So much for a quiet year! With COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing, you might have thought things were going to be slow and dull. Wrong! The Grainy selection committee was surprisingly busy, working into the wee hours counting those ballots — legal and otherwise! And with that, may we introduce the winners from 2020, the year that can’t end soon enough.
Best (as in Worst) Costume Design
“I haven’t met an endorsement deal I won’t take” Phil Mickelson has been sporting some odd-looking sunglasses. He looks like South Park’s Eric Cartman (“Respect my authority!”). The next deal? Maybe a big-wheel tricycle.
Rather than be creative and figure out how to stage The Open Championship, the R&A chose instead to take Lloyd’s of London’s insurance money. We all will have to wait for “the champion golfer of the year” to take center stage.
“The Long Goodbye of Mike Davis.” Ad nauseum. Hopefully we won’t be watching his U.S. Oops reruns into the next decade now that he is pursuing his lifelong passion of golf course architecture.
Richard Burton Honorary Snub
Amazingly, Burton was seven times an Oscar nominee but never a winner. Amazingly, there is not a golf course superintendent in the World Golf Hall of Fame. No, Old Tom Morris doesn’t count. Someone might want to remind the selection committee that the game is played on grass, which someone (ahem) has to grow and maintain.
ClubsHelp. Born out of need during the early days of the pandemic, ClubsHelp gives golf clubs a good name by pairing them with local hospitals, frontline workers and emergency service personnel. Clubs and their members really stepped up, providing PPE, energy snacks, drinks and more. Every club should be a member: It’s free and does more than any program I know of to connect clubs to their communities. www.clubshelp.org
Best (Side) Effects
One unintended outcome of the pandemic was a return to walking the golf course. And the hot accessory became the hand cart (push cart, pull cart, trolley, call it whatever you want). To which the committee can only say, “About time!”
Best Live Action Film
The Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association’s turf conference went from virtual to viral: 40 associations, more than 550 registrants and 30 classes over 30 days. Kudos to executive director Tim Kreger and his board for opening their conference to the entire country. Moral: When there’s a problem, superintendents find a way.
The lack of it. By limiting or eliminating fans at PGA Tour events, we were spared the inane “you the mans,” “in the holes” and “Baba Booeys.” So, it’s true: Every cloud does have a silver lining.
Best Animated Feature
Toptracer. Who knew a thin blue trace could change the trajectory of a centuries-old sport? Time-tested and Tour-approved, Toptracer has transformed how we watch golf on TV, how we practice golf at the driving range and the business of golf itself. And it’s good on the eyes, too!
Best Make-up and Styling
To the three superintendents who juggled schedules, seasons and seeding to pull off three major championships and deliver three exemplary champions. I’m sure we won’t be giving their trophies to anyone else any time soon. Hats off — and thank you — to Kevin Teahan (TPC Harding Park), Steve Rabideau (Winged Foot Golf Club) and Brad Owen (Augusta National Golf Club).
Every superintendent in America. With the game exploding — but often unable to find labor, machinery, or supplies — superintendents and the rest of every club’s staff did outstanding work. Of course, all those extra golfers meant more complaints about maintenance, which just goes to show that not everything in 2020 was abnormal.
Best Original Song
He’s original, all right. Love him or hate him (and how can you hate him?), Bryson DeChambeau pushed the envelope and gave the golf world something new to talk about. True, his prodigious length might cause some serious head-scratching. Tiger-proofing did not work; how about Bryson-braking? At least he won’t be complaining about hitting out of anyone else’s divots. Watch for the USGA to try legislating the number of reps allowed in the gym.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Augusta National and the Masters made the best they could of the November dates and “adapted” the look and level of conditioning to stage this revered major. Shame on anyone who criticized the slower greens, immature overseed and damp turf. Not only did we get to see a really good event, we got a look at America’s golf cathedral in a different season. Personally, I thought it was superb.
Speaking of the Masters, a nice move — if long overdue — naming Lee Elder an honorary starter. April 2021 can’t come soon enough.
The “Wait, Didn’t I See This Movie Already” Award
Shortly after the article “Women in Golf: Beyond the Ladies Tees” ran in this magazine, golf’s other media outlets suddenly got “woke” and discovered that women aren’t only on the LPGA Tour or the beverage cart. Our profession needs more original thinkers — and women — not more copycats.
Picture of the Year
The Game of Golf. When the pandemic began, no one would have predicted golf would emerge as a savior — at all levels. From the PGA Tour restarting in June to the widespread embracing of the game by millions of current and new golfers, this social-distancing-approved activity experienced the boom it had been waiting for. So thanks to golf for helping us get outdoors, giving us enjoyment (well, mostly enjoyment; it isn’t as if COVID-19 was a cure for our slice), letting us hang with our friends (cautiously), and giving parents somewhere to take or send their kids. Now, of course, everyone in the industry should be working on ways to keep the ball rolling.
Pete Dye. Pete did for course architecture what your crazy Uncle Larry does every time he says “pull my finger.” He shook things up, defied convention and made some of us scowl but most of us laugh. Pete’s genius will be rediscovered and appreciated every time a golfer tees it up on one of his courses. He will be missed. R.I.P.
Dr. Tom Watschke, professor emeritus of turfgrass science, Penn State University, who helped us all.
Doug Sanders, who brought color to a black-and-white world
Mickey Wright, a quiet talent and the personification of class