Answers added 6/19/2013 in BOLD

In preparation for this year’s second major, we boldly offer our US Open Predictions 2013.

Winner: Justin Rose
Winning Score: +1
Runner Up: Jason Day and Phil Mickelson
Low Amateur: Michael Kim
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Billy Horschel (T-4), Hideki Matsuyama (T-10), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (T-10)
Last Year’s Winner (Webb) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Made the cut
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 1 (Ernie Els)
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: Phil lost it, but Rose won it too.

Best finish:
Phil, Kuchar, or Stricker?: Phil (T-2 +3)
Els, Vijay , or ZJ?: Els (T-4, +5)
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Luke Donald (T-8, +6)
Furyk, Tiger, or GMAC?: Woods (T-32, both others MC)
Sergio, Bubba, or DJ?: Watson (T-32, +13)

Winner: Steve Stricker (Rose, Stricker T-8 and had a good chance but tripled #2)
Winning Score: E (+1)
Runner Up: Tiger Woods (Phil and Day, Tiger was T-32)
Low Amateur: Steven Fox (MC, Michael Kim, T-17 at +10)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Scott Stallings (T-53)
Last Year’s Winner (Webb) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the cut (true)
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3 (1)
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: likely Stricker barely hangs on, but everyone else will lose it (you decide)

Best finish:
Phil, Kuchar, or Stricker?: Stricker (T-8, but Phil T-2)
Els, Vijay , or ZJ?: Els (Yes)
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rory (T-41; Luke T-8)
Furyk, Tiger, or GMAC?: Can’t go against GMac at the US. He just has magic there. (Furyk and GMac MC’d, so Tiger won by default)
Sergio, Bubba, or DJ?: DJ (Bubba, but DJ was not far behind)

BOLD prediction? Tiger gets into another controversy that keeps him from winning (partially true–his elbow became an issue)

Winner: Tiger Woods (Not even close)
Winning Score: -6 (not even close)
Runner Up: Steve Stricker (T-8, not bad)
Low Amateur: Michael Weaver (solo 64th. Good job picking a guy who made the cut though)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Charley Hoffman (sectional qualifier has to be an unknown, right?) (MC, and, no, he’s one of the most recognizable players on tour, and a prior PGA TOUR winner)
Last Year’s Winner (Webb) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Miss the Cut (made the cut)
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 (just els)
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: Tiger wins by 3. (Tiger won the second hole by 3 when he tripled it)

Best finish:
Phil, Kuchar, or Stricker?: Striks (Phil)
Els, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ (yes, JK, ZJ). (MC)
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: All three MC. (Luke was top 10, all 3 made the cut)
Furyk, Tiger, or GMAC?: Tiger (by default)
Sergio, Bubba, or DJ?: Sergio (Mr. Quad did not win this group)

BOLD prediction? Americans take the top 5 spots. (Too bold. An englishman won it)

JK: 7/24/2012 at 10:37 AM EST

Alright LG, time to put it out there.

There’s a lot of discussion lately about belly putters. More appropriately, there’s a lot of discussion about what to do about them. After going decades without single mid-length putter or long-putter winnings on Tour, now the belly putter is taking the Tour by storm. Three out of four of the current major champions used belly putters to win (Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA; Webb Simpson, 2012 US Open; Ernie Els, 2012 British Open). Bubba Watson (2012 Masters) is the only current major champion who did not use a belly putter to win.

So there are many questions to answer here, but to me, the main point boils down to: 1) is it an advantage? if so, 2) what should be done?

Some people are just antithetical to belly putters and long putters in general. While neither you nor I use them–and I personally find them to be a bit distasteful–I do see a need in golf for them. Many amateur-level players need a way to make the game fun. Poor putting can often thwart someone’s progress as a golfer, and a long or belly putter may give them the stability they need to get over the hump. For example, when my wife’s grandfather played, he wasn’t in good enough health to lean over a putt, so he got a long putter and stopped 3-putting EVERY green (he still did 3-5 times per round, but way less than previously).

I think the more important point, though, is that belly and long putters really don’t give a “better” player much of an advantage. No matter the golfer, the person must still read the putt, account for the speed, pick the line, and set up to it properly before any mechanics of the stroke happen. The ability to do this successfully comes after hours and hours of practice that a “good” player will put in regardless of the length of putter he/she uses. To put it another way, the belly putter didn’t read the 35-footer that Keegan Bradley hit on the 17th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club–the player did. The player read it, accounted for the speed, picked the line, and let the put go on that line.

Further, I don’t think a longer putter shaft REALLY makes it all that much more stable for the better golfer. Adam Scott bogeyed the final four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes largely because he picked poor targets and failed to execute the mental part of his putting routine, not because he was using a long putter instead of a belly putter.

Webb Simpson’s putter didn’t make Jim Furyk pull his fairway shot in the bunker on 18 at Olympic or make Greame McDowell miss his birdie attempt by a mile and a half. Am I missing something?

Opponents of longer-length putters say it helps stabilize the stroke. That may be true, but at the same point, it prevents someone from using his or her athleticism to correct in small variations, such as when precise speed is needed, or when the player plays from the edge of the green and needs to blade the putt a little bit. I’ve practiced with a belly putter before, and I do see some stability improvement. But the stability improvement is far outweighted by the inability to control the distance, for me at least.

In my view, there is little to no real advantage in belly putters. I see it more as a mental advantage that some people will find helps their own games. Maybe some people will play better with them, but I firmly believe that others (like me) won’t. Just like all of the other equipment tweaks one can make (shaft flex, various grips and sizes, cavities vs. blades, groove changes, ball changes, etc etc etc etc etc), I see the putter shaft length and stroke method as just another option that a player can choose to make his or her game better. That’s what it’s all about, right?

What say you LG?

LG: 7/25/2012

For two reasons, I don’t think long putters should be allowed.

First, we should look to the game itself.  For me, golf is about using using a club to move the ball closer to the hole.  While this might seem to leave some room for a belly putter or long putter, the image just seems to go against what golf is all about.  When I think “golf swing,” I can’t imagine an athletic motion taking place with an anchored club.  No other club is anchored to the body in “golf,” so it makes little sense to allow it for the putter, in my view.  For that reason, I don’t think it should be allowed in competition.

Second,I think there is advantage and long putters should probably not be allowed in competition.  Golf is a mental game.  Putting is the strongest mental test given that it requires the least athleticism.  It takes a lot of skill and nerve to make short putts that matter.  I am inclined to believe that long putters provide a mental crutch to players that use them on those kinds of putts because they have the knowledge that they will make a fluid stroke based upon their equipment, not their practiced routine.  In that way, they provide an advantage (whether real or not).  While you can pretty easily point to Adam Scott’s performance in the 2012 Open Championship to counter this, the point isn’t players with long putters can choke, but rather, he choked DESPITE having that mental advantage.  Read: double choke.  At the highest level in the game, the point is to test your mental fortitude, not your ability to make a 4 footer.  No one in the entire world would (or should) bet against Adam Scott on any given 4 foot putt, but that putt becomes harder when it means you win or lose the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year.”  For a player to have a mental advantage over another based upon the equipment they are playing rather than the time spent on the practice green is what bothers me about the long putter and why I think it should not be allowed in competition.

That being said, I think they can be great learning tools to learn a fluid putting stroke.  Often, players like Ernie will switch back and forth between a standard putter and a long putter to get a feel for a good putting stroke.  I’m all for using them in a practice round.  I’m all for using them on the putting green.  I think you and I agree on the fundamental point; Long putters just aren’t golf.

JK, 7/26:

I agree that long putters and belly putters “just aren’t golf,” but I’m less opposed than you. The entirety of golf is about selecting equipment that maximizes your game. We do it with drivers; we do it with golf balls; heck, we do it with shoes. Every little thing to get an advantage makes sense. Some people had this “ban it” mentality when metal woods came out or when cavity-back irons were developed. Slowly, those things have become part of the fabric of the game to where no one would think of using a non-metal driver and cavity-back irons are almost universal. Even the classic “PING Anser” putter was looked at with shame originally but now is the most ubiquitous design available. While I see your point, I think it’s just part of the natural progression of the game. If you’re wanting to ban something, ban the way Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey swings a golf club. That’s way more offensive than a belly putter.

Play of the Week 36

July 13, 2012

This week’s POTW is the John Deere. Normally, we wouldn’t be worried about a “grade B” tournament, but watching the coverage of the first two rounds, I’m brought back to my childhood.

But, not by the John Deere itself–by the players.

When I was young, I was a nerd. Being a nerd, I played golf as a kid (before Tiger Woods–I got cool really fast when he jumped on the scene). I enjoyed watching the tournaments. My favorite player at the time–Nick Price–was doing a great job cleaning up majors and dominating the tour with his Ram Zebra and Goldwin AVDP. Davis Love III was in his prime, and “the greatest player never to win a major.” Phil Mickelson was young…and skinny. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book was the best seller for golf instruction.

I thought it was odd when I saw some Tour Balata and Professional 90 golf balls on sale earlier this week. But theres something to this nostalgia thing. It helps remind you of your past and gives you a flashback to some great memories. I remember the first time I hit a Tour Balata….pretty awesome.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only person to buy some of those Professional 90s, because the guys on the leaderboard this week at the John Deere sure are the ones who know to use ’em. Let’s look at it this way: If I told you that Jeff Maggert was T-2 going into the weekend after shooting 68-62, that Lee Janzen was T-7 at -10, and that Steve Stricker was going for his 4th win, your first reaction would probably be “where’s Greg Norman on the leaderboard” followed by “hey, did you hear what the president said at the deposition? ‘It depends on what the meaning of the words “is” is.'” Yet that’s the leaderboard at the John Deere classic this year.

Alas, it IS 2012. Davis Love III is all but forgotten on the PGA Tour. Nick Price is on the “Champions Tour” (back when I was growing up, we called it the Senior Tour). Phil Mickelson turned out to be every bit the player everyone thought he would be and more so the eater that no one thought he would be. Goldwin and Ram are no longer companies. And if you ask a playing competitor for his “little red book,” you better be ready for some funny looks and a quiet rest of the round. Still, I love when the Tour shows up at an “easy” course, and the old-timers (short hitters) come out and show these young kids how it’s done. Even Stewart Appleby has shown up at T-23, -7.

I’m sure some of the younger kids in their Puma Monolines and Cobra Amp driver are probably thinking “what is this guy talking about?” The golfers of today just are missing something. I won’t say class, but there’s a way the game used to be played that just doesn’t exist anymore. It’s nice to see a flashback of some of these guys–I wish them all the best.

Thanks, guys, for the trip down memory lane. Now go out there and show the young guns how it’s done.

Updated 6/20
Yikes. Once again, our prowess for picking tournaments is pretty poor. See correct answers below:

Winner: Webb Simpson
Winning Score: +1.
Runner Up: GMac and Michael Thompson.
Low Amateur: Jordan Speith.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Michael Thompson, John Peterson. THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY “UKNOWN”–AS IN, NO ONE KNOWS WHO THE F THEY ARE!
Most difficult hole vs. par: 6, but I contend it would have been 16 if they hadn’t moved the tees up on Sunday.
Easiest hole vs. par: 17.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Missed the cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 4 – Furyk, GMac, Els, Goosen
Will there be an ace?: Yes.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 13.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: Furyk definitely lost it

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and Vijay shot 75; ZJ shot 77. no one won.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: 69 for GMac on day 1
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Ryo shot 71 on day 1 (followed by 78 and MC on day 2)

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger shot 70. Phil and Bubba shot 71. Close.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and ZJ shoot 70
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood and Donald shoot 72; Rory shoots 73.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk with the 69
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Johnson shoots 74 FTW. WTF?

Original 6/13:
Alright Ladies and Gents, this week marks the 112th playing of our National Championship.  The tournament will take place in LG’s backyard – the Lake Course at the Olympic Club.  Given LG’s inside knowledge of the course, clearly he should win (and already has because he has inside knowledge).

Without further distraction, our predictions:


Winner: TW.
Winning Score: -3.
Runner Up: Sergio Garcia.
Low Amateur: Patrick Cantlay.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Aaron Baddeley.
Most difficult hole vs. par: par-3 Third.
Easiest hole vs. par: Par-4 Seventh.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the Cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3.
Will there be an ace?: No.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 15.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: TW will win it.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: TW gets off to a rocky start.  Bubba takes the win on day 1.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Hate to say it, but probably ZJ.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Luke shoots even for the win.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler with the win on day 1.

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger makes a charge.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ again, unfortunately.  probably with a +3
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rory comes back to make the cut.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio gives a couple back.  Furyk pulls out the win.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?:  DJ.  Did you see him at the St. Jude?


Winner: Dustin Johnson
Winning Score: Even
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler
Low Amateur: LG, when he finds out he has to work instead of watch the open. But seriously, Cantlay
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Rooting for Tim Weinhart, local pro from Atlanta who made the field through qualifying.
Most difficult hole vs. par: Any of them could be. There isn’t an easy hole on the course. Let’s go with 16.
Easiest hole vs. par: 18
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make the cut. He’s not in good form after choking at the St. Jude
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 0
Will there be an ace?: no
…(assume there is) Which hole: I said NO!
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: No one wins the US Open.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Bubba
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Phil
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Vijay
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: DJ

Play of the Week 33

June 19, 2012

This week, I’m afraid I have to give the POTW to the USGA. Typically, I am not a fan of the US Open. When I’ve watched the tournament in years past, I’ve typically found it to be rather boring for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is pointlessly difficult, to where even the best in the world can make nothing of the courses (Oakmont, 2007; Shinnecock, 2004). In many cases, the winner is boring or surprising–as if we were playing the John Deere classic instead of a Major (e.g., Lucas Glover 2009, Angel Cabrera 2007, Michael Campbell 2005, Reteif Goosen 2001/2004). Often, it’s just a war of attrition, where the one player who’s lucky enough to find his ball on every hole manages to sift through the gauntlet and survive the fray (GMac, 2010). Or, the tournament is just boring (McIlroy, 2011).

But every few years, the USGA gets it right. One of the most memorable tournaments I’ve ever watched was the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger edged Rocco Mediate with a gutsy performance that just outlasted one of the most tenacious players in the game. Or 1999, where the image of Payne Stewart sinking a 20-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole has become an icon of the game of golf. But in 1999, although the winning score was -1, the course played fairly. It showcased how the greatest in the world (a very young Tiger, a younger than now Phil) could play when the pressure cooker was on, and Payne’s lasting legacy of 1-putting the last 3 holes to hold on was truly a riveting watch.

Like ’08 and ’99, this year, the USGA got it right. The US Open this year wasn’t flashy. It was a simple test–a par 70, even. No water hazards to fly over, no forced carries, not even more than a few fairway bunkers. But Olympic Club was just right. The winning score a nice +1, with Webb Simpson coming out on top over Jim Furyk–trying to hold on–and Graeme McDowell, who charged in at the end but couldn’t seal the deal. Webb posted his second 68 of the weekend hours before GMac and Furyk walked off the course, leaving the scene for great tension and excitement. Olympic was a true test–not just a slaughterhouse. It TESTED the best in the world, but the test could be passed. Players didn’t complain that it was unfair or say that it was too penal. Instead, they went about their business, and the winner played under par both rounds on the weekend. When was the last time you said that about a US Open winner? (well, other than 2011, when Rors was on an absolute tear, but who else?) And, for the second time this year, the winner of a major has come from a pairing other than the final group, which is some welcome excitement that we don’t often see.

I’m not saying this was as exciting as the Masters is every year, or that the US Open is no longer my least favorite of the majors. What the USGA typically does to the players isn’t right, on any level. But this year, the course was what a true test should be. When a player masters that test, he should get the trophy, and Webb did. So, to the USGA, we solute you. And, to Webb Simpson, congrats on passing the test.

us open olympic

Play of the Week 8

January 13, 2011


This week’s POTW goes to DJ–my man! Dustin Johnson is reportedly dating darling of the LPGA Natalie Gulbis. Gulbis followed DJ at the back nine of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Gulbis, who apparently leaked the news, stated “I’ll let Dustin handle our PR” with a smile.

Johnson has purportedly denied a relationship with Gulbis. The big question: why! Come on dude! You landed the hottie of the LPGA. Brag about it a little. According to ( “The only thing longer than Dustin Johnson’s drives are Natalie Gulbis’s legs.”

While some would say Paula Creamer is #1 hottie for the LPGA (a lot of people: , DJ certainly could have done worse.

So here’s to you DJ! You may not have won the 2010 US Open at Pebble, which you should have. You may not have won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which you should have. You may not have landed PF favorite Lauren Thompson. But you certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to landing a hottie. Here’s hoping you find the fairway.

And, just for good measure, let’s not forget about the darling of the PF… Lauren Thompson, official hottie of The Power Fade.

Here’s to you too. 8)