Time to Remove Mashed Potatoes from Golf

I’m a huge proponent of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and it’s rowdy 16th hole. Love it, and until recently thought it was great for the game; the Yang to Augusta National’s Ying. But it seems, as is the case in many aspects of life, we can’t have nice things. The facts are, the collective ‘we’ don’t seem to be able to handle the responsibility of golf gallery etiquette and decorum.

The Mashed Potato movement is not new by any means. And maybe I am an old cynic now, but it seems to be getting worse. And to put a finer point on it, it seems daily there are ‘fans’ (code for people who are half-drunk attending a golf tournament) who want to be on TV by attempting to yell something clever at the moment of impact.

My first thought…why aren’t they simply removed from the premises at the first hint of inappropriate behavior? Failure to do so really sanctions the behavior and allows people the freedom and flexibility to push that line until they’re 8 beers deep and they can’t walk that line anymore and act like an ass. Facts are, we know for certainty that Augusta National or The Open Championship would not condone behavior like that. But pick any week on the PGA Tour and, well, as they say it only takes one.

The fact that events like the first tee at the Ryder Cup (likely all 18 holes) and the annual tour stop in Phoenix are loud and boisterous is fine. These are events which, like Augusta really, are unique unto themselves. But on a routine tour stop can we not have some clear level of appropriate behavior adhered to? Here are some ideas to eliminate inappropriate behavior from golf:

The PGA Tour needs to take a lead on a code of conduct policy which needs to be marketed, promoted and ingrained for every patron of every event. And central to these are the following:

· A strict limit on alcohol consumption. Find a way. It’s not rocket science. Address all issues of excessive intoxication quickly and professionally.

· Immediate removal from any patron who yells at any point in the swing. This does not preclude people from celebrating great shots whatsoever.

· Ban those who can’t abide by the rules from any future tour event.

I need to emphasize that these ideas would still allow Phoenix to be Phoenix and Augusta to be Augusta. What it does is not allow the people who want to be famous from impeding players’ shots and my viewing experience at home.

Because, in my opinion, if we do nothing about this, we’re essentially sanctioning this kind of behavior and I don’t think that is good for the game and it is horrible for professional golf, with potential implications that are enormous.  To be honest, I am at the point where I am glad that fans didn’t have a direct and negative impact on the final round of the Valspar this weekend.  My expectations are that low now.  And that’s not good.


Conversation with Dean Snell – Part 3

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more.

This is the third of this three-part conversation with Dean Snell, owner and inventor of Snell Golf balls.  In this segment Dean discusses his approach to ball fitting, his upcoming visit to Canada at the Toronto Golf and Travel Show and his dream foursome.


7. Golf ball companies are getting aggressive in their marketing of ball fitting approaches. What is your response to this and what would you suggest for someone who would like to determine what Snell golf ball is best for them?

DS – So when I mentioned before being a hockey player there are certain pet peeves that make me want to pull the jersey over their heads and start throwing uppercuts.  This is one of them.  Having someone fit for a golf ball by hitting three golf balls into a net with a driver is absolutely wrong.  Today we’ve done so much work in getting the spin rates and ball speed and launch angles correct.  And off the tee they all go about the same distance.  Hitting a few balls and judging a bad shot compared to a good shot and then say, ‘this is the ball for you, you gained six yards’; it’s just the wrong way to do it.  Over time those golf balls will be about the same distance.  But where you’ll notice it is in the short game.  That’s where you’ll notice a difference.  So a two piece golf ball and a tour golf ball, from 100 yards and in are completely different in performance.  One flies high with less spin, one flies low with more spin.  You’re going to experience the fliers and the jumpers, the bump and runs, or the low hit knock downs with the check; they’re different.  So my recommendation for fitting – you spend so much fitting for your clubs and fine tuning them at a range but the ball counts for every shot.  So take maybe an hour and a half and go out on a course and take all the clubs you’d use inside of 100 yards.  Take the My Tour Ball (MTB) and the Get Sum 2 piece ball and whatever models you play and go and hit balls from 100 yards, 70, 50, 30, chip, putt, and once a group catches you go to the next hole and keep doing the same thing.  Just play a lot of shots from inside 100 yards.  And after the 4th of 5th hole something in there is going to say I like the way it flew high, flew low, checked, bumped and ran, felt soft or hard, whatever it is you like.  Fit the ball to what you prefer there and trust off the tee they’ll all be the same.    Because if you can’t tell the differences inside of 100 yards your game is not ready yet for it and just buy the cheapest one.

MJ – Following up, you mentioned this around the time of the PGA Show in Orlando that the My Tour Ball may be better suited for mid to high handicap players who could benefit more from tour ball performance around the greens.  Could you please elaborate on this?

DS – If you take price out of it, tour golf balls are going to be better for everybody.  The 18 handicap misses 17 greens.  That’s 17 par 3’s the player has to play effectively.  If you play low compression, low spin golf balls you have the worst possible performance the closer you get to the greens.  So that’s where most of your golf is played, it’s where most of your scores happen.  A higher handicap who shoots 90 versus a guy who shoots 72, you have a lot more shots which you play around the greens which you could get better at than the guy shooting 72.  You’re never going to be able to hit a ball that hits and sucks back the way the pros do but you may be able to add some spin on a full wedge which may and roll out 5 feet instead of 15 feet.  You stopped it 10 feet closer.  Maybe your chip stops 5 feet closer that could eliminate one or two 3 putts.  Having an advantage of performance around the greens is what tour golf balls have.  If you can get that you will only perform better the closer you get to the green and that’s going to help you lower scores.


8. I understand you’re going to be coming to Toronto for the Golf and Travel Show in February. Snell Golf Canada will be present and showcasing your product offerings.  What is your schedule there and when can people come by and talk with you?

DS – My understanding is I will be in the Snell Golf Canada booth on Friday.  I will be speaking on Friday mid-afternoon and also Saturday around noon.  I’ll do a little presentation for everybody and the rest of the time I’ll be in the booth so if anybody has any technical questions or wants to come by and say hi I will be at the Snell Golf Canada booth.

I believe the team will have balls available to sell to people attending the show.  We’ve done this before and it creates a real buzz with golf show participants.


9. Lastly, what is your dream foursome and what course tops your own Bucket List? Is there a course(s) in Canada you’d like to experience?

DS – Boy, that’s a good question.  My dream foursome would probably include Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Bobby Orr and myself.  Those guys to me were the best in their sports during their time.  They are all golfers and I think it would be so cool to listen to some of their stories both on and off the field of play.  I’d love to get some pictures too, it would be great memorabilia.

MJ – That’s a strong list, how about courses?

DS – You’ll have to help me with courses in Canada; I’ve spent much time in Canada in the winter time but not enough in the summer.  Being in the industry so long I haven’t played much golf, things have been busy.  I’d love to play Augusta National, or Pebble Beach.  I’ve been to Pebble and worked there and walked the course but have never been there with my clubs.  Augusta is my first choice just because it is Augusta.

MJ – When you get there, and I hope you’re able to play Augusta one day, take a picture of your My Tour Ball when you stick the green on 12.

DS – (Laughs) I will.

MJ – Thank you for your time Dean.  Continued success.

DS – My pleasure.  Thank you.

Click here to access Part 1 of my conversation with Dean.

Click here to access Part 2 of my conversation with Dean.




Scott Simmons Interview – Part 3 – Accomplishments, Public Players, and Augusta

Scott Simmons Interview – Part 3 – Accomplishments, Public Players, and Augusta

A Quick Nine with Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more

This closing segment will have Mr. Simmons reflect on accomplishments during his tenure as CEO, how Golf Canada is working to engage the public player and closes with him sharing what would be his ultimate dream round at Augusta National.

  1. What are some accomplishments Golf Canada has had during your tenure that you’re proud of and wish more people knew about?

SS – I’d say the biggest one is we moved our name to Golf Canada from the Royal Canadian Golf Association.  That isn’t just a name change and a logo change.  It is a complete philosophical change which I am very proud of.  The RCGA, which has been around since 1895, the word association, by definition means that we’re associated with a certain group of people and that group historically has been our members – our member clubs and our member golfers.  And that is still critically important to our organization, is working with our member based clubs across the country and providing value to our member clubs and our member individuals, overseeing the game in terms of governance, rules, handicapping, course rating, amateur status, national championships from the Canadian Junior up to the Canadian Open.  All those things that the RCGA did, Golf Canada still do and are core to our mandate.  They are really why who we are.  But Golf Canada, which by extension means we want to provide value and help people enjoy the game of golf regardless of whether they have a direct association with us.  Public players, kids, people of all backgrounds, and this comes with your mandate as the national sport organization for golf in Canada.  That title was given to the RCGA by Sport Canada in 2005/2006.  With accepting that title came the responsibility for the entire game of golf in Canada and not just the association based elements I spoke of previously.  So I see us now as a much more inclusive, proactive entity then we used to be.  We’re still doing exactly what we did for 110 years, we’re now doing more and for more people.

36 – I certainly saw the move as an opportunity to modernize and redefine the brand.  And like you said, expand the scope of activity to engage people who may not otherwise see themselves as being part of the RCGA.

  1. My interest in my blog is to inform public players in Canada about important aspects of golf like courses, travel, equipment and other relevant information. How can public players engage with Golf Canada and what would you tell public players to be the value of joining Golf Canada?

SS – I guess it depends on who you are and what your needs are.  Hopefully we have value and services that would appeal to any type of golfer or facility.  We’re actually evolving that as well from our membership based programs to what’s available for free for the casual public golfer.  So from a facility point of view it’s the ability to have an official course rating, access to the score centre, being an official course of Golf Canada and their provincial body, host championships, give back to the game.  From an individual point of view there is a wide spectrum; those that want to keep an official handicap and compete, compete in national and provincial championships, all the way down to the public golfer where we now have a bronze membership which is free and provides you with some online tools.  We have things like insurance in case you lose your clubs.  We have a new club label system where you put labels on your clubs that have bar codes.  So when the club comes into the shop it can be scanned and you know exactly who they belong to so you can contact them.

36 – Excellent.  I just renewed my membership so I look forward to getting those.

SS – There you go.  I encourage you to look at our website because all the updated membership benefits are listed.

36 – Having been a member now for about 5 or 6 years and in terms of tracking a handicap and being as engaged as I can, I think the organization has done a good job to enhance the value proposition.  I can appreciate the challenge around articulating it but if you look at support around membership helping grow the game, I like the fact that a portion of my money goes back to support the development of the junior game.

SS – That’s where the majority of it does go.  We are a non-profit entity.  We’re an RCAAA (Registered Charitable Amateur Athletic Association).  We’re not here to make big profits and pay dividends to shareholders.  We put all our money back into the game.  That’s the other thing that people who love the game can appreciate.  Whether they’re getting anything in return by supporting Golf Canada and their provincial associations, they’re helping them run and grow the game that they love.  Most successful entities are supported by the athletes and the members.  Sure, we try to do the best we can with government funding and corporate sponsorship, and so on, but the money that comes from the golfers is the difference between good to great for what we can do for the game.  That is the biggest thing people can get from being part of this community is that you’re helping sustain and grow this game that you love.

36 – Well said.  It’s nice to look across all the professional tours and see the Canadian flag up there so prominently.  But between that and the offerings that available for myself as a public player, I want to commend you and your team.  You’re always seeking ways to enhance the value proposition and I’ve enjoyed the experience of membership.

  1. Lastly, and this is a standard question I ask everyone, what is your dream foursome and what course(s) would you like to play?

SS – Boy, there is a lot of people.  My late grandfather introduced me to the game as did my father.  My father is still alive.  He is now 85 and doesn’t play a lot of golf anymore.  I’d love to be able to have my grandfather, my dad and my brother together into a foursome, to play a game and go back to some of the old courses that I played growing up in the Brantford area.  There are so many great courses in Canada and around the world.  I’m not sure I could pick just one.  One course I’d love to have a chance to play is Augusta.  That’s one course that is very hard to get on to but it is on my bucket list.  If I could play that course with my brother, my father and my grandfather, that would be the ultimate for me.

36 – That’s sounds ideal.  I know I have been fortunate to travel with work and play so many great courses coast to coast.  The quality of the courses and the incredible golf value that exists in this country is simply staggering.  Mr. Simmons, I can’t thank you enough for your time.  I really appreciate this.

SS – No problem, my pleasure.  And that last point you made, many people don’t realize that Canada has more golf courses in the world than anybody except the United States.  At 2346 facilities we are the most blessed nation on earth when it comes to access of golf facilities.  Of those 2346 facilities, only roughly 200 of them are private. So the perception of golf being a private, elitist game couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a facility of every type, variety and price for every golfer.  From 9 hole ‘munis’ all the way up to exclusive private clubs and everything in between.  So it’s a very accessible and open sport.

36 – Thank you for the great work you and your team are doing and thank you for your time, it means a lot.

SS – Anytime, I appreciate what you’re doing to promote the industry.


Reflections – It was a genuine pleasure to have an hour of Mr. Simmons’ time to learn more about the complexity of their policy decision this winter.  However, the real surprise for me was the genuine passion to which he spoke about initiatives of Golf Canada to grow the game.  His leadership, and the stewardship of Golf Canada in supporting the sustainable development of golf in this country, is sincerely appreciated.  I left the conversation feeling very proud to be a member of Golf Canada.

Reflections from the 2016 Masters

Reflections from the 2016 Masters

I’m tired today and I only watched the Masters.  Even as a home viewer (apologies if there is an official term ANGC uses for people like me) I found the back nine completely compelling.  It made up for what was, in my opinion a lackluster opening 54 holes.  But it is the most anticipated golf tournament on my calendar. My favourite major is the Open Championship but the Masters is the most unique and highly anticipated.

Here are some balanced reflections, notes and observations from this years’ event:

  1. History and Tradition Matter – Two very unique aspects of the Masters which I love are the Champions Dinner and the Ceremonial Tee Shots on Thursday morning. The Masters, more than any other tournament honours its champions and its history.  Watching Tom Watson play his last Masters was special and I was glad CBS made a big deal of it


  1. Drive, Chip and Putt – Not lost on me is the lead up to the week before the start of Masters week. A new tradition is the Drive, Chip and Putt competition which is co-led by Augusta National, PGA of America and the USGA.  I love that Golf Channel makes a big deal of it because it is a big deal.  It warrants players and past champions to greet these kids.  I love everything about it.


  1. Danny Willett – A deserving champion. He played the best.  Tournaments are 72 holes for a reason and like all major championships tend to be a grueling test of golf.  The number 12 player in the world leading up the event, his victory was a surprise to many but not those that know and respect the depth of talent in the game.


  1. Slow Play – While I repsect it was windy and they are playing for a major championship the time it took these twosomes to complete rounds was abhorrent. Watching players back off time and time again is a bad example to set to the public and junior players.  I love Jordan Spieth but he was a repeat offender and I’d like to see the governing bodies demand more from a time perspective.


  1. Jordan Spieth – The sting of the loss is real, and runs deep and it seems almost cruel he needed to place the green jacket on Danny Willett but he showed incredible class and sportsmanship and that is a lesson juniors and all players can draw from. For a game built on integrity and class, Jordan is well equipped in that department.  I suspect he will bounce back well from this.


  1. Social Media – I love Twitter. It opens up a real-time and global conversation around the game of golf.  That approximate 40 minute stretch where Spieth went from 5 up to 4 down was unreal to follow on social media.  But, as Adam Fonseca correctly noted, the real winner on Twitter on the weekend was Danny Willett’s brother.  Timely and humourous.  Check it out. (Adam has a great podcast too, check that out also).  Runner up in his entertainment on Twitter is No Laying Up.  A great follow.


  1. Golf Course Expectation – While I love the Azaleas and the incredible lushness of Augusta, I fear it may create unrealistic expectation from members at courses around the world for their Superintendents and grounds crew to replicate such pristine condition. This is problematic in that is simply not realistic, nor is it likely sustainable from an environmental perspective.  And it is here where I don’t appreciate the mystique of ANGC.  For one week, maybe.  But I prefer the more natural beauty from courses like Pebble Beach, or in Canada, Cabot Links.


  1. Short Game – in closing, for 54 holes Jordan Spieth was spraying the ball around Augusta and drew upon his world class short game to maintain a lead. If I am going to get better I will need to practice this part of the game so in my mind I can say I’m the second best putter on the planet (because seriously, who is going to supplant Jordan from number one putter in the world?)


Happy to debate on this, but I am happy today that the Masters is done for another season.  In Ontario, where I live, the official golf season starts this Friday.  I for one am ready, inspired by the lessons of the last 8 days at Augusta.

Lastly, and certainly not least, huge congrats to Adam Stanley, freelance golf writer and communications coordinator for the Golf Journalists Association of Canada for winning a spot in the media lottery to play Augusta today.  Wow.  Good things happen to good people.  Can’t wait to hear all about that.


My Letter to Augusta National Golf Club

Dear Augusta National,

We’re good now.

It was almost two years now since you awoke from a seemingly perpetual slumber and allowed women to be members at your esteemed club. And while I will admit I allowed myself to be excited for a few moments, my prevailing thought to all this was, ‘what the hell took you so long’?  Do you need that badly to have time away from the Mrs. that you wouldn’t even consider allowing female members to walk in your hallowed halls?  And while that is yesterday’s news I will admit I was disappointed in you.  There, I said it.

I am comfortable admitting that because of the special relationship we have. You open up your course to me (via the glorious magic of HD TV) for four glorious days after a perpetually long Canadian winter and thoughts of Azalea’s and announcers’ hushed tones overcome me.  I sprout roots on my couch and declare my love for you as the greatest golf course in North America; it’s our ‘thing’.  My wife understands – or perhaps tolerates – our relationship.  Four days is not much after all.

And while my disappointment in you has waned somewhat over time since that day back in August 2012, I experienced something on Sunday April 6, 2014 that made my heart grow three sizes (Grinch-like proportions). You welcomed boys, and girls, ages 7 – 15 to your course with open arms to experience a thrill of a lifetime experience…the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt championship!  With your besties, the USGA and PGA of America and a wannabe bestie, Golf Channel, you partnered to move the needle in the game of golf like no one has done in years.

I was captivated by the entire experience. Like everything you do well, it was flawless.  And I was not the only one with those sentiments.  You had past champions alter their schedule to show up and lend support to these skilled, lucky and wide-eyed kids and their parents.  Seeing the fist pumps and smiles on 18 when kids drained their 15 footers was a sight to behold!  And in doing all this you have moved the bar on the ‘grow the game’ conversation to a level few could even imagine let alone accomplish.  I am confident in 2033 (or so) we will see a Masters champion who saw his (or her!) start at the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

In closing, I wanted to write to you to thank you for being so bold and taking a leadership role in something that is very important for us all, the future of golf.  Thank you for making things right between us.

Your friend, @36aday

PS – Looking forward to our weekend together!