Business Edge for Friday May 18 2001
Its been a slow news day, so what youre getting is a sampling of the latest jottings in my Idea Book.
If I get one more press release about a new upscale daily fee that promises to offer the complete golf experience or that country club feeling, Im turning in my GHIN card. (The mathematics museum at M.I.T. wants it anyway. Something about impossibly high numbers.)
The economics of golf courses in this day and age make it more profitable to open overblown, overpriced, over-hyped tracks designed by big-name players, and almost always with a real estate development attached. Not long ago, I defied anyone to play an upscale daily fee in the Atlanta area without hearing the sound of a pneumatic nail gun or power saw in the background. No one was able to rise to the challenge.
Upscale daily fees have their place in the golf economy, I suppose. But the shame of it is at the other end of the spectrum, where municipal and Mom-and-Pop courses and ranges used to fulfill an important part of the process of golf development.
Its simple: You could hang out there.
Unless youre deep in the cash, you cant just hang out at, say, the TPC at Sugarloaf outside Atlanta. And if you have that much money, youre probably busy earning more. On the other hand, thousands of golfers have stories of childhoods constructively wasted at town courses all over America.
One of our producers here at TGC used to pick the range at a New York area course. He got in a lot of practice time, learned the gentlemanly habits of the game, and felt the glory of summer afternoons on the turf.
Of course, he also played roofball with the caddies. After the sun went down, he and the caddies would bet dollars on who could catch a ball when it suddenly rolled down into the remaining light after being thrown into the darkness of the clubhouse roof.
Our own Rich Lerner is a treasure chest of golf course memories, many of which concern the inimitable northeastern Pennsylvania pro, Frank Stockey. He also recalls range-picking, and having to get out of the cart to hit balls away from the fence and back into the range. What with all the shotmaking experiments, that job could easily take three hours.
You wouldnt know it was ever in the genes, but my late brother was a scratch player. He was a regular at the muni course in Mt. Lebanon, Pa., the Pittsburgh suburb where we grew up. Ill never forget the day he ran across the front yard toward me with a big smile on his face and a scorecard in his hand: 34. Even par for the first of many times in his life. (Mt. Lebanon was a tight little par 34, 9-hole track.)
Fred Couples was a range rat. So was Mark King, president of TaylorMade-adidas Golf. Wally Uihlein, Titleists chief, grew up in Haverhill, Mass. and was slapping sleeves of balls and pouring beers in the clubhouse when most of his peers hadnt even had their first jobs yet.
I wont contend for a moment that expertise in roofball added greatly to a young mans education. But it was part of a chance to be around golf. Through long exposure, experimentation, and example, a generation of golfers learned to love the game and treat it well.
Nothing against organized programs such as the First Tee. On the contrary, Ive declared my support for those efforts time and time again in this space. But some of that informal stuffwell, thats gold.
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry