Monday Finish: Why do people quit golf? And what’s proper plane etiquette?
Welcome to the Monday Finish, where we’ve banned spell-checking in solidarity with PGA Tour pros who are ditching their greens books. Also, we’re in Pinehurst this week so let’s keep this short and sweet and get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
There’s a special kind of chaos introduced when couples decide they’re going to sit together on a plane without actually, y’know, booking seats together. So it was much to my dismay that just after 6 a.m. on Sunday morning I arrived at my window seat, 11F, only to find it occupied by a middle-aged woman, her husband was in the middle seat.
I’m not anti-couples. Far from it! But there’s a very specific set of circumstances where you can ethically trade seats to sit with your significant other. First of all, you cannot ask the second party to downgrade their seat, i.e. from a window to a middle. That’s bad karma. Second, you can’t inconvenience the rest of the plane. Don’t let someone walk back to Row 25 only to tell ’em they actually have to hightail it back to 14A. This is air travel we’re talking about here; most passengers are exactly one inconvenience from turning into irrational rage-monsters. There’s a reason you see so many viral videos from flights, after all.
At their suggestion I sat in 11D, which was no biggie — an aisle seat is just a half-step down from a window, in my mind. But then I noticed the woman’s ticket on her lap, seat number showing: 11B. The middle seat on the other side of the plane. Oh no. Then I saw her husband’s, which was even worse: 9E. My heart started to race, knowing we were in for destruction.
Some people just want to watch the world burn. Anarchy ensued. The original occupant of 11D arrived and was dismayed to find me in his seat; I transferred negotiations to my seatmates, who bullied the newcomer into the original 10B slot.
“Sure, I’ll do it. But this kinda sucks,” he growled. He wasn’t wrong. Seattle to Charlotte isn’t exactly a puddle jump.
The exchange between my neighbor and the rightful owner of 10E was just as bad; there was a language barrier and an ethos barrier that led to an awkward, prolonged back-and-forth. My seatmate insisted the other guy “just find an open seat,” which works on the subway but, in this case, continued our descent into chaos. I thought about faking sleep or death.
Eventually, the entire section was seated and irritated, throwing glances at the couple beside me. They didn’t seem to notice, though; the two of ’em were already asleep. What’s the lesson here? Happiness comes from doing good deeds, or perhaps happiness comes from bad deeds done without even a single drop of self-awareness.
Don’t be a Bad Plane Guy.
Who won the week?
Viktor Hovland defended his title at Mayakoba, shooting 23 under to beat Carlos Ortiz by four shots at El Camaleon in Playa del Carmen. While playing a backup driver, no less! The win was his third on the PGA Tour; in addition to last year’s win at Mayakoba, Hovland owns a Puerto Rico Open title. Viktor Hovland, Resort Golf King.
Lydia Ko matched Hovland’s numbers almost exactly, posting 23 under to win by five at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International on the Ladies European Tour. The win was her second global victory this year.
While Saudi investments and proposed breakaway tours have drawn plenty of attention — and criticism — on the men’s side, the same backers have made serious financial inroads in the women’s game, particularly the Ladies European Tour, where the Public Investment Fund has invested in five events.
Moral victories all around.
Carlos Ortiz birdied five of his last seven holes and then got up-and-down from a gnarly plugged lie in a greenside bunker at 18 to secure solo second. Doing so earned him an extra $150k or so but it also clearly meant a lot to finish in such style in front of a Mexican crowd.
Justin Thomas and his new looper, Jim “Bones” Mackay, weren’t faring particularly well as they floundered at the very bottom of the leaderboard midway through Thursday’s opening round. By Sunday the duo had ascended into legitimate contention, and even though he couldn’t mount a serious charge on Sunday it was impressive to see just how well Thomas played on a week without his best stuff.
Matthew Wolff says he’s feeling good. He’s definitely playing good, too. Following last week’s runner-up finish, Wolff fired a Thursday 61 at Mayakoba and carried a two-shot lead at the tournament’s halfway point. Sure, he came back to earth with a Saturday 74, but Wolff’s top gear is unquestionably there.
And on the Ladies European Tour, Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul took home solo second and secured the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol in the process — precocious stuff for the 18-year-old.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Processing golf grief in public.
Early social media scion Ian Poulter was playing quite well through 32 holes until he made a quadruple-bogey 8 and followed that with a bogey to miss the cut by a single shot. Afterward, he took to Instagram to vent.
One phrase resonates: “I know the reason, I’m just furious it still happens 24 years in.” Golf will make madmen of us all.
WHAT WE’RE HEARING
Want your buddies to try golf — and love it in the process?
The National Golf Foundation released a study on new golfer retention and what makes people stick with it vs. quit. And only 27% stuck with it! It was a powerful reminder that when it comes to welcoming beginners, a little bit of warmth goes a long way. Investing in lessons goes a long way, too. Golfers tend to take things seriously, but you probably started playing in the first place because it seemed like a lot of fun. That was the most shocking number: among golfers who reported having a “high” level of fun, the retention rate nearly doubled to 51%.
Here’s the chart:
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
It’s flip-flop season in Seattle. No, not the sandals — the wardrobe changes. I played Saturday morning at a local muni and must have put my jacket on 15 times and removed it 15, too. Rain then clouds then rain then sun then rain then wind then rain. I was soaked and exhausted by the end, physically and emotionally numb, but those fleeting moments of sunshine were worth the slog.
Three things to watch this week.
1. Our Top 100 Teachers Summit
You’d be hard-pressed to find a brighter collection of golf minds anywhere in the universe than those gathered at Pinehurst these next couple of days. I’m excited to nerd out about stuff I don’t even know exists yet. (Good news: You can get in on the action! Find out more here.)
2. A high-stakes Monday Finish
They’re duking it out for Korn Ferry cards in Georgia, and you can actually watch the action unfold! Learn more here.
3. Viktor Hovland’s video
Hovland is easy to like because he doesn’t need to fit in. Not with his musical tastes, not with his on-course style, not when he’s confronted with obstacles. Here’s a short clip that Hovland posted to Instagram last summer that pretty much sums it all up.
We’ll see you next week!