All in the Family

By Jon LevyMarch 28, 2011, 6:01 am
Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Family. It’s important to a lot of people. It’s everything to Benoit Beisser.

So much so that no matter what he does in life, his sister, dad and mom will be the center of it. Beisser's family-operated golf career is proof of that.

Sister Laura is one of his best friends and a sounding board for everything golf. Dad Nick is the only swing coach he's ever had. And, mom Deanna? She's caddied for him in every big event since he was a kid.

It's already been established Beisser’s his own man.

Behind that man is a support network that transcends the teams of coaches and trainers many touring professionals employ in their stable these days.

Our colorful 'Minors' subject wouldn’t have it any other way.

Benoit Beisser and his sister Laura London
Benoit and Laura at one of Laura's golf tournaments.

“Since junior golf there have always been people telling me how I would be better if I only did . . . fill in the blank,” Beisser chuckles. “What most people don’t realize is that my opinion is all I care about when it comes to my golf.

“Back then the main critique was my golf coach, who was, and still is, my father . . . My dad didn’t grow up playing golf himself but he taught himself to a four handicap. He taught my mom to a club championship and he taught my sister and I to Arizona state championships. That's not too bad in my opinion.

“Still, people today tell me that a high-profile coach will get me to the PGA Tour. But there’s only one person that I trust with my golf swing, and that’s my dad. That’s all it will ever be.”

It's hard to deny Beisser's conviction.

It’s like a badge of honor he and his family wear that they do things their own way – 'the Beisser way.'

Part of that is having his mom by his side when he plays.

“My mom caddies for me because she believes in me and she wants me to succeed,” Beisser explains. “A lot of people think having her on the bag is what's holding me back, but what they don’t realize is that she’s helping me become great. She keeps me in a positive mind-frame and she knows my professional game.

“She’s been on my bag for every Q-School I’ve been to and was my caddie for both PGA Tour events I qualified for.

'I love the fact that I can share those memories with her.”

Like her son, Deanna Beisser is interesting in her own right. 

A world renown writer of inspirational books for the Blue Mountain Arts publishing company, Deanna’s written over half a dozen books, with her most famous, 'Is it Time to Make a Change?,' gaining such popularity it was turned into a paperback and is in many schools and libraries.

It even found its way to China, becoming one of the country's best selling books.

Benoit often takes a quote his mom gives him for the week to focus on for a positive vibe.

“Pretty cool, huh?” he says with a laugh.

About as cool as what he did for his sister three years ago.

Laura was playing on the Arizona-based Cactus Tour in 2008 when she asked little brother – who was having an 'epic' year on the Gateway Pro Tour – if he would help sponsor the event because the tour was having trouble finding enough money for the purse.

He agreed . . . under one condition.

Benoit Beisser at the Epic Open

'Only if I got to name the tournament,' tells Beisser. 'And they loved it. We named it 'Benoit's Epic Open.''

'I was having a good year and I know Laura would've done the same for me if I had asked . . . It was kind of a cool deal; we got them hats and everything.'

Laura finished second in her brother's event and has seen some success in the game since, but she recently retired from her professional golf career to start up her own business doing personal assistant work.

She still serves as Benoit’s personal confidant.

“She helps me with everything,” says Beisser. “She’s still very much connected to the golf world and it’s great to have her there for me.”

It's easy to see Beisser thrives in a modern family. The admiration he holds for Nick, Deanna and Laura gives the impression the four are best friends – not the typical nuclear family, if there is such a thing anymore.

'Some people can't wait for the day they turn 18 to get away from their family, but I'm not one of those people,' he notes. 'My family is my team. I want them to be there every step of the way.'

Maybe knowing his family has his back is why he's always positive when discussing his game.

Considering how's he's playing, though, the easy-going 29-year-old has good reason.

Beisser opened last week's Gateway Pro Tour event in Phoenix with a pedestrian even-par 72. But he blistered the event home with closing rounds of 64-69 to finish third, earned $7,200 and moved to $31,687.50 on the year, which ranks sixth on the tour’s 2011 money list.

'It's pretty good right now,' Beisser says of his game.

'Just want to keep 'er going right now; see what I can do.'

He's confident, and he has every right to be, because what Beisser already has done is put himself in the black on the year, which isn’t easy to do on the Gateway Pro Tour – or any developmental tour.

Gateway Pro Tour
Sample 100-player purse

Consider the numbers.

A member who pays a $1,750 annual GPT membership fee, and then pays the full registration amount of $18,900 for all 18 events of the tour’s Arizona Series, has already spent over $20,000 before even teeing it up.

Factor that just 35 percent of any given field makes a check – a common percentage for many mini-tours –  and that the players on the GPT pay an average of $1,050 per event to play, and it's evident those guys better have paid homage to the golf gods that week just to make their money back.

Also, add in the economy and all the young, hungry, fearless players hitting the professional scene and it makes it all the more difficult just to break even.

The Gateway Pro Tour packs ‘em in, too.

It's one of the highest paying mini-tours in the country, its location is desirable and the tour plays decent golf courses.

Without delving into too much of the science behind it, given the model of nearly every mini-tour, it's difficult for the player to net much of anything.

Even Beisser's third place finish in a field of 114 players netted just over $6,000, considering the entry fee.

Justin Rose, Marc Leishman and David Toms all tied for third at Bay Hill last week and made $312,000. A solo third place finish would've even been more.

It's a tough sell, but mini-tours market themselves by claiming it’s all about gaining the ‘experience’ of competing against other aspiring professionals to learn the tools necessary to make it to the PGA Tour. Look at any pay-for-play website and it will say something to that effect.

The cold, hard truth is developmental golf is expensive, competitive and difficult at which to make a living.

But, Beisser has managed to net over $160,000 on the tour – after entry fees – since joining in 2007.

So our yoga-loving subject should be confident. And, in theory, on to bigger and better things.

Still, it's easy to think he's already living his dream – and has been doing such since he was a kid.

'I think it's just that being a pro kind of allows me to stay 16 years old forever,' Beisser surmises. 'People ask me what the best part of being a professional golfer is and I think that's it.

'It's not for the money or fame that's out there, which, sure, that's great. It's because I've wanted to do nothing else since back when I was a kid and our family would travel together to golf tournaments.

'I'm lucky for that. We always had a blast . . . I guess I just never want that to change.'

With his family by his side, it likely never will.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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 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.


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.