How to Be a Golf Expert in Front of the Family During the Holidays

December 22, 2016

Home for the holidays? Trying to fit in with your future father-in-law or impress your know-it-all uncle? We are here to help.

Don’t fret if you aren’t a golf expert but the sport pops into your family’s conversation while eating cookies, drinking eggnog and listening to oldie Christmas tunes. Here’s everything you need to know about the State of Golf to impress those around you.

When was the last time Tiger played?

Tiger played at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month, a tournament his foundation runs, and he finished 15th. Before you get too excited, there were only 17 competitors. It started with 18, but one, Justin Rose, withdrew.

Is Tiger playing like the Tiger of old?

Well, despite his 15th-place finish, most were encouraged by his play. He didn’t have any injuries, hit his irons well and could — gasp! — contend at some events when he returns to action. His next confirmed start is the Genesis Open on Feb. 16-19.

Is golf in good hands?

Sure it is. Jordan Spieth, despite his Masters meltdown (see below), is only 23 years old. He recently won the Australian Open. Of the top 10 players in the world ranking, half of them (Jason Day, 29; Rory McIlroy, 27; Spieth; Hideki Matsuyama, 24; and Patrick Reed, 26) are in their 20s.

Who is an under-the-radar, up-and-coming player I should like?

Good question. Hideki Matsuyama is only 24 years old and has won four times in his last five starts. He’s Japan’s prized possession, and he’s playing like it. His putting has held him back in the past, but not lately.

Looking for more options? How about Americans Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger or Kevin Chappell, or Spain’s Jon Rahm. Hardcore golf snobs will know these names, but the watercolor fans among your family will just think you are the next Brandel Chamblee (if they know who that is).

What happened to Spieth at the Masters?

This has remained one of the bigger talkers of the year. Spieth, trying to become just the fourth player in history to win back-to-back Masters, made the turn on Sunday at Augusta with a five-shot lead. But everything changed on the par-3 12th, one of the most famous holes in golf. His 9-iron fell short into Rae’s Creek, and he chunked his ensuing wedge shot into the water again. He walked away with a quadruple-bogey 7 and suddenly stood on the 13th tee in a tie for fourth. Danny Willett was the beneficiary, and he won his first major that afternoon.

Nike said it’s leaving the equipment business, so what kind of clubs is Tiger using?

At his last start, the Hero World Challenge, he used most of his old Nike gear except for a TaylorMade M2 driver, TaylorMade M1 3-wood and Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter — the same putter he won 13 majors with. He also used a Bridgestone B330S golf ball at the Hero, and last week Woods and Bridgestone announced a multi-year deal for him to play the golf balls.

Where are the best new courses?

We are glad you asked. Wisconsin’s Sand Valley is getting rave reviews, and Streamsong’s Black course outside of Orlando is nearing completion. There’s also Davis Love’s Atlantic Dunes in Hilton Head, S.C., Mossy Oak in Mississippi, The Loop at Forest Dunes in Michigan and Tiger’s Bluejack National in Texas, to name a few. You can find our complete list of the best new courses of 2016 here. Make sure to check out GOLF’s list of the Top 100 courses you can play — as well as the best public courses in every state — to plan your next trip.

Who won the Ryder Cup?

The Americans did. Seriously. The U.S. held a three-point lead heading into the final day and never faltered to take back the Cup from the Europeans, 17-11. The Sunday singles matchup between Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy highlighted the weekend, with Reed winning 1 up. The 2018 Ryder Cup is in Paris.

Where are next year’s major venues?

Masters at Augusta National, Augusta, Ga. (April 6-9)
U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Erin, Wis. (June 15-18)
British Open at Royal Birkdale, Southport, England (July 20-23)
PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, Charlotte, N.C. (Aug. 10-13)