PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club



The Grind

Tiger Woods’ encouraging videos, Karl-Anthony Towns’ prodigious power, and an all-time heartbreaking penalty

October 10, 2023

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we couldn’t be more excited to be growing the game. That’s right, my oldest daughter, Julia, recently started a town rec golf class. And it looks like we’ve got a future LPGA star on our hands:

OK, so we’ve got a ways to go before we declare her the next Lexi. But to be fair, those were literally her first couple of swings. And the most important thing is that she seems to like it. So far. So at the very least, we could end up like this father-daughter duo:

Anyway, that’s the dream—especially if it involves me playing more golf, too. Fingers crossed! In the meantime, here’s what else is going on in the game.

WE’RE BUYING

Luke List: This guy became an instant favorite of every golf writer with a Sunday night deadline. There’s a better chance the Knicks win the NBA title this season than that five-man playoff had of ending before darkness, but List delivered with this 70-foot bomb:

The Sanderson Farms Championship victory gave him two career PGA Tour titles. And the coveted rooster trophy. Which his kids already named:

Adorable. And creative. My kids girls would have dubbed it “Roostie” or “Rooster.”

Matt Fitzpatrick/Susan Fitzpatrick: Speaking of family affairs, how about Matt and his mom, sorry, MUM, winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Pro-Am? And Mrs. F did more than just watch her son, contributing seven shots alone on Sunday during a final-round 59 that gave the duo a dominant five-shot victory.

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Octavio Passos

Good for them. And good for Matt, who also won the individual portion of the rain-shortened event for his ninth career DP World Tour title. After coming off a literal Ryder Cup hangover, no less! Very impressive.

Karl-Anthony Towns’ power: But maybe not quite as impressive as this NBA star’s power off the tee. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ big man has previously claimed to hit 400-yard drives, but we certainly believe him now after seeing these jaw-dropping simulator numbers:

A 7-footer hitting a 7-iron 231 yards?! With a swing speed of 101.8 mph and a ball speed of 138.1?! By the way, the PGA Tour average with a 7-iron is 90 and 120. So those numbers are pretty remarkable. We’re not sure what KAT’s handicap is, but we’re fairly certain he could have a career in long drive competitions. What a talent!

WE’RE SELLING

Ben Griffin’s finish: The former mortgage loan officer (Yes, he quit golf for a bit to get a regular job) led the entire weekend in his quest for a first PGA Tour title until the 72nd hole. Then a bogey—with his mom watching—ruined a storybook ending:

At least, for now. Griffin put together a strong rookie season, including his first PGA Tour runner-up, so he’ll be back. And in the meantime, check him out on TikTok, where he’s getting attention, especially for this video he made breaking down his average weekly expenses:

@bengriffingolf Traveling ain’t cheap! How much I spend a week on tour #golf #pgatour #travel ♬ original sound - Ben Griffin

Good stuff, Ben. Maybe he’ll do one about high mortgage rates next.

Losing your tour card on a penalty: At least Griffin is living his dream of being a PGA Tour pro. Shad Tuten came as close as you can to that before having it ripped away. To be fair, the mistake was his own doing, but Tuten wound up losing his card because of this two-stroke penalty late in the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship:

Just brutal stuff. We can only hope that when he does make it to the PGA Tour, this incident will make his story that much better. Oh, and congrats to all 30 guys who did earn their PGA Tour cards for next season. Just remember, stay on top of all your expenses!

Caring this much about golf shoes: Look, as someone who buys his sneakers at Costco I'm probably the last person people want to hear from on this, but people are nuts. There are golfers willing to enter a raffle to have the right to go to some store in London and then take a golf test? Just so they can be able to purchase, if they pass said test, some new Travis Scott Air Jordans for $200?

Wild stuff. But again, not my scene. I’ve never even heard of Travis Scott. But I’ll let you know if he ever comes out with a line of shoes they sell at Costco.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads West to the Shriners Children’s Open, AKA that one they play in Las Vegas. Tom Kim will be defending a PGA Tour title for the first time (he had to skip the Wyndham Championship in August with an injury) and Lexi Thompson will be making her PGA Tour debut. That’s right, Lexi Thompson. The timing seems curious considering she’s having the worst season of her career at 28, (*channeling Stephen A. Smith*) HOWEVAH, she’s coming off her two best results of that season, plus that strong showing at the Solheim Cup. Anyway, go Lexi. And go Team Old on Thursday at the annual Golf Digest Seitz Cup. Yep, I’m on Team Old. As if the Costco shoes stuff wasn’t already a total giveaway.

Random tournament fact: Patrick Cantlay has finished runner-up in this event three of the past five years (he also won in 2017), but he won’t be in Vegas because he’s honeymooning (we assume somewhere in Europe) with his new bride. That’s good news for the rest of the field because he absolutely owns TPC Summerlin.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Patrick Cantlay will miss being in Vegas this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Lexi Thompson will make the cut in Vegas: 15-to-1 odds (Actual odds)

—People will be questioning Susan Fitzpatrick's handicap index: LOCK

PHOTO/TWEET/INSTAGRAM OF THE WEEK

What an absolute honor it must have been for Tiger Woods and Max Homa to meet a guy who has made nine albatrosses.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

Good to know, CPG. This dad will keep that in mind.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (GOAT DIVISION)

Hey look, everybody! TIGER IS BACK!

OK, so he’s just hitting some easy wedge shots, but it’s great to see Big Cat swinging any club again. It’s been six months since we saw him in action at Augusta. Let’s hope it’s not another six months before we see him playing for real again.

And how about 11-year-old Holden Bautista making a hole-in-one AND being congratulated by Tiger?

Of course, it’s all downhill from here, young man, but still, amazing stuff. Congrats.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (FUTURE LEGENDS DIVISION)

Introducing Tad Griffin, AKA “Clutch Mikey,” a high school senior who delivered arguably the most electric post-round interview in golf history following his final match:

Talk about dressing for the job you want. Good luck getting that NIL deal with Waffle House, Tad. Or just getting a job there.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (FIGHT DIVISION)

Another week, another golf course fight goes viral. And this time it’s quite the group effort!

Why does it always seem to be guys wearing pink involved in these shenanigans?

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (DOG DIVISION)

How about this guy playing golf while taking TEN dogs for a walk?

I have enough trouble keeping track of my 14 clubs out there, so good for him.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (MAD DOG DIVISION)

This Ryder Cup rant from our buddy Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is an instant classic.

Sorry, Team USA.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Shout-out to former NL MVP and current Turner Sports MLB analyst Jimmy Rollins for hopping on the podcast this week. And then for wanting to show us his new clubs. Have a listen:

Like it says in his Instagram bio, the dude is an “Avid golfer.” And, apparently, a former star trumpet player as well as a fellow former child actor. Talented dude. So remember to (COMPANY PLUG ALERT!) check him out this month on TBS and MAX during the NL Playoffs.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION ANTAGONISM

Well played, Shane.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I can't believe watching it that you can't see my legs shaking. I couldn't feel anything. Like my legs were like full-blown vibrating. Like I had 50 phones tied to my legs and everyone was calling me. It was wild. I watched it again last night and I don't know how I made it. But that mother------ was right in the goddamn middle. Like it was the best putt ever." —Max Homa delivering arguably the quote of the year on the No Laying Up podcast. You nailed it, Max. Both the description and the putt.

THIS AND THAT

Greg Norman’s new Shell Bay Club sure looks fancy and comes with a $1 million(!) membership fee. More like Shell Out Bay Club, am I right? . . . Congrats to Hyo Joo Kim on winning the Ascendant LPGA for her sixth career LPGA Tour title and going over the $2 million mark in 2023. She can afford to join Greg Norman's new club! . . . The Phoenix Suns will have a putting green in their new $100 million practice facility expected to be ready sometime this spring. So when they get eliminated from the playoffs a few weeks later, the guys will be in mid-season short-game form. . . . And, finally, a huge congrats to Daria Delfino on winning the 2023 Golf Digest Match Play Championship! This was the live stream capturing the final hole of the championship match at Winged Foot West!

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Of all the dramatic things! Daria did what no one had ever done in the event’s (two-year) history, including my two failed attempts in last year’s final and this year’s semifinal: Take down defending champ Greg Snedeker. And she did it as a plus-1.5 handicap! What a champion.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Will I ever win the Golf Digest Match Play Championship?

Were Max Homa’s legs shaking while standing next to Michael Block?

How long should I wait before buying kids' golf clubs?