One week down, who knows how many weeks to go. While COVID-19 continues to dominate the news cycle, we’re shifting our focus back to golf. When appropriate, we will include a few newsy updates, but mainly we’ll use the space to discuss certain players and trends in today’s game in our Newsletter Notes segment.
In today’s newsletter…
- The R&A keeps hope alive for men’s and women’s Opens this year.
- In the 2010s, Justin Rose revitalized his career with a little extra speed.
The R&A announced that the Open Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open are still on the schedule. Slated for July, these are among the last major championships in golf not to be postponed over concerns about the coronavirus.
PGA Tour Latinoamérica player Victor Lange tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Full Story from Will Gray
Justin Rose goes deep
When golfers chase distance, it rarely works out. But there are exceptions. Famously, Bryson DeChambeau beefed up for the 2020 season, and early indications have been positive for our stout science boy. Another recent success story is Justin Rose.
During the 2009 PGA Tour season, Rose averaged 288 yards, ranking 90th in driving distance and 64th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He finished 84th in the FedEx Cup. Over the next ten years, however, he made incremental gains in yardage. By 2019, he was averaging 303. That was good enough for 28th in driving distance, 62 spots higher than he was a decade earlier. So at age 39, Rose was 15 yards longer than he was at age 29. In that same ten-year span, he established himself as one of the world’s best and most consistent players. He won ten PGA Tour events, a U.S. Open, and a FedEx Cup.
While this may come across as a subtle dig at technological advances over the past decade (well, it partly is), the main point is that Rose did something rare: he pursued length mid-career, and he actually improved. It’s no secret that driving distance is a necessity on the modern PGA Tour. Cameron Champ, Matthew Wolff, and Viktor Hovland are proving that speed is being taught—and taught well—to today’s juniors. But Rose is a different case. He completely overhauled his game after recognizing the need for a change, and he figured out how to get longer in an efficient manner.
Today, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson are (very publicly) attempting to gain yardage off the tee. Whereas Bryson, at 26 years old, wants to transform himself into a top-tier bomber, Phil is chasing distance as a way to prolong his career. Meanwhile, he seems to be sacrificing other skill areas, and his overall performance has suffered. Distance rules right now. If you don’t have it and can’t find a way to get it without blowing up your game, you’re likely to be left in the dust.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Streamsong Red (Bowling Green, Florida)
For most of its 18 holes, the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-designed Streamsong Red loops around Tom Doak’s Blue Course. While Doak got the better plot all around, Coore & Crenshaw had plenty of great ground to work with, including sand dunes formed by a past mining operation. But to reach the best terrain, the first five holes had to be manufactured. The rest of the course tumbles through sublime landforms. The initial stretch here is particularly strong: the iconic par-5 7th, which revolves around a greenside knob; the short par-3 8th, with its reverse-S green; and the drivable par-4 9th. In these immense dunes, you will find some of the most thrilling shots at the resort.
Insider tip: The 15th hole at Streamsong Red is strikingly similar to the 18th at Sand Hills. If you look back at this hole from the 8th tee on the Blue Course, you can see the canyon Coore & Crenshaw tied the fairway bunker complex into. –Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Bear Apparent – To accompany today’s Shotgun Start Spotlight segment, Andy cooked up a profile of the multiply-nicknamed Hal Sutton.
The Fried Egg Podcast: Superintendent Series – Episode 6: Josh Lewis
Josh Lewis, superintendent at Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club, joins Andy for the latest installment of our Superintendent Series, brought to you by the Toro Company. They talk about the impact COVID-19 has had on the turf industry before digging into Josh’s early days at Coos Bay, Bandon Dunes, Pasatiempo, and Chambers Bay. Follow Josh on Twitter @theturfyoda. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Shotgun Start: MLGT Betting, Sasquatch Flashback, and the legend of Halimony Sutton
This Friday episode begins with a reader submission on how a relatively middling player could use this layoff to then make a #brandactivation splash when golf does resume. Then we discuss the fact there are now odds for our beloved Minor League Golf Tour and the potential for fixing down on that Tour. We discuss the current range of golf course operations and adjustments across the country, from outright closures to pared down staffs, and what we think maybe should be the appropriate solution. A truncated Flashback segment focuses on K.J. Choi’s Tampa win wielding a Sasquatch just a week after he put the quadrilateral driver in the bag. Our SGS Spotlight focuses on Hal Sutton, aka Halimony aka The Bear Apparent aka Prince Hal aka Popeye Arms. We hit on Hal’s outrageous run as an amateur out of Shreveport, his amazing success in his first two years as a pro, his game falling off a cliff in his prime for “many reasons,” and the resurgence at the turn of the century, including his staredown of 2000 Tiger Woods at the Players. We also hit on, uh, his propensity for marriages (failed ones), his off-the-course cash haul and spending habits, and his Ryder Cup dustup with Phil Mickelson. It’s a long one with many entertaining quotes and excerpts from a sui generis career. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
There won’t be live golf on television for many weeks. Luckily, you can grab one of our lovely course photos, hang it in front of your TV, unfocus your eyes, and pretend it’s the Masters or something. Shop our collection of prints from Sand Valley, Pasatiempo, Streamsong, Ballyneal, and more!