This is not a drill. We have live golf on the horizon. In a time when good news is rare, this week has been pretty decent. *Knock on wood*

News and updates

  • TaylorMade staffers Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Matthew Wolff are officially scheduled to play in TaylorMade Driving Relief, a charity skins match on Sunday, May 17. Set to take place at one of the best and most rarely seen golf courses in the country, the Donald Ross-designed Seminole Golf Club, the exhibition will pit DJ and Rory—representing the American Nurses Association—against Rickie and Wolff, who will play for the CDC Foundation. Live coverage will air on NBC, with Mike Tirico heading a team of off-site commentators. Jerry Foltz and Steve Sands will be the only two on-site reporters, and fans will not be allowed on the grounds. Full Story from Golf Channel
  • The Korn Ferry Tour released its new schedule on Monday morning. Some of the pandemic-canceled events will move to the fall, and five new events have been added to the schedule. As we detailed in last Friday’s newsletter, points earned in 2020 will fold into the 2021 list. Press Release

Newsletter Notes

1980 All-PGA Tour Team

Today we take a trip back to 1980, a year of record-breaking major championships and performances from the game’s greats.

Andy Bean (one win, nine top 10s) – “Now that golf has Bean, it has to figure out what to do with him,” Barry McDermott wrote in 1979. Andy Bean was a sensation on the PGA Tour primarily because of his personality. Stories circulated about him grabbing alligators during events, biting the cover off a golf ball, and flying home on Monday of tournament weeks just to fish. Bean was a unique character on golf’s top circuit, and his consistency from the late ’70s to the mid-’80s goes under-appreciated these days.

Curtis Strange (two wins, nine top 10s) – After breaking through for his first PGA Tour victory in 1979, Strange proved his bona fides in 1980. He notched his second and third career wins and recorded his first top-10 finish at a major, a T-5 at the PGA Championship. He also won the JCPenney Classic, a mixed team event with Nancy Lopez. The two got along well, and 20 years later they nearly built a golf course together. Grandview Golf Club commissioned the pair to build its second course in 2001, but a market dip scuttled the project.

Jack Nicklaus (two wins, three top 10s) – After finishing T-33 at the 1980 Masters, his first trip to Augusta National without a top 10 since 1969 (!), the decline of the Golden Bear seemed imminent. He had just turned 40, hadn’t won on Tour since July of 1978, and hadn’t won a major in seven tries. But by June 23, 1980, the cover of Sports Illustrated was declaring “Jack’s Back.” He opened the U.S. Open with a record-tying 63 and finished with a record-breaking total of 272, which displeased those devoted to the championship’s tough-guy tradition. As Dan Jenkins put it, “Baltusrol was the ideal place for Nicklaus to rediscover his talent. Compared to some of the Open monsters, Baltusrol has always been a pushover…. It is more or less a dull golf course.”

Lee Trevino (three wins, 13 top 10s, Vardon Trophy) – The most memorable golf event of 1980 was unquestionably the Players Championship at Sawgrass Country Club. Early on the back nine on Sunday, Lee Trevino held a one-shot lead over six players: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, and Hubert Green. Heard of them? Trevino held off this pack of hall-of-famers for his 23rd PGA Tour victory. Afterwards, the always-quotable Trevino said, “I’m a big boy, too. I’m not cotton candy over here. Somebody had to win. It was my turn, that’s all.”

Tom Watson, MVP (seven wins, 16 top 10s) – Watson won seven times in 1980, but the crowning achievement of his season was his Open Championship title at Muirfield. It was the third of his five Open wins. His performance was clinical: on Saturday Watson shot 64, and on Sunday he coasted to a total of 271, good enough for a four-stroke win. “I can’t believe anybody shot 271 here,” said Jack Nicklaus at the end of the week. Watson had broken the 72-hole record at Muirfield by seven shots.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Maylbag, Part 1 – Andy Johnson answers reader questions about golf in the Midwest, Walter Travis, drone photography, and much more!

The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 281: Brian Schneider

Renaissance Golf Senior Associate Brian Schneider joins Andy to talk golf course architecture. The discussion starts with Brian’s work at North Jersey CC, a Walter Travis design, and ranges from Llanarch CC’s above-ground features to Augusta National to Langford & Moreau’s bold shaping. Follow Brian on Twitter (@bschneider126) and Instagram (bschneidergolf). Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: “Flashlight” on Bobby Clampett, “Peak” decades, the Seminole Match

This Wednesday episode begins with a discussion on tacos, overrated components of tacos, and the delivery vessels of tacos. We then transition to the official announcement of the skins match at Seminole. We ponder how Rory will carry the conversation, how Rickie will activate, how DJ will strategize his way around, how Wolff could be a breakout star and, of course, whether TaylorMade will put CT machines on the first tee for testing. Mostly, we just praise the effort to bring televised golf (for a good cause) back into our lives and at a course that so few have seen on TV. An article on the European Tour’s dire financial situation also leads to a brief discussion on how different the world of golf might look when this is over and how the Euro Tour should focus on a trimmed-down core product. Then Andy brings some numbers to the table to compare and contrast some of the peak decade-long runs we keep encountering during our Spotlight series and applying that marker to some modern superstars. How do they hold up against each other and to some of the names we’ve discussed in detail this past month, like Nick Faldo and Fred Couples? Lastly, we spend some time reliving the career of Bobby Clampett in what is not a full-fledged Spotlight but more of a short Flashlight review. His outrageous amateur run is discussed. We laugh at his hijinks from an all-around amusing 1979 U.S. Open, which also included the infamous Hinkle Tree and an imposter playing a practice round. Clampett’s flameout at the 1982 Open, where he held a 7-shot lead, is highlighted with Dan Jenkins reading. Finally, we discuss his place in history as the great hope of the Golfing Machine that fizzled out following the promise of his amateur success. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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