Cut Line: Remembering 'Wrong Ron' Balicki


It was a sad week for the game following the loss of fellow scribe Ron Balicki. He will be greatly missed.

Made Cut

Remembering @WrongRon. The golf world lost a legend on Tuesday with the passing of Ron Balicki, 65, a pressroom staple for more than 30 years.

Balicki, who died at home in Arkansas after a lengthy battle with cancer, joined Golfweek magazine in 1983 and covered every level of golf, but his focus, his passion, was the college and amateur games.

Balicki, whose annual picks for the NCAA Championship earned him the endearing nickname "Wrong Ron," covered 29 national championships and his passing was mourned by some of the game’s top players.

He was also a colleague, a friend and a mentor for your scribe for nearly a decade. Thank you, Ron.

Tweets of the week: @LukeDonald “So sad to hear of the passing of Ron Balicki. No one loved college golf more then him and it won’t be the same without him. RIP my friend.”

@RickieFowlerPGA “Ron was the first and only guy I called to release the news about my decision to turn pro . . . he was a special man and a true friend.”

@David59Duval “You will be missed Wrong Ron.”

Hadley’s high road. After last week’s closing 79 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational canceled his first trip down Magnolia Lane, it would have been understandable if Chesson Hadley had a letdown in his march to his first Masters. But that wouldn’t be Hadley’s style.

He opened with a 69 on Thursday at the Valero Texas Open and is tied for fourth place in his quest to crack the top 50 and earn a spot at the year’s first major championship.

Not bad for a rookie trying to earn a ticket to golf’s most exclusive party.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Q& (few) A’s. When Tiger Woods settled into his chair for Monday’s news conference in Washington, D.C., there was no shortage of outstanding business to attend to.

Atop that list was the state of the world No. 1’s back, which forced him to skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational and has raised concerns that he may miss next month’s Masters, and Monday’s answers did little to clarify the situation.

“For Augusta, it’s actually still a little too soon (to know), to be honest with you,” Woods said. “That’s kind of the frustrating thing about this.”

It’s also too soon to speculate on the future of Woods’ event in the D.C. area. Monday’s news conference was to announce a new title sponsor, Quicken Loans, but the future location of the event remains unclear.

A proposal to hold the event every other year at Congressional is currently pending with the club’s membership. The final vote on the proposal, which would require the event to move away from the Blue Course in 2017 and ’19, will be made on Sunday, and it doesn’t seem to be a lock.

One club member told Cut Line this week the vote would be close. The last time Woods asked the membership to renew the lease the vote was surprisingly close, with 62 percent of the membership voting to keep the event at the Bethesda, Md., course.

Golf’s green ceiling. Word last week that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, as well as Muirfield and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, are poised to add female members is progress worth celebrating.

While it should be pointed out that clubs like Royal Troon have separate “ladies clubs” with virtually the same access to all of the club’s facilities as the men enjoy, in 2014 there is no way to justify these types of divisions at clubs that host such high-profile championships.

The only question now is what took so long?

Missed Cut

Na, Na, Na, Na ... Na, Na, Na, Na ... Hey, hey hey ... Kevin Na is hardly the only slow player on the PGA Tour, but it seems he’s the most defensive when it comes to his languid pace.

When Na’s pace became a talking point again last week he became defensive, diverting questions about his slow play or outright ignoring questions that he didn’t want to answer.

On this, Na should take a page from Ben Crane’s book. When Crane’s slow play became an issue a few years back he didn’t sidestep the issue; instead he embraced his troubles and admitted that he was trying to pick up the pace.

Na seemed to realize this following his round on Saturday at Bay Hill when asked by one writer if he drove fast?

“Oh, I drive fast,” he smiled, “I drive a Lamborghini.”

Wrong Hall call. Perhaps the World Golf Hall of Fame was broken. Perhaps it was time for a nip/tuck. Perhaps the path to relevancy is always littered with collateral damage.

But all that doesn’t explain the Hall’s plan to condense the selection process from a ballot that included some 300 golf writers, Hall of Famers and administrators to a commission of 16 people.

Nor do the changes – which were announced last Sunday at Bay Hill – address one of the Hall’s most glaring weaknesses, a minimum age of 40 to be considered for induction. Both Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els won major championships after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and imagine how awkward things might get in two years when Tiger Woods, a first-ballot inductee by any definition, turns 40.

Forty is the new 30 in professional golf and that reality won’t change. To be honest, Cut Line isn’t sure what the magic number is, although 55 has a good ring to it, but we know it’s not 40.