#AskAlan mailbag: Should PGA Tour players be mic’d up when the season resumes?

Tiger Woods watches Phil Mickelson putt on golf green

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were mic'd up during The Match: Champions for Charity.

Getty Images

In this installment of the #AskAlan mailbag, GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck answers your questions about the Match II, the potential for pros being mic’d up on Tour, Tiger Woods’ trash-talking abilites and more.

I know he’s almost essential for these TV events but has there ever been a reputed expert trash-talker that talks less trash than Tiger? -@FakePoulter

This is similar to how folks tend to overrate exclusive courses because they’re caught up in the euphoria of finally getting to play them. The players who rave about Tiger’s needle are just so utterly thrilled that the great man deigned to throw some shade their way, however corny it may have been. The line about marking his ball with U.S. Open medals was funny, but why do I get the feeling Steinberg hired a team of writers to come up with it and Tiger spent a week practicing it in front of a mirror?

As for wearing a mic in a TV spectacle, Tiger is clearly uncomfortable with the whole concept, and can you blame him? In the best of times he was an introvert and a grinder. Then he lived through the worst public shaming of the Internet age, and he later had both his mugshot and his private parts beamed around the world. His inner-self is a well-guarded fortress and he’s not willing to give that up just for a televised hit-and-giggle.

I’d love to see some of the top players in the world play a humble public course in an exhibition match. I’m tired of the ritzy private clubs most of us will never set foot on. -@SteveThompsonMN

I feel ya. How great would it have been if the Match II descended upon Jax Muni? A scruffy public course would be so relatable and add so much charm to the proceedings. American golf’s cult of exclusivity is quite bothersome.

Tiger Woods at El Dorado in April 2001.
Why Tiger Woods visited this muni days after winning the Tiger Slam
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What’s more compelling from a viewing standpoint: The PGA Tour going to similar venues or the European Tour visiting places they haven’t been to in a long time? -@NDHickman

It’s a win either way. I love when tournaments travel to new venues, even if they sometimes turn out to be less than ideal. Hey, at least we got to explore a new course in forensic detail. Kudos to the European Tour for cobbling together a compelling schedule under very difficult circumstances. But I’m also a sucker for history and tradition so it’s always satisfying to return to places like Colonial and Harbour Town.

Does this year’s USGA tourney count as a major? If so, does this mean that Hogan’s Hale American win will finally be recognized as a major win? -@bigredsbigworld

I know we’re all sad about the lack of qualifying, but this year’s U.S. Sorta-Open is likely to have a stronger field than previous Opens, and it will certainly be better than the Masters field. Along with Oakmont, Winged Foot is the quintessential U.S. Open venue. So, no asterisk needed.

Golfer Ben hogan receives golf medal
Ben Hogan accepts the USGA medal for winning the Hale America Open in 1942. Getty Images

Funny enough, I just filed a big story for GOLF Magazine about how the game carried on during WWII, so I’m more versed in the Hale American Open than I’ve ever been. The tournament was cosponsored by the USGA, PGA of America and Chicago District Golf Association with the expressed purpose of raising money for the USO and Navy Relief Society. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were given exemptions, as was the great Bobby Jones, 12 years after his retirement from competition. There was no 36-hole cut but there was a long-drive contest and a trick-shot exhibition. Hogan torched the defenseless Ridgemoor Country Club, in Chicago, with rounds of 72-62-69-68 to win by three; his four- round total of 271 bettered the existing U.S. Open record by ten shots. So, it doesn’t exactly sound like Hale America was an august national championship. But a record 1,528 men went through the qualifying process – Hope and Crosby both wound up declining their exemptions – and in victory Hogan was awarded the USGA gold medal traditionally given to U.S. Open champs. (His $1,000 winner’s check was paid in war bonds.) The Hale America was one of the biggest tournaments of the war-torn 1942 golf schedule…but I, personally, can’t consider it a real U.S. Open.

Alan, what’s the chance that in the next five years Phil ends up in the booth as a color commentator instead of playing tournaments full-time on a Champions Tour? He’s a natural and the networks would line up to sign him. Thanks. -@forearmshivers

I’ve asked Phil about this directly and this is my take: he would *love* a platform and captive audience to demonstrate that he is the smartest guy in the room but has no appetite for committing to a full schedule of commentating, with all the travel, hotel rooms and staff meetings that entails. If you told the 55-year-old Phil he could commandeer the mic at a couple of majors and a few of other big-time events, he would do it in a heartbeat. But who wants to have to slog through a dozen or more B-list Tour events? Certainly not Mickelson. And, for the record, I don’t think he’ll ever play a full schedule on the Senior Tour, either.

tiger woods and greg norman
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Tiger/Faldo vs Phil/Norman….at Medalist. Intriguing? Mic’d up and for charity, of course. -@BobbyTeeItUp

This actually would be fascinating since Norman has so much beef with Tiger and a twisted history with Faldo. Given his need to hog the spotlight, I would expect Shark to chirp a ton and otherwise drive the competition crazy. Meanwhile, a mic’d Faldo would surely be mumbling all kinds of good material. Sign me up.

What 1960’s version of The Match would you like to see with Palmer and Nicklaus as the two pros? -@AirPallotti

That’s easy: just add Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Both were consummate entertainers and very good players.

What are you hearing, or what is your gut telling you, about the PGA at Harding Park? Is there any chance of fans? -@drwmrcs_gmcck

Over the last two weeks I’ve talked to folks at both Harding and the PGA of America. No one wants to go on record because the situation is still so fluid, but based on what I’ve been told, I now think the PGA will be played at Harding Park as scheduled but having fans on-site is doubtful to very doubtful. Sigh.

US Open trophy at Hardin Park golf course.
The 2020 PGA Championship is scheduled for August 6-9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Getty Images

Can you rank your favorite courses on the Monterey Peninsula? Also include Santa Cruz so Pasatiempo is included. -@DrewCecil

I feel like I’ve done this a few times before but it’s always a fun exercise, and feelings can change over time, so:

  1. Pebble
  2. CPC
  3. Shore
  4. Pasa
  5. Dunes
  6. Spy
  7. P.G Muni
  8. Preserve
  9. Poppy
  10. Black Horse
  11. Bayo
  12. Monterey Pines

Who are all the hangers-on at PGA and LPGA events (on the range, putting greens, etc.), and will the pros miss them when social distancing is in effect? -@David_Troyan

Agents, swing coaches, short-game coaches, equipment reps, trainers, personal assistants, nannies. Some players (cough, cough Bryson) will be lost without the large entourages, others are going to revel in the new peacefulness of the range and practice green. It’s certainly going to be different.

What happened to Nick Watney? Keegan Bradley? -@theblackwhip

Golf is hard.

Why wouldn’t a mid-level guy on the PGA want to be mic’d up to raise his profile and get more TV time? Maybe a Rory wouldn’t want it, but those guys between 30-100 on the OWGR should be eager to get in the mix. It would highlight new guys and give us inside-the-ropes coverage. -@fancyfeet4

Totally agree. Pre-Covid, I saw a tweet that I still think about: some random golf fan said he was heading to his first Tour event and he was more excited to follow Joel Dahmen and Max Homa than any of the superstars because he felt like he knew and was more invested in Max and Joel through of the magic of Twitter. Same principle applies here ⁠— mic’ing players, so we can better understand how they play the game as well as who they are, is a fabulous way for players to connect with fans (and build their brand). The average Tour player would be crazy to pass up the opportunity.

Do a poll: heart rate monitors on players? Yes or no? -@3PuttNoMore

This column is a one-man poll and I’m going to say no. It feels a little hokey and invasive. And I don’t want anything to jeopardize our current push to get players and caddies mic’d up.

The prestige of the U.S. Open always helped me persuade my wife to let me watch approximately eight-straight hours of golf on TV every Father’s Day. Any tips on how to convince her that the “Charles Schwab Challenge” is in fact a real thing and worthy of extended time on the couch this year? -@MidwesternGator

It’s true, Father’s Day has always been a gift to golf-loving dudes everywhere. But you’re off by a week — this year it falls the week after the Schwab, when the Tour is in Harbour Town. This might help. Tell your bride that, in your role of a caring father and husband, you’re researching venues for a future family trip and all the scenic drone shots of Harbour Town have you considering the Low Country. She can’t be mad about that.

I just moved into a new house on the 4th hole of a golf course is it wrong for me to tee it up 1st day while my girlfriend moves all the furniture? -@theBrixtonSaint

This is a very, very delicate situation. I would recommend you play no more than 36 holes.

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Alan Shipnuck


GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck writes longform features and a monthly column for GOLF Magazine and has his own vertical on GOLF.com entitled “The Knockdown,” which is home to podcasts, video vignettes, event coverage and his popular weekly mailbag AskAlan. He is the author of five books on golf, including na­tional best-sellers Bud, Sweat & Tees and The Swinger (with Michael Bamberger). Shipnuck is very active on Twitter, with a following of 50,000.

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