Who is The Franchise Babe
So the GolfChannel.com Insiders notebook this week features three mini-reviews of new golf books. Reviews are something you can find periodically in this space. And this time theres a theme. Sort of:
Womens golf and mind games.
First up is the latest raunch-fest from Dan Jenkins, golf writings most important irreverent. The name of the novel is The Franchise Babe. And its not in the same league with other Jenkins romps like Semi-Tough, Dead Solid Perfect, or even Baja Oklahoma. But it can play.
Jenkins is important because we need him to tweak the noses of everybody who takes golf and life too seriously. In 'The Franchise Babe' the tweaker is Jack Brannon, a fortyish magazine writer who finds himself out on the hustings with the LPGA.
Jenkins may not be able to get his fastball into the mid to high 90s anymore. But hell get you out with a nasty splitter across the knees that still registers in the high 80s.
The plot centers around a precocious and pulchritudinous young golfer named Ginger Clayton and Brannons lustings for Gingers red-hot golf Mom, Thurlene.
Officials, sponsors and especially golf parents come under the close scrutiny of Brannon/Jenkins withering eye.
Im not sure how much longer Jenkins can keep cranking these bad boys out, but until he runs out of energy, Im still reading. The best news is he hasnt run out of energy.
Speaking of close scrutiny, thats precisely what drives, Driven, a non-fiction-but-sometimes-hard-to-believe look at a year in the life of the young phenoms who inhabit the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida.
The author is former Golf Magazine editor Kevin Cook. And his reporting is eminently believable. Its the behavior of many of the parents thats, sadly, hard to imagine.
Coming in for especially harsh criticism is the Wie Camp, more specifically, the increasingly media unfriendly parents of Michelle Wie.
Cook also helps demystify the increasing domination of Asian women at golfs top levels. If a Korean girl hit 300 balls in a day, a respectable number for a U.S. Tour pro, Cook writes, her neighbor on the range might hit 400. The next player down might hit 500, a commonplace total at Seouls triple- and quadruple deck ranges where one teen won a bet by beating 1,500 balls in a day.
In Wies defense, she was still publicly on board with the controversially controlling role of her parents as recently as the U.S. Womens Open seven weeks ago. But the fact is, Wie is most definitely not yet the goods all those endorsers figured her for when they shelled out close to $20 million bucks the day she turned pro a few years ago.
Which brings us to Finding Your Zone, by Dr. Michael Lardon, the brother of Brad Lardon, a one-time Tour player.
Michael Lardon explores the zone, that timeless time all players search for. A physician and sports psychologist, Lardon has dedicated his career to helping athletes (PGA, NFL, Olympics) maximize their potential.
His 10 core lessons for achieving peak performance in sports and life is as clinical as Jenkins is cynical. But hes done his homework and theres plenty of grist for the mental mill in his book.
The opposite of the zone is the concept of choking. All humans, including great athletes, choke, Lardon tells us. It is okay to choke. It is part of human nature to, at times, feel the pressure of the moment and not perform your best. However, we perform best under pressure when we minimize the choke factor, and the best way to do this is to care about the right things and not the wrong things.
If you pay attention through the 153 pages of Lardons cleanly researched book, you will know a lot more about the right things than you did before you started.
Maybe its too simplistic to suggest that if Michelle Wie pored through all three of these books shed become the Franchise Babe so many people thought she would be by now.
But it would be a start.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.