#AskAlan mailbag: Who is the worst player WITH a major?

May 16, 2017

On reflection, it was a pretty boring Players. The course setup was so tough it rewarded cautious golf, and S.W. Kim didn’t snatch the trophy so much as make the fewest mistakes. But if a tournament can be judged by the #AskAlan questions it generates, this was definitely the fifth major…

There’s been a lot of Best Player Without A Major debate lately – how about a Worst Player With A Major reboot?! I vote Danny Willett. You? -Mark (@mocycling)

Given Willett’s form at the moment, that seems like a logical choice. But he won some big-time tournaments before the Masters and at 29 still has plenty of time to regain his form. Among active players you’d have to include Lucas Glover, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson in the discussion. (I consider Mike Weir semi-retired.) Among all modern players, Shaun Micheel has to be the guy.

Poulter v Chamblee in a bar brawl. Who ya got? #AskAlan #YoureWelcome [email protected]

I can see it now, both of them swinging their purses and grasping for handfuls of hair. I’m taking Poults in this slapfest, mostly because Brandel would be so worried about protecting his TV face he’d surely run out the back door in an act of capitulation.

What did you think of the landscaping job Poults did before his drop on 18? –Scotty (@ScottyGMan23)

It was bad optics but perfectly legal, per Decision 23-1/6 of the Rules of Golf, which states, “it is permissible for a player to remove loose impediments from the area in which he is preparing to drop his ball.” Pine needles count as a loose impediment, though in this case they were so ground up by pedestrian traffic it looked like Poulter was getting big handfuls of dirt. Gotta give him credit for knowing the rules, which in this case led to a much easier shot.

Is Ryder Cup growth making fans more partisan and less respectful of European players? Sergio and Poults still get mid-round abuse #askalan [email protected]

No, it’s the beer.

Is Tiger continuing to pay Joe LaCava? I’d have to think other top pros would be interested in his services. [email protected]

Among respected veteran caddies with a superstar bag, most are on a base salary with lots of possibilities for bonuses. I’m sure LaCava is still getting some kind of dough thrown his way but given how little Tiger has played, and his famous tightwadedness, I doubt it’s that much.

How motivated are players to make the Presidents Cup? Both U.S. and International players. #AskAlan -Scottie (@scotticons)

The Internationals certainly are. The Prez Cup has become a good show, and Aussies, South Africans, Koreans, South Americans and others have a ton of motivation to try to end the American dominance. The top U.S. players used to complain about burnout, given that they have to play in the Ryder Cup during even-numbered years. But as the teams have gotten younger most of the kvetching has gone away, and the competition is so fierce to qualify for either Cup that a spot in the Presidents has become more coveted. Plus, the Yanks appreciate the more laid-back, convivial vibe the Prez offers compared to the stress-fest of the Ryder Cup.

How many more wins does Poulter need to be considered a future captain for the Ryder Cup? [email protected]

None. His playing record is already vastly superior to the likes of Paul McGinley, who was an inspired choice and a great captain. Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood make sense for the next two teams so look for Poulter to tangle with Phil Mickelson in 2024 at Bethpage, which will be utterly epic.

Any tips for someone who wants to get into golf media in the future? #AskAlan [email protected]

Have a trust fund. Kidding. Sort of. These are challenging times in the golf media. During my first decade on the beat most big-city newspapers had a dedicated golf writer, and they were a colorful bunch who brought an amusingly provincial take to their stories. Now only the New York Times and USA Today regularly send a writer to events. Golf used to enjoy a robust weekly magazine presence but that’s gone, too: GolfWorld is now purely digital, GolfWeek is a lie (it recently went monthly) and the Golf Plus section in Sports Illustrated has shrunk from appearing in three dozen or so issues a year to just a few annual standalones. A lot of those good-paying jobs are never coming back.

The migration to digital is good news/bad news for an aspiring scribe. Twitter allows anyone to be part of the conversation, and the Internet offers literally unlimited space for coverage. Geoff Shackelford, Stephanie Wei and especially the No Laying Up crew have shown that outsiders can create their own brand and capture a dedicated audience. But if you’re looking for old-fashioned things like a salary, benefits and job-security, that’s getting harder to find among media outlets which seem to be forever cutting costs.

My advice is to write as much as possible, wherever you can. Start your own blog, type stories for the website of a local newspaper or free weekly, pitch ideas to every golf outlet you can find and by all means submit something solid to [email protected] to be considered for Knockdown Presents. If you have the time (or trust fund), find a fascinating subject and write a book, even if you have to self-publish it. Through the magic of social media you can easily find would-be mentors in the business, or at the very least possible connections. Writing is like any career: you have to put in the work. So start typing and remember that writer’s block is for the weak.