Earthquake Alert: LIV Golf!

Dustin Johnson just cancelled his overdraft protection at the Royal Bank of Canada.  DJ, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau have headlined a shift in the tectonic plates of world golf with their moves to the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf League.  I’m bummed. 

What this has done is removed the PGA Tour as the last holdout of pure meritocracy in North American sports.  On tour, there were no performance contracts, no guarantees, you win (or make cuts) or you don’t get paid.  There were several levels of minor leagues flush with aspiring competitors just waiting to  take jobs from the guys on top.  Even if you were good enough to make the annual exempt list on tour, that didn’t ensure you’d get paid.  All that’s gone now with LIV’s huge guaranteed contracts.  DeChambeau signed for $100M and never has to win again.

LIV has turned professional golf from competition to entertainment.  Of course, the players still want to win, but when they don’t have to, the integrity of the competition suffers.  Make no mistake, LIV is not an instantiation of the old poorly funded knock-off football leagues that tried to compete with the NFL and couldn’t land any top-level talent and eventually folded.  These guys have money and star power.  Expect more defections as the economic reality sets in.  How the PGA Tour will react is anyone’s guess.  As their star power and exclusivity wane, they’ll need to adjust.  It was an awesome run while it lasted.  What do you think they will do?

Play well!     

What Drives Your Golf Satisfaction?

I have three.  Shooting a good score, learning a new shot or technique, and teaching someone something that improves their game.  Others such as: taking money off your friends, bombing buckets of drivers at the range, general love of competition, showing off, winning at all costs, swizzling as many beers as you can hold, or blaring loud music and having a good old time hold less of an appeal.  I do enjoy traveling, being out in nature, and the general company of my playing partners, but not quite to the level of my top three.  Let’s dig in.

I am a “no pictures on the scorecard” player.  Generally, when someone asks about my game they inquire, “How did you play?”  This may not be a great approach, but I find myself measuring my satisfaction by score.  I’ll know a 78 on a par-72 track is the same as a 76 on a par-70, but I’d prefer the 76.  Do you think like this?  Maybe I should play on par-60 executive courses all the time and maintain a stroke average like Scottie Scheffler.  Weird how my brain works.  I’m very honest with myself and can evaluate course conditions, difficulty of the venue, how I’m feeling, and their effect on score, but damn, give me the lower number!  My benchmark has changed as of late because I play and practice less.  Generally, I’m happy if I break 80.  Last weekend, I played Poolesville after a couple days of heavy rain.  The normally fast greens had slowed considerably and the rough had grown into US Open length.  Very tough conditions to adjust to.  The first two holes are a par-4 and par-5.  I played five well thought out, superbly executed golf shots, and bogeyed both holes.  Got frustrated and started pressing and had to grind the rest of the day.  On the last hole I hit a great 4-iron into the green and three-putted for bogey which had me down but when I added up my 79, was happy.  If that bogey had turned the round into an 80, it would have made a difference.   Weird how my brain works.

I also derive a great amount of pleasure from taking lessons.  Now, these are expensive pleasure points, so they don’t happen that frequently, but my gratification transmitters are usually firing on high when I leave a session with my pro.  It’s also inspiring to try a few things around the practice green or the driving range that click and you can repeat on, because knowing that you have a chance to leverage these broadens the overall outlook.

Lastly, I love to teach.  Whether it’s golf or showing a colleague at work about a piece of software or helping my daughter to learn guitar when she was young, the feeling that washes over you when you see someone “get it” feels great.  I count a lesson that I gave in the mid-1980s as one of my greatest moments.  I had been teaching only for a couple months and had to give a beginner’s lesson to a lady who spoke no English – I think she was Japanese.  Through demonstration and physical manipulation of her grip and weight shift, I had her hitting decent 7-irons off a tee.  You could see the joy in her eyes as she learned what she was capable of and the feeling of conveying this experience was priceless.   

Scoring, learning, and teaching are my top three.  What brings you the most satisfaction?

Play well!