#AskAlan mailbag: What’s golf’s worst endorsement deal of all time?

May 1, 2019

In this installment of the #AskAlan mailbag, GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck fields questions about anything and everything: Game of Thrones equivalents, the best Scottish Highlands golf, endorsement deal double standards and more.

Which Game of Thrones characters would some of the big name golfers be? — @jkellegrew

Tiger: Arya. The GOAT. Or maybe Beric Dondarrion – you can’t kill the guy!

Rory: Jon Snow. Diminutive, makes mistakes under pressure, should be king but is wary of the burden.

Phil Mickelson: Littlefinger. Always scheming, and it often backfires.

Brooks Koepka: Hodor. Big dude, plays an important but overlooked role, doesn’t have much to say.

Dustin Johnson: Khal Drogo. Lots of swagger, beds a golden-haired goddess, destined to live out his days with a faraway look in his eyes.

Patrick Reed: Joffrey Baratheon. Universally hated despite a lofty title.

Cristie Kerr: Daenerys Targaryen. Super cocky, some big wins, not quite the queen she thinks she is.

Matt Kuchar: Tyrion Lannister. Initially seems harmless, even pitiable, turns out to be ruthless.

Bubba Watson: The Hound. Tall, socially awkward, has some nervous tics, but keeps winning.

Sergio Garcia: Oberyn Martell. Hot-blooded, preening, victim of his hubris.

Jason Day: Bran Stark. Gifted with many talents but accident-prone and tends to go missing at important moments.

Jordan Spieth: Jamie Lannister. Deeply flawed but noble.

Bryson DeChambeau: Samwell Tarly. Often seems overwhelmed by minutiae but somehow finds a way.

Ian Poulter: Bronn. Cocky as hell, obsessed with material enrichment, comes through in the clutch.

Tommy Fleetwood: Daario Naharis. Great head of hair, make a big impression despite a limited role.

Lexi Thompson: Brienne of Tarth. Absolute battler.

Presidents Cup dress rehearsal and there’s bitching about pairings, Scott/Day trunk slam, Louis/Charl make a nueve— does my boy Ernie need to go plane-mode on these chumps as an attention-getter? — @Lou_TireWorld

This is indeed an underrated aspect of the Zurich: the International team getting to preview pairings for the Presidents Cup, since they don’t have the luxury of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal. This is going to be the most-anticipate Prez Cup ever because of the intrigue surrounding Tiger’s role as a playing captain. It would be nice if the Internationals can at least make it interesting but the goings-on in New Orleans do not inspire confidence. To quote Captain Els, on his long-ago private jet ride with Steve Marino: “Now we fight.”

Is Tiger approaching/considering a Hogan post-wreck appearance strategy? Surely he’ll play more than 6-7 tournaments a year (see: Japan $). But… curious if you’re hearing anything we’re not. — @CHFounder

It’s becoming clear that Tiger pushed himself to the brink last year and he is still paying the price, physically, but not spiritually — the green jacket makes it all worth it. Rickie Fowler told me during Masters week that he and Tiger share the same physio and during tournament weeks he always tries to get in first because it takes so much time to get Woods’s body ready to play. Why should Tiger put himself through all of that for the likes of the Wells Fargo Championship? I love the idea of Woods drastically reducing his schedule. It will prolong this final act of his career, make every start monumental and give him the best chance to be fresh for the majors.

How often will Tiger Woods play going forward?
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

What is a Tiger Woods autograph circa May 1995 signed on a Stanford Golf Course card, worth? — @Marcosclue

Hmm, this doesn’t sound hypothetical. Selling autographs is gauche. Actually, asking for them is, too, but that ship has sailed. I would try to enjoy this keepsake as a reminder of when you were both younger and more innocent.

Can you even recall another sponsorship that was a bigger miss than that Carly Booth-Saudi Arabia deal (in any sport)? I get that folks in her tier aren’t generally in a position to turn stuff down, but good gravy. #AskAlan — Brian (@HailFlutie)

It was an unmitigated disaster that raises some important questions. I’ve never interviewed Booth so I can’t speak to her worldview but her social media presence is frivilous skewing toward cheesecake. Does she follow geopolitics? Is she aware that Saudi Arabia supplied 15 of the 9/11 hijackers? Of the ongoing controversies surrounding the assassination of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi? Maybe, maybe not. Clearly she should have done a lot more due diligence.

But professional athletes are incredibly myopic and live in bubbles – they have agents and handlers whose only job (besides making money) is to avoid these kind of screwups. What the heck were these folks thinking (besides about their commission)? Booth is guilty of cluelessness but the pros around her committed malpractice.

Another interesting part of this controversy is how Booth has been skewered in print and on social media while all the top male players who competed in Saudi Arabia earlier this year mostly skated. There’s a weird mysogynistic double-standard here. Bryson DeChambeau made some public statements that were as groan-inducing as Booth’s social media posts but at most he earned some mild finger-wagging. The likes of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose and Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia were so transparent in their greed that it somehow was deemed more palatable than Booth’s faux-sincerity. These are troubling times.

Would Web/PGA pros have lost their s— if Chase Koepka went from no status to a two-year exemption thanks to a bro win-vite? — @ChristofAppel

Many would have, for sure. But Chase is a humble, well-liked kid who has been chasing it hard on mini-tours, Mondays and the Challenge Tour. Fellow pros respect the grind. Also, Brooks is now one of the game’s big dogs, and that status affords him a few DGAF moves, like inviting his little brother to play alongside him instead of a more established pro. I think it’s cool they’re out there together between the ropes.

Saw a lot of Americans on the leaderboard at the Euro Tour event this weekend. Is this viewed as an easier/financially more rewarding route to the PGA Tour, or more a reflection of how high the standard and number of players are on the Web.com tour? — @afc_van

This is an acknowledgement that there are no easy routes to the PGA Tour. When I hung out on the Latinoamerica Tour last year many of the players despaired about the cut-throat competition, and that’s just to move up to the Web. Some were considering playing the PGA Tour China – which, like the LAT, is basically double-A ball – and some were considering trying the Challenge Tour, which is the feeder for the European Tour. Like all sports, there is a copycat factor, and Brooks has provided an inspirational example of how Americans can prosper by cutting their teeth in Europe. Considering all the cool places and great courses you get to see, why wouldn’t you give it a try?

You win the Trophee Hassan II, what are you doing with that knife for the following year? Use it as a steak knife at the table? Reserve it for carving tenderloins and roasts? Champagne corks only? — @ANTIFAldo

Oh, c’mon, I love that trophy. Who needs another crystal flower vase?

If Scott Hoch isn’t one of the most underrated golfers of all time, who is? 11 wins, two Ryder Cups, and and made a lot of $$. — Matthew (@SonOfAFitch)

I agree that he is almost never talked about considering what a productive career he enjoyed. Hoch would be on the short list of the best non-major winners of all time, including Doug Sanders, Kenny Perry, Calvin Peete, Buce Lietzke, Jay Haas, Steve Stricker and sundry others.

After seeing Pasatiempo on TV for the Western, it got me thinking that college golf could be the perfect platform for getting super private courses on TV. No crowds or infrastructure to deal with other than TV set-ups. Any chance it could ever happen? #AskAlan — @UnbeatableTweet

Well, it already has happened with the Walker Cup, which has a richer history and more prestige than any college event but offers the same appeal of small crowds and minimal infrastructure. That’s why ultra-private joints like Chicago Golf Club (2005), Merion (’09) and National Golf Links (’13) opened their doors to the Walker Cup, and up next is Seminole (’21) and Cypress Point (’25).

Scottish Highlands: your 3 recommendations to play? Do you train (i.e. TPI)? What ball do you play? — @RLMgrandpa

Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Tain. I do sit-ups and push-ups and run stairs when the spirit moves me, plus play tennis and pickup hoops – does that count? Pro-V1x.

Following last week’s language question with another, please tell me you hate the use of “gaming” as in “I’m gaming the new Callaway driver.” When did “I’m playing” become passé? — @JohnSchwarb

Nah, I love this construction! If a guy uses “gaming” unironically that tells me very clearly that I never, ever want to tee it up with him.

You’re playing a team event and your partner makes an ace. A ‘1’ is on your scorecard. At what point does this become your ace? Also, assuming you are coming to DFW for the Byron or Colonial in May, for which day do you want me to get us a tee time? #AskAlan — @GolfingBrock

Not sure I’m gonna make it to Texas again – I had a blast in Austin for the Match Play – but I shall keep you posted. I’m not so desperate to claim another man’s ace…but check back with me in a few years.