I’ve never been wild about the FedEx Cup or, for that matter, the Presidents Cup. But after suffering a week without PGA Tour golf I’m suddenly jazzed for the big finish to this season. Did this perkiness seep into this week’s #AskAlan? Let’s find out…
"Which amateur from the Walker Cup are you most excited to see on Tour in a few years? #AskAlan" -Steve (@_Smisner)
Cam Champ. When he swings the driver it is an act of violence.
"In honor of BMW week, what's a Tuesday money match among this week's field you'd pay to watch/cover at Chicago GC or Shoreacres? #AskAlan" -@TimRagones
After a quarter-century on the beat I’m pretty sure the only way I’m gonna pay to watch golf is if Bobby Jones comes back from the dead. But any memorable Tuesday game has to involve Phil, because of his outsized personality, starpower and penchant for talking trash. He and Dustin have a long-standing practice- round rivalry so I’m putting DJ on the other team. It’s tempting to pair him with Rory, just because it’d be fun to watch them bash the ball, but McIlroy is all business on Tuesdays and rarely partakes in the fun. So I’m putting Spieth with Johnson. Jordan is a solid woofer and in his own way as much of an alpha as Mickelson. Phil’s partner has to be Rickie. He’s always at the center of the action and is already a legend in casual games, having set a bunch of course records in South Florida and taken a lot of cash on various Tuesdays.
"How do you recommend building a child's interest in playing golf?" -Mike (@mcaverhill)
My kids have been so focused on team sports there hasn’t been much room for golf. And, sadly, almost none of their friends play. This summer was the first time we started going to the range with regularity. A very simple way to get them fired up is ask, as I do, ”Do you guys wanna stay home and unload the dishwasher and sort laundry or go hit balls?” They *sprint* to the car. Everything is geared toward them having fun. The range at the muni course in Pacific Grove closes at 7 in the summer. We would typically roll up at 7:15. The kiddos would grab an empty basket and then have an “Easter egg hunt” to see who could harvest the most balls. Then you have to holster your inner-Leadbetter. I gently offer tips about grip and posture and a few other basics but otherwise let them goof off. My son, age 9, loves to put five balls in a row, pointing down the line, and try to hit them all with one swing. Hey, go for it, pal! Other hijinks ensue. Then, proceed directly to the nearest ice cream parlor. After a few months of this my kids now think ‘golf’ is a euphemism for family fun and they’re interested in getting more serious about the game and receiving more formal instruction.
"When are the golf brands going to do a team event? Titleist vs TaylorMade vs Ping vs PXG Callaway vs Cobra…" -@AlexDunlopGolf
This is so craven it’s genius. The companies would surely flood the event with hype and build in huge bonuses for the players. I mean, the Tavistock Cup was a pretty fun event and those teams are based on an absurd idea: real estate subdivisions! Tour players have a deep and personal relationship with their equipment and the technicians who help them maximize their games — to say nothing of the huge checks that pay for their Porsches — so this event would definitely have some juice.
"On scale of 1-10 how excited are you to see Phil (and all pros) play Los Angeles Country Club's 15th hole as an 80-yard pitch-and-putt in the 2023 US Open? #AskAlan" -@EthanZimman
10. Whether it’s the Postage Stamp, the 7th at Pebble, the 11th at Shinnecock or 13th at Merion, a short, very dangerous par-3 is always a blast. And L.A. North’s tiny terror is clearly ready to be part of the pantheon.
"Besides Mav McNealy, any other A-list golf prospects in last two decades who had the chance to be ultra-successful outside of pro sports?" -Sujeet (@sindap)
Trip Kuehne is the obvious precursor. He was a stud in college and a factor at many USGA events – notably losing to Tiger in the finals of the 1994 U.S. Amateur – but he never turned pro, opting instead for a career in finance. And people forget that Matt Kuchar didn’t turn pro after his superstar college career, instead taking a desk job at an investment banking firm.
"Most underrated course on Long Island?" -@PalmerTheGolfer
I probably woulda said Glen Oaks but the secret is now out. So I’ll go with Sands Point, an ultra-exclusive joint that has only 100 or so members. It is absolutely astonishing how much good golf there is on Long Island. With next year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock I just pitched to my bosses a story in which I play my way across the island, serving as a kind of anthropologist. The tentative itinerary: Glen Oaks, Sands Point, Bethpage, Garden City, Deepdale, Piping Rock, the Bridge, Sebonack, Friars Head, Maidstone, National, Shinnecock. The mind reels.
"If you could choose, which Wednesday pro am would you play in and why? Clambakes and majors prohibited. #AskAlan" -Dan (@djdonof)
I woulda said New Orleans, because the food that is served every few holes is legendary and that means you’re goofing off in NOLA, but I crossed that off my to-do list earlier this year. Most of the pro-ams are a pretty similar experiences so it would come down to the venue and/or location. Given your parameters, my favorite non-Pebble course on Tour is prolly Riviera, so that’s tempting. But I’ll pick Kapalua – that track is a blast to play, and Maui is Maui.
"What would Rory's name be if you wrote another Swinger?" -Paul (@LiveTweetGolf)
Your question presupposes that the characters in the book are based on real golfers, but on the advice of Simon & Schuster lawyers, I am compelled to point out that The Swinger is a work of fiction and any resemblance between the characters and actual Tour players is coincidental. Years ago a gent named Paddy O’Looney helped me arrange a golf trip through Northern Ireland; I can’t think of a better name for a charismatic, free-swinging Ulsterman. By the way, Bamberger and I are indeed working on a sequel to The Swinger. Tree Tremont will be back, of course, and I suppose it’s possible he’ll have a few issues with prescription meds and racy photos hacked from an ex-girlfriend’s phone. But the plot will be driven by a golf-mad President named Ronald Klink who, among other things, is the title sponsor of the Klink Russian Open. Maybe while hanging out at the tournament Klink indulges in some messy fun with a lady of the evening that becomes kompromat, or perhaps he will become ensnared in an insider trading case involving Will Martinsen. Many readers of the The Swinger that Martinsen – Tree’s rival, a high-profile family man, a do-gooder Californian with secret vices - was based on Phil Mickelson, but, again, I can’t comment on that. Wink, wink.