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Less than twenty-four hours after the Washington Post published a video indicating you wouldn’t want your wife or daughter anywhere near Donald Trump in a singles bar eleven years ago, The Donald’s presidential campaign is in very serious trouble.  As I write this I think DT may be the single most hated living person in the history of mankind.  Hitler was a bad dude, no doubt, but while he was alive he was mostly just that crazy German with the funny mustache who led a country we were at war with.  The crime that justifiably cemented his place as history’s most horrific monster — the Holocaust — wasn’t known to most people until after he supposedly offed himself.

All that said, Trump can still win the 2016 presidential election.  His path is a very narrow one, however, and he better get started on it at Sunday night’s debate:

1. He needs to own — but not apologize for — his 2005 comments.  If I were him I’d say something like this.  “I am embarrassed by those 2005 comments.  Not because I didn’t make them — I obviously did.  And not because, like at least one other older gentleman in this room, I didn’t act boorishly toward women from time to time back then.   I am embarrassed about them — and regret making them — because they do not reflect who I am as a man now.  I won’t apologize for my comments — this was a private conversation with one other person that I didn’t know was being secretly taped, and if we all had to apologize to everyone for every bad thing we ever said in private conversations that’s all we’d be doing.   All I can say is that I stand before you, embarrassed.”

2. He needs to equalize, or at least close the gap on, the character question.  Something like this.  “I’m not perfect.  The Clintons aren’t either.  Former President Clinton’s way with the ladies while married was — and remains — well known.  Books have been written about what Hillary did to Bill’s accusers — all because of her personal ambition (remember what Colin Powell said about her “unbridled ambition” in a private e-mail — I’ll while calling her “friend”?).  Books, too, have been written about how she treats people she thinks are beneath her — and I’ve witnessed it first hand.  To their credit, President Clinton’s ways with the ladies did not translate into anti-women policies; his administration did pass the Family Medical Leave Act and, if elected president, I would build on that.  But the truth is that if you were voting for a “Character in Chief,” you might just stay home.”

Trump needs to narrow the character gap by any means necessary.

Trump needs to narrow the character gap by any means necessary.

But you are not voting for a Character in Chief.  You are voting for president of the United States — the operative part of that being “of the United States.”

Which brings me to my third and final point.

3. He needs to reframe the question to two words — “open borders.”  At this point Trump cannot win with the standard issues.  He can’t insist, for example, that his economic plan is “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as he did earlier this week.  Hillary is for jobs, too.  He can’t win with lower taxes because that’ll be derided in the media as “trickle down.” He has to do what he should have done a long time ago — frame the debate as one of “country” and specifically one without open borders.  Something like this: “I understand many people hate me for lots of reasons, not the least of which are those private comments I made in 2005.  But when you cast your vote, don’t be distracted: don’t forget that the nation, at least as we know it now, may be at stake.  I want to significantly tighten up border security and focus on Americans first.  Secretary Clinton wants open borders — something we just learned she said she”dreamed” of in a speech before a Brazilian bank in 2013.  She wouldn’t be the only one in the First Bed who thinks that: Bill Clinton has said that America “has great obligations to open our borders” and that establishing a “genuine global community”—complete with an “over-arching system” to regulate it— is the “the great mission of the 21st century.”  In other words, Hillary Clinton is not for America first, she is for globe first.   She wants to resettle hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants not because it would be good for America, but because it would be good for them.  If you elect her, you and your children won’t be more safe with her open borders.  And don’t be surprised if, within a generation or so, the United States as we know it ceases to exist.”

DT needs to reframe the question as one of open borders.

DT needs to reframe the question as one of open borders…

“Think I’m crazy?  Remember: things happen very fast nowadays.  Eight years ago opposition to gay marriage was well and fine.  A few years later it was “let’s leave it to the states.”  Nowadays if you voice any opposition to gay marriage it’s all but hate speech.   Remember when three words together “all lives matter” was a sensible proposition?  That’s basically hate speech, too.  Remember the days when shooting police was the worst thing a person could do?  Me, too, because it wasn’t that long ago.  Now we’re told we need to understand why people would do such a thing.   The country is changing fast, folks, and if you’re not careful, with your vote you can change it right out of existence.”

and make an abstract issue a personal one.

and make an abstract issue a personal one.

I’m not optimistic that The Donald can pull this off.  He’ll be facing a less-than-moderate moderator, in front of an audience that’ll be hostile (if he’s lucky), coming off 48 of the toughest hours of his life.   He needs to do all this without blaming a wildly unfair media.  And he’ll need to come off as folksy and contrite, neither of which I’ve seen yet.  Still, the path is there.  If he doesn’t find it fast, one or more members of a very-much-less-safe Jenkins family may one day pay for it with their lives.

We won’t be the only ones.

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A few days ago I penned a piece in this space that I titled “The Tragedy That Was The U.S. Open At Chambers Bay.”  In hindsight I regret the title: as I explained near the bottom of that column, the national open in my beloved home state wasn’t all bad:

Jordan Spieth’s Grand-Slam-maintaining victory meant the right guy won (Cameron Smith or Brendan Grace, not so much).  Eight guys finished under par — well more than average for a U.S. Open in recent years — and Spieth’s minus 5 winning score was certainly more palatable than, say, plus 5.  (Angel Cabrera and Geoff Ogilvy at 2007 Oakmont and 2006 Winged Foot, respectively.)  The cream rose to the top: the world’s second-best player won, and of the top eleven finishers, ten are ranked top 50 in the world. There were a few decent places to actually see some action — most notably left of the ninth tee and above no. 14.

The record-breaking merchandise was outstanding: I spent a bundle in the main swag tent, and the Lee Wybranski water color I picked up on Wednesday will be on my office wall by week’s end. The big picture setting showcased the Pacific Northwest’s stunning beauty.  Not all the greens were awful: the putting surfaces at 7 and 13 were reportedly fine if a bit fast.  The weather was chamber-of-commerce perfect.  The marshals didn’t enforce the “no photos” rule, which enabled me to take the photos above as well as some decent selfies and groupies.

And the drama of Sunday’s remarkable finish will be tough for the golf-is-boring crowd to rebut. Already Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte is reporting that it’s not a question of if but when the U.S. Open will return – not, I’m sure, before the course gets a serious overhaul.

What was undoubtedly tragic, however, was the spectator experience.  Aside from the CourseCast radios (provided by American Express) and the stunning views (provided by Mother Nature), it stunk.  And since I am not a guy to complain without offering solutions, here are a few ideas the USGA might consider in no particular order:

1.   Level some of the hillocks.  This has been said so often by so many that I take it as given it’ll be done.  I’m not sure, however, that it will solve much: a small hillock is just as slippery as a tall one.

2.   Allow fans to flank both sides of the first- and tenth fairways — at least up to the hillocks.  Spectators closely flank the fairways at every event on the PGA Tour.  There’s no reason whatsoever that this couldn’t be done at Chambers, especially in the first few hundred yards of nos. 1 and 10.

3.   Narrow the fairways.  The fairways at Chambers were mighty wide — at least 100 yards on No. 13 I’m told.  Narrower fairways let fans get closer to the players, especially if they decide to:

4.  Put the ropes a lot closer to the fairways.  Check out this selfie:

Wed

Notice how far away the ropes are from the wildly-wide-to-begin-with fairway?  It was like that all over the place, except on holes like no. 8 where, because fans weren’t allowed, there were no ropes at all.  Players don’t need thirty yards of fan-free rough to make their way through the championship.

   5.  Improve the f&B experience.  Last week the concession stands were few and far between and the lines for lunch in the Spectator Pavilion were thirty minutes long on Saturday.  Waiting half an hour for a $7 Bud Light is downright un-American.   Some simple fixes:

  • Install more, if smaller, concession stands.  I can’t tell you how many times I pointed out spots where I wish there’d have been concession stands — but they weren’t there.
  • Simplify the menu.  At Augusta National there were roughly two dozen items on the menu — total.  At the Spectator Pavilion at Chambers I’m guessing there were closer to 100.  The U.S. Open doesn’t need to be Starbucks: in this case, simpler would be better.  And while I’m at it, the USGA doesn’t need multiple f&b vendors, as there were at the Spectator Pavilion.  One, a la Augusta National, should suffice.  Make a decent pb&j ubiquitous, a la Augusta’s pimento cheese sandwich, and you’re really on to something.  (Buffet lines instead of single-file ones would be nice, too — at least at the larger concession stands.)
    Not exactly a pimento cheese sandwich.

    If priced and made correctly, the pb&j could become the U.S. Open’s version of …

    the Masters' pimento cheese.

    the Masters’ pimento cheese.

  • Lower the prices — especially on beer. At Augusta National domestic beers were $4 — up from $3 last year — and the suds were flowin’.  At Chambers, Bud Lights ran $7 — and the hops consumption was largely absent amongst the riff raff.  More beer makes the day better for most folks, and there’s no reason the non-profit USGA needs to price beer like it’s running a ballpark.
  • Do promos.  Maybe every 5,000th beer gets free tickets to the next year’s U.S. Open.  Or the 10,000th pb&j gets U.S. Open tickets for life.  Something to get fans extra excited about digging into their wallets.

  6.  Set up several grandstands on the path alongside 16 and 17.  A half dozen grandstands behind which spectators could walk would make 16 and 17 great stadium-like experiences and would be great vantage points to watch the action. I wouldn’t make them too tall — those passing trains were very much part of the Chambers landscape and it would be nice to keep them in sight.  (Brendan Grace coulda used these on his 71st hole.)

aa

Imagine a grandstand on the gravel to the left of where the people are walking.  Might have helped Brendan Grace.

   7. Sell folding chairs and create designated seating areas.  One of the coolest things at Augusta National is what I call “the chair thing.” Most “patrons” buy or bring in a $30 folding chair.  It fits in a chair bag and comes with a shoulder strap so you can carry it like a rifle.  We — and tens of thousands of others — marked our chairs as “ours” by dropping our business cards in the business card slot.  From there, we left ’em open for anyone and everyone to sit, usually in areas that ANGC had roped off as designated for sitting.  When we wanted our seats back, all we had to do was tell the people sitting in them.  Instant desired seating — provided by the fans.  Thousands of other patrons did the same thing.  Do that anywhere and everywhere at Chambers Bay — the USGA’s revenue spikes, spectators have places to chill, slippage becomes less of a concern — and the chairs are all anyone’s talkin’ about.  (Tan, though, not Masters green.)

during the final round of the 2013 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.

    8.  Create an inside-the-ropes ticket.  Remember GolfWatch?  Back in the mid-90’s, the PGA Tour experimented with an idea of letting fans pay extra for premium tickets.  Fans who were willing to pay for it could walk in a designated lane inside the ropes, thus effectively giving themselves front row seats on every hole.  GolfWatch didn’t stick, but at Chambers Bay a similar program might make sense.  The reason is those hillocks.  It’s not a great idea to open them up to everyone — there’d be just too many spills But if the only people on said hillocks were people willing to pay for the privilege, chances are the crowds would be young, nimble — and happy.  (I’m thinking specifically about the hills on 1, 10 and 12 here.)

    9.  Allow dads and kids inside the ropes on 18 on Sunday.  You know how the British Open used to let fans inside the ropes on the final hole of the championship?  The USGA could do something similar on 18 on Sunday — dads and their kids only.

Like most of my ideas, these aren’t perfect.  I have no idea, for example, what it would cost to add grandstands to the right of 16 and 17.  I have not considered the security ramifications of my dads-and-kids-inside-the-ropes idea.  (The R&A presumably dropped that tradition for a reason.)  And a lot of these concepts obviously come straight from Augusta, and the USGA may be sensitive to accusations of copying.  Still, they’re starting points.

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As a Northwest golfer, avid-to-rabid fan of professional golf and early buyer of 2015 U.S. Open tickets, I really wanted our national championship at Chambers Bay to succeed. It didn’t. In fact, it was an almost-epic failure.

For spectators – I was one for three days — the USGA would have had to try to make the experience worse. The walk in from the inland (east) entrances yielded spectacular, pride-inspiring views from the top ridge that I suspect are unparalleled in championship golf.

DSC06176

 

Ridge

 

IMG_4254

After that – yikes.

The sand dune amphitheaters were supposed to make spectacular places to watch the action – but the USGA had almost all of them roped off. I get that call – safety first – but closing the dunes made them walls, and towering ones at that.

An enduring image of Chambers Bay -- nothing.

An enduring image of Chambers Bay — nothing.

I caught a glimpse of Henrik Stenson on the 12th tee.

I caught a glimpse of Henrik Stenson on the 12th tee.

Then there was the spectator routing. Getting close to a player while he was playing was only slightly easier than getting close to Obama. (I did, I proudly admit, almost back into Henrik Stenson on his way to the 12th tee on Saturday.) And it was impossible – and I mean literally impossible – to follow a group around: five of the holes were completely closed to spectators.

Path

Lots of walking, not much to see.

Although it was tough to see golfers actually PLAYING GOLF, I did get a nice photo of Miguel Angel Jimenez leaving a san-i-can.

Although it was tough to see golfers actually PLAYING GOLF, I did get a nice photo of Miguel Angel Jimenez leaving a san-i-can.

Morgan Hoffmann played in something akin to pajamas on Thursday, but because the fans were so far from the action, very few people could tell.

Morgan Hoffmann played in something akin to pajamas on Thursday, but because the fans were so far from the action, very few people could tell.

Concessions?  In a word: terrible. The stands were sporadic and the f&b was overpriced — I paid $5 for a Dove bar on top of my buddy Jeff’s $6 lemon water, which they marketed as “lemonade.” I paid $3 for some sort of packaged pb&j concoction which ought to be the subject of a federal ban. The lines? Well, Jeff and I stood in a lunch line for thirty minutes on Saturday – me, for an undercooked $6 hot dog and $7 Bud Light.  Contrast that with Augusta National, where the lines ran about fifteen seconds, the beers $4 and the pimento cheese sandwiches $1.50.

Not exactly a pimento cheese sandwich.

Not exactly a pimento cheese sandwich.

The USGA even screwed up the grandstands. On Saturday my buddy Warren and I found our way to the grandstand on the downhill par three 15th.   The players were too far back to see them on the tee without a great pair of binoculars. Fans with good eyes could see shots in the air, but the pin was so far back that we had to look over the side of the grandstand to see players putt out. No doubt there were better grandstands out there, but with the policy of allowing fans to come and go as they please, getting a seat in one was no easy task.  All this, mind you, on a course that was reportedly built specifically to host the U.S. Open.

As for the player experience – where to start? No one much cared for the aforementioned gallery-free holes – Phil Mickelson reportedly called them “eerie.”

The fan-free eighth hole.

The fan-free eighth hole.

And then there were the much-maligned putting surfaces, known on most courses as “greens.” I’ve thought from the day the USGA announced it was coming to University Place that they’d have to do something about the putting surfaces. Whatever they did didn’t work. Whether you thought they were more akin to broccoli (Stenson) or cauliflower (Rory McIlroy), it’s never a good thing when balls break, well, zigzag, as Darren Clarke’s birdie putt did on no. 12 on Friday. I’m not sure that they were the worst greens the PGA Tour has seen in recent years – Billy Horschel said they were while Brandt Snedeker said he’s played worse. (More.)  But when the discussion has the word “worst” in it — well, let’s just say the career prospects of Chambers’ greenskeeper aren’t much better than Monica Lewinsky’s.

The championship wasn’t a complete bust. Jordan Spieth’s Grand-Slam-maintaining victory meant the right guy won (Cameron Smith or Brendan Grace, not so much).  Eight guys finished under par — well more than average for a U.S. Open in recent years — and Spieth’s minus 5 winning score was certainly more palatable than, say, plus 5.  (Angel Cabrera and Geoff Ogilvy at 2007 Oakmont and 2006 Winged Foot, respectively.)  The cream rose to the top: the world’s second-best player won, and of the top eleven finishers, ten are ranked top 50 in the world. There were a few decent places to actually see some action — most notably left of the ninth tee and above no. 14:

9 tee

14 tee

The record-breaking merchandise was outstanding: I spent a bundle in the main swag tent, and the Lee Wybranski water color I picked up on Wednesday will be on my office wall by week’s end. The big picture setting showcased the Pacific Northwest’s stunning beauty.  Not all the greens were awful: the putting surfaces at 7 and 13 were reportedly fine if a bit fast.  The weather was chamber-of-commerce perfect.  The marshals didn’t enforce the “no photos” rule, which enabled me to take the photos above as well as some decent selfies and groupies.

Wed

Todd, Adam, Tim Smith and me -- the Wednesday foursome.

Todd, Adam, Tim Smith and me — the Wednesday foursome.

Jeff Benezra and me on Friday.

Jeff Benezra and me on Friday.

Warren Gouk and me on Sunday.  (Not shown: Baron Kofoed and Chris White.)

Warren Gouk and me on Sunday. (Not shown: Baron Kofoed and Chris White.)

And the drama of Sunday’s remarkable finish will be tough for the golf-is-boring crowd to rebut. Already Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte is reporting that it’s not a question of if but when the U.S. Open will return – not, I’m sure, before the course gets a serious overhaul.

Still, it was fitting that the 2015 U.S. Open was decided by a putting surface debacle. Dustin Johnson had a twelve footer on the 72nd hole to go down in history. He missed it, and when he gaffed the three-foot comebacker he became a tragic figure in this week’s U.S. Open.

He wasn’t the only one.

 

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As both my readers know, I am no Tiger Woods fan. My considerable Tiger shirt collection notwithstanding, I have called him the anti-role model on this very blog. And just when I thought it was difficult for me to dislike the guy any more, Dropgate happened.

If you’ve been on the moon since then, what happened on Friday afternoon slash Saturday morning is sure to be discussed to death in country club grill rooms for years to come. In brief, Tiger hit a perfect wedge shot to the green at no. 15 during Friday’s second round – so perfect, in fact, that it caromed off the flagstick and into the water hazard. Clearly flustered, Tiger weighed his drop options and, as he would later state in a post-round interview, dropped a ball two yards behind where he’d previously hit from so that he could take the same swing he’d just taken and not hit the flagstick again.

I was watching this on my couch and suspected he’d done something wrong, but I didn’t call in to that invisible guy you call to report rules violations. But someone did, and the Masters rules committee was made aware of the situation as Tiger played the 18th hole. The problem: under the drop rule under which he ostensibly proceeded, Tiger was required by rule to drop his ball as nearly as possible to the spot from where he last hit on pain of a two-stroke penalty. As ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski detailed (more), the committee decided before Tiger signed his scorecard that he had done nothing wrong. Amazingly, no one bothered to discuss the issue with Tiger after he completed his round or before he signed his scorecard. So Tiger signed his scorecard and gave the aforementioned, televised post-round interview where he admitted to dropping the ball two yards back of where he took his previous shot.

Tiger blew it -- in more ways than one.

Tiger blew it — in more ways than one.

Woops.

According to Wojciechowski, Masters rules committee chairman Fred Ridley was made aware of what Tiger said in his interview at 10 pm on Friday night. Faced now with what amounted to new evidence – Tiger’s unwitting admission – the committee reconsidered its previous decision and determined that it had gotten it wrong. Tiger’s drop was illegal after all. Tiger should have been assessed a two-stroke penalty — but he wasn’t. Technically, therefore, he signed an incorrect scorecard, a big-time no-no in the world of golf.

So here’s my take. First, Tiger’s drop was clearly illegal. Given the relief option he chose, Tiger was required by rule to take his drop as near as possible to the spot he took his last stroke from. Two yards back from that spot is clearly not that. Tiger, therefore, should have signed for an 8 on his scorecard instead of a 6. On this there is no debate.

Second, given its handling of the situation, the rules committee at least arguably made the correct call by assessing Tiger a two-stroke penalty rather than outright DQing him. Under rule 33-7, the competition committee “may in exceptional cases” waive the disqualification penalty. What made Friday’s case “exceptional” wasn’t the fact that it involved Tiger Woods or that it was The Masters – the rules committee wouldn’t soil the integrity of its much-revered competition with reasoning like that. Nor was it the fact that Tiger didn’t know he took an illegal drop when he took it: there is a specific Rules Decision (33-7/4.5) that says “ignorance of the rules or facts that the player could have discovered prior to signing his scorecard” are not sufficient reasons to waive to the disqualification penalty. What made this case “exceptional” was the rules committee’s botching of it — twice. First, it incorrectly concluded while Tiger was still playing that his drop was fine when it obviously wasn’t. (I wonder if the committee would have exonerated a certain fourteen-year old Chinese amateur with such alacrity.) Second, it didn’t take the very easy step of addressing the situation with Tiger before he signed his scorecard – an inexplicable error if ever there was one. The committee could have prevented Tiger from signing an incorrect scorecard, as the PGA did with Dustin Johnson after he brushed sand in a bunker on the 72nd hole at the 2010 PGA Championship. It just didn’t. The committee concluded, therefore, that it would have been, in Ridley’s words, “grossly unfair” to Tiger to disqualify him based on what he said in his interview when it could have prevented him from signing an incorrect scorecard.

This point is a lot closer than Ridley made it sound. Tiger’s exoneration happened without his knowledge, so effectively retracting that decision through disqualification doesn’t seem terribly unfair. Had Tiger relied on a ruling made by a rules official that turned out to be wrong, then “grossly unfair” would be an appropriate description. But that didn’t happen. The stronger argument is that it would be grossly unfair to use Tiger’s post-round interview against him but, from what I’ve read so far, that is not the argument the committee made.

Third, this situation will not mark the end of the “trial by TV viewer” era, as many players and commentators suggested yesterday. Cases where rules committees and players do not know about alleged rules infractions until after the player signed his scorecard will not be affected by this case, which PGA Tour player Aaron Oberholser curiously likened to “Supreme Court precedent.” Those cases will be unaffected because there will not be an intervening cause – a committee botch job – that would make disqualification “grossly unfair.” Ignorance of the rules or facts that the player could have discovered prior to signing his scorecard” remain an insufficient reason to waive the DQ penalty – by rule. Players will still get disqualified from time to time based on the minutest of infractions caught by guys on their couches with nothing better to do. Now, however, people will complain (wrongly) that there are two sets of rules – Tiger’s and everyone else’s.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, Tiger should have withdrawn. It is incumbent upon players to follow the rules. If a player does not know them, it is incumbent upon him to call in a rules official. In this case, Tiger was dealing with a rule with which most mid-handicappers are familiar – how and where to drop a ball after you’ve drenched one. He just botched it. If he had any uncertainty he could have called for a rules official: he didn’t do that, either. In the end, he never played a ball from where the rules required him to play it – a spot he intentionally avoided lest he hit the flagstick again. Whether he would have hit the flagstick again, or come up short with an incrementally softer swing – neither we nor any of his competitors will ever know. What we do know is that Tiger did not play the 15th hole by the rules of golf like the rest of the field did. And while it arguably would have been unfair to Tiger to be DQ’ed after the committee exonerated him without his knowledge, the flipside is also true: it is unfair to the other players for Tiger to remain in the field just because the committee could have saved him but didn’t. And inasmuch as most of those other players wouldn’t have been on TV, they would not have been entitled to the benefit of the committee blowing a ruling if they had been accused of a wrong drop by, say, an on-course fan. Tiger’s acceptance of the committee’s gesture, therefore, was not the honorable thing to do in this most honorable of games.

Then again, this is a guy who cheated on his wife with every Waffle House waitress from here to Tallahassee, who cusses like a sailor at the slightest mishit, who throws clubs in front of kids and who, as a 22-year old, refused to autograph a golf ball to help his colleagues Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade raise money for charity.

Honor is the furthest thing from this guy’s mind.

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I’ve long believed that people see others in Shakespearean terms — “to be or not to be.” From some we learn how to be — these some we call “role models.” I put my recently-deceased high school buddy Anthony King in that category. (More.) From others we learn how not to be — what I’d call “anti-role models.” I put my mom and most of the patients on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in that one.

I put Tiger Woods there, too. He built gobs of goodwill with me with his sticks — heck, I darn near have a section in my closet just for Nike golf garb. (Check out the pic in this entry.) But over the last few years he’s blown through it. After yesterday’s Masters telecast I’ll make it the official position of the Jenkins family parents vis-a-vis Reese and Finn: do not be like Tiger Woods.

His crime yesterday was being short — very short — with CBS interviewer Bill McAtee. The latter asked some fair questions in his quick interview with El Tigre after the latter had finished his final round — “Did you feel like you played well enough to win?,” “What will you do now?” etc. Not the stuff of Tim Russert to be sure, but par for the course for a thirty-second interview. Tiger’s curt responses — basically, “We’ll see” and “I’m gonna eat” — would have made Bill Bellichick blush. (More.) He didn’t even wait for MacAtee to sign off before he walked away. Must have been mighty hungry.

Cheetah’s post-round interview with Bill MacAtee was the latest example of him showing contempt for both the game and other professionals.

This was hardly Tiger at his worst. His philandering, club throwing and on-course profanity (YouTube: Tiger Woods profanity) are the stuff of legend. The first was done in private and isn’t my business, but the latter two, which have caught the scorn of some pretty big names in the golf world (1I2), are done on course, on camera, and all the time. I’m pretty sure Tiger yelled a “f–k yeah” after making eagle on 8 yesterday — this from a guy who’s publicly admitted he needs to show more respect for the game. (Ya think?) This MacAtee incident was not only on national TV — it was done directly to another professional, and a pretty good one at that.

Professionals just don’t do that to other professionals on national TV. Jack, Arnie, Ernie, Phil — none would have treated an interviewer so dismissively. Tiger’s suspicions that he’d probably come up a few strokes short in his quest for green jacket number five doesn’t justify it. Luke Donald, Adam Scott and Jason Day all came up short in their quests for their first ones, yet somehow they were able to handle their post-round interviews with the class the occasion demanded. Ditto for Rory McIlroy, a kid fourteen years Tiger’s junior who knew he’d just made history for all the wrong reasons with his epic final round collapse. (Watch.) But Tiger couldn’t. He may as well have jumped on top of his playing partner’s line. I’m sure MacAtee would have preferred it had Tiger just said Heismanned the interview request altogether. At least then he’d have been spared being disrespected in front of millions.

None of this is to say that I don’t respect Cheetah as a player — and playah, for that matter, so long as he’s not married. His career record is second to one, he’s dominated the last decade-plus inside the ropes like no other, and he pulls off shots I — and probably some of his peers — can’t even imagine. Nor is it to say I don’t think he treats his peers on Tour well — at least those in its upper echelon. Nor is it even to say he should be more like Phil Mickelson, the proverbial anti-Tiger. I like Phil some, but he’s not without fault either: his sheepish, family guy persona strikes me as a bit contrived. (According to this article in GQ, I’m not alone.) What it is to say is that he should be more like a good and decent human being. Not just to his peers and the corporate fat cats who butter his bread. To everyone — fans, writers, even announcers whose questions he may not like.

Until he does, that sound you hear coming from casa de Jenkins on Sunday afternoons will be the Jenkins Family parents rooting against him.

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I’m in the golf apparel mood right now. I’m buying it like the stores were closing (1I2I3) and I’m writing about it like I actually had readers — first the best-dressed players on the PGA Tour, then the worst, then a full-fledged How To guide just for Phil Mickelson. Today’s a rainy Monday and I don’t feel like paying bills or visiting the crumbling buildings of my empire. Thus I give my two readers my list of the best golf apparel brands of 2010.

A words on what I mean here. “Best” covers, in no particular order: quality; availability; innovation; design; brand; and price, with the last being first, second and maybe even third among equals. “Golf apparel” includes shirts, pants, sweaters, vests and hats — but not outwear and shoes. And I’m only focused on stuff for fellas. There’s lots of great gear out there for gals, but when the kids go to bed I’m not on the ‘net searching for great new skirts.

A word, too, on what it took to qualify for consideration on this, uh, elite list. The brand has to be fairly available in America. Thus, brands like Gabicci (Graeme McDowell) and Aquascutum (Adam Scott [more]) don’t qualify. And it has to have, at the very least, some focus on golf. Thus, Polo qualified for consideration but Burberry and Land’s End — both of which have great stuff that looks good on a golf course but have neither golf divisions nor golf-only lines — did not.

That all said, my top ten is as follows:

10. Dunning (of which I currently have one [1] piece). Nice stuff, but shirts are cut about a size too large and their standard poly fabric is way too heavy for summer wear … We did Dunning shirts for ’09 Greenspan and I’m confident not a single player reached for Dunning ever again … Reasonable price points … They just lost Zach Johnson, but word is they’re looking to become a broader-based lifestyle brand.
9. IJP Design (0). Ian Poulter’s trouser offering alone gets IJP on my list … Lacking a bit above the belt … Hat designer should be fired … High quality brings high price points to match.
8. Under Armour (2). Nice looking, reasonably priced stuff … Not the most exclusive of brands, but who cares? … Nothing earth-shattering in their golf stuff, but no big mistakes, either … The few UA golf shirts I have are among my favorites in a considerable collection.
7. Q’aja (0). London/Milan based, availability in U.S. is so limited that they arguably don’t even qualify for my list … Do custom stuff for Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, among others … Quality wise way at the top of the list, along with IJP and Peter Millar … Would be higher on my list if I lived in London.

Darren Clarke's Q'aja gear: I might have to add a piece to my bucket list.

6. iliac (1). New brand steeped in the trappings of tradition — sort of the golf equivalent of Polo by Ralph Lauren … Trouser offering is way up there in the marketplace (wish I could afford a pair of tartan plaid pants)… Aren’t going to make any money on volume right now, so whille the price points aren’t the worst on this list, they’re above my comfort zone … Oversized leather “i” shield doesn’t work well on the thinner cotton shirt sleeves … Not even a year out of the box and they’ve already landed Zach Johnson (late of Dunning) and David Duval (Nike), so unless they go completely sideways, ’11 is going to be a high-growth year.

iliac's signing of David Duval will make '11 a high-growth year.

5. Polo (1). The gold standard of preppy, country club golf … Virtually zero points for trendiness and innovation, and that oversized big pony logo has got to go.
4. Puma (5). A year ago Puma was nowhere in the American golf market. Now, there’s Rickie Fowler … High scores for trendiness and innovation, especially with their military caps, of which I own too many (pics: 1I2)… Lose a few points because much of their gear can only be worn by the under-40 set.

Rickie Fowler has single handedly launched Puma golf. Now if only he could fix his hats ...

3. Peter Millar (0). Head to toe, on and off the course, this may be the best clothing brand around … Nothing in the golf world eighteen months ago, PM now boasts no fewer than thirteen PGA Tour pros … If their Summar Comfort Mesh Classic Stripe polo isn’t the sharpest golf shirt on the market today, it’s damn close … Would be higher on this list but for its price points, which are too rich for my blood.
2. Greg Norman (2). The Greg Norman Collection is solid if not spectacular across the board with just enough double-thumbs-up pieces … Gets extra points for reasonable pricing, a function, no doubt, of volume … ’11’s collection, reportedly to be available at Macy’s, looks like it’ll be even better than ’10’s.

Greg Norman is near the top of his craft. Again.

1. Antigua (3). Close call here between Steve Stricker’s former apparel provider and the Great White Shark … Not a lot of home runs, but rock solid from top to bottom … Very reasonable prices put them ahead of higher-end, higher-quality brands like Peter Millar and Q’aja, which would be higher on my list if price wasn’t so important … The solid polo Antiguas we’ve had in Greenspans past are the most worn shirts any of us own … Underappreciated by clothies, no doubt, because of their lack of A-list Tour players, although Kevin Streelman and Billy Mayfair are solid reps … Could extend its lead by doing more in the innovation department … Longtime favorite at Greenspan Cup.

Notable but intentional ommissions:

  • Cutter & Buck (6). The Renton-based retailer has too many ugly colors and seems stuck somewhere around 2001. (Just picked up a bunch of it, however, at the factory giveaway.)
  • Nike (45-50 most pictured here). Its ’10 Tiger Collection stunk, and the rest of its golf wear is just too techie for me. Its ’11 stuff does look promising, however. (More.)
  • J. Lindeberg (0). Fine and good stuff if you have six percent body fat, but not a viable option for the rest of us. And those price points — yikes.
  • Adidas (0). I understand the need for the logo to be visible, but for Adidas the three stripes everywhere just overwhelms the clothes.
  • Ashworth (15). The Corey Pavin of golf brands: once at the top of the heap but couldn’t keep up with the new upstarts. (Not that I won’t buy it at the right price.)
  • Subjective? Yes. Open to debate? No doubt about it. Indeed, I can practically hear Jeff Benezra taking me to task for putting Puma and Polo ahead of IJP Design.

    No worries. That’s what friends — and lists — are for.

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    The second-best player of his generation doesn't look as good as he should.

    Depending on who you ask, Phil Mickelson is either among the best- or worst-dressed players on the PGA Tour. The Man in the Black Hat is in the former camp. (More.)

    I am firmly in the latter.

    On my 42-inch television, the world’s second-best player looks terrible. It’s not for lack of trying: according to Golf.com, the four-time major winner get his threads custom made by the folks at Q’aja Couture in London. They also do, inter alia, Darren Clarke, who may just be the best-dressed golfer alive. (Oh but what I wouldn’t give to get some duds custom made by that tailor.) My buddy Jeff Benezra and I have wondered aloud on more than one occasion: “what is Phil Mickelson thinking?

    All these conversations got me to thinking: If I were advising Phil Mickelson on his on-course fashion, what would I tell him?

    For a guy who makes $70 million/year, this look just ain't gettin' it done.

    And what I’d tell him is this:

    Dress yourself like a new Ford Mustang. Classic muscle with a modern twist.

    An empty statement in and of itself, I admit. But I’m not without particulars:

  • Wear better-fitting, and better-looking, shirts. If Phil’s custom-made shirts aren’t the worst on Tour, they’re close. (An example.) With his frame he’d be better off wearing shirts with pointier self collars and standard-length sleeves, a la Dunning Golf’s stretch solid polos. Standard-length sleeves would be a quantum leap forward from the ones he wears now, which belong only only guys named “Camilo,” and the pointed spread collars would give a crisp, sharp edge to a softish look. If he went with the longer sleeves he could get away with a tailored cut, which is what I’m sure he’d like to do, his considerble midsection notwithstanding. Of course, it would be easier altogether if he would wear looser-fitting shirts, as he does when he plays Ryder- and Presidents Cups. But this is Phil Mickelson we’re talking about: he’s not going to do anything conventional.
  • Stretch polos with pointed tab collars would look better on Phil than the button-tabbed, short-sleeved versions he currently favors.

    (Speaking of Dunning, the Man in the Black Hat says that the Toronto-based company is looking to expand beyond golf and become more of a lifestyle brand. (More.) I could see a worse ad campaign than Philly Mick being a family man in Dunning’s threads. Then again, his endorsement deal would probably run them the lion’s share of their annual gross revenues.)

  • Cut out the dark top/light bottom combos. Phil frequently wears dark tops with light bottoms. And the colors are hard — browns, deep greens, etc. This draws attention to his waste — a bad idea — and makes him appear top heavy. Better to reverse it, or:
  • Go with less varied top/bottom combos altogether. I’m not saying Rickie Fowler/Sergio Garcia unicolors here, but Phil would look a lot better without so many high-contrast pants-shirt combos. That combination splits him at the waste, thereby drawing attention to it. Not good. Instead of white pants and a dark brown shirt, for example, how about light gray pants, white shirt, and a light blue vest? Anything with more tonal consistency from head to toe would work better than what he’s doing now. I’m thinking Justin Leonard in his Ben Hogan/Polo days, or Tiger Woods most of the time. While he’s at it, it wouldn’t hurt to:
  • Throw something on those shirts. Right now he’s got piping and that’s about it. How about some argyle? Maybe some stripes. No doubt conventional wisdom is that heavy guys should stay away from horizontal stripes. But Phil ain’t foolin’ anyone now, so a few stripes wouldn’t hurt. Phil wears horizontal stripes in the team events, and he looks just fine.
  • Save for a few too many elbees, Phil wasn't too far off circa 2005.

  • Cut down on the bold colors. Phil does too many hard colors. He should move to more muted tones — light brown instead of dark chocolate brown, light blue instead of sea blue, etc. I’d say light pink a la Robert Allenby instead of ketchup red here, but Phil thinks he looks so bad in pink that he wouldn’t wear it on Breast Cancer Awareness Day in May, so that’s a no go.
  • Lengthen his sleeves and throw him in some muted tones as Corey Pavin did at the '10 Ryder Cup and Phil can look quite good.

  • Lose the thick belts in favor of standard-width ones. The thick belts he’s favoring these day draw attention to his gut. Never a good idea unless your name is Charles Howell III or Camilo Villegas.
  • Switch back to a visor. The fitted hats he wears are fine, I suppose, but he looked better in a visor. It showed his longish hair more, which fits better with his swashbuckling style. Risk here is that his hair is so long now that he might end up looking like Michael Letzig in lid. Then again, he can always get a haircut.
  • In short, Phil should stop what he’s doing now in favor of a more trendy, big guy sartorial elegance — somewhere, say, between Darren Clarke

    and Scott Piercy

    with a lean toward Clarke if he wants to lean traditional, Piercy if he wants to go trendy.

    It’s a safe bet that Philly Mick will never come knockin’ on this never-was’s door for fashion advice. And if he ever reads this blog entry, no doubt he won’t pay attention to any of it. Can’t say I blame him. Looking good or not, he’s no doubt laughing all the way to the bank.

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