If any of you happen to be Courtside Karen, you stink.

Some golf news

There aren’t many ways to distract us from Punxsutawney Phil, but the USGA and R&A found one on Tuesday. In a joint press release, the governing bodies outlined “areas of interest” in their effort to address golf’s distance problem. With the input of equipment manufacturers, the USGA and R&A plan to look into 1) the use of a local rule to curtail hitting distances in certain tournaments and 2) the conformance specifications of clubs and balls. The statement also proposes three potential equipment standard changes: a reduction of the maximum driver length from 48 to 46 inches, an update on testing methods for golf balls, and a change to the Characteristic Time tolerance of drivers. Read the full press release HERE.

“We have a problem and we’ve got to solve for it,” USGA CEO Mike Davis said in an interview yesterday. “I would almost go so far as to say that for those who don’t think that we have a problem, I would either say they haven’t read the data or they have some personal conflict of interest. When you look at this data, it’s so crystal clear that something needs to get done.”

Off the top, we should be clear that the USGA and R&A are not making any immediate, drastic changes. They are simply building off of last year’s distance report findings, which concluded that continuing increases in hitting distance are “detrimental to the game’s long-term future.” Now the governing bodies are taking another step by specifying a few issues, namely conformance specs, driver length, and the CT (spring-like effect) of clubs. Changes in these areas have been discussed before and could result in modest, measured reductions in distance.

If you’re a Fried Egg reader or listener, you know we’re excited by the stance that the USGA and R&A have taken here, modest as it is. Sure, they should have passed proper equipment regulations decades ago, before courses started spending millions to add tee boxes and move bunkers, but hey, better late than never. If done correctly, a modest rollback would add intrigue to the professional game and potentially allow some older, shorter courses to become relevant again. Maybe Bryson DeChambeau would even retract his apology to Donald Ross. (Is that hoping for too much?)

Again, nothing has actually changed yet. The USGA and R&A seem committed to working with “golf’s shareholders,” including equipment manufacturers, and we’ll likely get another update next year. So rest assured, your 460cc driver head is safe… for now.

*Shakes head in disappointment*

Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Reed are among the big names who accepted appearance fees to play the Saudi Invitational this week. Touted by its paid participants as a boon for the sport in Saudi Arabia, this annual exercise in “sportswashing” continues to be embarrassing for the European Tour. This year, UNICEF ambassador Paul Casey, who initially raised objections to the tournament, has found reasons to join in. The golf will be good. The fact that the event continues to be sanctioned by a major tour is not. Saudi Invitational Tee Times

Quick Hooks

The Waste Management Phoenix Open kicks off on Thursday morning at TPC Scottsdale. It will have smaller and presumably less raucous galleries than usual, but it’s always an entertaining prelude to the Super Bowl. Tee Times

In the field at the WMPO is Justin Thomas, making his first PGA Tour start since uttering a homophobic slur after he missed a putt at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Is this just how he planned out his 2021 schedule? Or is he coming back from a three-week suspension? We’ll probably never know. Such matters are secret on the PGA Tour.

We’re starting to think that the Titleist hat on Webb Simpson’s head is controlling the words coming out of his mouth. In response to the USGA and R&A’s report, Simpson once again suggested narrowing fairways, growing rough, and shrinking greens. You know, because that worked so great at Winged Foot last September.

For Golf Digest, Joel Beall investigated the “curious Twitter activity of Patrick Reed.” In case you missed the last newsletter, it appears that someone in Reed’s camp has been operating an anonymous Twitter account devoted to 1) defending Patrick Reed and 2) roasting everyone else, including other players and the PGA Tour itself. Last Saturday, the burner and Reed’s official Twitter account sent out the same tweet, seeming to confirm the connection between the two. Here’s how Reed’s lawyer responded: “Please be advised that the person who manages Patrick Reed’s Twitter and Instagram accounts does not run the @ use GolfFACTS account.”

Apropos of nothing (it’s a totally separate quick hook!), here’s a hypothetical. Say you have a relative. Say he/she runs a burner to defend your honor and attack your enemies. Say he/she also has access to your official account, which you manage. In that case, the person who manages your account (you) is not the person who runs the burner (your relative). An empty distinction, perhaps, but one that a good lawyer can capitalize on!

The Latest from The Fried Egg

TFE Weekly Pool, WMPO – This week’s event for the weekly pool is the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Enter for your chance to win free Fried Egg merchandise!

Paulie’s Picks: WMPO – Just because the PGA Tour is in the desert doesn’t mean that Paulie’s Picks have dried up. See who he likes this week for DraftKings and one-and-done leagues!

Shotgun Start: Local rule rollbacks, WMPO love, Saudi embarrassments, and burner denials

This episode begins with a lengthy segment on the announcement from the USGA and R&A disclosing some notable “research topics” and “proposed equipment standards changes.” Andy and Brendan dissect the different areas of interest and proposals and the potential implications from a document on the distance issue. They ponder the PGA Tour’s response to a local rule option, whether this is language signaling a rollback or just holding the line, and then reasons for optimism as well as concern from this announcement. There’s also great amusement over the CT Machine page from 2004 in the document. After that opening segment, they get to the schedule for the week, praising the Phoenix venue, its conditioning, its finishing holes, and its loaded field this week. They discuss whether JT was put on some secret suspension based on the language of a recent tweet. On the Saudi International, they read Paul Casey’s statement on the reason for his flip-flop. News closes with some Reed follow-up, like the fact that his attorney had to deny ownership of a burner account and a sportsbook refunding bettors who didn’t have him to win. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

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