Hey, hi, how are ya? Is your week going okay? If it isn’t, no need to fear. Primetime Hawaiian golf is here!
In today’s newsletter…
- The PGA Tour goes from big Kapalua to little Waialae.
- Waialae’s smaller scale takes the emphasis off brawn.
We’re not on Maui anymore
The second half of the PGA Tour’s Hawaiian swing brings us to the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, a historic Seth Raynor design in Honolulu. Built in the 1920s, Waialae has hosted a PGA Tour event for the past 55 years.
Waialae stands in stark contrast to the expansive Plantation Course at Kapalua. Rather than 100-yard-wide fairways, dramatic elevation changes, and uneven lies, this week’s field will see a flat, fairly narrow course with a number of sharp doglegs. Players will face awkward angles, small greens, and more palm trees than they can shake a pu’ili stick at. Diversity is king in golf architecture, so we think the Kapalua-Waialae combo is a fine start to the season.
Like Harbour Town, Sedgefield, and Colonial, Waialae is not for bombers only. Recently, with the help of Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design, the club has made modest changes to keep up with the times. They’ve altered mowing lines, removed trees, and reintroduced template green complexes to bring back some Raynor flavor. But the scale of the course has remained small, especially for a Tour venue.
According to our friends at Data Golf, driving distance at Waialae has the second lowest predictive power of any PGA Tour course. That’s not to say that length doesn’t help, but it isn’t as much of a necessity as it is elsewhere. Mark Wilson won here, for goodness’ sake! Old-school courses are a dying breed on the PGA Tour, but Waialae has stood the test of time.
See who Fried Egg Paulie likes on Waialae’s intimate layout with Paulie’s Picks!
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Sony Open in Hawaii
- TV coverage
- Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday, 6-10 p.m ET (Golf Channel)
- Tee Times
- Matt Kuchar won last year’s Sony Open as the El Tucán tipping scandal detonated around him.
- Fresh off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Justin Thomas is a 5-1 favorite to win at Waialae. Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson are both 12-1.
South African Open (European Tour)
- TV coverage…
- Thursday-Friday, 5-10 a.m. ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday-Sunday, 4-9 a.m. ET (Golf Channel)
- Tee Times
- Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen and Eddie Pepperell headline a thin field at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.
Postponed in November because of protests in the region, the Hong Kong Open will be played this week—though not as part of the European Tour. Aaron Rai is the defending champion, and Shane Lowry and Tony Finau are the biggest names in the field.
Dave Shedloski has a rundown of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s annual media briefing at Kapalua. Noteworthy bits included some milquetoast word salad about the Patrick Reed situation and a not-so-reassuring aside on the Tour’s new pace-of-play policy: “Monahan added that the primary objective is not necessarily to speed up play appreciably.”
As Golf Magazine’s Luke Kerr-Dineen discovered on Monday, Bryson DeChambeau has a Twitch channel! That is, he streams video of himself playing the video game Fortnite and chatting about topics such as Bentleys, science, and farting. It’s very, very good content.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start Fantasy Pool: Join the Shotgun Start’s new free monthly fantasy contest! Pick your team of players from each of the seven SS-inspired categories and cheer them on to victory. This month’s contest includes the Sony Open, The American Express, the Farmers Insurance Open, and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The teams with the most money earned over those four events will win prizes! Entries close Thursday, January 9, at 10 a.m. ET. JOIN NOW!
The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 164: Geoff Ogilvy – Presidents Cup, Royal Melbourne, and the new decade
Geoff Ogilvy joins Andy to talk about his experience being an assistant captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup. The two discuss the competition and the brilliance of Royal Melbourne. Geoff explains why Royal Melbourne stands out from the typical PGA Tour stops and why it allowed the best players to elevate their games. Beyond the Presidents Cup, Geoff tells the story of his recent walk-off hole-in-one, and Andy and Geoff make some predictions about the next decade of golf. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Allenby Memorial Open, Jay Monahan defends Pat Reed, and 2020 breakout players
This Wednesday episode starts with the schedule for the week, leading to a discussion on the Coetzee brothers, the Hong Kong Open, and love for the Great Exuma Classic and its maniacal setup. The Sony Open gives Brendan and Andy occasion to discuss what they love about this first full-field event of the year, including the course characteristics, setting, and rookie appearances. There’s also a reliving of all the weird things that have happened here, from the Allenby sidewalk assault to the Golf Channel camera strike to the nuclear attack false alarm that had John Peterson jumping for cover in his bathtub (as well as comment on the efficacy of such a protective measure from a missile attack). A lengthy news segment focuses on the PGA Tour Commissioner defending Patrick Reed’s Hero World Challenge actions and saying, “I believe Patrick.” This prompts Andy to relay some of the recent David Stern remembrances and contrast the Tour’s handling of the Reed cheating with how Stern might approach it. They also get to Bryson’s 400-yard drives and “secret” wedges as discussed on his Fortnite stream show. Finally, they wrap with some nominees for breakout players for the upcoming year. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Sweetens Cove Golf Club (South Pittsburg, Tennessee)
From unknown and on the brink of closing to the darling of the golf internet, Sweetens Cove has had quite the journey. In 2011, the nine-holer formerly known as Sequatchie Valley Golf and Country Club underwent a full transformation at the hands of Tad King and Rob Collins. The pair moved earth to create stunning waste areas as well as unabashedly bold greens and surrounds. The green complexes are so bold, in fact, that they might be unique among American public courses. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Sweetens Cove, though, is that it has made the business model of the nine-hole destination course viable. That would have been unthinkable 15 years ago, but social media has changed all aspects of the golf industry. Full Profile (from June 2016!) by Andy Johnson
Insider tip: Spend a day at Sweetens, play different tee boxes each time, and note how the different distances, angles, and pins (the crew sets up two every day) influence the strategy of the holes. -Andy Johnson
Photo credit: Andy Johnson
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