Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today, we discuss which player is the most fun to watch on tour, and which shot is the most exciting? Tee 'er up!
Bacon: This past weekend, Bubba Watson won his third event in 10 months at the Zurich Classic, and he did so out of a fairway bunker that nobody besides him has ever hit from and reached the par-5 18th in two shots (he's done it three times, making birdie each time). Does stuff like that make Bubba the most fun golfer in the game to watch? For a long time it was Tiger Woods, who always seemed to pull out the most incredible shot at the right time, but as he's been slumping, and Phil Mickelson isn't winning as much as he used to, it seems that a guy like Bubba, who isn't scared to take on any shot, could be taking over that title. Your thoughts, sir?
Busbee: Yeah, Bubba is absolutely right up there. I like watching Dustin Johnson off the tee, though there's always a chance that he'll knock a blimp out of the sky (or maybe BECAUSE there's a chance he'll knock a blimp out of the sky). Routine precision is nice and lovely and all, but proper course management makes for some dull television. That's why I like watching Mickelson, JB Holmes, Rickie Fowler ... guys who perhaps don't think through all the things that could go wrong with their dramatic shot. Which brings me to my question for you, sir: Which would you rather see, a drive that can be measured from a satellite, a putt that wobbles like a college freshman after his first party, or a death-from-above dart of an approach shot?
Bacon: I guess I'd have to go with the approach shot. I've seen plenty of long drives, and while it is awesome to see someone dart it out there 340 (I remember the day I played with Bubba, and on the last hole, after I hit a good drive, he said, "I'm going to really try to get this," only to bomb it about 345 in the air), a good iron shot is the difference between a good golfer and a great golfer. I love iron shots to tight spots on the green that these pros make look so effortless. Probably the two best shots I've ever seen in person was during this year's Accenture, when Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald both hit it stiff from over 200 yards into a nasty wind after hail had halted their progress for a few minutes. Now that is incredible stuff.
Busbee: Nice humblebrag there, fella. "I remember the day I played with Bubba..." Yeah, I remember the day I spanged my approach off the East Lake Clubhouse onto the ninth green and holed the par putt. Sure, it was on a video game, but whatever. Alas, I have to drain the argument from the room, as I too think the approach shot is, of the three, the best combination of great start and perfect payoff.
But to bring it back to your main question, I think what makes a golfer fun to watch is his willingness to take chances, to gamble on a high-risk, high-reward shot. Often, it ends with a horrific flameout, but when it works -- Sergio at Medinah, Phil at Augusta's 13th last year -- you get one of the most memorable golf shots of the year, if not a career. That's why we watch.
Bacon: Exactly. That's why people will remember that Miguel Angel Jimenez shot at the British Open off the wall on the Road Hole for way longer than who actually won the event. You take a risk, it might not work, but you'll make fans along the way. Remember that, pros.
OK, your turn ... who is your favorite golfer to watch, and what shot do you pay admission to see?