Editor’s Note: T.P. Talks Golf, introduced here for the first time and in the coming May-June 2019 print issue of Golf Tips will be a bit different, not necessarily discussing conventional golf treaching from Top 25 Instructor Tom Patri. It will be more versed in areas like course management, what he’s seeing currently on various world tours, controversies that follow our great game, and various things he sees that hold back the recreational player from taking his or her game to the next level and beyond. I welcome feedback.
As we head into the meat of the 2019 golf season, so many things jump out at me as story lines — the USGA Rule changes, Tiger Woods (does his journey ever get old! No!), so many events of significance (any World Golf Championship, the Players, the PGA, The Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship). The lineup this year includes Bethpage Black, a place I grew up playing, Augusta (of course), Pebble Beach, and an Open Championship played in Ireland.
Let’s brush over all of the above. I’m clearly a dinosaur in the respect that I’m rarely in favor of making radical changes to the long-standing traditions of the game. The rules changes for 2019 as a whole are pitiful.
Are there certain things I like, like tapping down spike marks? For sure. That said, dropping from knee height is a joke. After a penalty you shouldn’t be entitled to a favorable lie. Allowing a skilled player to drop from the knee, you might as well hand him a tee.
Trust me, I’ll be leaving the flag stick in a bunch! Again, giving the tour player the flag stick will at some juncture be revisited by the Tour if not by the USGA. How about when some player choking his guts out hits a downhill 30-footer on 18 at Augusta that’s flying, hits the stick, and jumps in to win by one? Give the Tour player the flag stick ,but outlaw the belly putter. Another stroke of genius by The USGA. Solve slow play by playing better!
Tiger Woods continues to amaze us all. He has shut me up on several occasions. I have twice in print had him dead and buried. Please allow me to wave my white flag. I’m still replaying Holes 10-14 in round 3 at Riviera in February. Even when he isn’t winning but simply lurking, he makes the needle jump. Keep in mind that at every major venue this year, with the exception of The Open Championship in Northern Ireland, not only has he won, but he has destroyed fields. I think we are in for some crazy golf. The overall talent pool on The PGA Tour is insane.
One last point. The absolute screw-up by Matt Kuchar in Mexico, severely short changing the local caddie during his win, will remain a stain on his legacy forever. Here is guy who at that juncture had won over $46 million in official earnings, not to mention sponsorships, corporate outings and overseas appearance fees. After unprecedented social media pressure he felt like he righted the ship by turning the original $5,000 caddie fee (so wrong on so many fronts) into $50,000. Let’s keep in mind the standard 10 percent caddie fee for a win would have been north of $130,000. Hey Matt, not cool — not even close, dude.
Tom Patri is the President and Founder of TPGOLF and a Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor. He is a former Met PGA Teacher of the Year as well as a former South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year. He teaches at Esplanade in Naples, Florida from November through April and is Director of Instruction at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Indiana, May through October. Reach him at email@example.com or (239) 404-7790.