Ringing empty

The Olympic Games get postponed, UK courses close, and Seamus Golf steps up


Are you guys snacking all day, too? Good, it’s not just us. Let’s talk some golf to distract us from the chips.

News and updates

  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been officially postponed and will take place no later than the summer of 2021. No official dates have been announced.
  • In light of the new UK restrictions, the English and Scottish golf unions announced that all courses will be closed until further notice. Given the rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States, don’t be surprised if we hear a similar announcement stateside.

The Storylines

Olympic-sized impact

Two events have previously caused the Olympic Games not to proceed as scheduled: World War I and World War II. Needless to say, we live in extraordinary times.

While this delay will have a wide-ranging impact both in and out of the sports world, let’s consider how it might affect golf.

First, there’s the schedule. Not only will the PGA Tour have to revamp or even scrap its plans for the coming summer and fall, it will now have to accommodate the Olympics sometime in 2021. It will be a gut check for the Tour’s business model. Already Ponte Vedra is juggling economic uncertainty, fears about the exponential spread of the coronavirus, and sponsors looking to make up for canceled events. An emphasis on the bottom line would lead to a chaotic second half of 2020 and a cluttered 2021. (Preview of coming attractions: in Friday’s newsletter, we’ll run through our ideal end-of-year schedule.)

A lot of pro golfers will also feel the impact of the postponement. While Olympic golf isn’t a big deal to certain male American pros, it’s huge to many international players. Last year, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan had this to say on our podcast about the importance of the competition outside of the States:

“Inbee Park from Korea wins the gold medal. A year before that she was playing to win her fourth major in a row. When she did that, in Korea we had an 8 TV rating. An 8 rating. That’s a Tiger Woods-worthy rating, in her home country. When she won the Olympics—in the middle of the night, by the way, in Korea—it was a 24.1 rating.”

For certain other players, getting on the podium can be life-altering in surprising ways. Sungjae Im has recently established himself as one of the best young players on the PGA Tour. The 21-year-old South Korean is currently No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking and should have a real shot at the top 10 soon. But unless he wins an Olympic medal (or a gold medal in the Asian Games) by his 29th birthday, he will likely have to press pause on his career and complete two years of military service for his home country. We could easily see this scenario play out soon with world No. 50 Byeong Hun An, who was slated to represent South Korea at the Tokyo Games. An will turn 29 in September.

So although golf has only recently returned to the Games, the postponement of the Olympics will have a substantial impact on the golf world. We can only hope that Tokyo gets the all-clear next summer, or else we may not see Olympic golf until 2024 in Paris.

The greater good

Many of you are familiar with Seamus Golf’s well-made head covers and accessories. Now the company is putting its craftsmanship to a different use. On Monday, the folks at Seamus announced they would be shutting down normal operations and devoting their time to making masks for physicians, nurses, and first responders. They will provide the masks free of charge.

In these gloomy times, it’s heartening to see a company adapt its skills for the benefit of the medical community. Cheers, Seamus.

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

For an introduction to this ongoing list, check out its home on our website.

Spyglass Hill Golf Course (Pebble Beach, California)


As an example of Robert Trent Jones’s mid-century architecture, Spyglass Hill is tough to beat. It’s a big, beautiful property with big, impressive golf holes. The opener is the biggest of all, plunging from the Del Monte Forest to the seaside dunes. Holes 2 through 4, a drop-shot par 3 bookended by a pair of short par 4s, occupy the same dune system that runs through nearby Cypress Point. Jones’s 4th green is unforgettable, a long, skinny punchbowl with a reverse tier. Especially in the wind, it’s a tricky target. Yes, the ensuing climb back into the pines is something of a letdown. Yes, the uphill approaches to isolated greens fronted by deep bunkers blend together in the memory. Yes, the mowing lines could be—okay, okay. You get it. Spyglass is not among my favorites. But it’s very much a must-see. Sturdy and striking, a test of golf from a time when tests of golf were valorized, RTJ’s contribution to the 93953 zip code is a piece of history, and it deserves respect. Long may it brood upon its hill.

Insider tip: Along the top of the dune ridge behind the 2nd and 3rd greens is a public hiking trail. Park at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center and follow the green signs. The course to your left? Cypress Point. Here’s a map. -Garrett Morrison

Photo credit: Garrett Morrison

The Latest from The Fried Egg

School of Golf Architecture, Part 2: Linksland 

The second part of our serialized introduction to course design profiles the first and most influential golf architect: the linksland. Coastal dunescapes gave the sport its first fields of play as well as its founding ethos. To learn more about how terrain has shaped the game, Garrett talks to George Waters (@gwatersgolf), the Manager of Green Section Education for the USGA and the author of the book Sand and Golf. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. The accompanying post on our website features outtakes from the interview (how can links conditions be cultivated outside of the linksland? what is distinctive about links hazards?) along with beautiful images from George’s substantial photo library.

Designing Sheep Ranch: Part 2 – The Routing

In our second and final video on the design of Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes, Bill Coore talks through the process of routing the golf course. He discusses how he and design partner Ben Crenshaw maximized the coastline, why they clustered teeing grounds together, and how they squeezed 18 great holes onto the small property.

Shotgun Start: Olympics canceled but Rosey has a watch, Sean Martin joins for David Duval spotlight

This Wednesday episode disposes of some brief news before a lengthy dive into the life and career of David Duval with special guest Sean Martin, Senior Editor at PGA Tour dot com. The brief news is an Olympics postponement and Justin Rose using the occasion to show off his fancy watch on social media. Then we get to our SGS Spotlight subject: David Duval. Sean joins us to discuss this turn-of-the-century legend but quickly becomes an observer to an unexpected back-and-forth on O’Meara vs. Duval. We pore over Duval’s career with a fine-tooth comb, from his amateur days to his Nike Tour success to his legendary four-year run that put him at No. 1 in the world. Some stats from his 59 at the Bob Hope, his close calls at Augusta, his Players, and his Open are given the treatment. We discuss the sudden and precipitous fall after that Open win and potential comps in pro golf history (and present). Then we read from and marvel at some of the details of his personal story and tragedy, much of which was captured in an all-time profile from the great Gary Smith, a piece of writing that had us tearing up at times during research. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

But first, coffee

It may have been free, but that burnt coffee at the office was never worth the pain and suffering. So one advantage of working from home is that you can have great coffee every morning! Start your day with the Shotgun Start Blend from our friends at Bixby Coffee. Get yours today!