More Crazy Eights

By Brian HewittDecember 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
Recently I wrote a column positing the notion that carrying an eight handicap was the toughest in golf. Briefly, the premise was that eights are always struggling to break 80 and it becomes a psychological barrier.
The column struck a nerve. Big time. The E-mails arrived in a blizzard.
John Eiland argued that being a +3 was much more trying on the soul. I was playing a 20 in a handicap tournament, he said. And I had to give two shots to a guy on a par 3. He made two. I had to make a minus one on the hole just to tie. Now thats tough to do.
Hadnt thought of it that way.
I wish, wrote another reader who didnt leave his handicap or name, I was an eight.
Funny article, said Scott Curtis, a 10 from Canada. But I dont think being a 10 is perfect. Theres something special about getting below double digits.
Don Wall clarified the problem. The handicap, he said, isnt actually designed to get you to par. It is designed to get you to the course rating for the tees you are playing that day..Play a 70 rating (par 72) and that 79 feels goodbut soon you will be a nine.
Tiff Tonn from Vancouver is an eight who played 170 rounds last year. I must have shot 80 30 or more times, he said. What are you gonna do, though? It still beats mowing the lawn.
I have been six to eight for a number of years, observed Robin Cunningham. Its more fun to say you are a six than to have to play to a six.
Ty from Winona, Mn. is a 7.9 index. And when he gets into the 70s, he says, drinks are on the houseor as we say here at Westfield Golf Club, spin em.
Ken Gaines, a four from Daytona Beach, summarily dismissed my hypothesis. An eight handicap for the average golfer that is retired and plays several times a week is almost a no-brainer, he said. Hit the fairway from the tee and two putting in most cases will keep you at an eight handicap.
If thats the case, I cant wait for retirement.
Eight is an ego killer, wrote David McKee from Texas. If you are a nine, nobody expects you to shoot in the 70s. But if you are an eight, they call you a sandbagger.
Or worse.
Im an eight and its a bitch, wrote someone who identified himself only as JB.
Then there was this left-handed compliment from a reader who goes by the handle of phredi phredi. I cant say I ever agree with you, phredi phredi said. But, damn, I have to give credit where it is due.
Thanks. I think.
Mark Wilson (not the Mark Wilson on the PGA Tour) is an eight who offered specifics from a recent round: I stood on the 18th tee having played well during the day and needing par to shoot 78. Hit a bullet for a tee shot. 20 yards left of the fairway and out of bounds. Made a seven and shot 81Id rather have shot 90.
Other respondents were just plain jealous. Making bogey on 18 to card a 90 is just as painful (I say more) than scoring a bogey on 18 to card an 80, said Greg Greenwald, an 18 from Missouri.
Not so, said Dan Perry. Its hell, he said, being an 8.2.
The air smells much better up here in nine-land, wrote Henry Schumann from Florida.
Another plight of the eight was pointed out by Dave Raudenbush. In some tournaments you are in A-flight but sometimes you are in B-flight, he said. If youve gotten your handicap down to single digits, you want to play with the big boys, not the middle handicappers. Nobody cares who wins the B-flight. But if you are the A player in a group, the pressure is tremendous. Everyone expects you to shoot in the 70s, by definition you are more likely to shoot 80, a score which rarely helps the team.
Paul Woods played with his boss last Saturday in Phoenix. The greens fee was comped. So was the after dinner cigar. But Woods is an eight. He shot 82. I would rather have been at work, he said.
Carlos from Orlando is an 18 and proud of it. Hes also a fan of The Golf Channels The Big Break. Ill get my own group of hackers and start The Big Duff: Ugly golf with dignity, he said.
My favorite E-mail came from Bruce Muir, a social worker from British Columbia, where the climate is a tad more temperate than most of Canada. Being a nine in this part of Canada and still playing golf every weekend when my buddies are frozen to their steering wheels has its advantages, he said. I would rather be a nine here than a six in Winnipeg any day.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.