Another year, another … wait a minute, not so fast. This was a particularly low-fiber year, Grainy-wise. With only limited controversy, the surfaces have been smooth and consistent. But before you settle into complacency, the new decade is just around the corner. What will 2020 have in store? We can’t wait. The envelopes please.
Pace of play. What a joke! Or is it a tragedy? Tour officials work “for” the players so they’re afraid to drop the hammer when it’s obviously called for. (J.B. Holmes, Bryson and the entire LPGA Tour.) Do your job, throw some penalty shots around, and in the process let that Tour wannabe dragging his or her ass in front of me know that slow play has consequences.
Best Supporting Actor
Jack Holt, the longtime (39 years) assistant superintendent at Pebble Beach. My dear friend made all those events I worked at Pebble over the years well worth it. A true gentleman who finally got his due after working 125 professional events. Enjoy the fishing with your faithful companions, Lefty and Charlie.
Best Double Feature
While we’re praising Pebble Beach, it gets the rare double for its two events in 2019. The Monday playoff in February (Phil, I wanna play now!), then the big return in June for a U.S. Open that worked. Why? Because Pebble’s powers that be made it clear to the USGA that the only way they’d host another U.S. Open was to let the course’s professional staff do the setup. We’re anticipating similar “production” awards for Winged Foot in 2020.
The Rules of Golf. In trying to dumb down the essence of the game, the confusion only got more confusing. Practice your drops? Same-ball rule? A politically correct name for “hazards?” Did you use a word processor or a shredder?
Best Costume Design
Maybe that should be “barest” costume design. Brooks Koepka wanted to avoid costumes and clothes altogether, posing for ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue, then revealing his “package” for Halloween. It certainly gives new meaning to the terms implement and balls.
Best Foreign Film
And probably the happiest moment of the year was Shane Lowry’s Open Championship victory. The first Open in Ireland in more than 50 years AND it was won by an Irishman (and nobody cares that he isn’t a Northern Irishman). They’re probably still celebrating in the local pubs.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Augusta National Women’s Amateur. (Take that, Martha Burk!) In fact, it was a triple play for Augusta: The inaugural Women’s Amateur was a home run; the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship continues to be the best junior event going; and, of course, Tiger’s win for the ages.
Best Production Design
Bethpage State Park. A tip of the Grainy to the PGA of America and director of agronomy Andrew Wilson. Moving the PGA Championship from the dog days of August to the freshness of spring makes all the difference in the world.
Worst Production Design
Mother Nature. Hurricanes, drought, snow, fires, tornadoes. Yes, ma’am, we get it: You’re the boss. Kudos if any golfer at your course actually said “thank you” for a job well done in a very demanding year.
Special Achievement Award
Steph Curry. The basketball superstar isn’t just a golf nut, he’s putting his passion to good use, including making a major donation to Howard University to support both a men’s and women’s golf team for six years. Slam dunk!
We’re not sure what’s in their makeup that regularly makes Sergio and Bryson — as well as others from time to time — act like petulant, spoiled brats. Unless they’re vying for a best acting award, all their moaning, pouting, club slamming and whining should be at least called out — and at most penalized.
Hank Haney. Despite his crystal ball being correct about South Korean players, he was wrong to say anything in any language. Four of the five women’s majors were won by Koreans, but his suspension — and whatever business he might have lost — was justified.
Best Actor, Silent Film
Mike who? The muzzling of the USGA’s CEO was as welcome as it was surprising. The award probably should go to whoever on the USGA Executive Committee pushed his mute button. Might it be a group award?
But also the saddest: Ron Whitten’s Golf Digest story about mental health issues among superintendents is required reading. Being able to work outdoors isn’t enough to keep our brethren happy and of sound body and mind. The stress our industry puts on the grounds staff is incredible … and rarely noticed.
A tie: Congratulations to Suzy Whaley for assuming the president’s role at the PGA of America and to Jan Bel Jan at the American Society of Golf Course Architects. You rule!
Whoever managed the mass “retirement” at the USGA really bungled that push to the exit. Veiled in innuendo, hyperbole and age discrimination, I have to think the big winners will be lawyers. Guess 55 is the new 65?
Best Historical Drama
Tiger catches Slammin’ Sam with 82 tour victories. Kathy Whitworth laughs.
Second-Best Historical Drama
Phil falls out of the top 50 for the first time in 26 years. Who is Tiger going to tell his dad jokes to? On the other hand, it should give Phil more time to post to his must-watch Phireside Chats. #PhiresideWithPhil
Best Sound Editing
Cutting Gary McCord and Peter Kostis from CBS broadcasts. Nothing really against either of those guys, but they won’t be missed much, and the telecasts will be better with fewer voices talking, talking and talking some more. I don’t care about down swings and divots, uphill and downhill grain, let alone how to putt on broccoli. And a warning to the incoming Davis Love III: Get your facts straight before you open your mouth.
Worst Time-Lapse Photography
The Ryder Cup won’t be played until next fall, but the silliness started months ago with tours, press conferences, photo ops, even arguments about who should be on the team and in line for tickets.
The Not-So-Good-Of-The-Game Award
To the PGA Tour for OK’ing on-site gambling. Note: Pete Rose just applied for his Tour card.
Worst Short Feature
Michelle Wie throws in the towel (but with her bad wrist, it must have really hurt). It will be interesting to see how history judges her career.
Best Picture and 2019 Grainy Winner
Tiger at The Masters.
Alice Dye, Dan Jenkins, Gene Littler. They don’t make them like that anymore. RIP.
Tartan Talks No. 41
A renovation doesn’t work if a superintendent and architect fail to connect. Neither does a multi-person podcast.
For the first time in the 3½-year history of Tartan Talks, a superintendent collaborated with an architect to fill our audiowaves. We visited Cincinnati last month to tour 36-hole Kenwood Country Club, where Jason Straka of Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design is working closely with superintendent Kent Turner to improve the club’s William Diddel- designed Kendale Course.
After observing work on the irrigation system, greens, bunkers and fairways, we slipped into Turner’s office to record the podcast. The pair discussed a variety of topics, including what architects and superintendents seek from each other during a major project.
Visit our Superintendent Radio Network page by entering http://bit.ly/2QAFbhI into your web browser to hear the current and the 40 previous Tartan Talks episodes.