#AskAlan: What is the best food in golf, and who will be Tiger’s Ryder Cup partner?

May 2, 2018

We’re in that interesting in-between period where the Masters has passed and the gaze sets on the Players and U.S. Open. First, we must discuss the pressing things, like food on Tour and walk-up music.

Do you give the Zurich’s walkup music a pass or fail? What other gimmicks are worthy of experimentation to see if they just might land with real effect? [email protected]

I’ll give it a pass since it was goofy/cringe-inducing fun…but I’m not sure I want to see the experiment repeated. Does golf need gimmicks? The beauty of the spectating experience is…the beauty. You’re out in nature, birds are chirping, the courses are like paintings come to life. When I go to NBA, NFL or MLB events I feel assaulted by the noise and spectacle. It’s as if the actual sporting competition is secondary. Golf tournaments are still pretty pure experiences, and that’s the charm of it for me. Even the silence is cool; nothing is more intense than 10,000 people encircling a green or tee box, waiting to explode but keeping utterly quiet and still. It’s exquisite torture.

Question with underlying preachy opinion: Doesn’t the alternate shot format during @Zurich_Classic help prepare us for the Ryder Cup since this has been a traditional weakness? -Mac (@beerpilot)

By “us” do you mean American players? When it comes to the Ryder Cup, there is no we or us for me — I’m an impartial observer traveling on no passport. But for sure getting to play alternate shot (and better-ball) with tournament pressure can only help U.S. Ryder Cuppers. It’s easy to imagine Billy Horschel being on the bubble for a captain’s pick and this victory is exactly the kind of thing that could tip the scales. Personally, I’d *love* to see Scott Piercy on the U.S. team. Dude is a birdie machine who loves action, and his palpable cockiness would drive the Euros batty.

What’s the best food you’ve ever eaten on a golf course? #AskAlan -Adam (@GolfUnfiltered)

Does a lobster on the back porch at National Golf Links count? The BBQ’d oysters during the pro-am in New Orleans are indeed epic. In Abu Dhabi a few years ago I had a gyro sandwich that I still think about. At the old Western Open I enjoyed a series of spectacular Chicago-style hot dogs. Pebble Beach has famous chocolate chip cookies the size of a Frisbee — it can take six holes to finish one of those babies. The burger dogs at Olympic are as good as you’ve heard. But the answer would have to be the fish and chips at the Open Championship, served right out of the fryer, hot and greasy and oh so good. To sit in a grandstand and nibble on these while the golfers play through is utter bliss.[image:14130848]

Is the lid off the bucket now for Lydia Ko? She looked fearless, much like the LK from 2 years ago. Absolutely nails down the stretch: eagle chip on 18 looked in the whole way and then she stuffs it to 3 feet from 235 in the playoff. -Job (@jwficket)

That clinching 3-wood was definitely the shot of the year so far, and the tears that followed told you how much this victory meant. Ko is now older, wiser and tougher and still possessing all that fabulous talent. I can’t wait to see how she builds on this victory.

How is it possible that, as a full grown adult, I could be still upset about Rory not winning the Masters? Should I seek help? Thanks. #AskAlan [email protected]

That’s nothing, pal! I’m still upset he didn’t win in 2011 — I had my SI game story pretty much done by lunch time on Sunday.

Steve Luthman‏ @sluthman Best golf “region” in the world defined by quality of golf courses in a 10 mile range? East Lothian, Pebble Beach, Bandon, Southampton, other? -Steve (@Sluthman)

Ten miles seems slightly arbitrary — if you expand the parameter you could bring southwest Ireland into the conversation, or Melbourne’s Sand Belt, or even the state of Wisconsin. But yours is a strong list. Pebble Bach is an easy answer: there’s not a spot anywhere on the planet that can touch the combination of PB, Cypress Point, MPCC Shore & Dunes and Spyglass (and Pasatiempo if we range further afield). But if we’re talking about quality and quantity I think Long Island is the choice. The list is mind-blowing: Shinny, National, Friar’s Head, Maidstone, Bethpage, Garden City, Deepdale, Sebonack, Piping Rock, St. Georges, Sand Point, Atlantic, Glen Oaks…crikey!

Golf announcer cliches…What do they mean by “He’s a good ball striker”? Is it just that he’s an average player with no particular strengths, and they are fumbling for something good to say? #AskAlan [email protected]

It means he’s a crappy putter.

As of today, whose career would you prefer — Rose or Kaymer? (Basically, how important are majors?) @WilliamHardy

This doesn’t totally compute because each has won a U.S. Open and I consider Rose’s gold medal to be as significant as Kaymer’s PGA Championship win. At his best, Kaymer has been a little more dominant than Rose, reaching number one in the World Ranking and overpowering the field at Pinehurst. But his 11 Euro tour victories and win at the Players came in a six-year window. Rose has been a much more consistent winner, claiming seven Euro tour wins from 2002-2017 in addition to eight PGA Tour victories. He also has 12 top-10s in the majors, twice as many as Kaymer. So I’m taking Rose’s career and it’s not really close, even though Kaymer has won more majors.

Why don’t pro events drive the golfers to their drives on some/all holes to speed play for TV? [email protected]

For one thing, it would destroy the rhythm of their round. The players have spent a lifetime learning to calibrate their thinking and breathing to the minutes in between shots. To suddenly speed them to the ball would be a radical change. More importantly, it would kill the spectating experience. Following one group for 18 holes is a pleasure that would be rendered impossible if the players get zipped around in carts.

#AskAlan Who does Tiger play with in Paris, and how many times does he play? [email protected]

He plays with whomever he wants! But given the wear and tear on his brittle body, Tiger might play only three matches. Four would be the absolute maximum. If he’s still defensive and inconsistent with the driver that would mean he’d likely play both fourball sessions. If Tiger starts swinging the big stick better he’d be a weapon in foursomes, given his shotmaking abilities and the fine scrambling we’ve seen so far this year. Kuchar is his most likely partner in either format, but Kooch isn’t a lock to make the team. As vice captain at previous Cups, Tiger bonded with both Reed and Spieth, and no doubt he’d love to be paired with either of them, if Capt. Furyk is willing to break up one of his strongest teams. Both Rickie and JT are a little soft for Tiger, temperament-wise, but he plays plenty of golf with them already in South Florida, so they’re strong candidates, too. How the mild-mannered Furyk handles a living legend like Tiger is going to be a fascinating subplot at this Ryder Cup.

How are you “Living Under Par” today? -Kevin (@KCrouch05)

Well, this afternoon I enjoyed a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 14th hole at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley — does that count?

1.Will you be at The Players and if yes 2. Can I buy you a beer? -Paul (@LiveTweetGolf)

I’ve long been intrigued by the Latinoamerica tour so I’ve decided to write a big feature for Golf Magazine, immersing myself in the rhythms of the tour. That means being out there for two consecutive weeks, in part to properly experience the challenges of traveling between far-flung venues. So, this week I’m decamping for the tourney in Jamaica, followed by a jaunt to Costa Rica, which happens to be the week of the Players. So, while I won’t be at Sawgrass, perhaps you can Venmo me a few bucks to cover a Red Stripe or Imperial.