#AskAlan: Is Dustin Johnson actually underrated?

January 17, 2018

I put out my usual call for questions on Twitter and reader Bill Williams (@BilltheBrit1) writes, “No point Alan, you don’t answer the good questions!” Oh, really? Read on, homie.

Nothing more boring and tedious than playing the SAME HOLE for a tiebreaker, and having to wait for them to return to the tee. What idea do you have to make it more agile and entertaining? – @Fernarentes

I understand making 18 on any course the first playoff hole, because the fans and tournament support staff are already gathered there for the end of regulation play. But quite obviously you should not play it again until at least another three or four holes have been utilized. Those fans have legs, and they can get themselves to some other holes.

That playoff at Waialea should run on an endless loop at Guantanamo Bay.

#AskAlan This time the missile attack warning is real and you have two hours before kingdom come. You’re given an unlimited supply of balls and can go to any par-3 in the world to score your ace. Where do you go? – @laz_versalle

Well, I’m lucky that I have some of the very best options about five minutes from where I live. The 16th at Cypress Point is tempting because of its sheer grandeur, but it’s hard to even hit that green with a 3-wood, let alone give one a chance to go in. The 11th at MPCC’s Shore Course might be the most artistically beautiful par-3 in the world, but the hard right-to-left wind makes it a tough shot. Ditto the 14th on MPCC Dunes, which is Cypress-like, demanding a full-blooded carry of the ocean, albeit with a mid-iron.

So, I’m gonna go with #7 at Pebble Beach. Over the years I’ve already hit a handful of shots relatively stiff on that hole by feathering a wedge, and the steep downhill makes for a perfect view to watch the ball drop. There will also be panoramic vistas of the mushroom clouds.

Is Dustin Johnson actually underrated? Among “active” players he is tied for fourth (with Furyk) with 17 PGA Tour W’s, behind only Tiger, Phil and Ernie. – Gus (@CCGabriel)

I agree with your premise that we have taken for granted Johnson’s sustained excellence. Twenty PGA Tour victories pretty much guarantees induction into the Hall of Fame, and the way DJ is going he seems likely to hit that number this year. So we can safely call Dustin a great player. But he has the tools to be transcendent; whether he will get there will be determined by how many more major championships he picks off in the next decade or so.

The golf world is not in a bubble, so how long before the first #MeToo in pro or college golf? – Eric (@GolfTrotterQc)

Oh, it’s coming, and soon. I’ve already heard of a couple reporters who are running down leads, and egregious tales abound. It’s not any consolation but golf will not be alone, as the power structures of every major professional sport are male-dominated. Brace yourself.

A golf course in Michigan has applied to put 37 of its 95 acres under medical marijuana cultivation. Will growing weed help grow the game, or will it just cause slower, mellower play? #AskAlan – Dave (@CountDownDave)

This is certainly a boon to the caddie industry. But all joking aside, marijuana cultivation is going to become such a huge and profitable industry across the country I can imagine it will accelerate golf course closings. Already we’ve seen a trend of courses folding because of rising water costs and greater demand for land for new residential developments. If you owned 100 irrigated acres on which a barely-profitable daily fee course sits and some latter-day Spicoli offers you a fortune to grow weed, well, that’s an easy choice for a lot of people.

If there was an elite world wide tour of just, say, the top 50 players would the ratings improve dramatically? – Rob (@Roblawless)

No question, because there would be only 20-22 tournaments per season, meaning every player we care about would turn up for virtually every tournament, instead of the watered-down, oversaturated product we get now.

Bandon Dunes… guys-only trip or is there plenty to do for our wives who don’t play golf? – Nick (@Nchevotarevich)

You only bring the wives to Bandon Dunes if they like to play 36 a day. If not, they’ll go crazy, because Bandon offers glorious golf and nothing else. If your better halves want to sightsee/dine/sunbathe/hit the spa/take in cultural offerings while the guys tee it up, go to Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Sea Island, Scottsdale or Hilton Head.

Does Matt Fitzpatrick have a better or worse career than Luke Donald? – Harvey (@wellway27)

I’m pretty sure Fitzpatrick would sell his soul to be number one for nearly a year, win the Race to Dubai and PGA Tour money title in the same year, go 8-2-1 while playing on three winning Ryder Cup teams and take a dozen tournaments across the PGA and European tours. Donald has done all of this, and more.

How much could Ollie Schniederjans command on a hat/visor deal? – Patrick (@phkeane)

Not nearly enough to make up for the damage to his brand that would ensue if he covered up those luscious locks.

Being in a current national freeze, what’s the coldest temperature you’ve played golf and what would be the coldest temperature you would ever? – @Eric_Walker72

I can distinctly remember a windy , rainy round at North Berwick in which I was wearing a t-shirt, long-sleeved polo, wool sweater, wind-breaker, rain jacket, corduroy pants, rain pants, a fleece hat *under* a bucket hat, two rain gloves… and was still cold. Can’t say for sure what the wind chill was that day but I don’t ever want to play when it’s chillier. And I would never, ever play at home in conditions like that.

I had a bet with a mate today that Rory McIlroy would get back to world number one within the next five years. Would you take a piece of my bet or be on the other side ? #askalan – @tigerpencil

The math is not on your side, or Rory’s. Right now there is a bigger gap between Dustin (11.23 average points per start) and Rory (5.35) than there is Rory and the 1,925th ranked player in the world, Fred Funk (.0004). First, McIlroy has to stay healthy after three injury-marred seasons, and he has to fix his putting. Even if both of these things happen, he will have to play at an exceptionally high level for a very long time.

Even at his best, Rory tended to have bursts of spellbinding golf followed by inexplicable lulls. A newlywed who’s turning 29 in a few months, he’s likely to have a kid or two over the next five years, and how much is he going to want to grind at that point? I think Rory will continue to consolidate his focus around the majors, and if he picks off a couple in rapid succession that could propel him back to number one. Failing that, I don’t think the week-in-week-out results will get him there.

Do you think Lynx did the right thing by distancing themselves from @ClubProGuy as they try to be taken seriously or did they miss a huge opportunity getting their name out there again as they re-enter the U.S. market? – Bryan (@Bbracky)

I guess I understand Lynx’s squeamishness at being in bed with a profane ne’er-do-well whose entire brand is built on epic crappiness. But, yes, it was a massive missed chance to build buzz and establish themselves as the coolest brand in golf. Companies spend insane amounts of time and money trying to devise cool social media campaigns to connect with fans and tastemakers and they usually fail miserably. Club Pro Guy presented Lynx a golden opportunity and they were too corporate and uptight to see it. The more plugged-in business school professors will be lecturing about this case-study someday.

Team Europe had a win over the weekend at the EurAsia Cup. How worried are you about having to do that streak down the Champs- Elysees that you promised if they win the Ryder Cup? – Andrew (@ANorrby)

That’s funny, I don’t remember such an offer. The landscape has indeed changed a bit since I wrote that incendiary column for GOLF Magazine back in the summer: Paul Casey announced he would reclaim Euro tour membership so as to be eligible for the Ryder Cup and both Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton went rather bonkers. All three players were instrumental in the victory over a game Asia squad. Come Paris, Europe will be deeper and more dangerous than I had originally thought. Alas, it will not be enough to avoid the inevitable U.S. victory, sparing all of us the international incident of me running nude down the Champs-Elysees.