The 11 juiciest findings from GOLF’s 2019 Anonymous Pro Survey
Our annual Anonymous Pro Survey hit the web a few days ago, unearthing a plethora of golfy goodies on the best and worst courses, best and worst playing partners, cheating on Tour, Tiger Woods, President Donald Trump and so much more.
We surveyed 52 PGA Tour members at September’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., and among those who responded were 30 Tour winners, three major winners and over a dozen players who have made a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team.
If you missed the entire survey, you can check it out here (there’s plenty to dig through). Or, for an abbreviated version, below are the 11 most interesting/shocking/surprising findings. Or, actually, you can always just read both
1. Major meltdown: Sixty percent said not everyone in the top 125 is capable of winning a major. (The top 125 in the FedEx Cup at the end of the regular season keep their Tour cards for the next season.) That’s a pretty large number of pessimism toward some of their peers. That said, many players in the top 125 don’t even make it into every major, so for some players it’s just as hard to get into the field.
2. Cheater, cheater: Twenty-eight percent said they witnessed a player knowingly break a rule and get away with it last season. Seventeen percent said they witnessed it once, 7 percent said twice, 2 percent said three times and 2 percent said five times.
3. To backstop, or not to backstop?: Sixty-one percent of those polled said backstopping is not cheating. Well, this is where the gray area of Rule 15.3a comes in. It’s extremely difficult to prove players made an agreement to leave a ball in place and assist the other player. But, if there is an agreement, then that’s a two-stroke penalty. That, by definition, is cheating. “By the letter of the law, yes [it is cheating],” one pro said. “In my mind, no.”
4. Rah-rah, Rickie! A massive amount of those polled (96 percent) said Rickie Fowler will win a major in his career. Time will tell. Fowler, a five-time PGA Tour winner, turns 31 in December. He has 11 top 10s in majors, including three second-place finishes.
5. Mo money, mo problems: How much cash does the average pro carry with them? We asked what they had on them at that very second, and while a few players barely had enough for lunch, the average was a pretty significant number: $421. That’s almost enough for a tee time at Pebble Beach.
6. Head to head with the Big Cat: Well, well, well — aren’t we cocky? Ninety percent of those polled said they’d beat Tiger Woods in a 36-hole match tomorrow. To be fair, this survey was conducted in September, following a MC, WD and T37 for Woods and capped by another knee surgery. Plus, 36 holes in a day wouldn’t be ideal for an injury-riddled 43-year-old Tiger. That said, after winning the Zozo Championship a couple of weeks ago, we wonder how many pros might reconsider their answer? One player summed it up perfectly: “Can I get an injury report on Tiger?”
7. Romance in the air (and on the turf): Forty-one percent polled said they had sex on or at a golf course. No elaboration needed. Moving on…
8. A-list contacts: Who is the most famous person in YOUR phone? It’s a pretty fun game if you are hanging out with buddies, but most of these Tour pros would have you beat. Six players named avid golfer Michael Jordan, five said Woods and a whole bunch of other big-timers were name dropped (including one U.S. president).
9. Banned to the bone: Matt Every was recently suspended for 12 weeks for violating the Tour’s conduct policy on drugs of abuse. Every said he tested positive for cannabis. But according to the poll, he’s not necessarily a lone wolf. Twenty percent, or one in five pros, said they have either smoked pot or ingested edibles in the last year. Additionally, more than half of them said marijuana should be removed from the Tour’s banned substance list.
10. Partner problems: When asked who their least-favorite playing partner was, 26 percent said “anyone who plays slowly,” but the next most common answers were Bryson DeChambeau and Rory Sabbatini, both of whom received 21 percent of the vote. On the other side of the coin, Kevin Kisner (9 percent) received the honor of favorite playing partner, while Charles Howell III, Harold Varner III and “anyone who plays quickly” all received 7 percent. The top answers for these are not necessarily surprising. DeChambeau was hampered with some slow-play controversies in the fall, and Kisner is known as one of the faster players on Tour.
11. Not good enough: While the Tour has changed the way it goes about driver testing at events, 58 percent say it’s still not good enough. For more on that, we’ll let our equipment expert, Jonathan Wall, take it from here.
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