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're talking about what we're thankful for in golf ... but, as usual, it takes us awhile to get there and we don't stay long once we do. Away!
Busbee: It's Thanksgiving, and as is tradition, we're supposed to give thanks for our many blessings in the world of golf. But before that, I want to vent a bit. Where the hell is the Skins Game, Shane? That was always good for a good few hours of dodging talk with the family once you got past the initial blush of "hey, how ya been?" A big ol' leftover sandwich of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on toast in front of the Skins Game? That was one hell of a fine tradition. What happened to it? I mean, I know what happened--no sponsors means no tourney--but why do you think it went by the wayside?
Bacon: It's crazy to think, but the thing hasn't been around since 2008! None in '09 last year or this year. I agree. I loved the Skins Game! I need to see Fred Funk in a skirt right after I eat turkey!
No, but seriously, money has gotten too out of hand to bring anyone worth a hoot to this event. Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Rory ... they aren't coming to an event where they could walk away empty-handed. They just did that at the Presidents Cup! I agree with you though. I used to love the Skins Game, and will forever remember it as one of the better events during the Thanksgiving weekend, especially since this is the first year since I was born that we might have a decent game on Turkey Day. That said, could the Skins Game change the format to bring in some names? What about a "lose the hole and you're gone" format, and last man standing wins?
Busbee: I like the feature they have in the Tiger Woods video games, where if you win a hole you get to take a club out of your opponent's bag. (And, if you're playing with me and my brothers, you sling said club into the woods.) You're dead-on with money; probably the only way to appeal to these guys is through charity. But then you'd have orphans crying when their guy lips out a putt that would've gotten them half a million dollars, and nobody wants that on Thanksgiving.
Wow, that got dark, huh? Anyway, here's what I'm thankful for, first off: four first-time major winners. Golf is in a renewal phase, and we've got four winners (well, three; sorry, Darren Clarke) who are set up well to take this sport into its next two decades. But Clarke brought us that finest of golf pleasures: a great story. So, yeah, all four majors were great stories this year, and I am thankful for that. You?
Bacon: I really almost want to agree with you. Major sports outlets might not have loved the majors because it didn't have a ton of star appeal (besides Rory), but I loved them.
But since you took that, I'll go with the LPGA's breakout year. Not only did they have a superstar in Yani Tseng, but Lexi Thompson had a breakout win, some sneaky Americans played great, and the Solheim Cup was probably the most exciting event of the year on both tours. Also, I'm thankful Michelle Wie is almost done with Stanford (finishes up in December). I'm ready to see her completely focused on golf. Also, you know what Jay, I'm thankful for you!
Busbee: We're just all full of good cheer, aren't we? And we haven't even started in on the holiday drinking yet. Right back atcha, my friend. I'm thankful you live farther west and could stay up for those damned Presidents Cup matches.
And hey, you can agree with me. It's Thanksgiving. We share the turkey, we share the thanks. (By the way, you're on the hook for turkey this year. I'm buying a can of canned cranberry sauce.)
How about your own game? Anything to be thankful for there? I'm thankful I didn't hit anybody this year. I'm thankful I holed out from the fairway on the 11th at Callaway Gardens' Lake View course. And I'm thankful that I got a few lessons that helped make my approaches a little less like cluster-bombing and a little more like surgical strikes. You?
Bacon: You know what I'm thankful for with my own golf game? I'm thankful I don't take it as seriously anymore. Golf is a fun game when the main goal is to go out, have a few beers with your buds, smack the ball around and occasionally forget to even write down your score on the card. Sometimes we all take it a little too seriously, and for about 26 years of my life, that was me. Now I just try to enjoy it, and have learned it's a lot more fun that way.
I'm also thankful for the Lexus Champions for Charity event, because that means I get to go to Pebble Beach again this year. Think I can stuff you in my travel bag?
Busbee: For Pebble? I can fold up real nice.
All right, your turn. What are you thankful for in golf this season? Fire away, friends.