LPGA the Dress Code versus Sex Sells

dress code lpgaThere was an interesting turn of events when the Ladies Professional Golf Association passed new dress code rules for players on the tour. The codes basically attempt to eliminate clothes that are a bit too sexy.

It largely prohibits the display of too much leg, too much bosom, or too much shoulder. Let me first say the LPGA has every right set their own dress code. If they want to ban short skirts, plunging necklines, racerback shirts, joggers, and leggings; that’s their business.

That being said, the hypocrisy is rather rank. The LPGA has long promoted attractive players going as far as extending invitations into tournaments to particularly good-looking golfers who were not eligible by their playing ability alone. The modern version of this strategy is Paige Spiranac but it dates back as far as Jan Stephenson and probably beyond.

It’s also clear that women wear far skimpier outfits while running in track meets, playing beach volleyball, and we see plenty of panty-clad bums on some of the finest women’s tennis players in the world as they race around the court.

I’ll be up front, I’m a man who admires the fit form of female athletes. I’ve always been attracted to women with athletic figures. I don’t mind seeing a fine pair of shoulders, the sinews of a pair of strong legs in motion, or the firm upper arms of a woman who has seen the inside of a weight room. The fact that tight fitting clothes go along with better athletic performance is a happy coincidence as far as this fan is concerned. Boobs, I’m in the pro column.

The point here is that the majority of people enjoy looking at a fit athlete with a strong body. Sports Illustrated devotes an entire issue to naked athletes and another to women in, or partially in, swimsuits. That’s marketing. If more people watch LPGA events that will lure in more advertisers, which in turn means larger prizes for the participants.

That’s what bothers me about this new dress code. The LPGA has long attempted to market the better-looking golfers on their tour. Now they are upset some of the players are apparently doing the marketing themselves. Hey, it’s fine if you look sexy the way we like to make you look sexy, but don’t look hot the way you want. Not on our watch.

Again, it’s the LPGA’s decision to make. Rules are rules. But at least this observer finds them to be hypocritical in the extreme.

Tom Liberman

Erin Hills and Low Scores

erin hillsI’m watching the Livestream of the 2017 U.S. Open Golf Championship at Erin Hills and Tommy Fleetwood is leading the way at twelve under par. The USGA is not going to be happy. The bigger problem, what I think is going to cause a lot of consternation, is that nearing the end of the third round, forty-two players are under par. The U.S. Open is traditionally considered one of the most difficult tournaments of the year and usually only a handful of players finish better than even.

The United States Golf Association generally tries create a very difficult golf course. There seems to be a sense of pride in making the best players in the world struggle. Two years ago, the course at Chambers Bay was set up by the USGA to be all but comically difficult. Well, frankly, it was comical.

This year’s course is at Erin Hills which has wide fairways, large greens, and it is a par 72 as opposed to 71 or 70. There hasn’t been much wind and the best players in the world are having their way with the course. It’s beginning to look like this year’s winner will get close to the record, sixteen under, set by Rory McIlroy in 2011. The difference is that McIlroy won by eight strokes. That’s not the case this year. A fairly large number of players are in the hunt at ten to twelve under.

What I fear is the USGA will be embarrassed by this showing and set up Shinnecock Hills, the site of the event in 2018, to be extremely difficult.

There is something almost sadistic about the USGA and the way they try to make the courses difficult. The problem is that players are extremely good. I’m not saying anyone is better than Jack Nicklaus, but I think it can be said without fear of error, the average player on the PGA Tour is better now than at any time in history. There are a huge number of amazingly good golfers who can shoot fantastic scores. With this many good players, the chances multiple golfers will have fantastic weeks goes up dramatically.

This means the USGA must trick the course up in order to keep scores low. They tried this at Erin Hills by having very penal rough, but it didn’t work because the fairways are so wide. They also have rolled the greens to make them fast but damp weather and lack of wind is in the favor of the golfers this year. I don’t think there is anything wrong with good golfers having great rounds. I enjoy fantastic shots far more than circus greens like we had at Chambers Bay.

I don’t enjoy greens so fast that a player nails a shot a foot past the hole and then watches in horror as it runs all the way to a collection area. I don’t like viewing the best players in the world strike their shots with abject fear. I’m not saying make the course easy, I’m just saying don’t be offended if the best players in the world, in perfect conditions, light it up a little bit.

I guess we’ll find out next year, but I suspect my fears will be realized.

Anyway, I’m enjoying this year’s tournament immensely and love the beauty of Erin Hills. Great course meets fantastic players, sometimes the players win. No shame in that.

Tom Liberman

The Decline of Golf

decline of golfThe year was 2006 and Tiger Woods won The Open Championship, the PGA Championship, and six other events. The game of golf had 30 million regular players. Courses both public and private were being opened and designed all over the country. The world was bullish on golf and apparently rightly so.

Since then the total number of players has dropped by more than five million despite the population rising. More golf courses are closing than opening and only a small number of highly exclusive courses are even in the planning stages anymore.

What happened? It’s a complex question and there are many factors involved; including lack of star power, economics, and the time and difficulty required to play. What I’d like to focus on is the nature of economics. If golf was banking or car manufacturing there would be panic in Washington D.C. and in statehouses across the country. How can we save golf? It employs so many people. It provides an entertainment outlet for many more. We can’t let it fail.

A once thriving industry is struggling badly. People just don’t want to play anymore, for whatever reason. That’s the nature of economics and capitalism. The fact courses are closing all over and the government isn’t intervening is exactly how it should work. If a golf course cannot generate enough revenue to stay open, it should close. This means economic hardship for the employees. It means I have fewer options when I want to play a round.

What will be the result? The golf industry is coming up with innovate ways to solve the problem. There is talk of six hole courses. Courses with bigger holes to make playing a round easier. There are many ideas being discussed and implemented. Perhaps some of them will work and a new generation of golfers will once again fill courses, or perhaps it will go the way of the horse and buggy. I don’t know. I can’t know. No one knows. That’s the nature of this world.

What government often tries to do is alleviate this uncertainty. It is not merely economics. It is lives. When the golf industry falters, any number of people are affected in a negative way. Government tries to assure people it will be fine. They will prop up the golf industry so no one loses their job. So there is always a place to play. It’s a reassuring thought. Gosh, it’ll be great. We’ll never have to worry about the course closing. I’ll always have a job and be able to pay for the food on my children’s table. Thanks, government.

The problem is that it doesn’t work. When the government attempts to prop up a failing business or industry they are merely delaying the inevitable. When a business fails through natural capitalistic forces, it does so in a way that allows for it to be replaced. If people are not playing golf, they are doing something else. In this other thing there are jobs, there is security.

I think it’s important to consider where we would be today if the government hadn’t intervened in the Global Financial Crisis of 2015. Many of the car dealerships and the ancillary suppliers would have had a hard time, but now we’d have vigorous young companies established in their place. The industry would have been reborn, people need cars, that is not going away. Perhaps in the innovative storm that followed the demise of the industry we’d have fully automatic cars by now.

It is clear to me if those banks that made foolish loans had simply been allowed to go bankrupt, others would have risen in their place. And the new ones would probably not have charged me nearly as much to simply withdraw my money from my own accounts.

It is important to remember one vital fact. While failure is a disaster for one person, it is opportunity for a dozen more. It eliminates the bad and allows for new ideas to enter the market. These new companies are agile, vigorous, and provide a service wanted by the people. This is why capitalism, largely unfettered, is such a good thing for all of us.

The decline of golf is an important lesson in economics.

Tom Liberman

Jordan Spieth – Tiger Woods Misleading Headline

spieth-woodsThis one is a doozy! Jordan Spieth tees off on Tiger Woods in Epic Shade Throwing reads the completely false and malicious headline from Sportsnaught and Vincent Frank.

Clickbait at its absolute worst. Not only does the headline make it appear as if Spieth said something nasty about Tiger Woods but the article pretty much matches the headline. It talks about how Spieth was throwing a “whole heck of a lot of shade.”

Give me a break. Spieth pointed out his game is not based on hitting the ball long but on accurate approach shots and strong putting. Thus the methods used at the Masters to lengthen the golf course for Woods and other long hitters wouldn’t be effective against Spieth.

It was not shade. It was not even directed at Woods. It was simply a comment on his style of play.

Congratulations Sportsnaught and Vincent Frank, you win Misleading Headline of the Week!

Tom Liberman

To Quit or Play – Steven Bowditch

steven_bowditchThere was an interesting situation in last week’s World Cadillac Championship when a golfer named Steven Bowditch chose to keep playing despite the fact he was having a miserable week.

Bowditch had mathematically the worst tournament at a World Golf Championship ever. The reason I think it’s worth discussing is because he kept playing despite the fact he did not have to do so.

Normally at a golf tournament they play four rounds and anyone not in the top half after the first two rounds is “cut”. That is they don’t make any money and they don’t get to play the final two rounds.

This particular event has a limited number of players and there is no cut. By finishing in last place Bowditch earned $48,000. Had he said his stomach was upset or claimed that he hurt his wrist and withdrawn at any point he still would have earned the money. He chose not to do so.

Despite being well out of contention, he finished fourteen shots behind the second to last place finisher, he continued on for all four rounds.

Bowditch is an excellent player who has won twice on the PGA tour and earned over three million dollars last season playing golf. He suffers from severe depression and before getting desperately needed help had some rough times.

I’m of the opinion that Bowditch is to be admired for not quitting despite there being no real reason to continue on. He claims his game needed work and so he decided to keep playing but I think there is more to it than that. Perhaps, perhaps not. Only Bowditch can say.

I know I probably would have quit. Most people will say they too would have continued on despite the misery but I think that’s not the case.

Anyway, I admire Bowditch and wanted to say so. I also have a question for anyone who reads this. Do you think you would have quit?

With nothing to play for and in misery, do you think you would have continued on?

View Results

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition
Next Release: The Gray Horn

Sports and the Nature of Capitalism – Spieth vs Day

Spieth-Day-Shake-handsOne of my favorite sporting events of the season is the PGA Championship; thanks in no small part to the enlightened view those in charge take as far as online viewers are concerned. This attitude along with the incredible final round between the two leaders brought to mind why competition is the method by which the best results in life are found.

There are two lessons to be learned here. Both from the streaming coverage provided during the PGA championship and the spirited final round of the event itself between Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.

First as to the viewing pleasure I enjoyed.

In the last few years there’s been a slow but steady shift of people away from traditional television viewing habits to online viewing. I’m one of those that no longer has a traditional television. I consume media via my computer using tools like Hulu, NetFlix, ESPN3, and other content providers. It saves me money and allows me access to only the events I want to watch. The problem is that many content providers don’t see those of us who have eschewed television as a market. Major League Baseball, for example, has a blackout policy that means if I purchase their baseball package I can watch every game of every team except my home market team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Yeah, so, not buying that.

The PGA tour has a livestream channel but whether or not the event broadcasts is rather haphazard from week to week. Some events show nothing at all while others show only on Thursday and Friday, others show all week. The PGA 2015 Championship has a plethora of streaming coverage and have had so for the last few years. They embrace online viewers like myself and I’m grateful to them. They have a featured group channel which is outstanding. You get to watch one group for an entire round. They have a par 3 channel. They have a general broadcast channel.

The point here is that when you broadcast a sporting event you want the largest possible audience. Yes there are advertisements but I gladly put up with them. It is my opinion that by embracing, rather than fearing and excluding, the growing online audience the PGA promotes their product. They bring in new fans. They do themselves, the game of golf, and the fans of golf a great service. That’s smart business. The rise of online media consumption, as opposed to traditional television viewing, has increased the number of ways I can watch a golf event. It has given me more options and more entertainment. It also generates new revenue for the content creators and providers. All good things.

As to the second reason competition is great.

The 2015 PGA Championship pitted Jason Day and Jordan Spieth in the final round. Often times these sorts of pairing don’t result in a great competition because one player does well while the other does poorly. That was not the case this time. Day and Spieth both played well and the drama was intense and exciting. Day eventually emerged triumphant by a seemingly large margin but the reality is that until the last hole there was tremendous doubt. That made for a gripping story and an entertaining event.

Competition is a good thing.

Good for the players who must rise to occasion and reach heights they would not have otherwise achieved. Good for the audience who watches such drama. Good for the content providers who get advertising dollars. Good for advertisers who get good publicity for their spends.

And, as Spieth’s sportsmanship in defeat so ably displayed, there were no real losers. Yes, Day won but Spieth gained as well. As did we all.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition
Next Release: The Gray Horn

 

 

Chambers Bay – Good Course or Bad?

Chambers-Bay-GreenThere’s a lot of controversy going on in the golf world over the course where the U.S. Open Championship is being held, Chambers Bay.

The course is quite unusual in that the climate and location make it impossible to have a typically well manicured course. Chambers Bay is messy looking. The greens are bumpy. The greens and fairways have huge hills and mounds that quite frequently make it look more like a tricked up miniature golf course than the site of the U.S. Open.

A round of a golf for an average Joe or Jane looking to play can cost upwards of $300, not including taxes and mandatory caddie payment, depending on time of year and state residence status. This is an issue because the state of golf in the United States is quite poor in many ways. The idea being that as fewer people play golf there are fewer courses and only the wealthy can play. As more courses like Chambers Bay are built this exacerbates the problem. Young people are largely not taking up golf.

Some people hate the course.

Many golfers are taking the professional attitude and saying it’s the same course for everyone, it’s very challenging, and they look forward to playing. I’m largely in agreement with these players. The course is what it is and everyone is playing the same course. In this case the course gets considerably more difficult as the day goes on, the wind sweeps in, and things dry out.

In the first two rounds most of the best scores came in the morning round. I wouldn’t be surprised to a see a winner on Sunday come from four or five strokes off the pace from near the middle of the pack. This in effect punishes players who are leading after three rounds. I could, of course, be wrong. Someone might well win the tournament after being the third round leader. I’m just suggesting the odds are more heavily against it than normal.

The greens are, in many ways, comical.

Chambers Bay is a difficult course for live spectators to see the event. The many hills block the view of the course.

I don’t think there is a right answer here. Chambers Bay is certainly unusual. It is certainly expensive. It is certainly a poor venue to watch the event in person. It favors players who have an early tee-time. However, some people enjoy watching the ball rolling and rolling down a hill and into a bunker. They enjoy wild putts that go in five directions.

In the end the winner will be the person who plays best those four days. Is it good for golf? Bad for golf? It probably doesn’t matter all that much. Golf is in a decline because of the expense and amount of time it takes to play the game. It’s good that people are considering these issues and trying to come up with a plan to help golf attract younger players.

In other words, everyone is entitled to their point of view and in this case, both sides are valid. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

2014 PGA Championship and the Rules of Golf

PGA Wet ConditionsThis past weekend there was a very interesting situation in the 2014 PGA Golf Championship involving both Rory McIlroy and the rules of golf in general. The tournament at Valhalla Golf Club was plagued by inclement weather in the shape of rain, lots of rain. This played a major factor in a number of rules decision that both the players and fans of golf are questioning.

The major rules issue occurred because a long rain delay brought on the possibility that the last players on the course would not be able to finish their round. This was particularly important because the leader of the tournament on the 18th tee was in that last group. If McIlroy was unable to finish his round because of darkness he would have had to come back the next day and finish at that time.

The course officials allowed McIlroy and his partner to hit their balls before they would normally be allowed to do so. In this case when the two players in front of them were still playing the hole. In order for this to occur the players in the leading group must agree to allow it to happen. According to the players in the leading group they agreed on the tee shot of the trailing group but not the approach shot. There are some contradictory statements coming from rules officials who say the leading players did allow the second shot.

There was also a general issue of the course being extremely wet and muddy. This meant the players were often in what is called standing water and their balls were muddy making them difficult to control. There are several rules to deal with these situations.

In some cases players are allowed to play “preferred lies” where they pick up the ball after each shot, clean it, and place it close to its original position. A second rule covers two other situation. Players are allowed to move a ball that is in standing water to a drier area and drop it. In some cases the entire fairway was standing water and players had to move a fairly good distance to find a playable position. A clause of this rule involves balls embedded in the ground, in this case the rain soaked ground.under those conditions players are allowed to pick up, clean, and drop it nearby. This led to a situation where players were hoping for a plugged ball because it allowed them to clean it whereas a muddy ball just had to be played. It’s a huge disadvantage to play a muddy ball.

According to other players some rules were bent to attempt to get the round finished under very wet conditions.

What I want to talk about is why the PGA felt it so necessary to bend, if not break, rules to get the round finished. There were many people at the course on Sunday who would not be able to return on Monday but I suspect the real reason was that the number television viewers for a Monday round would ever equal those for a Sunday finish. Advertisers paid for Sunday time slots, not Monday time slots.

The rain was coming down extremely hard and the course was barely playable at best. If the tournament had not been so prestigious with so much television interest I strongly suspect they would have simply cancelled the round altogether. The conditions on Saturday were awful and got progressively worse on Sunday.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the PGA was under pressure from the networks to get that round finished, and they did. I think it’s also safe to say that fifty years ago when television money did not rule golf that the round itself would have been cancelled. There is big money in golf by the way. McIlroy got a paycheck of $1.8 million for his eventual victory.

I’m sympathetic to the PGA in some ways. The people paying the bills wanted the round finished. I’m also rather dismayed by their willingness to twist the rules to their advantage. The course itself also suffered serious damage from spectator and players.

However, I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to blogging so I’ll tell you what I think. I think they should have cancelled the round after the big rain. It might have cost them some money but it was the right thing to do, at least I think so. The best player probably won but we will never really know because of the various issues. Would McIlroy have played his second shot differently if he knew the results of the leading group? Did the very dark conditions on the last few holes alter scores for those players who had to deal with it? Did players gain advantages from rules decision involving embedded balls and standing water?

It’s not just about who won the tournament but who finished in 10th place. The decision to play was unfair to the players. The spectators probably were better served by getting to watch the tournament conclude but who knows what excitement might have occurred on a Monday finish?

I understand the influence of money and it’s not all bad. Good things come from major sponsors and the players earn a lot more money now than they did thirty years ago. I’m not saying that the PGA was wrong, just that I think they were wrong.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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Drug Testing Policies – The Dustin Johnson Dilemma

Dustin JohnsonThere is a fairly big news breaking in the golf world about a young golfer named Dustin Johnson. Johnson is considered one of the rising young stars on the tour and additionally is dating the daughter of Wayne Gretzky. He recently announced that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA tour and rumors are flying around. Most of them involve drug use.

What I’d like to examine in my post today is the different ways the various professional and college sports leagues handle recreational drug use. Because most leagues now do testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs they also find evidence of recreational drugs use. What should be the leagues response to a player who uses illegal recreational drugs or who is guilty of any disreputable behavior in general?

There’s a pretty wide variety of solutions out there. MLB doesn’t really care about recreational drug use whereas the NFL has a rather strict structure of suspensions when dealing with such things. College football and basketball have no real rules regarding events of this nature and generally leave discipline up to the coaches in question. This often results in star players being given more slack than those with less talent.

I think one important factor to consider is a leagues responsibility in dealing with criminal violations. Again the NFL is very aggressive in handing out suspensions for activities that have nothing to do with football while MLB and other sports are not so proactive. If a football player is charged with a crime he faces suspension even if he is later exonerated as happened with Ben Roethlisberger.

It is certainly within the purview of an employer to suspend or fire an employee for their non-company related activities; taking into account state laws. If Dustin Johnson used cocaine and the league found out about it through their drug testing program and then suggested he take of a leave of absence is that appropriate? John Daly certainly had more than a few incidents while he was using the legal drug of alcohol and the PGA never found a need to suspend him.

By not having a stated policy these events tend to get handled individually and the player’s value to the team or league becomes a deciding factor. Is this fair? Should a star player be allowed to use legal or illegal drugs when a less talented player faces suspension? It certainly seems unfair at face value but it is essentially the way real life works. If a strong employee makes a mistake they are given more chances. If a weak employee makes the same mistake they are fired. It’s really up to the individuals in charge to make such decisions.

But enough discussion. Where do I stand on all this? I think the PGA gets to make its own rules as does the NFL and all the other leagues. They are not law enforcement agencies. They are not in the position to arrest and criminally prosecute their members. Their responsibility is to their league, employees, and fans. If they decide that telling Dustin Johnson to get some help and take some time off is in the best interest of the PGA that’s their business. If they suspend a lesser player for the same violations that’s also their business. It’s not fair, it’s life.

When things like this are dealt with internally it has an effect on the league or company as a whole. If handling the Johnson situation reflects badly on the PGA they might lose sponsors, fans, and money. If people don’t really care then they will continue to do well. It’s the very nature of personally responsibility. When it comes to things like this people want a strict structure of rules so everyone is treated equally.

In the NFL many are complaining that Ray Rice received a lesser punishment because of his star power. That it isn’t fair. Those critics are right. It isn’t fair. In our rush to make everything fair we remove personal responsibility from the equation. We have hard and fast rules and no exceptions are allowed. We have mandatory sentencing policies which are designed to create equality but end up doing more harm than good.

Life isn’t fair. Transgressions and perceived transgressions must be dealt with by the person who is charged with the job. Students might be suspended for pointing a toy gun or they might be warned. The person in charge must weigh the evidence and circumstances and make a difficult decision. If people don’t like the decision they can complain but when we remove decision making from people’s hands in an effort to treat everyone fairly we end up creating a system in which there is no personal responsibility and in which circumstance plays no role. This is unfair as well.

Dustin Johnson’s membership in the PGA tour is subject to its rules. If you don’t like their rules go to court. Organize a petition or boycott. The quest for fairness leads us down the path of complete abrogation of responsibility and this is a bad thing. Everyone becomes afraid to make a decision and we are paralyzed with fear. Nothing is accomplished.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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Golf Digest Giving Us What We Want – Sexy

paulina-gretzkyGolf Digest is a sports magazine dedicated to golfing that has been around since 1950. They’ve just released a new cover that has some people a little upset and I think it’s a topic worth examining.

The magazine has articles about golf courses, golf vacations, golf instruction, golf equipment, golf news, and generally all things golf related. Which largely makes sense as it is a magazine about golf. On the cover of the magazine they often have professional golf players although since 1969 only eleven female professionals have made the cover.

The cover of this month’s issue features the girlfriend of PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson. Her name is Paulina Gretzky and she is the daughter of famed hockey player Wayne Gretzky. Some people find her very attractive and she is wearing sheer pants and a sports bra in the cover image.

This has upset a number of women golfers. They think female golfers who are having excellent years on the LPGA Tour are more qualified to be on the cover. They are, of course, correct … if you gauge “qualified” is someone who has importance in the world of golf. Another view of “qualified” might be someone who will attract publicity and sell magazines. In which case Paulina is clearly far more qualified than one of the top players in the world, Stacy Lewis

The cover is generating all sorts of news which is clearly a good thing for Golf Digest. There is no way to judge how much a cover of Stacy Lewis might have sold as compared to the one of Paulina but I think it’s safe to guess that Stacy, as fantastic a golfer as she is, is not going to sell as many.

Sex, as they say, sells.

Men apparently enjoy looking at pictures of Paulina and will apparently shell out money to purchase a magazine with her picture on the cover. I don’t find her particularly attractive but that’s not the point. What is the point?

Actually, good question. The point is that if Golf Digest wants to become Playboy magazine that’s their business. I find it grossly manipulative towards men in general and incredibly rude to all those women on the LPGA Tour who are out there working really hard to make a living. However, let’s not kid ourselves, attractive women athletes make the cover of sports magazines all the time. From Anna Kournikova to Danica Patrick to sexed up Olympians.

What is there to be done about this sort of thing? Hope that men change their nature, I suppose. Yeah, so, anyway.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Coming very, very soon: The Broken Throne

Tiger Woods Wins … for the most Stories Written about a Golfer

Tiger WoodsThe golf season is upon us and that’s good news if you’re me. The fact that golf is now in the news means that we’re seeing a lot of stories about Tiger Woods despite the fact that he hasn’t come close to winning a tournament this year. Why so many stories?

It’s an interesting phenomenon that I think brings up an interesting paradox. More on that in a moment.

A few years back Tiger ended a spectacular run of golf when he won the 2008 U.S. Open Championship with a badly injured leg. In 2009 his extra-marital affairs became public knowledge and his wife divorced him.

This was a turning point in the trajectory of his popularity. Up until then he had his detractors but was far and away the most popular playing professional golfer in the world. Certainly Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus still have legions of fans but both are no longer playing the game professionally. When the news of his despicable behavior came to light there arose a large group of people who do not like Woods and aren’t shy about saying so in the comment section of news articles.

Tiger is off to a poor start this year and yet almost every article about a golf tournament has at least a mention of Woods and he is often the focus of such articles. Those who dislike Woods complain vociferously about this. They accuse the media of glorifying Woods as someone who can do no wrong. They use as evidence the plethora of stories about a golfer who isn’t performing well.

If you find any story about Woods and you read the comments you will find that it’s about 80% filled with negative comments about him, his fans, and the writer of the article.

That’s what I find interesting. It seems very clear to me that the reason there are so many articles about Woods is because so many people click on those articles and write comments. Not nearly as many people feel compelled to comment on a wonderful tournament win for Russell Henley in an exciting four-man playoff.

Because there is so much interest, mostly negative, in Woods we get more stories about him.

Thus the people doing the complaining about the veritable cornucopia of stories about Tiger Woods are actually the ones guilty of causing the stories to be written! The paradox.

My advice? If you don’t want to read more and more stories about Tiger Woods, then don’t click on the ones that are there. Don’t write comments.

This isn’t just about Woods though. This is an important idea in life. If something is making you angry, if something is driving you crazy, or if something is bothering you so much that you are enraged. Get away from it!

It does you no good to immerse yourself in that which you hate. You are hurting yourself. The old saying is that life is short. I disagree. Life is long and longer yet if you insist on spending your time hating everything. Find what you enjoy in life and try to maximize the time you spend doing it.

I like writing blogs and novels. I don’t much like going out to bars and mingling. I like quiet evenings with a few friends (or none at all) not loud nights with a bunch of strangers. You might be the opposite. That’s great.

If you hate something, avoid it. If a particular topic makes you angry, don’t read about it. Don’t talk about it. You might find that your life becomes a little better every time you avoid that which angers you.

In writing this blog I’ve been doing exactly that. Doing something I love before I move onto something I don’t like as much. Proofing my new novel, The Broken Throne. I don’t like proofing but it is something I have to do if I want to finish my novel. Ah, life.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Tiger Woods – Ball Moved Rule

Tiger Woods Ball MoveProfessional Golf has a lot of rules and, prior to cameras being pointed at virtually every shot, it was largely up to players to report violations on their own.

In recent years fans carefully watching ever-present video have taken to calling in what they perceive as violations. That has happened again to Tiger Woods for moving a ball while removing a loose impediment. The rule is here.

I’m not against the enforcement of rules via video replay and I think making a correct decision is paramount. What I am against is overly picky enforcement of rules against what is not clearly a violation. I think the benefit of the doubt generally needs to be that no violation has occurred unless it clearly has happened.

I’m also against enforcement of rules against one player or team when the same is not done for everyone in the game. In this case Woods is clearly subject to more scrutiny because of both his popularity and unpopularity. The camera is on every single shot he makes whereas other players are not subject to the same level of observation.

In the incident in question the ball seems to wiggle but not actually change position. The rule states that if a ball moves it must be replaced in its original position. To my way of thinking, and I could be wrong about this interpretation, if the ball can’t be moved back to its starting spot because it’s already there, then perhaps the ball hasn’t really moved at all.

I suppose it could be argued that if a ball rolled several inches and then rolled back to its original location it clearly moved although hasn’t changed position. I would actually argue that the ball hasn’t really moved even under those circumstances. No harm, no foul. It’s in the original spot and hasn’t given the player any advantage.

That being said, my big problem here is the uneven application of video to golfers in a tournament. Popular, or unpopular, players are subject to more scrutiny and that in itself is unfair. Imagine if a baseball game involving my both hugely popular and much hated St. Louis Cardinals had video replay while a game involving the lowly Chicago Cubs did not. Say a similar event happens in both games but the Cardinals are punished because of replay whereas the Cubs are not.

The rules have to apply equally to all contestants otherwise they are not really rules at all. In this case Tiger is being singled out because of the large number of people who want to see his every shot.

I fully understand the desire to get the call right and I support that idea … to a point. When the violation is questionable, when the ruling comes long after an incident which was not ruled a problem at the time, when the player or team is subject to a far higher bar than other players or teams, well, I think this insistence on the letter of the law is petty.

Let them play!

Tell me what you think in the poll!

Tom Liberman

Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Tiger Woods never come from Behind to Win?

Tiger Woods*** UPDATE ****

Having won the 2019 Masters Championship after starting the day behind the leader this argument is no longer valid … or is it? Haters will find something new. Tiger never won a Major Championship when not starting in the last group!

**** END UPDATE ***

I’m a pretty big fan of golf having worked in the industry for a number of years in my youth. I’m also a proponent of good critical thinking skills and the two have come together in a way that gives me an opportunity to illustrate my point.

If you watch golf with any regularity, or follow it in the news, you have seen the following or something similar to it many times in the last few years:

Tiger has never come from behind to win a major tournament.

This statement bothers me like you cannot imagine. Every time I hear it I want to break a 9-iron. First, some background.

Tiger Woods is a pretty good golfer and he had a huge number of fans at one point in his career. He turned professional in 1996 after a sterling amateur career that included three U.S. Junior Amateur wins, three U.S. Amateur wins, and two NCAA golf titles. Once he turned professional he started winning tournaments and what are called Major Tournaments with regularity.

He has so far won on the regular PGA Tour 78 times, second most all-time, and 39 times on the European Tour which is third all-time. He also won fourteen of the so-called Major Championships which include the Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open, and the PGA Championship.

Until November of 2009 he was widely admired and universally considered the best golfer in the world. Shortly thereafter a series of incidents led to him admitting multiple incidents of marital infidelity.

Since that time Tiger has not won a Major Tournament and many of his legion of followers became a legion of haters. They don’t like what he did to his wife and they root against him. It is from this group you will hear the statement mentioned above the most.

I’m no Tiger fan. I think what he did was reprehensible and if his former wife Elin is looking for a date I am available. That being said; I choose to look at his professional career objectively.

He is no longer the dominant player he was prior to his awful behavior, that cannot be denied. He has won no major championships but he has won seven times on the PGA tour and once on the European tour since then. Only a few have done better over the same time frame. He is currently ranked #1 in the world.

But now let’s get back to my point and examine the idea that Tiger has never come back to win a Major title in his career.

A golf tournament consists of 72 holes broken down into four eighteen hole rounds. Tiger has come back to win Major Tournaments after being behind after the 1st round, the 2nd round, midway through the third round, and at different points in the 4th and final round including being behind after 71 holes at the 2008 U.S. Open. The only set of circumstances he has not come from behind to win is when he was not ahead at the conclusion of the 3rd round, or 54 holes.

This sort of selective logic bothers me greatly. I think it’s fine to dislike Tiger Woods, to root against him. You can certainly say that his play has slipped since 2009 using many factual arguments. The claim that he has never come from behind to win a Major Championship is ludicrous. When you say that to people you are passing along a lie.

This sort of thinking is the kind of logic I see all too often. I want something to be true and I find any narrow factual circumstance where the thing is true and use that to support my belief. I ignore other pertinent facts because I want to believe something so badly. This kind of thinking is dangerous because you can actually convince yourself that something is true that is actually false. This will lead you to erroneous conclusions, bad decisions.

Bad decisions hurt everyone involved; you, your family, your business. Don’t strive for them. Strive to avoid them!

Think clearly, find facts, make informed, logical decisions. You’ll find your life improves even if it means there are fewer bad things to say about Tiger Woods.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 – Buy it! Seriously, I could use the money)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Bellyaching about Belly Putters

Anchoring PutterI don’t think most of my friends will be much interested in the recent USGA ban on anchored, or belly putters, but I find the topic quite interesting for a number of reasons. First a little explanation for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about.

Normally when swinging at a golf ball a player puts both hands down the shaft of the club and swings freely around his or her body. By anchoring a putter the golfer holds the end of the club against his or her chest or belly and swings it in pendulum fashion with the other hand. This has the effect of using the body to stabilize the club. Unless you move your torso, at least part of the swing is going to remain steady.

This sort of putting first started to gain fashion about twenty years ago and I know all about. Twenty years ago I worked at a golf course as an assistant pro. I wasn’t a particularly good player but the best part of my game was putting. I fooled around with anchored putters and absolutely loved them. They help ensure the club face is “square” or at a ninety-degree angle to the face of the ball when contact is made.

At this time the USGA allowed the practice and has continued to do so until now. The USGA decides the rule of golf in the United States while the Royal and Ancient Golf Club makes them for the rest of the world. Yes, the R&A, it’s a real thing you non-golfers.

There is tumult in the golf world about the USGA decision that effective Jan 1, 2016 anchoring will become illegal. Some players have been putting this way for many years and now it is suddenly against the rules. A number of professional golfers are angry about it but that pales in comparison to the PGA’s opinion. Why, you might ask? I’ll tell you why.

It’s an interesting situation. In most professional sports the rules making body is one and the same as the professional league. If baseball says corking your bat is illegal then it’s Major League Baseball making the rules for its game. If the National Football League says lowering your head to hit an opponent is illegal then it’s the NFL making the rule for the sport it runs. It’s not the same in golf!

The USGA makes the rules but the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) runs most of the tournaments. PGA players argue that anchoring the putter offers no statistical advantage and they are right … for professional players who practice putting hours upon hours every day. They get the putter face square to the ball virtually every time. When they miss a putt it’s because they misread the green or didn’t swing at the right speed. For your average golfer the anchoring, if done properly, is undoubtedly helpful.

The PGA makes their money from members. By that I mean average golfers. Many average golfers love anchoring. Many average golfers play gambling games with their friends while enjoying a round of golf. Many average golfers are older and the act of bending over a putt is not easy for them. Anchoring is very helpful in this regard when a longer putter is anchored against the chest. Many average golfers are rather upset that their friends are going to call them for a rules violation if they anchor their putter as they’ve been doing for twenty years.

The PGA could easily tell the USGA that they are going to ignore that rule for their members and their tournaments. Is it starting to sound interesting yet?

Now, obviously, the USGA can make whatever rule they want but just as obviously the PGA can choose to ignore it.

What will happen? I don’t know but I aim to keep watching. Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give my opinion on the subject.

I support the USGA’s decision as it’s their right to ban anchored putters, or square-grooves, or certain dimple patterns on a golf ball. I think the rules of the USGA should be followed by the PGA and by the players of the game, even at a casual level. However, I think that if a group of players wants to “give” a putt of less than the length of the grip on the putter, that’s fine as long as they all agree. Winter rules, Mulligan, all of these things are against the official rules of golf but if a foursome agrees to them then what’s the problem? I say let anchored putting fall into the same category. If the group says it’s OK, it’s OK.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (follow Jon Gray as he tries to find the legendary sword)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Women at Augusta National

AugustaNationalToday I’m returning to my true love, the sporting world. I love sports. My mom is a St. Louis Cardinal fanatic and has season tickets. I’m a huge St. Louis Rams fan (yes, I know they suck, no need to comment on it, repeatedly) and have season tickets. I love the St. Louis Blues! My buddy Jeff has season tickets to Mizzou and I’m loving the idea of traveling to some beautiful stadiums in the SEC over the next few years. But, today’s topic is golf, specifically Augusta National Golf Club’s decision to allow women into their ranks.

Judging by talk radio and conversations with friends at work this is apparently a controversial issue. I really don’t understand why it’s such a big deal one way or the other. People seem to be up in arms that Augusta was pressured into allowing women or that Augusta National was so backwards as to not allow women for all those years. I just don’t see it as a big deal either way.

Augusta National is a private club and they can allow whoever they want to be a member. Women are citizens of the country with full constitutional rights and it is well within their power to ask to be members of the club. Organizations that want to protest or pull their money from Augusta National are fully within their rights to do so. We have a long history in this country of boycotts and protests which are largely protected by the Constitution. I absolutely support Augusta National’s right to not admit anyone they don’t want to admit. I likewise support any organization’s right to boycott or protest this policy.

For many years August National did not allow women and for many years people protested. For whatever reason Augusta National decided to invite a couple of women into their ranks. Good for them. Not that many years ago a similar controversy rose over the admission of minorities. Augusta National eventually invited a minority member. Tiger Woods understandably didn’t like their previous policy and it would have been well within his rights to refuse to play at the club because of those policies. Likewise, the club might well have said, fine, don’t play.

This is in many ways exactly what the United States is all about as a country. We have personal freedoms and this is a good thing. I find it mildly upsetting that both sides are so up in arms that it’s become a controversy but, by my own argument, that’s ok also!

As a fairly good writer once wrote, Much Ado about Nothing.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire