It’s finally, over, ladies and gentlemen. The last day of January means we are one month closer to spring. Keep the faith; warm weather is coming.
In today’s newsletter…
- The unique identity of the Waste Management Phoenix Open reminds us of what’s missing from much of the rest of the PGA Tour schedule.
- Wyndham Clark posts a low number at TPC Scottsdale.
- Not even the European Tour social media team can make a Saudi cash grab look cool.
Unique, New York, unique, New York…
Many tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule lack a memorable identity, but not this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. From its beginnings as a small event in the 1930s, the Phoenix Open gradually developed the best party atmosphere the sport has to offer. Today, it draws big crowds, raises millions for local causes, and frequently delivers exciting finishes.
So every time the PGA Tour swings through TPC Scottsdale, we find ourselves wondering why there aren’t more events like the WMPO. Not events full of bachelor parties and light beer and muppet costumes, necessarily, but ones that have their own, unmistakable look and vibe, and are ecstatically embraced by the local community. At its core, the Waste Management is simply a golf tournament. One hundred and forty-ish guys show up, play 72 holes over four days, and get out of Dodge. Yet, as anyone who has been inside the gates knows, the WMPO is a unique experience.
The PGA Tour would be better off if its other events connected with their communities the way the Phoenix Open does. We’d love to see the Tour tighten up its schedule, focus on quality over quantity, go to cities hungry for golf, and spend more time helping tournaments and sponsors to build distinctive experiences that genuinely resonate with local fans. With the Premier Golf League gaining steam (and hauling several train cars full of Saudi dough), now seems like a good time for the Tour to shake off complacency and improve its product.
Athletic Brewing Co.
There are going to be a lot of hungover people in Arizona this weekend. We bet they’ll wish they had been drinking Athletic Brewing Co., great-tasting craft beer without the alcohol. This week, try the Session IPA and enjoy the complex aromas of lightly toasted Bohemian malt along with floral, lemon verbena, and grapefruit rind notes from loads of Pacific Northwest hops (without the headache).
Use code FRIEDEGG20 at checkout for 20% off your order. Shipping is free nationwide. BEER ME.
Waste Management Phoenix Open (PGA Tour)
- Wyndham Clark slapped a blistering 61 on TPC Scottsdale yesterday. The 26 year-old finished inside the top 20 in all four strokes gained categories and made 10 birdies in his opening round.
- Only FedEx Club Champion Billy Horschel (63) and J.B. Holmes (64) are within three shots of Clark. Holmes has won this event twice before—in 2006 and 2008.
- Jordan Spieth’s struggle to find his game continued on Thursday as he shot 74 to drop to the bottom quarter of the leaderboard. Will Gray’s column on the perplexing situation is a highly recommended read.
- A few players—Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, and Max Homa—sported Kobe Bryant jerseys on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Saudi International (European Tour)
- Graeme McDowell and Gavin Green hold the lead after first-round 64s.
- Phil Mickelson opened with a 66 after playing Wednesday’s pro-am with a group of Premier Golf League founders, including a totally-not-shady man identified only as “Richard.”
- The European Tour content team has a stellar batting average, but they have their limits. Patrick Reed + Saudi Arabia + #growthegame was never going to be anything but a cringe-fest. (God bless Eddie Pepperell.)
- Sportswashing, Exhibit A.
Canadian Taylor Pendrith leads the Panama Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour after a first-round 63. Pendrith graduated from the Mackenzie Tour last season and—no offense to Cam Champ—may be the longest player on any pro tour. Leaderboard
The PGA Tour announced that it passed the $3-billion mark in charitable giving. We offer a lot of constructive criticism (*wink*) to the Tour in this newsletter, but this milestone deserves a thumbs up.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Essex County Francis A. Byrne Golf Course (West Orange, New Jersey)
Once part of Essex County Country Club, now property of the Essex County Parks Department, this Charles “Steam Shovel” Banks course starts at the bottom of a steep hill with a Road Hole. Featuring Banks’s bold renditions of C. B. Macdonald’s “ideal holes” along with a few originals, this municipal course stands toe-to-toe architecturally with the area’s best private clubs. Some modifications have been made, but Francis A. Byrne still takes golfers on a wild ride. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve played the National or Yale or Banks’s in-state work at Forsgate or Hackensack—it’s always fun to see fresh versions of the iconic hole designs, and Essex County isn’t going to ask for your first-born, either.
Insider tip: Fuel up with an egg sandwich in the clubhouse before the round and complete your 36 at another Banks muni in Essex County, Hendricks Field Golf Course in Belleville. -Jaeger Kovich
Photo credit: Jaeger Kovich
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Shotgun Start: A show about nothing with Shane Bacon
Shane Bacon fills in for a flu-ridden Brendan Porath to talk about the Waste Management, Jordan Spieth, life, and a potential revamping of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
There’s a lot of desert golf this weekend, so we figure you’d like a recommendation that won’t hang you out to dry. Get it? Dry. Anyway, the Tommy Polo from B. Draddy is a staple in our wardrobes, and it should be in yours as well. Grab yours today!