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10 Dirty Secrets of Golf, St. Andrews and More in the Van Cynical Mailbag

Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

St. Andrews, site of this year's Open Championship, is the coolest place in golf, says Gary Van Sickle.

Ten dirty secrets of golf, in no particular order.

1. Everyone is in favor of junior golf… until the kids are playing in front of their foursome.

2. The USGA makes rules for maybe 800 or so players — the top pros and top amateurs. The rest of us can rot in hell.

3. The USGA (yes, again!) began every defense of its anchored putting ban by explaining that it has no data or evidence to suggest that anchored putting methods are an advantage. It’s one thing to be ignorant, it’s another thing to brag about it.

4. If you’ve got good greens, it doesn’t matter how bad your fairways and tee boxes are. If you’ve got bad greens, it doesn’t matter how good your fairways and tee boxes are.

5. No one would miss fairway bunkers if they were outlawed except for golf-course designers, who would then have to come up with an actual design idea.

6. The harder the course, the less golfers like it. They’re just too proud to admit it.

7. Most golfers can’t break 90. So what, exactly, are all those back tees for?

8. You can walk into almost any golf shop and get a free scorecard and pencil but everything else costs way too much — the clubs, balls, greens fees, riding carts, apparel, club dues, food and drinks and caddies (at the few places where they’re still available). Golf needs deflation.

9. Golf is a gentleman’s game, a game of honor. Until handicaps are involved. Then golf is loaded with more outlaws than in the old West.

10. At the recreational level, most slow play is caused by bad play. No one wants to admit that or address it, either.

Moving on to a new year of Van Cynical Mailbag questions:

Van Cynical, In your opinion what are the top three reasons why people enjoy playing/take up golf?—Umer Adnan via Twitter

Well, Umer Sooner, golf is outdoors, it’s a social game and you’re on your own. There are no teammates to affect your score positively or negatively, it’s all about you. It’s ego-centric, which pretty much describes modern American culture.

Vans, What would your New Year’s resolutions be for Tiger, Lefty, Rickie and Rory?—Michael Abbass via Twitter

For Tiger, I resolve to make competitive golf fun again, not feel like an ordeal. For Phil, I resolve to practice my short game hard, like I used to. For Rickie, I resolve to keep being me. For Rory, I resolve to continue being honest and open with the world’s media and social media because it really, really works.

Sickle cell, Why would TaylorMade create clubs that give you Repetitive Stress Injuries—RSi?—DG via Twitter

Dog, that’s a Real Sh---y Inference from a Rarely Studied Individual who submitted a Randomly Substandard Inquiry. You get bonus points for creativity but two Jimmy Demarets for accuracy. The clubs are actually named for R Slotted Iron, which isn’t funny as Recycled Sales Ideas.

Van Cylindrical, What are you most and least looking forward to in golf this year? #Softball question—Eric Houser via Twitter

I’m most looking forward to writing something gushing with praise about any tournaments that give Web.com Tour player Mike Van Sickle a sponsor’s exemption or, failing that, the British Open at St. Andrews, the coolest place in golf. It’s a special place to visit at any time, House Money. I’m least looking forward to  the logistics at the U.S. Open, where Chambers Bay is going to be difficult to walk the course for spectators and, from what I hear, difficult for fans and media to get to the course. I hope the early forecasts for that are wrong.

Van Cynical, Should the R&A be upset with the USGA and PGA for choosing links-style courses for their respective championships and does it take away some of the allure and uniqueness of the Open?—Tej Sahota via Twitter

Nah, the R&A couldn’t be less interested in what the other guys do. The Open is golf’s oldest reigning major. Nothing that happens at Whistling Straits is going to make St. Andrews less fascinating. It is an odd coincidence with this year’s lineup, though, but the truth is, there is no real links golf in America that compares with authentic links golf in Scotland. Whistling Straits is the ultimate faux linskland. It’s a very enjoyable golf experience but no, no, no, it’s not links golf.

Sickle, My question... How many days 'til round one of the Masters?—Ian Gillespie via Twitter

Thirteen weeks plus two days. So I guess it’s 93 days until the golf season starts for you, Gilly.

Last year you mentioned that one of your colleagues was writing a novel titled, “The Robot Who Won the Masters After World War III.” Is that book nearing publication?—A.Pinkster via email

Sad to say, it is not nearing publication. I threw that title out there hoping to pressure SI special contributor John Garrity, whose delightful golf books include “Tour Tempo”; “Ancestral Links”; and “America’s Worst Golf Courses”, into writing a story to go with the ridiculous title I made up. Garrity didn’t fall for it and is still refusing to produce the tale. I think he’s just mad that in my outline, I had Ireland causing WWIII. Anyway, robot golfers are actually coming in our near future. I’m not counting Bernhard Langer.

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