Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

Forget the POY and Solheim Cup controversy; here are the REAL hot-button golf debates

September 22, 2015

Golf presented two top-notch barroom arguments -- or "barguments," if you will -- over the weekend. The first involved Suzann Pettersen belatedly informing Alison Lee that she had not conceded Lee's picked-up putt, a shot that ultimately decided their match at the Solheim Cup.

The other, while not as controversial, is just as popular: Does Jason Day's late-season hot streak merit Player of the Year honors, an award that seemingly was already bestowed to Jordan Spieth?

One problem: These matters, while contentious, are, in reality, no contests. If Pettersen wanted Lee to attempt the putt, she shouldn't have walked away. Hell, Pettersen's teammate cried at her actions. Plus, she already apologized. Last I checked, you don't apologize if you're in the right. (Note: That sound you hear is all married guys wincing.)


As for Day-Spieth, here's my evaluation: If offered the chance, would the Aussie be willing to trade his accomplishments for Spieth's 2015 campaign? I don't know what his answer would be, but likely he'd contemplate on the matter. Spieth, on the other hand, would turn down that proposition in a heartbeat. Spieth is your Player of the Year.

Now that those counterfeit clashes have been settled, it's time to examine the true hot-button issues in the sport. The affairs that divide the room, turn brother against brother and spur lifetime rifts. Here are the real debates in golf, along with our takes on these discourses:

Do you get two off the first tee?

Also known as the "breakfast ball" postulate, many players believe they have the right to hit a second ball off No. 1 if their first shot is a wayward attempt. Personally, this is one back-n-forth I abhor. No one likes starting their round punching out from the trees, but tough ****. Other sports don't begin with a do-over. Neither should golf.

Putt or chip from the fringe?

There's a reason "Your best chip is your worst putt" is one of the most common short-game proverbs. Unless you have to navigate a second wave of fringe towards the hole, go with the flatstick.


John Daly: Derelict or Demigod?

It would be easy, and not necessarily wrong, to claim a person's age is a factor in this discussion, with those of a younger persuasion leaning towards the pro-JD camp. However, Daly is close to turning 50; plenty of his fans from the early '90s are advancing in years as well.

Sure, some -- okay, most -- of Daly's trials and tribulations are worthy of a head shake. But, while often guilty of embarrassing moments, he's ultimately had a positive impact on the sport. In short, JD gets the thumbs up in our corner.

Is it appropriate to wear cargo shorts to golf?

Given that it's no longer 1995, no, it is not.

Is Happy Gilmore a good movie?

I'm 29 years old, so, in theory, this movie should be right in my wheelhouse. Certainly there are redeeming qualities to the film: Shooter McGavin, one of the all-time cinema villains; the Bob Barker cameo; the Happy Gilmore swing; the fact a driving range would post a 400-yard sign; Verne Lundquist; Julie Bowen.

However, as a whole, the movie, in this man's eyes, falls short. I don't necessarily hate Adam Sandler, but his schtick doesn't do it for me, either. Maybe I've seen it too many times, or I'm holding it to Caddyshack standards, which is admittedly a pretty tough yardstick. Nevertheless, Happy Gilmore is best consumed via YouTube moments rather than a start-to-finish viewing.

Seriously, when do you make someone hole a "gimme" putt?

We've gotten too liberal with the pick-up putt. There's no better sound than your Titleist hitting the bottom of the cup; why are you short-changing yourself from that moment? Besides, if a putt IS a gimme, than what should be so hard about making it?

Walk or ride?

Confession: I'm a tad of a hypocrite here, as I've always been one to advocate walking, and I still do. Extra exercise, more awareness with your round and your know the spiel.

Unfortunately, close to half of my rounds this summer were played with a golf cart, simply because I could get 18 holes in under two hours with wheels.

Save your condemnation; the shame in my mirror is enough of a punishment.


Who was better: Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus?

Unless Mr. Woods puts forth quite the comeback effort in his 40s, this is no longer a question.

Is golf a sport?

It's on SportsCenter; it's in the Olympics; it's participants are cataloged on the Forbes' highest-paid athletes list; it meets the Merriam-Webster definition of sport ("physical activity engaged in for pleasure: a particular activity" - although some might debate the 'pleasure' part).

As for the cons: Golfers wouldn't be able to withstand the physical activity of other sports (neither would Bartolo Colon or any NFL offensive lineman); golfers are occasionally out of shape (so was the entire NBA after the 1999 Lockout); you can do it while inebriated (didn't stop David Wells from pitching in the majors).

I know, shocking a man that writes at Golf Digest would call golf a sport. And you undoubtedly have your own opinions on these subjects, some which differ.

But, as I'm often reminded, it is better to question a matter without coming to agreement than to settle a question without debating it.