#AskAlan mailbag: Who are golf’s social-media underperformers?

June 27, 2017

Can we just take a moment to appreciate Jordan Spieth? A true golfing gentleman, a prolific winner and a kid who undeniably has a flare for the dramatic. Given the quality of the shot and lustiness of the celebration, it’s hard to imagine that the denouement of a regular PGA Tour event will ever produce more joy. Now, to your questions…

Ten wins including two majors. If he retired today would Spieth be in HOF? -Dan (@djdono)

Meaning, if he disappeared into another dimension a la that HBO show The Leftovers? Maybe. To paraphrase Neil Young, is it better to burnout or fade away? You can argue that for a four-year stretch David Duval played some of the best golf ever, and in that time accomplished nearly as much as Fred Couples did in his entire career. Yet Freddy is in the Hall and Duval is not even given serious consideration. The Hall’s criteria have been so random in the past that it’s hard to draw any real conclusions. I think two majors should be the bare minimum for enshrinement but a bunch of one-hit wonders are already in the Hall, and Jim Furyk is very likely to get in, too. Anyway, I expect Spieth will do so much in the coming decades the Hall will be a formality and the real debate will be where he ranks in the pantheon.

Are Jordan and Greller going to be the next Phil and Bones? [email protected]

They already have a similar chemistry and, crucially, Jordan values his man as much as Phil did. And like their forebears, Jordan and Greller are both hyperverbal golf nerds who love nothing more than talking through the intricacies (and mundanities) of every shot, which makes for riveting TV. Can they sustain the partnership and brotherhood for a quarter-century? That’s a big ask. But when it comes to current player-caddie combinations, I don’t think there’s any question that Jordan-Greller are now the most compelling and compulsively watchable.

It’s easy to find a good match for Bones: Rory, Jordan, Rickie, Brooks, etc. How about a good match for Phil? Stevie, Kip, LaCava, Wood? -Max (@hawesmax)

Phil is an arthritic 47, hasn’t won in four years and is now prioritizing family events over major championships. Don’t assume that any caddie with a top-tier bag is going to be beating down Mickelson’s door. Really, the only guy who makes sense is Joe LaCava. Part of the reason he left Dustin Johnson for Tiger Woods was the appeal of a more limited schedule. Well, he’s had most of the last three years off. LaCava is Bones’s best friend and so over the last 25 years he spent a ton of time in Phil’s orbit and they have a strong friendship, too. And you just know Mickelson would relish taking something away from Tiger.

Who are the worst 5 golfers when it comes to social media? [email protected]

FYI, I’m basing this almost entirely on Twitter. I find Snapchat impossible to take seriously and don’t spend that much time on Instagram, because I prefer words to pictures.

5. Brooks Koepka. His product-placement tweets right after winning the U.S. Open were unbecoming to the point of embarrassment.
4. Ian Poulter. He’s actually toned down the self-indulgence lately, but the endlessly bad grammar and spelling earn him a spot here.
3. Smylie Kaufman. Like living in a bad dream where spring break never ends, every sporting event involves LSU and the only thing to drink is Natty Light.
2. Grayson Murray. Where to even begin?
1. Steve Elkington. He has retired the category.

Not sure if this is too technical, but would love to hear which grips (hand positioning) these young pros are using and why?..strong, weak, neutral? –Michael (@SundDevil2)

Too technical.

You have a time machine and put the last four world No 1’s against each other. Who ya got? Rory in 2014, Spieth in 2015, Day in 2016, Dustin in 2017? –Justin (@HouchJ)

This is tough one, and if you’re talking about a one tournament showdown the answer would depend to some degree on the venue and conditions. But if we’re talking about the A+ game of each of these guys, I’m still taking Rory. He simply has a different gear when he’s playing his absolute best.

If Bernard Langer played a whole season on the PGA Tour, how high would he finish on the money list and/or FEC rankings? #AskAlan -Tony (@ducksphan)

Top 100 for sure, maybe even top 50. Langer is clearly giving up a lot of firepower off the tee but you can build a schedule of smaller ballparks that play to his strengths: Waialae, Pebble, Riviera, Harbour Town, Sawgrass, etc. I’d love to see him give it a try.

How do you rate Aditi Ashok? Do you think she can win a major title? -Anil (@anuragi89)

I’m a big fan. I watched her play a lot at the Olympics and her game has matured even more since then; this year she has already proven to have one of the best short-games on the LPGA. In nearly a quarter-century on the golf beat I’ve made it a point to never ask players for any memorabilia, but the one exception was at the Olympics: I liked their national hats so much I nabbed a half dozen of the best (Russia, Germany, Canada, Israel, etc.) for my office. Including one of Aditi’s with the flag of India. I don’t know if she can win a major but it would certainly be a massive boost for the game if she does.

Forgetting that you’re a golf writer with perks, what’s at the very top of your ‘have not played’ list? [email protected]

This reminds me of the old question, “How many models would Derek Jeter have hooked up with if he wasn’t a Yankee?” Anyway, my most-wanted list:

1. Askernish
2. Fishers Island
3. Oakmont
4. Kingston Heath
5. Maidstone
6. Cabot(s)
7. Barnbougle(s)
8. Seminole
9. Prairie Dunes
10. Friars Head