Brandel vs. …? Michael Bamberger’s 7 best things in golf this week, ranked

November 6, 2018

The week in golf has passed, but not without intrigue. Each week Michael Bamberger ranks the best things that happened in the golf world in his eyes, starting this week with the best press release in golf. 


The best press release in golf right now (and you should consider your source) is that one that bears the stamp of each of my two young colleagues, Sean Zak and Dylan Dethier (de-CHAIR), who are going to participate in this year’s Goslings Invitational, AKA the Bermuda open. Zak (rhymes with block) will be reprising his ongoing role as DD’s caddie, to Dethier’s player. The event is in Bermuda at the end of November. According to the release, Dethier has been getting useful advice from top teachers, including one teacher (Claude Harmon’s namesake grandson) who told Kid Dylan to keep his left heel down on the backswing and another (the chill California teacher known as GG) to lift said heel likes he’s going to crush a soda can. So the Canadian Tour alum has that going for him. Plus he’s got Zak.


In other lift-your-heel news, the best (a euphemism for oddest and most disturbing) development in golf right now involves two of golf’s most knowledgeable commentators, Brandel Chamblee of Golf Channel and Peter Kessler, formerly of (as it was known in his day) the Golf Channel and now of Sirius Radio. Although only one of them is participating in this fracas. Via twitter, Kessler has made a series of nasty comments about Chamblee, including this outside-our-code line: “Stick with the heel thing since you’re a heel now.” You may know that Chamblee, like George Gankas above, likes a righty swing where the left heel is raised at the top of the backswing. As for Kessler and Chamblee, they both believe that golf has been at its best when the most important component of score-making came by way of shot-making in its many different forms, as opposed to drive-bashing (these days taking only one shape). Where Peter’s anger is coming from I do not know. Why can’t we all just get along?


The most foolish change in the rules this year was the decision to stop allowing TV viewers to call in with potential rules violations. It was done because the calls are cumbersome to deal with and the phrase “TV viewer” suggests a guy in a Barcalounger. In other words, bad optics. But the optics shouldn’t matter here. The rules of golf are rooted in Ronald Reagan’s old disarmament phrase, “trust but verify.” The more people acting to help ensure players turn in scorecards that are 100 percent accurate the better. The Doris Chen LPGA 144-hole Q-School situation, where she clearly willfully violated a rule and may have been abetted by her mother, is another illustration that some golfers will try to get away with things if they can. More of that will lead to the death of the game as we know it. The best antidote to possibility is to bring in as many rules officials as possible, including TV viewers.


I will definitely be seeing the movie “Wildlife,” in a theater, with my wife, sharing a popcorn. (Some habits are not made to be broken.) The movie stars Carey Mulligan as the wife of a character played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The starting point to unlocking his character, from what I’ve read, is to understand that he had been, as a younger man, an aspiring professional golfer who did not make it. I was in when I heard that Paul Dano had directed his first movie. After hearing about the Gyllenhaal character’s back-story, I was even more in.


Our daughter, Alina, has a wide range of interests and golf is barely on the list, although she did go to Masters as a senior in college, though I don’t think she saw the winner, Danny Willett, play too many shots. The other day we were talking about the difference between gross events and net events, which led to a discussion of golf’s handicap system and how, in theory and beyond, it puts all golfers on an equal footing. You know the drill: it allows you or I to play a match against, say, Justin Rose. Alina processed these things and said, “Golf is a good sport for people who are bad at sports.”


A tree on a golf course is a spectacular thing. (A line of trees is not.) An autumn tree especially so. I know of no list of the top-100 trees in golf and I am already regretting my use of the phrase. Still, I nominate the one shown here, squarely in the way of a slicing tee shot on the par-4 into-a-valley third hole at the nine-hole St. Martins course of the Philadelphia Cricket Club. The best golf I know, in this country, is on warmish autumn and winter days in the Northeast with little wind on smooth greens with no wait on the next tee.

Not a bad view for a beautiful autumn day of golf


The photo above was taken by Jay Hass (not Jay Haas). Jay was playing in a casual nine-person tournament at St. Martins, going around twice, the second time with a four-club limit. (The photo shows his playing partner, Tom Ferraro.) Of the nine competitors, five shot the same or better on the second nine, including the gross winner (Steve Harrington, 39-35) and the net winner (Jay Hass, 39-36). Jay finished solo second in the gross division. Earlier that day, he finished second in his age group (he’s almost 57) in a half-marathon, averaging 7:32 miles on a hilly course. Golf is a good sport for people who are bad at sports. But that doesn’t mean that people who are good at sports can’t enjoy it, too.