#AskAlan, Vol. 20

With thoughts about Viktor Hovland, boorish on-course behavior, ranking the Bandon courses, favorite Alans and much more

By Alan Shipnuck

Young Hov deserves better than another easily ignorable win in the heart of football season. Which major does he win in 2022? @Daniel_Malone

Given the quality of his ballstriking, you have to figure Viktor Holland will be a perennial contender at the U.S. Open. And because the 2022 PGA Championship is at a traditional Open venue, Southern Hills, he should factor there too. I’m desperate for him to win a big one just so we can hear the Norwegian announcers utterly lose their minds.

Viktor repeating at Mexico brings up an interesting question. How much more difficult is it to repeat on the PGA Tour (first since 2019 to do it) than simply win. And does this show Tiger’s greatness in that he was a repeat champion 23 times (h/t Jason Sobel for the stat)? #AskAlan@jameswoldbdc

I would think it’s easier to defend than win on different courses in consecutive seasons simply because if a player has prevailed at a given tournament the course clearly suits his game and there are the accrued good vibes upon returning as champion. The fact that it happens so rarely is a testament to how hard it is to win on the PGA Tour.

Why are the women getting a free pass on playing in Saudi Arabia while the men are so criticized? @BobRoge321

It’s a valid question and, in our “Full Send” podcast, Christina Kim and I have certainly been critical of the increasing Saudi encroachment into the women’s game. The difference in the blowback comes down to need versus want. Across the golf world, women play for a fraction of the money that men do. The LPGA and LET tours are in a more tenuous financial position. The Saudi money helps shore up the schedule and make the future less certain. Meanwhile, the top men are making obscene amounts of money. To take the bloated appearance fees and play in Saudi Arabia at the expense of a great old tournament such as Pebble Beach is pure avarice. Now with the announcement the proud European Tour has been turned into something called the DP World Tour, Middle East money is becoming even more normalized. The Euro Tour was hit hard by COVID-19, and it’s obviously a good thing to have a healthy global tour. It just feels like golf is increasingly selling its soul. (For the record, the Fire Pit Collective was approached by Golf Saudi about making content to help promote the country as a golf destination. The money was good, but we said no.)

Alan: Maybe it’s the munis I play with my 11-year-old son, maybe it’s the times we live in, but why are so many golfers so boorish? The f-bombs, the clouds of reefer smoke, the maddeningly slow play, the general asshat-ness. What gives? @PeteViles

I’m sorry to hear this. You can also add to this list casual misogyny, which often gets tossed around. But I’m not sure the muni courses are at fault—I’ve suffered through similarly obnoxious behavior at plenty of swank country clubs. (Though gummies are usually employed there rather than joints, as they are more discreet.) The simple answer is golfers are humans and humans are inherently flawed. Lately, I’ve called out bad behavior with a simple, “Buddy, that’s not cool.” I think we can gently police our playing partners; a round of golf is a communal experience, and they need to be made aware their words and actions are affecting others. Maybe you can find a regular game with some older golfers? I’ve found they tend to be more courtly and certainly have lots of good stories.

Alan, why has there been zero online shot tracker for the last few PGA Tour events? Awful trying to track online and seems like if the Tour wants to emphasize these fall events, least they can do is make it user friendly for us fans to follow online? @KeithKhorton

ShotLink requires an obscene amount of cutting-edge machinery and an army of trained volunteers, so the Tour has never made the commitment to export the technology to events outside the U.S. It’s a shame because, as-is, a significant number of tournaments are not reflected in the season-long stats. With sports betting infiltrating the game, the stats and real-time play-by-play becomes that much more important. The Tour knows this and hopefully will repurpose some of the betting industry’s filthy lucre to bring us ShotLink at every event.

Updated personal ranking of Bandon courses from most to least favorite? @mcooney1

5. Old Mac, 4. Sheep, 3. Pac, 1. (tie) Trails and Bandon

I’ve always said Bandon Dunes is my favorite course on the property—it’s a rollicking rollercoaster ride with so many great holes and memorable shots. But Trails hit me really hard this time around. So many of the holes are like their own amphitheater; the setting is majestic. But then you have the wondrous shared experiences like 7 green-8 tee-11 tee, or walking off 13 tee and watching the hole of the par-3 12th play out. Anyway, I love Trails and BD so much it’s increasingly hard for me to pick one over the other. But…

You get 10 rounds at any combination of Bandon courses, how do you allocate those 10 rounds?  #askalan@BAIllini98

 1 round at Old Mac. I love the opening and closing holes and need to learn to appreciate more the flattish stretch in the middle. 

 2 at Sheep Ranch. It’s ridiculously fun, but the terrain is not quite as interesting as at the other courses.

 2 at Pacific Dunes. An incredible test with so many jaw-dropping holes.

 2 at Trails. I could happily play here every day for the rest of my life.

 3 at Bandon Dunes. Could very well be the most fun golf course in America.

I’m tired of second-guessing my Bandon route. It’s Eugene (and rental car or transport bus) or bust for life, right?@paulkoehorst

Yeah, North Bend/Coos Bay airport is dead to me now. On this most recent trip we were on our descent to the runway when the pilot pulled up because of deteriorating visibility. We then flew all the way back to SFO! And then caught the next flight to Eugene, which turned into a 15-hour travel day. I could have gotten to Cruden Bay faster! Seems like there are always issues with North Bend so, yes, Eugene is the play, although Portland might make more sense from the East Coast or other faraway ports. But from Northern California I think I’m just going to drive from now on. If everything goes well, it’s eight hours door-to-door flying into Eugene. I can do the drive in 10 hours, and that allows me to leave on my own schedule and not deal with airport security, hopping on and off shuttles and the specter of lost golf clubs.

Of all the Masters tournaments, which do you prefer? Portugal, Andalucia, Iowa, other? @NickGoblirsch

All good choices, but I’m partial to the Czech Masters. The Czech Republic is not exactly a golf mecca, and this Euro Tour event is small-time at best. Therefore, I absolutely love that they went for the most highfalutin name imaginable. 

Favorite Alan from history? @todgerstone

Alan Shepherd is an all-time badass, and Alan Rickman was great in almost every role, and Allen Ginsburg remains a seminal writer even though he spells his name wrong, but I’m gonna go with Alan Alda. I grew up watching M*A*S*H, and Hawkeye Pierce was like a second father to me.

5 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 20”

  1. The drive from Portland to Willamette Valley over to Neskowin Beach then down the coast to Bandon is absolutely unreal. I’ve never seen anything like the Oregon coast. If you’re thinking of flying skip it, the drive is a special part of the trip not to missed.

  2. Hovland is a stud of studs. And he appears 100% comfortable in his own game and his own skin. Sky is the limit for that dude.

  3. You’re experience getting to Bandon is probably one of the main reasons I do not see myself playing there. Taking a cross country flight, dealing with all of the airport stuff, then driving either 2.5hrs from Eugene or 4.5hrs from Portland is just too much of a hassle, Anything more than a 90 minute drive from the airport is too much IMO.

  4. I went to Portland for a conference some years ago and decided I needed to go to Bandon. An article I’d read fairly close to that time said the drive from Portland south was one the non-negotiable trips every scenery loving American had to take. So, I did it – solo. My only wish was that I’d had my wife with me because I would have liked to share the drive with someone else. “Spectacular” doesn’t even begin to describe the drive. I will do it again if the opportunity/will arises. If only I had played better at Bandon…

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