Happy Friday, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the week before Thanksgiving, usually a quiet time in the golf world, but we have a surprising number of things to discuss.

A top-notch leaderboard at a questionable venue

The LPGA Tour’s Pelican Women’s Championship is shaping up to be a must-watch. Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov leads through one round, and Sei Young Kim, Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee, and Ally McDonald accompany her at the top of the leaderboard.

While the event is shaping up to be a fun one, the recent history of its host, Pelican Golf Club, should give golf fans pause. Formerly known as Belleview Biltmore Golf Course, Pelican was designed by Donald Ross in 1925. In 2013, the city of Belleair, Florida, bought the course and maintained it as a municipal facility. Four years later, the family of Daniel Doyle Sr., co-founder of DEX Imaging, purchased the property, and they made it a private club. Residents are no longer allowed to walk the cart paths, and as a recent (Doyle-friendly) article puts it, the new Pelican is “ultra exclusive.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, there have also been some ethically questionable business dealings involving the Doyles, the club, and the local government.

Of course, there’s more than one side to this story. The Doyles reportedly paid the city above market rate for the course in order to help fund local projects, and now they have brought women’s professional golf back to the Tampa Bay area. Those are good things. But the fact remains that well-designed, historic municipal courses are rare, and it’s a shame that one of them has become a wealthy family’s exclusive fiefdom.

A different kind of winner

Matt Wallace and Camilo Villegas lead the RSM Classic through one round out on Sea Island. Both players shot 64 on Tom Fazio’s Seaside Course. RSM Classic Leaderboard

Behind Wallace and Villegas are a slew of chasers, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a “bomber” among them. Adam Long (142nd in 2020 PGA Tour driving distance), Peter Malnati (166th), Rory Sabbatini (183rd), Patton Kizzire (120th), Doug Ghim (108th), Robert Streb (133rd), Emiliano Grillo (113th), Aaron Baddeley (178th), Zach Johnson (175th), Andrew Landry (158th), and Kevin Kisner (160th) are all T-11 or better, with additional “short” drivers close behind them.

While seeing many players in the bottom half of the driving distance stat near the top of a PGA Tour leaderboard is certainly eye-catching, it isn’t hugely surprising at Sea Island Golf Club. According to our friends at Data Golf, both the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island put less emphasis on the skill of driving distance than the average PGA TOUR venue. Both courses also place a relative premium on driving accuracy, a skill that many of the players near the lead have in spades.

That doesn’t mean a long hitter can’t win this week, obviously, but Sea Island does tend to be a place where bunters can take advantage of what they do best. Tyler Duncan (173rd in driving distance) won last year. Maybe we’ll see a player of a similar skill set take home the trophy this week.

Quick Hooks

As if you needed another reason to watch the PNC Championship, this year’s edition will feature the father-son team of Tiger and Charlie Woods. Justin Thomas and his father Mike will also be in the field. We’re checking to confirm that world ranking points are not involved.

Shaun Norris and Wilco Nienaber lead the European Tour’s Joburg Open through one round. Leaderboard

At Sea Island, Stewart Cink became the 68th player to make 600 starts on the PGA Tour. The Tour seemed very proud of this accomplishment. They even made Cink cupcakes! So we thought we’d pass along the information.

The PGA Tour announced that the 2022 BMW Championship will take place at Wilmington Country Club. This will be the first time the Tour has visited Delaware, and the millionth (approximate number) time it has declined to make the Chicago area a yearly stop.

Bill Haas, Kramer Hickok, and Henrik Norlander all tested positive for Covid-19 and withdrew from this week’s RSM Classic. This is the first time since July that three or more players have tested positive for the coronavirus in the same week.

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine breaks down the new collegiate golf recruiting classes from this week’s national signing day.

The Cameron Champ Foundation, in partnership with the Chevron Corporation, will establish two golf scholarships at Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college. Full Story

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 197: Geoff Ogilvy – 2020 Masters

Geoff Ogilvy joins Andy to break down the 2020 Masters. Geoff tells some stories about playing with this year’s champion Dustin Johnson and discusses DJ’s great mental approach to golf. The conversation also touches on the excellent play from several members of the 2019 Presidents Cup International team, and on the reasons why Rory McIlroy might struggle getting out of the gate at major championships. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

We are recording a new batch of Yolk with Doak episodes with Tom Doak next week. If you have a question you’d like Tom to answer, send us an email and it may get asked on a podcast!

Shotgun Start: Cupcakes for Mr. 600, Airplane angst, and a Web Tour schedule review

“That felt like we talked about nothing for an hour” was the instant review from Andy after this episode finished recording. So either dive in and confirm that, or don’t. It’s a winding Friday episode that hits on some amusements from early Sea Island action, like a cupcake delivery from the Commish for a player making his 600th start, the Courier Cup points allure, and a BfB vs. Peppy Peter fantasy matchup. There’s also a flashback Friday on the inaugural RSM winner, the Tiger slayer himself, Heath Slocum. Brendan addresses some push back from Tampa denizens on the conditioning of this week’s LPGA venue prior to its purchase and conversion to a private playground. A schedule news segment discusses the Western Open setting up shop in the Mid-Atlantic, the NCAAs heading to SoCal, the Bobby Parsons College Golf Showcase, and a debrief on the newly announced 2021 Web Tour lineup. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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