#AskAlan Alan Shipnuck

The Return of #AskAlan

Every Monday the author will answer questions from across the Twittersphere

So it begins…

#AskAlan, Are we destined for WWF-style golf feuds due to this $40 million player engagement pool? There is no doubt Brooks and Bryson are leaning into it and it’s going to get very old very quickly. @dazzacon

This is an excellent analogy in that Tour players’ sudden interest in social media is as fake and schmaltzy as professional wrestling. Does Brooks Koepka genuinely dislike Bryson DeChambeau and want that to be known? Yes. Does that hurt Bryson’s feelings and fuel his need to clap back? Yes. But as you note, the filthy lucre of the Player Impact Program (PIP) has tainted everything because even actual animus begins to feel like a marketing ploy or desperate attempt at clout. We all know social media isn’t real life, and the feeds of many Tour players were already heavily curated by their handlers, but the PIP has added a layer of cynicism to every post. Maybe it’s all for the better as this will finally be what compels all of us to spend a little less time doom-scrolling.

Dear #AskAlan, Is Shan Shan Feng’s W/D from the consolation match in LPGA match play the first of many we’ll see in the future?  Nobody wants to play those anyway, you’ve got to think that’ll happen again somewhere else soon, right? @luke_peacock

Feng will be remembered either as a hero who raged against the machine or an intensely selfish private contractor who put her own feelings above the best interests of the tour and the telecast. It’s not quite clear yet which way public opinion is blowing. I understand Feng’s reasoning—that was a helluva lot of golf in brutal heat in the run-up to the most important tournament of the year—but I think she had an obligation to play on. It’s true that consolation matches usually lack dramatic tension but their primary purpose is to provide some action while the players in the final match are walking between shots. Feng’s act of civil disobedience left a ton of dead airtime, which damaged the product.

Shanshan Feng

Hey #AskAlan, Where does Kiawah ’21 rank among the great major championships in history? @martincbrennan

It wasn’t an artistic triumph in that all the would-be contenders retreated meekly and there wasn’t a do-or-die moment on the closing holes as Phil Mickelson’s lead never dipped below two strokes. But it was one of the most intensely visual majors ever, with the beautiful drone shots of an incomparable course and the wild crowd scenes on the 72nd hole. What Phil accomplished at age 50 will be talked about as long as golf is played but it’s not even his greatest victory; that has to be the 2004 Masters, with its walk-off birdie that changed the course of Mickelson’s career. I’d say the 2021 PGA Championship easily ranks among the most memorable majors of the Tiger era and that’s enough for me.

How much will ‘Eyerollgate’ poison the U.S. team atmosphere at the Ryder Cup? And more broadly speaking, are intra-team conflicts a big reason the U.S. has only won 3 of the last 10? @bradhendricks

The only person who deserves more pity than Steve Stricker is me! Look at the World Rankings this minute: six of the top seven are Americans and 11 of the top 16, compared to only four Euros. On paper, this U.S. team is far more talented than Europe and its core is considerably younger. My prediction about long-term American dominance would be a sure thing…except for the telenovela level of drama in the U.S. team room. Patrick Reed is a cancer, Brooks and DJ are on the outs, Brooks and Bryson are going at it like rutting stags…are they doing this just to spite me? Steve Stricker is the nicest human on the planet so maybe he can somehow get these players to come together. If not, the U.S. is set up for another maddening defeat.

1. I am now a member at Cruden Bay. Do you want to play with me sometime?

2. I’m going to Pebble Beach in March next year. Think you could help me out at Cypress, #AskAlan? @RalphWardlaw

  1. Hell to the yes – you know it’s my favorite course on the planet.
  2. No. 

Good to see you back with #AskAlan. When you see the rumblings around a new super tour, do you see the sport aching for a new product? Do you see it ever happening? @SportaSmile

Thanks! I’m happy to be back. Yes, the Tour product is rather boring, especially as the style of play has become more predictable: an endless number of 72-hole stroke play events on mostly defenseless courses. But the Tour could solve this problem with more creative thinking. A mixed-team event with the LPGA is a no-brainer. Let’s take the New Orleans model to the illogical extreme, with a worst-ball scramble, games of hammer, one mulligan per 9 holes…anything to inject a little life into the proceedings. How about a tournament using Stableford or the Par Points scoring system? Three or four more untraditional events is probably all that’s needed to break the monotony and stimulate more fan interest. If the Tour is more open-minded it can easily blunt the incursions of the aspiring super tours.

Which pro golfer is most generous with his time when it comes to fans and/or media? @hannebaumsaway

Per the fans, it’s still Phil. The guy is tenacious about signing autographs and all the little interactions he offers during his rounds go a long way toward making folks feel like they’re part of the show in some small way. Among the current superstars, Dustin Johnson is the most giving when it comes to the media. He’s so easygoing he’ll stop and talk to anyone, whereas every other top player can retreat behind a thousand yard stare and just keep going. Dustin’s interviews may not be expansive but I’ve never seen him blow off a reporter, which is pretty remarkable.

Why didn’t Phil go to Tulsa to play a Senior major instead of going to Colonial and missing the cut? Winning score for the USWO at Olympic: over or under par? @JStew68129215

Because Phil rightfully considers the Champions Tour to be a glorified exhibition circuit and he would rather test himself against the best. And he had already said he’d play at Colonial and he feels an old-school obligation to honor his commitments. As for Olympic, it’s such a relentless test. There is no doubt the USGA could set it up have +2 or +4 as the winning score. But heavy rough is especially boring at a Women’s Open because, per physiology, the players have a little less clubhead speed than what we see at the U.S. Open and so there is less ability to pull off recovery shots. I think the USGA wants the best women to be able to showcase their precision and shotmaking so I think a tough-but-fair setup will yield a winning score of…even par.

What do we have to do to NOT hear golf writers talk about their golf bets? @NYRfan46

Seriously! Gambling is like golf: thrilling to partake but nobody–and I mean absolutely nobody–wants to hear you discuss your victories and defeats in forensic detail. The rise of golf gambling is surely good for various bottom lines but no question it has impoverished the discourse around the game.

Who wins a major sooner, Rory or Jordan? @GolfLover67

Jordan. He has so much more grind in him and his wedge/putter are much deadlier. Even if Spieth is fighting his swing he can will himself into contention, whereas if Rory is even a little bit off he seems to have no chance.

Jordan Spieth speaks to caddie Michael Greller

What is Mike Greller thinking about while Spieth goes through his analysis on every shot? He just seems to be staring into oblivion hoping he’ll be struck down by lightning. @EoinMurphyej1

The problem here is that Spieth routinely pulls off miracles so who is Greller to try to talk his boss out of accessing this genius? Most of the time when Spieth is talking through a shot it feels to me that he wants affirmation, not a debate. Or he’s saying it out how he wants the shot to go just to bake in the feeling. I think Greller is smart to stand by and let his man do his thing.

When are you moving to Southern California? @nolachgz

It’s true, there is now a very strong gravitational pull to Oceanside, where the Fire Pit Collective offices are located (and currently we’re almost done redoing the interiors). We just hired two more folks who have not yet been announced publicly and they’re also based in SoCal so a lot of collaboration and hijinks are forthcoming. My kids are all teenagers now and there’s no way they would consent to being uprooted at this point. But hopefully I’ll be heading down to Oceanside once a month or so to work alongside my Collective colleagues and hang out at Goat Hill. This feels like the best of both worlds.

–Alan Shipnuck

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3 thoughts on “The Return of #AskAlan”

  1. How many times did Jordan send a ball flying past the green into heavy rough? I remember at least three. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? (Einstein cliche.) But as far as Rory is concerned, he’s got to be the dumbest pro, wastes his talent. That last-hole save a few weeks ago was unnecessary. All he had to do was not hit the drive left!

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