AskAlan

#AskAlan, Vol. 49

With thoughts about the PIP payouts, World Ranking tweaks, the Wishbone Brawl, Rory’s blood sugar and much more

By Alan Shipnuck

Given the tour’s limited resources, why give $15M to the semi-retired guy who is already a gazillionaire and then $28M more to the three guys (McIlroy, Spieth, Thomas) who constantly say it’s not about the money? Seems that PIP money would be better suited for the Korn Ferry Tour and securing the talent pipeline? @kylelabat

Well, Tiger Woods left a lot of money on the table when he spurned LIV Golf, and the Tour is using the Player Impact Program as a kind of installment plan to make him whole. In Year 1, the PIP was a fun talking point, and Phil and Tiger trading barbs on social media added an exclamation point to the experiment. Now the whole thing just feels gross. The PGA Tour’s strongest argument in differentiating itself from from the competition was that it’s a meritocracy and LIV’s guaranteed money is anathema to the culture of the sport. But now the Tour is giving away $100 million willy-nilly in a desperate attempt to buy the loyalty of its top players—how is this different than LIV’s signing bonuses? The PIP is money for nothing, and as this question suggests, could be better spent cultivating future stars. 

Adam Svensson comes through with the victory! Svensson, Connors, Hadwin, Pendrith, Hughes…With the next Presidents Cup being in Canada, what is the maximum number of Canadians that could realistically be on that team? @HeavySvenB

The zealotry of Canadian golf fans never disappoints! Nobody anywhere else in the world is thinking ahead to the Presidents Cup in 2024, but I respect the angst baked into the question. All the fellas you mention here are fine players, and each of them could be in the mix when the International team comes together lo those many months from now. I say the more Canucks the better—it will give the home team more of an advantage and some identity to an event that still needs it.

Is the Wishbone Brawl the best event in golf? #AskAlan @ElNino22

It has to be on the short list. I’m really excited to get to the second annual Sandbelt Invitational, to be played in Melbourne the week before Christmas; it appears to have some of the same freewheeling DNA as the Wishbone, and the playing fields are wondrous. But part of what makes the Wishbone so fun is how humble and welcoming Goat Hill is as the host venue. There’s just some secret sauce to the Brawl—in the last two years, both Fred Couples and Geoff Ogilvy have said that the event is as much fun as they’ve ever had on a golf course. Many of the spectators would agree. If you’re a golf fan in Southern California (or willing to travel), I would implore you to add the Wishbone to your bucket list.

AskAlan

World Golf Ranking: Rahm, Rory, Fitzpatrick and Hatton are a weaker field than PGA’s snoozefest in Sea Island? @thomas_fabick

We had a long conversation on this topic in this week’s Fire Drill podcast, but succinctly: The changes in the OWGR date to 2018 studies about how to modernize the mathematical formula that seeks to quantify the unknowable. In August 2021 the tweaks to the algorithm were announced, subject to a 12-month comment period. In August 2022, the new math became the law of the land. Folks affiliated with LIV Golf, the Asian Tour and the Euro Tour have all variously felt targeted by the changes that sought to make the OWGR more meritocratic. A crucial change was that the ranking eliminated the minimum number of points that had been allocated to various tours based on their historical strength. This has hit the Euro Tour hard as its diminished fields are no longer being artificially propped up, which led to Jon Rahm’s scathing comments at the tour’s season-ending event. The ranking has also become more biased in favor of full-field events. The thesis is sound: Given the depth in professional golf, it’s harder to beat 155 players than 50, no matter who they are. Dubai had more star power, but the winner in Sea Island had to fend off three times as many players, any of whom is capable of shooting 62 on any given day. I like the new ranking—it makes sense to me. And I love all the controversy it has created…yet another gift from the content gods.

Why can’t caddies use pull carts? Is there any good argument besides tradition? @ALX_ACH

Optics. It would add some clutter in the fairways and around the greens, but more than that, carts would destroy caddies in the popular imagination as rugged, hard-living ruffians who do an honest day’s work. Optics is why the PGA Tour leadership has resisted rangefinders; these handy devices could speed up play but it’s an untraditional look that subverts the romance of the player-caddie strategizing and their old-school math.

When the CEO of CME Group issues a negative comment after putting up one of the largest purses, is it time for the LPGA commish to rally the troops? Or was this simply a misunderstanding? @TBromfman

A little of both. Seems like this conversation could have happened behind closed doors, but I understand it’s a bummer when you throw a lavish party and none of the invited guests bother to show up.

I am in Portugal on a golf trip and I am going to play what is apparently a top course (Monte Rei by Jack Nicklaus). How do I enjoy that day the most? I am already too excited. #AskAlan @tjardar

Think about baseball. But I, too, am familiar with this kind of premature exhortation. I’ve rocked up to many great golf courses already so overly excited that my tempo and grip pressure are a mess. After a few bad holes at the outset of the round, the self-loathing begins: You know you’re lucky to be playing this course and might never make it back, and you want so desperately to play well that it’s crushing when you don’t. Then you wind up moping around and ruining what should have been a great experience. My advice is not to worry about your score, just try to focus on hitting memorable shots. Great courses give you so many chances to be a hero; if you screw up one hole, hot-step to the next tee to see what challenge awaits. Your buddies at home don’t want a full recounting of your round, and probably won’t even ask what you shot. But try to free yourself up so you can go home with a couple of unforgettable moments.

If you were going to compare prominent people in the landscape of professional golf to characters on The Sopranos, who would you choose? I’ll go first: Greg Norman is Richie Aprile. @ZitiDoggsGolf

Oh, man, one of my failings is that I never got that intoThe Sopranos. I need to binge it before I dare answer this question. But if you want me to do The Wire or Mad Men or Game of Thrones or Entourage, I’m game. 

Have you heard of Copa Los Andes and the best format in team golf? Nine countries, four days of competition, with foursomes in the morning and singles in the afternoon. Match play, with two simultaneous matches in a threesome. Men and women on the same course at the same time. You should come see it one year. Starts Wednesday. @MarcosMac0

I had never heard of the Copa, but thanks for the education. This event sounds spectacular! Sign me up.

Am I the only person counting down the days until LIV resumes? I have a hard time watching what the PGA Tour has become. #askalan @Joecattle101

Well, I am also looking forward to the LIV reboot, but that’s months away. We’re going to see a lot of Tiger in December, and then the Tour hits the ground running right after New Year’s with a stacked field on a wildly interesting course, Kapalua. The big-time tournaments just keep coming with the West Coast swing juiced by elevated events. We don’t know what the Tour has become yet; as with LIV, the 2023 season will be crucial for assessing a tweaked product. So don’t give up yet.

I noticed Rory has a blood sugar monitor attached to his right arm. Has he always been a diabetic? @m_gris0911

He’s not diabetic, he’s just trying to learn how his body reacts to different foods so he can more fully optimize his diet and thus his performance. Walter Hagen smiles wanly from the grave.

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4 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 49”

  1. As a type 1 diabetic, I can tell Rory that his blood sugar isn’t going to fluctuate much and his body will regulate it on its own. He has no need to worry about it.

  2. If they were truly concerned with optics, they would do away with caddies all together. Imagine you’re watching golf for the very first time. You notice every golfer has a servant, to perform all the menial tasks that the players feel are beneath them. Then you notice the servants often take blame, and occasionally, abuse, for their efforts. You’d have to come to the conclusion that golf is for fuckin’ assholes, right?

    1. You’re watching golf for the very first time. Cameras and microphones eavesdrop on a player/caddie conversation. You hear the caddie give his man an exact yardage, then hear the “servant” coach his boss into a confident state of mind after offering sage advice on the shot to be played. “You’ve got this,” the caddie says as his player settles into his shot. With loads of information and that on-point pep talk you come away thinking, “Those caddies must be a wonderful part of the game. They make the man they’re working for a better player!”

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