Tiger Woods vs. Dan Jenkins and More in The Van Cynical Mailbag

The Tiger Woods-Dan Jenkins feud could have been easily avoided, says Gary Van Sickle.
AP/Luis M. Alvarez

It’s time for another edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag, or as some readers call it, Black Tuesday. This is where your snappy golf questions lead to snappy answers, diatribes, venting or in most cases, just answers.

You get what you pay for, you know?

To the Mailbag, Cynically:

Van SliceOMatic, What's your take on Tiger versus Dan Jenkins? I know you are friends with Jenkins. Seems he might have nudged a toe over the line — Klaugh56 via Twitter

Well, the Golf Digest piece written by Jenkins, My Fake Interview With Tiger, wasn’t his funniest parody. But Tiger apparently didn’t get the fake part. Or the humor. And if Tiger doesn’t speak up, the article gets ignored and floats quietly away. Tiger and his management have been stunningly unaware of how media relations work throughout his career and this was another poor decision. It’s one thing for Tiger to think the story wasn’t funny. It’s another to call it “below the belt.” It was a parody, one that never would’ve happened if Tiger would’ve found time ONCE during the last 20 years to talk to the best American sportswriter of the 20th century. Jenkins was on a best-buddy basis with Arnie, Jack and even Hogan, to name a few. Take a hint, Tiger.

Van Cynical, Counting this one, how many Tiger/new swing consultant questions did you get this week? — Brian Bailey via Twitter

Attendance was down because I failed to make an earlier clarion call for queries, Bail-jumper, but the sad reality is that yours was only one of two. It might have something to do with the fact that none of us had heard of Tiger’s new “consultant,” Chris Como. Had it been Mario Cuomo or even the late Perry Como, it would’ve rated bigger headlines. Or it might be that a lot of people no longer care who Tiger is working with, talking to or maybe listening to. At least, not until he wins one more tournament. Then, oh yeah, they’ll definitely care. Big-time.

Van Halen, Will Chris Cuomo continue at CNN while working with Tiger Woods? — Len Hochberg via Twitter

We think alike, Hindenberg. Which should be a red flag for you and your therapist. I don’t have to explain your joke to the other readers, do I? Nah, didn’t think so.

Van Cynical, If you could win a major which one, which location? — Sanjay Iver via Twitter

If you wanted to be famous for life and truly remembered for your golf, you’d pick the Masters. It’s the glitziest, most glamorous and most glorified of the majors. Are there any forgotten Masters champions? Not really. Take the PGA and the British Open, which often get a little less attention, and consider Shaun Micheel, Ben Curtis, Louis Oosthuizen, Wayne Grady, Paul Lawrie and Stewart Cink, to name a few. The U.S. Open is America’s national championship but the British Open feels more like the true world championship. For my major, I’d take a British Open win anywhere in Scotland, preferably St. Andrews or Turnberry. Not that I’d be choosy. How about you?

Sickle, Tees should be based on ability and handicap, not gender and ages. Courses need more tees at more distance gaps. — NoRealSports via Twitter

No question about it. Even if they’re just two tee markers placed 100 yards up in the fairway and not on an actual tee box, move the markers there to encourage play from that position. There is a serious disconnect between how good people are at golf (not very, in most cases) and what tees they try to play from. A second problem is, men built and run the courses and designed them for men players. Women’s tees got very little consideration in many cases, or none at all, either due to lack of awareness or the not-so-subtle intention to keep women away. I saw a stat somewhere, I’m not sure if it’s true, that the average woman recreational golfer flies her tee shot 130 yards. That makes any forced carries almost unreasonable. Every course should redesign its tees based on how players actually play—thus your idea for handicap-related tees is terrific and should’ve been done long ago. Golf wants to attract more players but it doesn’t do anything to make the game more inviting. Dumb and dumber.

Van Cyclical, I’ve asked this question a lot and never gotten a good answer. Why aren’t there senior tees for women? — Karen via Twitter

See previous answer, Karen. It’s because the men who designed courses didn’t care about women players or, worse, didn’t want them. The women’s tees on many courses are a disgrace, they’re way unrealistic, and not having a better forward option is even worse. This is one of golf’s many blind spots and you never hear anybody talking about it. Yeah, that’s because the men still don’t get it. We don’t have to call them senior women’s tees—just call them the orange tees, or something–but put more tees as far forward as possible so anyone who wants to play can get around the course in a timely fashion whether the tees are for older women, older men, kids or golf novices. The lack of forward tees makes golf user-unfriendly for players in those categories and needs to be fixed.

Sick, How many times have you been asked "what's your favorite course?" & how do you answer that? — Kris Strauss via Twitter

That makes 103 times, Straussavarius, and I still don’t have a good answer. It’s hard to separate favorite course from best course. Sometimes you just have an emotional attachment to a course for personal reasons—you grew up there, learned the game there or just enjoyed the scenery. Pebble Beach ranks among my favorites but the maddening six-hour round (or more) there ruins the golfing experience. I continue to tout the Links at Pacific Grove, a muny course just off 17-Mile Drive, as one of America’s most fun tracks even though it’s busy, beat-up and often scruffy. I also enjoy the scenic panorama of the front nine at Crystal Springs, a public course not terribly far from the San Francisco airport. Two other notables: Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh and Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.

Van Cyclical, Norman, Pavin, Inskster and Flesch? This is the new approach and fresh thinking Fox and the USGA promised? I’m kinda underwhelmed. — Chris Folds via Twitter

Let me take a second look at that. You had “new approach and fresh thinking” in the same sentence with the USGA. What’s wrong with that picture? Hey, let’s not deep-six Fox’s on-air talent until they’ve had a chance. I get why you’re dubious but all they’ve got to do to have a new approach is lose the everything-is-wonderful baloney and have a little more fun. If there’s a way they could deliver that loose Golf Channel roundtable-type format on a golf broadcast, it would be a start. But if they’re going to spend time solemnly agonizing over the grain and whether Joe Schlabotnik’s birdie putt is breaking half a cup right or maybe a little more, forget it. I like golf but as a viewer, I’m not all that interested in the read. Is it a hard putt or easy putt and is he likely to make it or three-jack it? That’s all I want to know. Lose a little of the inside-golf stuff and get a lot more of who-are-these-guys stuff. And let’s call a crappy shot a crappy shot, just for the novelty. This is supposed to be entertainment. So entertain us, people.

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