In the bag

By Jason SobelSeptember 30, 2011, 7:53 pm

The overhyped “Let Lexi Play” marketing campaign to grant full-time LPGA membership to young Lexi Thompson provided one of the most provocative platforms for any player in recent history.

It was also the most pointless.

That’s not just because Thompson, who will turn 17 early next year, saw her petition requesting 2012 status approved on Friday, just 12 days after she won the Navistar LPGA Classic.

It’s because that scenario never wasn’t going to happen.

As soon as Thompson closed out her five-stroke victory in Alabama, many observers were incensed that LPGA commissioner Michael Whan failed to greet her on the final green with an oversized paycheck and a laminated card ensuring her inclusion on the tour next year and beyond.

That’s not how it works, though. By rule, any player 18 or younger must petition the LPGA for membership. Call it a commendable rule or a faulty one, but it’s in place to protect both the player and the tour – and the latter couldn’t have been expected to bend its own rule, no matter the worthiness of the challenger.

And that’s where things got a little weird.

Thompson’s management company, Blue Giraffe Sports, opted to delay filing the petition for a week to ensure that it wouldn’t overshadow the Solheim Cup proceedings. Nice gesture, but during the same time, her sponsors launched the “Let Lexi Play” campaign through a social media blitz and T-shirts sent to media adorned with the slogan.

It was a contrived scheme that alluded to impropriety on behalf of the LPGA for failing to grant the player immediate status. The truth is, Thompson had planned to play only one more event this year anyway – the season-ending CME Group Titleholders, for which she’s already qualified – so the LPGA wasn’t blocking her from competing in any further tournaments.

In fact, between her victory and Friday’s ruling, there were no full-field events held on the LPGA, so even if she had planned on making every possible appearance, her progress still wasn’t halted.

Meanwhile, the marketing campaign achieved exactly what it set out to do: There was a near-fortnight of consternation amongst golf fans who couldn’t understand why the superstar-deprived LPGA would hold back its next potential superstar.

It turns out all that was needed was some paperwork. Which means, essentially, the equivalent of some withheld TPS reports were the main source of so much uproar.

That’s not to say the LPGA isn’t completely without blame in its handling of this situation. When Thompson won two weeks ago, the organization issued a quixotic release stating that if she advanced through Qualifying School, she would have the ability to become a full-time member.

Quite simply, the immediate reaction could have been much less formal. If Whan or another high-ranking official had simply said, “Look, she’s going to be an LPGA member very shortly; as soon as we receive her petition, we’ll approve it,” they could have avoided the negative backlash that occurred in the wake of her victory.

Perhaps the most egregious error in the handling of this situation is that it didn’t seem like there was a contingency plan in place should Thompson win a tournament. This comes despite the fact that earlier in the season, she held the 54-hole lead at the Avnet LPGA Classic prior to tumbling down the leaderboard that Sunday afternoon.

Instead, the issue was treated with kid gloves – so to speak – likely from prior experience. Though it was before Whan’s tenure started, folks in LPGA headquarters recall the resistance when Michelle Wie was granted unprecedented inclusion into the LPGA Championship as an amateur.

The prevailing feeling this time around was of the “better safe than sorry” variety. Whan chose to err on the side of caution rather than be perceived as offering a handout to another young player with star potential.

Of course, all of that became water under the proverbial bridge as soon as the decision was finalized on Friday.

“In the process of earning her way onto the Tour, she beat an elite field at the Navistar LPGA Classic that featured 15 of the top 20 players on the Rolex Rankings and 45 of the top 50 on the LPGA official money list,” Whan said in a statement. “Additionally, her ability to handle the success and disappointment inherent to this game testifies to a level of maturity that I believe makes her capable of handling the emotional rigors of professional golf at the highest level.”

Throughout the past year, both Whan and Thompson’s representatives have often spoken about working together and having her best interests at heart. Over the past two weeks, it appeared the two camps were conflicted, with the LPGA unwilling to show its cards prior to the petition being filed and the agency using her temporary stay in golf’s purgatory as a rallying cry for support.

In the end, though, it worked out for each party. Thompson will own full-time status for the upcoming season and the tour just may have its much-needed next superstar on the horizon. 

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

View this post on Instagram

Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

View this post on Instagram

How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

Getty Images

Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).

And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 


Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

Getty Images

Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

Getty Images

USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.