5-time Tour winner DQ’d from big-money Calcutta after registering with cryptic name
Ready for this one? Because it’s wild. J.B. Holmes, who has played eight PGA Tour events this season, entered a scramble tournament at a Tennessee club two weeks ago in which a nearly $30,000 Calcutta was up for grabs.
The only problem? He was entered under a cryptic name, his first and middle: John Bradley.
Most people know who J.B. Holmes is. He’s a five-time PGA Tour winner — most recently at the 2019 Genesis Open, where he beat Justin Thomas by one — and even played on two Ryder Cup teams. The 41-year-old pro has made more than $25 million in his career.
As for John Bradley, the golfer who entered this tournament? He apparently flew under the radar, but only for so long.
The wild incident first surfaced via the Twitter account BeatinTheBookie.com, which focuses on sports handicapping. Ryan French of the Monday Q Info was the first to cover the story in depth with a piece he published on Tuesday via unnamed members and sources. But search the web or scroll social media, and it was still somewhat of a mystery or folktale with more questions than answers. It couldn’t really be J.B. Holmes, could it?
On Wednesday, Brooks T. West, the owner and operator of Franklin Bridge Golf Club in Franklin, Tenn., the course where the incident took place, spoke to GOLF.com to add clarity and clear up some misconceptions.
But first, he covered the most important question: Yes, J.B. Holmes had entered the event under the name John Bradley.
The Gangsome is an annual two-day, six-man scramble held at Franklin Bridge where big money can be won through a Calcutta. Four of the players must be members and each team can have only two plus-handicaps. But handicaps are not figured into the tournament scoring.
A USGA handicap for Holmes could not be found, but there is a John Bradley at a Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville, Tenn., about 300 miles east of Franklin Bridge, who carries a 9.6 handicap (and low of 8.8). The 8.8 number is also what John Bradley was listed as in a photo circulating on social media.
But West said Holmes never submitted that handicap for himself. Turns out, whether by design or coincidence, Holmes was a late entry into the event, just two days prior. He plays and practices out of Troubadour, a luxe private course and community 15 miles down the road that’s home to a handful of big-name pros. Some Troubadour members played in the Gangsome last year, too.
According to West, since no handicap was supplied for Holmes — aka John Bradley — the pro shop hastily looked it up online and mistakenly found the John Bradley from Three Ridges Golf Course. It never raised an eyebrow, West said, because the team Holmes was joining didn’t have any plus-handicaps anyway, so the number didn’t necessarily matter. And, again, the handicaps aren’t computed into the scoring.
Twenty-two teams entered this year’s tournament, and after the first day they were divided into three flights, with a Calcutta organized for the final day. A Calcutta is an auction-style wagering that’s popular in many golf club tournaments. Golfers can bid on individuals or teams, and the money raised through the auction is put into a pot. If your golfer or team wins or places in the money in the predetermined payout structure, you can win cash, too. And, with thousands on the line, even though handicaps don’t factor into scoring, it’s wise to have a good understanding of who is in the field — especially if one of them has won five times on the PGA Tour.
“If he would have just said his name was J.B. Holmes, that would have been fine,” West said. “But it would have definitely messed up the first-flight Calcutta, but at least it would have been based on real names.”
After the first day, Holmes’ team led at 21 under, one ahead of their closet pursuers. The flight Holmes was in had a Calcutta purse of nearly $30,000, of which 70 percent (or about $21,000) would go to the team with the lowest Day 2 score; the rest would go to second place. The lowest two-day total in each flight would get trophies. Holmes’ team didn’t buy themselves in the Calcutta, but they did buy half after someone else claimed them with a bid of $5,000.
One source GOLF.com spoke to explained it as sticking a finger in the peanut butter jar, but not taking a big scoop: “I think they were after a mild hustle here.”
Early on Day 2, West became skeptical when he saw the player named John Bradley swing. A golf nut who also caddied on Tour a bit, he pulled up to the 3rd hole to watch.
“That looks like J.B. Holmes,” West said he thought to himself. “And then he hit, and I’m like, ‘That’s J.B. Holmes.'”
West confronted the group, which was coy but eventually admitted they had wanted Holmes to have a good time and not be bothered by any additional attention his celebrity would bring.
It was decided that team would be refunded its Calcutta buy-in and no longer be eligible to receive any winnings. The squad could, however, still play for a trophy, which it won with a two-day total of 41 under (they also would have won the Calcutta). Second place was 37 under.
Eventually, the true identity of John Bradley started to circulate, but when the round was over and players came in, the names of Holmes and his teammates were crossed off the leaderboard. According to French, Holmes wasn’t at the post-round festivities and his teammates left quickly (with their hardware in tow); French also reported the announcement of them winning was not well-received by the golfers still in attendance. (West denies that claim.)
Holmes’ representatives didn’t immediately respond to GOLF.com’s request for comment or for an interview request with Holmes, but it appears he’s found a spot for his trophy — directly between his replica Ryder Cups.
West said he doesn’t plan to exclude the members of Holmes’ group from next year’s event, but he does plan to modify the rules for entry.
As for the club, one of the busiest in the Nashville metro region, it charges around $90 at peak times and gets more than 50,000 rounds a year. Now, it’s got even more national recognition, although West hopes the Gangsome doesn’t became a celebrity/pro-am event anytime soon.
“It’s a story that will live on for decades,” West said.