Tag Archives: Alan Shipnuck

“And NOW, In THIS Corner . . .”

We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine used to be professional wrestling; now, it’s following a good, petty beef involving golf.

The best beefs generally involve someone with a reasonable amount of cachet stating a strong opinion (or, as the kids say these days, a “hot take”) and having an equally respected contemporary respond to the contrary. Or better yet, if said hot take was directed at an individual, having that individual respond.

To wit:

Brandel Chamblee vs Brooks Koepka

Chamblee, of course, is the Golf Channel’s designated master of the hot take, and the fact that his Take Accuracy Percentage (or TAP, as I’ll coin it) is exceedingly low has not diminished his output.

So – prior to the PGA Championship, Brandel stated that the only two golfers capable of challenging Tiger Woods for the game’s supremacy are Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. When asked about Koepka (whose record in the prior 4 majors included 2 wins and a runner-up), Chamblee responded that while Koepka was a great talent, he questioned his “toughness” and stated that Koepka lost weight for “vanity reasons.” Koepka, for whom there is no piece of wood large enough not to wear as a chip on his shoulder), got wind of this and posted a photoshopped picture on Twitter of Chamblee wearing a clown’s nose.

After Koepka’s opening 63, Chamblee changed his tune; his praise of Koepka’s round was effusive while also joking that he felt like “[Koepka] was giving me the finger during the entire round.” Koepka was having none of it. In his post-victory presser, ESPN’s Ken Van Valkenburg asked Brooks if there was anything said that was particularly motivational prior to the tournament.

“Yeah,” responded Koepka. “When they said I wasn’t tough enough. That really pissed me off.”

“Who said that?”

Brooks smiled rather crookedly. “You know who said that.”

Matt Ginella vs Lisa Cornwell

Both of these folks are also Golf Channel personalities. Ginella is the congenial golf travel correspondent whose job is the envy of pretty much every golfer who has a touch of wanderlust. Ms Cornwell splits her duties between manning the Golf Central desk and doing some on-course commentary and interviews during tournaments.

Before we get too far into this, a disclosure. I met Lisa at a party held at a friend’s house in Dallas after a round of the LPGA’s North Texas Shootout and talked all things golf for a good half hour. She’s a delightful person who, among other things, was an All-American golfer at Arkansas. I feel personally affronted when Twitter trolls go after her, as she’s probably forgotten more about golf than most of them will ever know.

In any event, this particular beef has its roots in the PGA of America’s decision to allow John Daly to use a cart during the PGA Championship. Ginella was adamant in his disgust with this decree; beyond the philosophical argument that golf is at its heart a walking sport, Ginella also called Daly an alcoholic and a colossal waste of talent on Twitter.

No doubt that Daly is a polarizing figure who has its demons, but Ginella’s comments seemed unusually harsh for someone with his platform. Ms Cornwell, perhaps coming to the defense of a fellow Razorback, took umbrage to her co-worker’s comments and responded in kind. The next thing she knew, she was being blocked by her colleague:

I just got BLOCKED by a co-worker for having a difference of opinion on the John Daly cart issue. This thin-skinned world in which we live needs to toughen up.

https://twitter.com/LisaCornwellGC/status/1131582217145192448

It should be interesting the next time there’s an all hands meeting at the Golf Channel.

Alan Shipnuck vs The European Ryder Cup Team and All of Its Supporters

Alan Shipnuck and Michael Bamberger are my favorite living golf writers (Dan Jenkins will forever hold the all-time title), and when the two of them get together on podcasts – particularly when there is wine involved – it ranks among the funniest and most intelligent conversations about the game that one can hear.

Alan is quite active on Twitter (Bamberger is old school and stays away from most social media platforms), and is does not fear the hot take. After the US team scored a decisive victory at the 2016 Ryder Cup, Shipnuck opined that this was a portend of dominance in the coming years for the Yanks. This, of course, set off a round of howls from across the pond, led by the individual known as Tweeter Allis (a parody Twitter account based on English golf and broadcasting legend Peter Alliss), leading to a Q&A prior to the 2018 Cup in Paris. Sample question:

ALAN: Given that you guys have dominated the Cup for the last two decades, why are European fans still so touchy and defensive?

Tweeter: I think the touchy and defensive demeanour may have manifested itself during the 2016 renewal. Some rather cynical tactics were employed by the US team — for one, importing the entire crowd from the 16th hole at the Waste Management tournament was a most disgusting stunt. One cannot wait until Bethpage in 2024, when I believe the entire U.S. crowd will be treated to a free bar and invited to run naked through the fairways screaming “Baba-booey.” Quite lovely.

After the bloodletting in Paris, Alan was the object of much (mostly) good-natured abuse, not only for the Tweeter, but the European team itself:

“I think we only have one question – where’s Alan Shipnuck?”

https://twitter.com/dylan_dethier/status/1047895282766290947

For his part, Shipnuck has taken the ribbing in stride – which, if one is going to engage in the hot take game, is the only way to handle it.

Aces

It’s become a running joke on social media that Golf Magazine’s esteemed writer Alan Shipnuck has never carded a hole-in-one. What makes this particularly galling to Mr Shipnuck are the reports of aces from novice golfers, children, and otherwise undeserving participants in the game who have managed this feat. His lamentations of this injustice, of course, has led to a flood of comments and responses on Twitter from what seemed to be every member of the Hole In One Club in the TwitterVerse offering sympathy (mock or otherwise) to his misfortune.

I am here to commiserate with Alan, as I, too, have remained ace-less over my nearly 40 year nondescript golf career. Oh, I’ve had my near-misses, and have actually witnessed at least 15 such shots by various playing partners (including my dear friend Sharon) – so if you have yet to card a hole-in-one, get me in your group [you hear me, Alan?] and your chances will increase dramatically.

[The Mad Scientist of Golf, Bryson DeChambeau, recently left the ranks of the Ace-less Club by holing out on the 16th at Augusta. Not a bad way to go.]

No doubt, a certain amount of luck involved with holing out a shot. One I witnessed came from a golfer who dug out a divot the size of a toupee on his tee shot. His ball landed about 25 yards short of the green but struck a sprinkler head, which propelled the ball onto the green and eventually into the cup. And I’ve heard plenty of stories about shots bouncing off trees, skipping ponds, and committing other physics-defying acts before finding the hole.

But there are certain golfers that seem to have a knack for shooting aces. Art Wall Jr., winner of the 1959 Masters, officially recorded 45 of them. And there was a fellow who belonged to my old club in Virginia named Charlie Smith who at last count had 13 – I haven’t seen Charlie in a number of years; it could be higher now.

We had a hole-in-one pool at that club that had about 100 members; whenever anyone made one, everyone had to pay that person $10. At the time the pool started, Charlie had already made 9 aces. That year, I believe we had 5 people collect on the pool. Charlie, whose best friend described him as one who rubs two nickels together in hopes of producing a quarter, was not one of those five, so when the next year came around, he took himself out of the pool, grumbling that his time was over and wasn’t going to pay out any more money.

Smart move. He only made three aces that season.

Then there’s my old golf buddy David, with whom I played lots of golf from my days as a member of the Sports Club at The Four Seasons in Irving, Texas. David and I had a standing “dollar a yard” bet on any par three that we played; i.e., if one made a hole in one on a 120 yard hole, he would collect $120 from the other person. Sure enough, one morning we stood staring directly into the sun on the 2nd tee on the Cottonwood Valley Course (one of the two 18’s at the Sports Club), which that day was playing 133 yards. We verified our bet, and David hit a gorgeous shot right at the flag. Because of the bright glare of the sun, we weren’t sure of the result, but as we approached the green it became apparent that the ball had disappeared into the hole.

Naturally, David was quite excited and decided to call his wife Sylvia with this news. The conversation went something like this:

David: Honey, guess what? I just made a hole in one! 

Sylvia: Wow, that’s great news!

(Pause)

Sylvia: Geez, why couldn’t you have done that in a tournament where you could have won a car or something?

When he shared this conversation with me, I told him that he should have at least mentioned the $133 I owed him for the hole-in-one. “I don’t think it would have made much of a difference,” he sighed.

So maybe making a hole-in-one ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Someday, I’d like to find out.