Them boys up to somethin’

The PGA Tour seeks a MILLION test kits, Marion Hollins is headed for the Hall, and we review the Bulls era… in golf


Best read with happy feet

Chicago Bulls intro music… Aaaaaaaannd now, from The Fried Egg, it’s your Mondayyyyyy newwwwwwssssssletterrrrrr!

(The Last Dance was fun, wasn’t it?)

News and updates

  • According to the Guardian’s Ewan Murray, the PGA Tour is hoping to secure up to a million COVID-19 test kits ahead of its planned June restart. A million! Murray also reports that players and caddies outside the United States could receive travel-ban exemptions.
  • Marion Hollins will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this year. A visionary who helped create Cypress Point and Pasatiempo, Hollins won the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur and captained the first Curtis Cup in 1932.

Newsletter Notes

A decade of change

If you’re anything like us, you were glued to ESPN on Sunday night for the premiere of the Last Dance miniseries. It got us thinking more generally about the 1990s, a decade defined not only by the Chicago Bulls’ six title runs but also by momentous changes in the game of golf. Let’s consider three big ways in which golf evolved between the beginning of the Bulls era (fall of 1990) and the end (summer of 1998).


The ’90s saw hugely important developments in club and ball technology—developments that quickly manifested themselves in PGA Tour statistics. In 1990, the average driving distance on Tour was 263 yards, with the leader (Tom Purtzer) just below 280. By 1999, the average was up to 272, and John Daly was well past the 300 barrier.

One major reason for this uptick was the advent of the large-headed titanium driver. In 1995, Callaway introduced its 250cc Great Big Bertha, and it was a game-changer. So was the multilayered, solid-core, urethane-covered ball. In 1998, two years before the debut of the Pro V1, Mark O’Meara used the Top Flite Strata to win the Masters and the Open. As players got longer, courses added tees and altered holes, and the distance race was on.

Pro golf

The ’90s started with a group of international stars vying to take over professional golf. In October 1990, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, José María Olazábal, and Ian Woosnam were Nos. 1-4 in the world. Over the next several years, Norman and Faldo reached their peaks, as did Nick Price. But the decade ended with a lone American leaving everyone in the dust.

As Tiger Woods’s popularity exploded, so did purse sizes on the PGA Tour. In 1990, Norman led the money list with $1,165,000; in 1998, David Duval topped the same list at $2,591,031. The next year, Tiger accumulated $6,616,585, and Tigermania would soon bring even more money into pro golf.

Golf architecture

The ’90s were a decade of contrasts in golf course design. On one end of the spectrum you had Shadow Creek, Tom Fazio’s wholly manufactured magnum opus outside of Las Vegas. It opened in 1990, and by 1993 it was No. 8 in Golf Digest’s top 100. In the ensuing golf course construction boom, many developers and architects strived for the kind of luxurious aesthetics and conditioning that Shadow Creek exemplified. But one project in the middle of Nebraska went in a different direction.

In 1995, Sand Hills Golf Club opened. As envisioned by developer Dick Youngscap and architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Sand Hills sat naturally on a wonderful piece of undulating land. It cost just over $1 million to build—the anti-Shadow Creek. Inspired in part by Coore & Crenshaw’s minimalist architecture, one of Sand Hills’ founding members, Mike Keiser, went on to develop Bandon Dunes, the Michael Jordan of 21st-century golf resorts.

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The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

The River Course at Blackwolf Run (Kohler, Wisconsin)


While it charges a steep green fee, the River at Blackwolf Run gives golfers a great look at some (relatively) understated Pete Dye architecture. Much of the routing meanders quietly along the body of water that gives the course its name. Standout holes, like the 5th, exude a Langford & Moreau influence. The greens are compelling throughout, with wavy contours that influence the line of charm back to the tee. While there are a few head-scratching trees, the scuttlebutt suggests that they were heavily debated and eventually kept by command of proprietor Herb Kohler.

Insider tip: Blackwolf Run features rates of around $100 in the fall. If you catch a clear day, you’ll see the course at its most beautiful, with the leaves turning and the turf playing firm. -Andy Johnson

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

The Latest from The Fried Egg


The Shotgun Start: One million tests, Mike Clayton on the glory days of the European Tour

This Monday episode begins with a brief reaction to the news from a Guardian report that the PGA Tour is hoping to secure one million coronavirus tests in order to complete its overhauled schedule. Then we are joined for a fantastic and enlightening interview with Mike Clayton, a golf Renaissance man who also played on the European Tour during the heyday of the famous five, currently a subject of the SGS Spotlight series. Mike regales us with stories of Seve, Woosie, Lyle, Faldo, and yippy Langer. We let him go with thoughts on how they immediately burst onto the scene, antagonism with the stateside tour pros, Ryder Cup legends, drinking tales, and why they all succeeded at Augusta National. Mike never holds back and this is a great first hand account of what made the Euro Tour and these Spotlight subjects so fun. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.