Toms won the Ascension Charity Classic on the Champions Tour; Raoul Menard won the Elk Ridge Open on the Mackenzie Tour; Atthaya Thitikul won the VP Bank Swiss Ladies on the LET; Ha Na Jang won the KB Financial Group Star Championship on the KLPGA; Mone Inami won the JLPGA Konica Minolta Cup; and Yeosub Seo won the Shinhae Donghae Open on the KPGA. [Thanks, IC!]

Billy Horschel with BMW PGA trophy

Since the PGA Tour wasn't in action this week I didn't make any Twofer Tuesday picks. As a result, I didn't make any poor choices. Hurray!

But with the PGA Tour being off this week, I was able to pick whichever active tour I wanted for the Limerick Summary... and the BMW PGA was a no-brainer. As a result I get to cover history.

It's been no secret over the years that I consider the BMW PGA the ET's equivalent of THE PLAYERS -- in fact, I restated that fact this past Wednesday -- and Billy Horschel agrees with me. (He said so several times this week during the broadcasts.) And since he's eligible to play the event, he does, and in the process he became the first American to win a Rolex Series event as well as only the second American to win this event. Arnold Palmer did it way back in 1975.

Not only did he have the personal desire to win this event -- four years ago he tweeted this:

Watching @BMWPGA this morning. Watched this event on tv since I was 13. Need to try and make it over to U.K. and play this great event!

but he also had a personal reason that urged him on. As put it:

Billy Horschel felt aggrieved this week at the manner in which he missed out on a place in the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup. So, he took down a bunch of leading Europeans by himself.
Billy, of course, won the WGC-Dell Match Play earlier this season and now has gotten big wins twice after not getting picked for the Ryder Cup. (The other was back in 2014 when Billy won two events and the FedExCup after he got passed over.)

It's possible Billy might get called in for action if Brooks Koepka can't play next week. But whether that happens or not, at least Billy can bask in the glory of another Limerick Summary!

The Ryder Cup team passed him by
But that snub cannot nullify
What Billy just did.
The Last Minute Kid
Came up big again. No surprise!

The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Just a Reminder...

The European Tour's BMW PGA Championship is scheduled to finish around 12:30pm ET today, so you'll want to watch some of the final round before that... but the real news is what happens afterward.

18th hole at Wentworth

I want to remind you that the European Ryder Cup team gets their automatic picks finalized when this event's scores are in the books, and Euro Team Captain Padraig Harrington will be making his Captain's picks immediately after the finish.

Mercer Baggs has an article about the way things are shaping up at Wentworth on But whether you watch the final round or not, you'll want to at least check out Padraig's presser when the event finishes. There's enough movement on the leaderboard that Padraig may still get a surprise to deal with!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Efficient Golf Bag (Video)

While a video -- no matter how short -- about organizing your golf bag may seem a little silly, we all get frustrated hunting for some of our gear during a round. And while the sample arrangement of the clubs themselves in this video may seem rather obvious, Tappen's thoughts on how he arranges all the other stuff that has to go in pockets is pretty cool. You might choose not to use his exact procedure... but you might also find some of his ideas useful if your own bag tends to be a mess.

Friday, September 10, 2021

How Far Do I Stand from the Ball? (Video)

If you're having trouble figuring out how far to stand from the ball with each of your clubs, you're probably starting from the wrong end of the process. In this short video Mike Malaska teaches you how understanding balance and grip -- in that order -- will allow you to address the ball correctly each time, regardless of how long or short the shaft is.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Do You Need a Hybrid Wedge? (Video)

There's a new kid on the block, the hybrid (hollow body) wedge. How does it compare to a regular wedge? What shots is it good for and which shots don't work? Will it improve your wedge fame? Rick Shiels answers all of these questions in this short video. I found it VERY informative!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Don't Forget the BMW PGA Championship

Although the PGA Tour is on hiatus this week, the European Tour is not. And this week we get their equivalent of THE PLAYERS, the BMW PGA. Terrell Hatton is the defending champion.

Defending champion Terrell Hatton

It's true that this event doesn't have the starpower of THE PLAYERS, but that's just a function of membership. There are more ET players than American players who have dual membership on both tours.

However, don't let that fool you. This event has a pedigree that can't be ignored.

Like THE PLAYERS, the BMW PGA is played on a legendary course. The Wentworth Club is not just the home of the ET. It also hosted the 1953 Ryder Cup and and the World Match Play Championship from 1964 until 2007. Everybody from Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to Seve Ballesteros and Ernie Els has won there.

The BMW PGA is just as big an event. It's part of the Rolex Series, so we're talking BIG.

And if that wasn't enough, there are Ryder Cup slots up for grabs. While Steve Stricker will have likely named the rest of his team by the time you read this, Padraig Harrington won't be naming the rest of his team until the event finishes Sunday afternoon.

GC's coverage begins Thursday morning at 7am ET. There's no PGA Tour event this week, so why not watch this and see who makes Team Europe?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Europe Makes It Two in a Row

So much for "they look good on paper." No matter what the stats and rankings may say, Team Europe just made history with a back-to-back win at the Solheim Cup at Inverness.

The victorious European Solheim Cup team

Team Europe took the Solheim Cup 15-13. That's not a crushing defeat-- after all, they only needed 14 points to retain the Cup and 14.5 points to outright win it again -- but that's not the point.  Rather, it's a measure of just how the gap between American players and European players has narrowed since the Solheim Cup began in 1990.

But we also need to readjust our expectations for team events. The fact of the matter is that we just don't see what's right in front of our faces.

First of all we need to ignore the "better on paper" argument. All of our team play qualifications are based on stats and rankings created from the results of individual stroke play, and then we act so surprised when team match play events don't follow the same script. Not every stroke counts in match play, not every stroke counts the same, and two players posting a single score really changes things. Consequently, match play is a different mindset so we shouldn't be so surprised when these team match play events defy expectations based on individual stroke play results.

But I also know we're going to start hearing that old "Europe bonds better than the US" argument again... and I just want to say that's a lot of crap. I've been part of many teams of many types, and I know that bonding is a wonderful thing. Bonding increases the enjoyment a team shares and, if a couple of players don't want to work together, it can break down barriers between them so they might... but bonding doesn't make putts, people. It's not some magic spell that makes you able to perform miracles.

It wasn't bonding that made Matilda Castren capable of winning an LET event when that was the only way she could make the team, and it wasn't bonding that got her a Captain's pick or let her sink the winning putt. It was her own personal drive and talent.

The same goes for Leona Maguire. It wasn't bonding that got the first Irish Solheim player a Captain's pick, and it certainly wasn't bonding that made her go 4-0-1.

What made Team Europe so tough -- and Team USA so vulnerable -- is the same thing that plagues the Ryder Cup teams. Go back and watch the replays from the Solheim Cup and you'll see the key metric displayed onscreen with every putt to win or tie a hole. In a word...

Team USA didn't make par putts, Team Europe did. It's that simple.

Nobody made a lot of birdies at Inverness. It's not a course that gives up easy scores. But the reasons for those missed par putts were varied.

  • Sometimes it was just the pressure. That happens sometimes.
  • Sometimes it was the result of a bad shot to the green, whether it came from a shortsided short game shot or an approach shot that went wide of the mark. It's hard to keep making 20, 30, 40 footers for par when your opponent is inside 10 feet.
  • And sometimes it was all set up by a poor drive. It's hard to control the ball from some lies in the rough.

I'm not making excuses for the US team. I just want the US team to know what they need to improve on.

And I don't want this great achievement by the Euro team to get chalked up to magic. Give those girls the credit they deserve for great play!

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Limerick Summary: 2021 TOUR Championship

Winner: Patrick Cantlay

Around the wider world of golf: Joseph Bramlett won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship; Callum Davison wone the Brudenell River Classic on the Mackenzie Tour; Nicolai Højgaard won the DS Automobiles Italian Open on the ET; Shugo Imahira won the Fujisankei Classic on the Japan Golf Tour; and the Solheim Cup finishes up on Monday -- the Euros lead by two headed into the singles.

Patrick Cantlay with TOUR Championship/FedExCup trophy

My Twofer Tuesday picks came through this week. I had Xander Schauffele (T5) and Abraham Ancer (T9). Abraham struggled a bit on Sunday but held on and Xander eased his way into a Top5 finish. Neither won but I'll take it!

  • Top10s: 22 for 72 (16 Top5s, 6 other Top10)
  • Winners: 2 for 35 events

I guess "Patty Ice" solidified the status of his new nickname this week after holding on to first place from start to finish at East Lake.

Patrick had talked about how he didn't care for the staggered start at the TOUR Championship but said that wouldn't stop him from trying to win. And just as we saw last year, Patrick won the event but didn't have the lowest aggregate score -- had everyone started at even par, we would have had a playoff between Jon Rahm (who took second) and Kevin Na (who took third).

But that's where the real debates start, isn't it? First off, will Rahm and Na each get the winner's points on the OWGR as Xander did last year?

Second, did Kevin Na do enough to get a Captain's Pick for the Ryder Cup?

And of course, who will get the Player of the Year nod -- Rahm or Cantlay? You can make a decent argument for either, depending on what matters more to you. Do you look at one major, best scoring average and most Top10s OR four wins and domination of the Playoffs plus winning the FedExCup?

I think I'll steer clear of that argument. Both players distanced themselves from the rest of the Tour this season, and it's a shame that we have to single out just one. (And despite the fact that the players could vote for them to share the award, I doubt that they will.)

In the meantime, Patty Ice can take a little time to rest and enjoy the spoils of victory -- especially his second Limerick Summary in a row!

Four wins in one season? That’s nice.
And the fifteen mil prize? Paradise!
But a catchy nickname?
That means you’ve got the game—
Looks like NOW is your time, Patty Ice!

The photo came from this page at

Sunday, September 5, 2021

What You Can Learn from Distance Statistics (Video)

Golf Monthly did this video earlier this week, using recent Arccos measurements to see how far amateur golfers -- both men and women -- actually hit the ball at various ages and handicaps. It's short and you'll learn a lot but there are two facts you should definitely pay attention to...

Age has less affect on how far you hit the ball than your handicap. That means the better you hit the ball, the longer you'll be regardless of your age. And based on the Arccos data, the amount of distance you can realistically gain through improved ball striking will surprise you.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Using the Image of a Single Shoe Spike to Improve Your Leg Drive (Video)

This video from Mike Malaska is an interesting way to visualize proper foot action in order to stop your hips from spinning out and creating a reverse pivot. The image of a single spike on your trail shoe being the focus of your leg drive is one that may help you if you have trouble shifting your weight properly during your downswing.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Six Centuries of Golf Balls (Video)

This video is just fun. Rick Shiels bought some replicas of historical golf balls -- everything from gutties to featheries, even a wooden ball from the 1400s -- and tried them out on a modern golf course using modern clubs. It'll certainly give you an appreciation for modern equipment! 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

My "Fix" for the TOUR Championship Scoring Format (Video)

While several players have talked about it, it seems that Patrick Cantlay's comments have attracted the most attention. The video below from Golf Today includes his comments in the first 1:30 or so and it has everybody talking. Rex Hoggard included it in his article about the feelings of Tour players about the format.

So I figured why not? I'll take a shot at "fixing" the scoring myself!

The question itself is simple. You want the season-long FedExCup Points List to mean something in the Playoffs. However, the players -- quite understandably -- want the winner to actually shoot the lowest score to win the TOUR Championship rather than an 'adjusted' score that awards strokes for position. And the TV networks have their own financial concerns. It seems to be a very difficult situation that can't please everybody.

But is it really? Yes and no. Everyone involved has a reason to be unhappy.

If you merely count the actual scores the players shoot during the TOUR Championship, there's a feeling that you have rendered the FedExCup Points List irrelevant. Although you can fairly argue that the limited field for this event was determined solely by the Points List, it is a bit of a sticky situation if you try to do more.

Unlike, for example, a NASCAR event where you could use the points list to determine each driver's starting position without any real argument -- after all, cars take up physical space and only two drivers can be at the front while the rest stretch out behind, which is a basic physical reality of a race and therefore gives the guys in front a small but significant advantage that all the drivers expect and see as fair. By comparison, everyone in a golf tournament can start at even par without any physical interference. Creating an artificial 'distance between competitors' seems less fair.

If you use match play rather than stroke play to score the event -- the FedExCup Points List being used for seeding -- the fans may love it but the TV networks won't. Not only is match play a bit difficult to program -- after all, in the extremes matches can last only ten holes (a 10&8 win) or go the full 18 plus 2, 5 or even 10 extra holes. It's not easy to design a broadcast window flexible enough to cover all the possibilities.

In addition, the most popular players could go out the first day and you lose in the ratings. That's just a fact.

And of course the players, as already mentioned, have a problem with the idea that they could shoot the lowest score and not win the event. That happened to Xander Schauffele last year, as Hoggard summarizes in his article:

Schauffele’s plight at last year’s finale also doesn’t help the format’s street cred. He began the week at 3 under (No. 14 on the point list), posted four rounds in the 60s for an adjusted 18-under total and lost by three shots to Dustin Johnson. Without strokes-based scoring Schauffele would have won by four strokes, a fact that’s recognized by the world ranking, which awarded Schauffele first-place points, but not the Tour.

You can see where everybody's coming from, right? There's no obvious way to satisfy everybody.

So my solution is a compromise -- as I assume the final solution that gets accepted will be.

Here's my solution:

There are 30 players in the field, determined by their FedExCup point totals. I say let's borrow some ideas from the NCAAs and combine stroke and match play together.

Let's start with two days of stroke play, all 30 players jockeying to make the cut. What's the cut? We drop the 14 highest scores, leaving only 16 players who go to match play.

There's no way you won't have some ties after match play. Now we return to the FedExCup Points List to sort out the seeding. For example, let's say we get four players tied in third place and they came into the event at 5, 16, 19 and 28 on the points list. The third seed is #5, the fourth seed is #16, the fifth seed is #19 and the sixth seed is #28.

Now you place your seeds as usual -- #1 VS #16, #2 VS #15 and so on. Day three of the event plays these eight matches (round of 16). To determine their final positions, use the points list to determine which player finished in #9 thru #16. Since technically all eight players went out in the same position since they went out in the same round, let the yearlong points race determine the final order.

Day four plays four matches in the morning (quarterfinals) and two matches in the afternoon (semis). Use the points list to determine the final order of #5 thru #8. Same deal -- yearlong points race determines final finish position.

Day five plays the finals and consolation matches to determine the winner, runner-up, third and fourth places. These players get their positions purely on the merit of their play this week.

I think this is the best overall solution.

  • The Top4 winners are determined purely by their scores while the rest of the field is determined by scores with the points list breaking ties. You made the event via the season-long points list but you won because you played the best THIS WEEK.
  • The TV networks get two days with all 30 players and three days with the real competitors in an exciting format that fans love and they're used to programming due to experience with the NCAAs and the WGC-Dell Match Play.
  • And FedEx sees their sponsorship rewarded by determining the Final30 who make the event and then breaking ties for the 26 'also-rans.'

Is it a perfect solution? Probably not; I don't think there is one. But I think it's the best compromise for everybody while eliminating the main problems of the current format.

At least it's a place for all parties to begin talking.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Finally! Let's Talk Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup is finally here! Consider this an introductory guide, in case you've missed some of the beginning info.

Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio

Let's get the basics -- i.e., first the venue. The Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio is no stranger to big events. In fact, it's the only club to have hosted the US Open, US Amateur, US Senior Open, and US Junior Amateur Championships. And it's hosted four US Opens and two PGA Championships. This is a big time venue!

As best I can find, although the Donald Ross course measures over 7730 yards at par-71, it appears it will play around 6430 yards for the Solheim Cup. (I'm guessing that's still par-71 but I couldn't find out for sure.)

Golf Monthly has more course info at this link.

Next we have the players. We'll start with Team Europe:

  • Emily Kristine Pedersen
  • Georgia Hall
  • Anna Nordqvist
  • Sophia Popov
  • Charley Hull
  • Carlota Ciganda
  • Leona Maguire
  • Madelene Sagstrom
  • Matilda Castren
  • Nanna Koerstz Madsen
  • Mel Reid
  • Celine Boutier

And then we've got Team USA:

  • Nelly Korda
  • Jessica Korda
  • Danielle Kang
  • Lexi Thompson
  • Ally Ewing
  • Austin Ernst
  • Megan Khang
  • Lizette Salas
  • Jennifer Kupcho
  • Brittany Altomare
  • Mina Harigae
  • Yealimi Noh

I'm not going to say one team or the other is "the strongest on paper." The players all qualified through rankings that are based on medal play scoring and, as I'm sure you all know, the Solheim Cup is match play. Scores that didn't move a player up the rankings could easily win a match at Inverness since the score you post on any given hole may not be as important as the circumstances under which you posted it -- for example, losing a hole with double-bogey is no worse than losing it with par or even birdie. Likewise, winning a hole by three shots is no better than winning it by a single shot.

In both of the above situations, one team went one-up and the other one-down. That kind of scoring is NOT reflected in the rankings... which is why I suppose captains get to choose some team members with no reference to the rankings.

Speaking of which, I guess I should mention the Captains and their squads.

Team Europe:

  • Captain Catriona Matthew
  • Laura Davies
  • Kathryn Imrie
  • Suzann Pettersen

Team USA:

  • Captain Pat Hurst
  • Angela Stanford
  • Michelle Wie West
  • Stacy Lewis

And the BMW Celebrity Match is scheduled for Thursday, September 2. It's supposed to start at 2pm ET but I haven't found TV times listed. You can find the information on those teams here.

The matches themselves are running Saturday-Monday, which means they won't be overshadowed by the Tour Championship on the final day. The Saturday TV times on GC run in two sessions, from 7am-12:30pm ET and then again from 2:30pm-6pm ET. We've been waiting all year for this so LET"S GO!