AskAlan: What’s the best story you’ve ever chased down that turned out to be wrong?

October 10, 2017


Nothing says Happy New Year like golf in Kuala Lumpur. I’ll never get used to the fact that the 2018 season has begun in October 2017 but, hey, some golf is better than none. Right?

“How many events does TW play in 2018? If zero, when does he next tee it up? #AskAlan” -Dan (@djdonof)

I could see Tiger playing in the 2018 World Challenge – that gives him a full year to piece together some semblance of a game and it’s a low-pressure event at which he can control everything from the tee times to the course setup. Deep down, Tiger has to know the magic is gone. It would take a Herculean effort for him to get the point where he can regularly make cuts in Tour events; the notion that he can be a regular contender is science fiction. I think he’s ready to ease into a role as a ceremonial golfer and the World Challenge is the perfect annual vehicle at which to tee it up and enjoy the adulation of golf fans without having to pretend it’s a meaningful moment.

“If you could ask one question to one person in the golf world, what would be the question and who would you ask?” — Sean (@PGATourSMartin)

Gotta burn this one on Tiger, and it’s a pretty simple question: Was it worth it?

“If you get a chance to tweak the Old Course to make Gary Player happy, what will you do?” – Amirul (@amirulbahri)

The whole point is I don’t want to have to tweak the Old Course because the likes of Ross F’ing Fisher shot sixtynothing. And there is no land to lengthen it anyway, unless we consume the New Course and start rerouting the Old, which would be a crime against humanity. The whole #9K argument was meant to be provocative/absurd while at the same time delivering an underlying truth. If you go back and read my entire angst-filled column on the subject, you can see that I don’t posit a solution because there isn’t one. We can’t tear up and add 2,000 yards to every great old course – it’s an offensive idea and makes no sense economically or environmentally. The ruling bodies have let equipment get out of control but there are powerful market forces (and emotional ones) that will prevent any meaningful rollbacks. So we are left with golf’s current dilemma, in which the most revered playing fields will increasingly be rendered obsolete while the ever-lower numbers being shot will be devalued because we all know nuclear equipment is at least as responsible as skill. It would be funny if it weren’t so depressing.

“Regarding Sergio’s departure from TaylorMade, it was on the back of big-money spent on signing DJ and Rory – Sergio wanted more cash or the relationship got a bit stale? #AskAlan” – @AlanFairweather

Equipment companies have finite budgets and clearly TaylorMade has already committed a fortune to Johnson and McIlroy. The surprising divorce between Sergio and Tmade reminds of how Phil Mickelson, after his breakthrough Masters win in 2004, forced his way out of his Titleist deal and cashed in with Callaway, a gift that keeps on giving. I don’t have any intel on Sergio’s endorsement situation because I don’t really care, but given that he’s 37 this is clearly a chance to cash in one last time, and this move signals he’s not going to leave any dollars on the table.

“Typical 90s shooter with no short game, no practice…I can take two thoughts with me to course. They are: ?” – @war_theater

1) Keep the club accelerating on every shot. This is obvious with the long clubs but so many everyday golfers decel on 100-yard wedge shots and around and on the greens. Even when putting, you must accelerate through the ball. This simple thought will help you avoid all manner of duffs, chunks, foozles, skanks and assorted other nightmares.

2) Avoid the colossal screwup. You’re not good enough to try some of the overly-ambitious shots that lead to triple bogies. For instance, if you have a 210-yard par-3, with the pin tucked behind a bunker, for the love of Pete don’t try to hit a hybrid or 3-wood at the flag! How about a safe 5-iron into the neck and then a stress-free chip? At worst you should make a 4 and you might make a 3. If you hit a hero shot at the flag you’re probably going to make a 5 or 6. Crazy-ass flop shot under a tree branch over a bunker? Nah, play away from the flag to the fat part of the green. Hit a driver on a short, tight par-4? Nope, lay back with a shorter club. You can turn a 92 into an 86 with just a few more sensible decisions.

“Will Phil win another major before he is done?” – @golf_starz


“Any chance the Skins Game will ever make a comeback? I could see Spieth, Rickie, JT, etc. really getting into it.” – @jetsfanpac

One of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever typed was an obituary/rip job of the Skins Game way back in 1995: Check it out here.

The whole thing became tired and absurd – $10K a hole for guys who were raking in millions playing real golf. It was impossible for anyone to care. You’d have to do something like a million dollars a hole to generate any interest, amongst viewers and the players. Better yet, how about each player has to buy in with a million dollars of their money? Or two million? Very quickly we’ll find out who the real ballers are. (I guarantee Mickelson will be at the front of the line.) If you take any combination of Phil, Jordan, Rory Dustin, and Rickie this has serious potential.

“What’s the best lead you’ve ever spent time chasing down that turned out to be wrong?” #AskAlan – Steve (@_Smisner)

Actually, it happened last year, though it wasn’t exactly wrong. A couple of players and their caddies on the LPGA tour told me they wanted to come forward about a very juicy cheating scandal. It was particularly interesting to me because of the cultural overtones. I flew to Michigan to interview them and we talked at great length. It was going to be a very hot story…but 15 minutes after we said our goodbyes I got a group text from the players and caddies saying they had reconsidered and no longer wanted to be quoted for attribution.

Cheating is golf’s original sin, and, personally, I would never make such an accusation in print with anonymous sources. (Per Herm Edwards: be a man, put yo’ name on it.) I’m still nibbling around on this and perhaps the key protagonists will change their minds and choose to speak on the record, but for now the story is dead.

“No questions from her, but my youngest says you look handsome.” – @BrianChipp

This is quite awkward, but tell her thanks! Also, my DMs are open.