The Return Of Golf

The PGA Tour is back.

Jim Rome
June 12, 2020 - 9:46 am
Bryson Dechambeau

USA Today

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Golf has sort of been back before, but yesterday was the first day of The Return of Golf. The PGA Tour was back. This wasn’t the Driving Relief Charity match. And it wasn’t that thing where two golfers and two football players trade tired, canned, lame, cringy jokes with each other.

This is an actual tournament – the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. After 91 days, the PGA Tour is officially back. And it’s being played without fans and with a ton of social distancing.

The Tour started things off by having celebrities introduce golfers upon their return. Like Aaron Rodgers taking over the mic to announce the arrival of Max Homa.

Or Reggie Bush introducing Tony Finau, and then getting some other things off his chest.

And then celebrities and athletes providing commentary throughout. Like Darius Rucker and Golden Tate discussing Bryson Dechambeau’s physique.

They are right. Holy crap, we need to have a talk about Bryson Dechambeau, because the Mad Scientist now looks like the Mad Middle Linebacker. Bryson says he put on 20 pounds during quarantine, but that almost feels like an understatement. Is he coming back for golf or the start of NFL training camp? What was the launch angle and bar speed on his bench press?

That dude looks like he spent the entire time in the swing lab and the weight room. And it’s not like he was some tiny guy to begin with. But the scientist now looks like the kind of guy who beats up scientists. Teeing it up on the track? This guy looks like he should be choking fools out in the octagon. 

And Bryson Dechambeau looking like Brian Urlacher wasn’t the only surreal thing from yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have golf back, but it’s still kind of odd to be playing it the way that it was played yesterday. Not my words, that’s Brian Harman who shot a 5-under and called the experience “odd.”

He went on to explain: "you can hear people hitting tee shots around the course. I had to back off a couple putts because someone hit a tee shot. I was like, I don't remember being able to hear that here. There's usually a wall of people in between here and there, so you don't hear that kind of stuff. The sound travels a lot worse. It's odd to see the place with no fans. It's definitely different."

Ryan Palmer, his playing partner, described it as “obviously different.” Justin Rose, who was 7-under on the day, and tied with Harold Varner III for the lead, shoutout to Jungle karma, called the day “quite subdued.”

Quite subdued? That’s like saying Bryson looks like he might have hit the gym once or twice. It was extremely subdued. And it has to be. That is the safe way to do it right now.

But it still means that you have surreal moments like Phil Mickelson finding the fairway off the tee, to the sound of exactly one person clapping.

How strange is that? Normally, that big cornball has a gallery ten people deep around him, cheering him on and whooping it up after every single thing he does. And on that tee shot, there was a single person applauding.

Now, it doesn’t mean there were no fans. According to reports, there were six young adults and a guy in a bike helmet staring through the fence on the second tee box. There were a few fans outside the fence on four and at 15 and 16, Rose noticed “a couple of houses that have sort of built mini-stands. So there might be a couple of grandstands just off property here where there might be a small gathering of people on the weekend.”

But that’s about the extent of it. Which means that you have moments like Rose rolling in this tricky putt from off the green.

Dropped that and absolutely nobody reacted.

Even more insane, Sung Kang did this.

That’s a hole in one and you’d barely know it. Ace that hole with a gallery and the place would be losing its bleep. . In this case, it’s just a shrug and keep moving.

The absence of fans also meant we got great moments, like this hole out from Jon Rahm and an uncensored reaction, believed to be from Brooks Koepka.

Pretty bleeping good there, is right. That was an awesome shot, and a great moment. Normally, that reaction gets drowned out by fans going nuts. This time, it was front and center. And it was fantastic.

And while Jim Nantz was smooth as ever in handling the moment, I really hope nobody was offended by that reaction on the course. That was real. That was honest. And that was cool. Because that shot was pretty bleeping good there.

That’s how you make chicken salad out of chick crap. No fans means no crowd noise, means better audio, and a better experience. Bring it the bleep on.

Welcome back, golf. It’s good to have you back. Correction, it’s pretty bleeping good to have you back

The only thing missing yesterday from a crowdless PGA Tour Event—was one, Eldrick Tont Woods. Because if there’s any cat I want to see on the track where sound is traveling from teebox to teebox without barriers—it’s thee Cat.

No one in the history of golf has a more famous case of the red ass and a more chronic case of the sailor mouth. 

Imagine Cat at Colonial without any noise to drown out those J.C. blasts and G.D. bombs.

Dude could be way out on the corner of the track teeing it up at number 6—snap hook one into the street—and mother-eff so loud and so unobstructed that someone lining up a putt on 18 would have to back off their read.

That’s all yesterday was missing. The foulest mouthed dude in the game getting a case of the red ass with nothing to drown him out.

Well—if you believe the reports—Cat’s super yacht is on its way to Hilton Head right now. And that could mean the return of golf’s version of Tommy Lasorda at next week’s RBC Heritage. Here’s to hoping. And here’s to wedging in a Tommy Lasorda/Kurt Bevacqua resets into golf takes.