Ten reasons you like Brandt Snedeker

By Jason SobelFebruary 11, 2013, 12:54 am

If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’ve successfully navigated your way onto the Internet. As you’ve probably already discovered, this place can be a bastion of quality information. Book a flight, find out which year the Magna Carta was signed, check out bikini models, whatever. It’s all here.

That’s the good stuff. Then there’s the other stuff. The anonymity of hiding behind a keyboard can promote way more hate-mongering than anything you’d ever hear in person. In golf’s little corner of the world, it can manifest itself in ridiculous ways. There is contempt for Phil Mickelson being too outgoing and Tiger Woods not being outgoing enough. There is disdain for Ian Poulter being too flashy and Retief Goosen not being flashy enough. You get the picture.


AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos


All of which leads us to Brandt Snedeker. He is a marvel in this world, an anomaly in full. People either like Snedeker or just don’t know enough about him yet – and yes, that includes the usual keyboard-tapping hate-mongers.

It’s funny – this piece is called Ten Reasons You Like Brandt Snedeker, but it could easily be called Ten Reasons Brandt Snedeker is Playing So Well. Those two things don’t always go hand in hand – there are successful players who aren’t well-liked and popular players who aren’t very successful – but in this case, in the wake of his AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am victory, they are one and the same.

1. Because he understands his placement in golf’s hierarchy.

Last week, after a second straight runner-up finish moved him to what was then a career-high sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, I asked Snedeker whether he receives enough credit as one of the game’s elite players.

“You have to win majors and win tournaments to be recognized as an elite player,” he told me. “And I haven't done nearly enough of that, you know. I'm playing great right now. I'm as high as I have ever been in the world ranking and all that kind of stuff, but you have to win tournaments to validate that. I haven't done it.”

No sense of self-entitlement, no Rodney Dangerfield “I get no respect” barbs.

With his win, Snedeker moved up to No. 4, but his feelings on being considered elite undoubtedly haven’t been altered. “Until you win majors,” he said Sunday night, “you’re kind of in the second tier.” This is a guy who gets it. Six months of torrid play is terrific, but five career wins can get you only so far without a major. It’s refreshing to watch and listen to a player whose ego hasn’t become overinflated by a modicum of success.

2. Because he’s been sporting some ridiculous, eye-popping numbers lately.

Dating back to last August, Snedeker has played nine official PGA Tour events. He’s finished sixth or better in seven of them, including wins at last year’s Tour Championship and this past week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and three runner-up finishes.

Since the Tour started keeping stats like these in 1990, he’s the first player to follow back-to-back second-place results with a win in the third week.

In 19 rounds this season, 18 have been under par. Extend that to last season and in his last 37 rounds, 33 of them have been under par.

He has now earned $2,841,920 in the first 41 days of the year. That amount would have ranked 27th on last season’s money list.

And my personal favorite …

In the past three weeks, he has played against 441 fellow competitors and beaten 438 of them.

That’s a loss to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines (where he shared second with Josh Teater), a loss to Phil Mickelson in Phoenix and a win at Pebble Beach.  If there’s one hard-and-fast rule to finding success, it’s that beating nearly everyone you play against should help matters.

3. Because he plays like a guy who’s about to catch hell from his wife for being late to dinner.

We’ve all teed it up with guys like this. Types who barely have their yardage before they’re already in their backswing. Types who don’t read putts from every possible angle. Types about whom we say, “I think I play fast, but that guy? Man, he’s in another gear.”

There aren’t too many of these types on the PGA Tour, where apparently the tortoise serves as king of the jungle. But if you believe that your local muni has gotten slower from hackers trying to emulate the likes of Kevin Na and Ben Crane, then it should stand to reason that we’ll all play a little faster after consuming Snedeker’s rapid pace.

With the USGA turning its attention to slow play and the PGA Tour promising to keep “looking at it,” the game needs a face for ready golf. That face can very well be Snedeker, who is proving that fast play and great play don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

In fact, forget the foursome in front of you at the local muni learning a little something from him. Let’s just hope his professional peers are paying attention.

4. Because he putts really well.

5. No, like, incredibly well.

6. As in, the best putter in the world.

At some point in the last year or two, Snedeker overtook Steve Stricker (who had previously overtaken Brad Faxon) as the guy who rolls it truer than anyone else. Maybe not the man you’d pick for the proverbial “make one putt with your life on the line,” but definitely the one you’d pay good money to watch on the practice green. He putts with pace; he putts aggressively; he putts to make rather than to not miss.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the past four seasons he’s ranked in the top 20 in putting each time, topping the list last year.

Maybe it tells us more about the act of putting than anything about Snedeker himself when we break down his stats from this season – when he’s been playing perhaps the best golf of his life – and find that, well, he hasn’t been as impressive as most of us have thought.

Entering the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he ranked 25th in strokes gained putting (good), 113th in three-putt avoidance (not so good) and 200th in total putting (really not good). On Sunday, he three-putted the ninth hole after a brutally ugly birdie attempt, which was eerily reminiscent of his four-putt on the final hole of the 2009 BMW Championship – a blunder which cost him not only thousands of dollars, but berths in a few major championships, too. 

And yet, it seems like every time we see him, he’s pouring in a 12-footer that finds the dead center of the cup.

What does it all mean? I interpret it like this: Putting ain’t easy. Nobody makes all of 'em. But Snedeker makes more than anyone else and – most importantly – makes more momentum-saving putts than anyone. There’s no stat to back this up, but I’d put him up against all competition when it comes to holing a long par attempt to keep from backtracking or making an unlikely birdie that sparks a rally.

7. Because he really enjoys playing golf.

There was a poignant moment on the final green at Pebble Beach on Sunday afternoon. With his par putt marked safely near the hole to clinch a two-shot victory, Snedeker was grinding with a read. Not for him, though. For his pro-am partner, Toby Wilt.

Granted, the two men are longtime friends; granted, Snedeker was reading putts for him throughout the week; and granted, this one was for the outright pro-am title. But it still spoke volumes about the man that he not only gave the putt a read, he actually cared if it went in. When Wilt’s lemon-yellow ball slid agonizingly by the hole, Snedeker looked crestfallen.

Other than that moment, though, he flashed a ubiquitous smile for four days around the Monterey Peninsula. And that wasn’t only when he was raining putts. Snedeker is the rare pro who appears to relish the challenge of a wayward tee shot or approach, who looks just as happy saving a tough par as he does making an easy birdie.

Don’t believe how much he loves the game? Check out this story: Thinking this year’s U.S. Open venue is tailor-made for his game, I recently asked him if he’d ever played Merion before. Snedeker revealed that he hadn’t, but he was eager to go there soon. Not on a scouting mission or to prepare for the major, but as part of a buddies trip. Yes, he’s a pro golfer who plays golf on vacation. That’s a rarer thing than you might expect.

8. Because his on-course strategy is so complicated that only he understands it.

After one round this past week, Snedeker unleashed his best Yogi Berra impersonation: 'My M.O. is to not do anything stupid. Unfortunately, I don't do it very often.'

9. Because he’s started out-Luke Donalding and out-Matt Kucharing both Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar.

Mention those two names to any golf fan and ask what they have in common. In almost every instance, the response will be one word: consistency.

Week in, week out over the past few years, those guys have been pulling top-10 finishes and six-figure paydays. Now they’re joined by Snedeker – and for now, even bypassed – in an elite group of players who fare just as well in prestigious tournaments as regular events and just as well on big ballparks as ball-strikers’ setups.

Prior to the first week of this season, I asked about a dozen players what they most wanted to accomplish this year. The majority said, “More consistency.” Right now, Snedeker is accomplishing that better than anyone else.

10. Because he’s on a great run right now – and it won’t last forever.

That’s not a knock on Snedeker. It’s just golf. I could have written a piece similar to this about Jason Dufner nine months ago. Since then, he hasn’t finished better than seventh in an official PGA Tour event.

Guys get hot, they stay hot for a little while, then it fades. As Padraig Harrington said recently, “Everybody peaks. Professional golfers tend to last about 18 months when they peak, then drift back to who they are.”

If that’s the case, then Snedeker is about halfway through his peak – the peak of his peak, if you will.

I’ve always thought what separates the all-timers from those who are “only” great is their ability to extend this peak. Some of the best players can double or triple that time at the top of their games. Hell, Tiger Woods extended his 18-month apex to 14 years at one point. Maybe this isn’t the case for Snedeker. Maybe he’s one of the all-timers, blossoming before our very eyes, never to come crashing down to normality.

Chances are, though, he’s just riding this peak. It’s been fun to watch. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

Amen.

The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”