Tiger’s practice session is peak golf ASMR

*This post is written in soft whispers. Read accordingly.

I’ve always considered ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) to be some kind of weird fetish — like who’s out there getting turned on by the sound of folding towels? But now I totally get it, thanks to this video of Tiger’s practice session surfaced.

Enjoy.

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Flushed. 🐅 The best sound. 🔊 ⬆️

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Golf Internet is divided over Charlie Woods’ golf swing video

Apologies for the pixelated screenshot, but, you know, photo rights and all…

As far as golf social media was concerned, last weekend wasn’t about the passing of legendary course architect Pete Dye, or Cameron Smith’s emotional win at the Sony Open, Inbee Park’s Player of the Decade Award or, for that matter, any thing of substance. All eyes were focused on 10 year-old Charlie Woods’ golf swing.

Amateur video of Woods warming up on the range before a junior event in Florida was posted on Saturday and instantly went viral. From a less-than-ideal angle you can see young Woods’ absolutely roping a shot down range — thanks to a swing motion many can only dream of — with his daddy/caddy, Tiger Woods, looking on dutifully.

Doing what social media does best, unsolicited swing analysis, major predictions and comparisons to his father flooded the comment threads, mostly heralding the kid’s talent — rightfully so.

But of course, again doing what social media does best, there were plenty of those pointing out everything wrong with the video. Not what was wrong with Charlie’s swing — it’s hard to find anything wrong with that — but how wrong it was that the video was made public in the first place.

Depending on which comments rabbit hole you went down, the naysaying ranged from merely disappointed to downright accusatory, including claims that putting Woods in the spotlight will put undue pressure on him and even accusations that whomever shot the video was akin to something of a predator.

Really? I wasn’t going to take a side when I started this post — simply because it’s a stupid argument to be having. But now I’m leaning more towards the side telling the naysayers to pump the brakes.

The video wasn’t shot by some child golf pornographer ‘hiding in the bushes,’ it was shared from the venue at which Woods was competing. Claiming it’s not meant for public eyes is all but total bullshit too, considering the juniors’ score are all posted online for anyone to see (Woods finished ninth in the event, by the way). Saying ‘he’s just a kid’ or ‘undue pressure’ and blah, blah, blah doesn’t really fly, either — he’s an extension of his dad’s celebrity status, he was born into the limelight, none of us are putting him anywhere. And if Charlie ends up not paying golf professionally, whether because he hates it or not, it’s no one’s business but his own.

Charlie’s swing video wasn’t posted for any reason other than he’s the son of the greatest golfer to ever play the game, and he has a badass golf swing, just like his dad. Hell, we’ve been watching Tiger since before his preteens, and it’s nothing but speculation to say his career-derailing antics in the past stemmed from living under constant public scrutiny (though it very well may have). All in all, Tiger turned out pretty alright in the grand scheme of things, and I expect Charlie will end up the same playing golf or not.

We’re already talking about Michelle Wei’s unborn baby and Serena Williams’ before hers. We’ve been watching Lebron James’, Kobe Bryant’s, Steph Curry’s and others’ kids on fucking SportsCenter for years. And careers have been made by following celebrities and their families ever since being famous was a thing — all because the public actually does want to see and talk about it, period. It’s how we lowly fans can “relate” to the people living lives we will never experience — no matter how asinine that sounds.

At a time when we all know someone(s) who’s created social media accounts for their babies, their pets, their hobbies — and anything thing else they can think of — I really didn’t expect to see such ire over a video of a 10 year-old’s golf swing.

Anyways, rest in peace, Pete.

WTF is the new World Handicap System all about?

It’s the start of a new decade: out with old USGA handicap system, in with the new, supposedly simplified, World Handicap System.

Effective in the US January 2020, the WHS puts an end to the half dozen systems used around the globe in favor of one standard calculation. In an effort to make it easier for anyone to get an official index, the new system only requires 56 holes to be recorded (down from 90), and only the top eight of 20 rounds count (down from 10) — meaning a couple blow up rounds won’t hurt as much. The WHS is updated daily, too, which is certainly a nightmare for tournament committees but convenient for players keeping a close eye on their index.

Among the other changes, the old Equitable Stroke System is no more, replaced with the “net double bogey” standard (Double Bogey + any handicap strokes received on a hole). And the WHS even takes weather into account with the “playing conditions calculation.” The PCC determines the impact of your score based on the average of all scores posted at that course on that day (emphasizing the importance of daily updates and other player data). Lastly, soft and hard caps are now in place to safeguard your index should the wheels start to come off — as they so often do. Explained by Golf.com and Steve Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of handicapping and course rating, if your index worsens by three points in a year, further decreases will only be calculated at 50%. That’s the soft cap. The hard cap comes into play when your index worsens by five in a year.

By all accounts, American golfers won’t see a dramatic change to their existing indexes under the new WHS — one or two stokes if anything, according to the USGA — but the new system could change how many strokes you’re getting or giving out on the tee box by a lot.

Here’s the old USGA formula to determine strokes: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113)

And here’s the new WHS formula: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating – par)

The biggest change to the formula is, obviously, the addition of course rating and par. This change is an ode to regions predominately playing Stableford, where points are counted as opposed to strokes. According to Dean Knuth, the USGA’s former Director of Handicapping — who has the badass nickname “The Pope of Slope” — the new formula creates a problem for American players, mostly because par is hardly indicative of how difficult, or easy, a course plays.

From his op-ed in Golf Digest:
“Where this issue becomes noticeable is how the new formula changes course handicap values from tee to tee … For example, where once a course handicap was a 12 from the back and middle tees, and an 11 from the front, under the new WHS calculations there will be much larger variations — as many as 18 shots in some instances — between tees. Part of the reason for this is that during the calculation, an approximation is being approximated again by adding Course Rating minus Par, creating an imperfect “over-spreading” of the course handicaps. Golfers moving to longer tees will think this is a logical change (they’ll be getting more strokes). Golfers playing shorter tees won’t be so happy.”

Knuth’s column, The flaw in the new World Handicap System, is definitely worth a read whether you’re excited about the changes or not. He touches on several issues he sees with the new system and offers and incredibly informed perspective on the new system as a whole. If you’re looking for a crash course, read GD’s rundown of the the new system, and the USGA’s WHS FAQ, too.

Finally ready to make the jump and get an official handicap? Check with your home club or the Allied Golf Association in your state to get started.

Max Homa won’t stop roasting amateur golf swings, and we’re here for it

It all started when one fan asked Max Homa to “critique my swing like Gordon Ramsey critiques shitty food,” during Presidents Cup week. Homa did not disappoint, and it’s now become an early contender for the best golf social media trend of 2020. It doesn’t matter whose swing it is, from everyday hackers to celebrities and even Tour players, Homa isn’t holding back — and the results are hilarious.

Some of the best come courtesy of the average folk with no disillusions concerning their game.

But it gets a little better when egos are on the line.

And who doesn’t love a little celebrity ribbing.

Homa very well could be the Tour analyst the world needs.

Of course, all is fair in love and the Internet, so Homa himself is playing along too.

 

Legal weed is a thing, and golf should treat it as such

First things first: If you’re looking for an unbiased opinion on marijuana’s place on (or off) the golf course, go somewhere else — you outta know where we stand.

Weed’s already legal in some form in 22 states in this country, fully legal in 11 of them, and adding more to the list with each election cycle. The NHL doesn’t punish players for using it, the MLB has removed it from its list of banned substances, too, and hoards of athletes, including some golfers, have begun citing the benefits and even promoting the use of cannabis products. Yet some powers that be still believe a drug is a drug is a drug — and drugs are bad, mmmkay.

Robert Garrigus learned the PGA Tour’s stance on the issue last March after he was suspended for testing positive for “elevated levels” of THC. The 22-year Tour veteran lives in Washington State (where weed is legal for medicinal and recreational use), reportedly owns a weed farm himself, and uses it to treat knee and back pain as prescribed by his doctor. While he’s no stranger to the drug culture, having checked himself into rehab in 2003 and speaking publicly about his struggle with substance abuse, he’s still a far cry from your standard “pothead” stereotype. He tried his best, with the help of his doctor, to stay within the tour’s limits and play by the rules to no avail, and it cost him 12 Tour events.

If anything, Garrigus should be heralded, not punished, for overcoming his past of alcohol and drug abuse and speaking publicly about it. After all, anyone remember what Tiger Woods went through?

After his return at the 3M Open in July, Garrigus’ stance on marijuana hasn’t changed, and it’s a familiar tune that mirrors some of the common sense that’s allowed for marijuana legalization to become so widely accepted.

“I could be on OxyContin on the golf course and get [an exemption] for that. I think that’s ridiculous. The Tour can talk to me all they want about it but that is a double standard,” Garrigus told USA Today. “The fact that it is socially unacceptable for cannabis and CBD right now blows my mind. It’s OK to take Oxycontin and black out and run into a bunch of people, but you can’t take CBD and THC without someone looking at you funny. It makes no sense,” Garrigus said.

Let’s play a quick game of Would You Rather. Would you rather you or a loved one take pharmaceutical substances proven to be highly addictive and often lead to overdose, or smoke a plant? (In case you haven’t heard, we’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic in this country that’s being fueled by pharmaceuticals like OxyContin.) Next round: Would you rather you or a loved one take OTC drugs proven to cause liver and kidney damage with prolonged use, or smoke a plant? And for the bonus: Would you rather athletes and their doctors be able to decide what’s best for them to be able to perform, or leave it up to the business people representing a sports brand?

I know my answers.

“[The Tour] had to deflect. They have an image to protect and uphold.” Garrigus said after meeting with Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan at the 2019 John Deere Classic.

Let’s talk about that image for a second then. Alcohol and golf often go hand-in-hand, and the likes of Arnold Palmer, John Daly and others made smoking heaters and stogies a fixture in the highest levels of the sport. There’s no controversy there, no sponsorship money lost or anything close to suspensions. Why is recreational marijuana so much different? The question still stands outside of recreational use: Why can’t a player use a legalized, prescribed medication to treat themselves off the course?

It’d be one thing if changing its stance on marijuana meant the Tour would be overrun by weed brands or whatever else it deems unsavory to its image, but that’s not going to happen — the NHL and MLB are certainly no worse off. At the end of the day, it’s not even about upholding the sanctity of sport, or upholding an image at all. PEDs and “hard” drugs aside, who the fuck cares what people do in their off time so long as it’s not affecting the results on the leaderboard?

Really, as legalization becomes even more widespread, the Tour’s just setting itself up for more stories like that of Garrigus’. It’s an issue that’ll keep on growing, like a weed.

The Tour’s cashing in on the Tiger Effect

Once the official announcement is made, the Tour will see its broadcasting value increase a ridiculous 60%. That’s thanks to the new broadcasting deals with CBS and NBC totaling $700 million per year, up from $400 million. The 9-year agreement keeps the two networks as the official homes of golf, and begin once the previous contracts expire at the end of the 2021 season.

Why such a dramatic increase?

Tiger Woods, probably. The 2018-2019 season was the best we’ve seen from Tiger as of late, and from the Tour as a whole. It was emotional, it was controversial, and it was super fun to watch. The “Tiger Effect” is back in full fucking effect.

At this point it doesn’t even matter to the masses if Tiger wins or loses — so long as he’s playing, we’re watching — it just so happens that he’s coming off one of his best seasons to date, and performing better than many thought he would after making his comeback. And lucky enough for the Tour, it’s all happening as their current broadcast deals are expiring. The Tour did make a little gamble by not opting out of the deals and making a go at a larger amount back in 2017, good call.

It’s not all luck, perhaps. Golf has come along way in reimagining itself in recent years (still thanks in large part to Tiger). Brooks, Rhambo, DJ, Rory, JT, Phil, Rickie — there is no shortage of superstars to root for. And now, going out on a limb a little here, the Tour is enjoying its very own international super villains in Patrick Reed, and, to a lesser degree, Bryson DeChambeau, too. Golf is younger, flashier, and a whole lot more interesting. Those trends show no signs of stopping, and when you add the second-coming of Tiger Woods to the table, it’s no surprise it’s paying off for the PGA Tour.