Taking Aim With John Huggan

AIMDarwin.jpgJohn Huggan is the European correspondent for Golf World/Golf Digest, a columnist for GolfObserver.com and he writes a must-read weekly column for Scotland on Sunday.

He is the second writer (after Stu Schneider) to participate in the "Taking Aim" interview.

Huggan chimes in via AOL Instant Messenger from Dunbar, Scotland:


JHUGGAN:    get on with it you plonker

JHUGGAN:    (fav saying of the late, great Peter Dobereiner)

GeoffShac:    so you've seen your share of golf shenanigans, the new women's world ranking has to rank high with the all time boondoggles?

JHUGGAN:    you think so? i can think of many more I'd rather get upset about!

GeoffShac:    please, do tell

JHUGGAN:    does anyone really care?

GeoffShac:    well no, but women's golf is trying to break through

JHUGGAN:    annika is number one...that is all that really matters

JHUGGAN:    they might manage that if they don't cut their own throats by banning press agencies...

JHUGGAN:    it is true that for the first time in ages the women's game is competitively interesting

JHUGGAN:    especially if annika is losing interest

GeoffShac:    well it does seem that everything they are doing is marketing driven, which I'm afraid might give some of our friends at the PGA Tour some bad ideas

JHUGGAN:    money is never a good reason for doing anything in golf

JHUGGAN:    money alone anyway

GeoffShac:    what about world rankings points? is improving your lie after a rain delay worth a few extra points? :)

JHUGGAN:    ah, monty

JHUGGAN:    poor, poor monty

GeoffShac:    who? :)

JHUGGAN:    no one's pal any more

GeoffShac:    how's that going to go over at the ryder cup?

JHUGGAN:    not well...the much vaunted euro team spirit will be badly affected

GeoffShac:    and lord knows you guys are already writing enough about it, when do we learn what the euros are going to be eating for breakfast?

JHUGGAN:    that's always been a bit of a myth anyway

GeoffShac:    what, team spirit or that the guys eat breakfast?

JHUGGAN:    both

JHUGGAN:    we love the ryder cup because you always come second

GeoffShac:    hey, some of us over here love it for the same reason

JHUGGAN:    that is to your credit

GeoffShac:    nothing like seeing our boys slapped around every two years

JHUGGAN:    the best part is how much they hate it all

GeoffShac:    why do you think that is?

JHUGGAN:    its a bit of a cliche...but golf isn't a team game in the US

JHUGGAN:    we grow up playing team matches over here

JHUGGAN:    and lots of foursomes

JHUGGAN:    which you guys confuse with fourballs

JHUGGAN:    if you don't know what the game is called, how can you play it well?

GeoffShac:    hey, they both have four in the title
GeoffShac:    do you think our boys would do any better if they actually played some different formats on the tour, or is it hopeless?

JHUGGAN:    actually, i think they may win this year...despite everything

JHUGGAN:    i do have concerns about your captain

JHUGGAN:    weird choice

GeoffShac:    oh?
GeoffShac:    his golf bag is not real happy with him at the moment

JHUGGAN:    job should have gone to o'meara...but the pga of america is still miffed about being asked where all the money goes

JHUGGAN:    where does it go, by the way?

GeoffShac:    Jim Awtrey's pension

JHUGGAN:    sizeable i'm sure

GeoffShac:    and of course they are strong supporters of The First Tee

JHUGGAN:    aren't we all?

GeoffShac:    eh, I'm not sure about the R&A

JHUGGAN:    the R&A has enough to contend with...all that gin and tonic

GeoffShac:    and they are doing wonderfully...square grooves seems to be their special project, can't wait to hear what they find

JHUGGAN:    hey, anything to divert attention from the real issues

JHUGGAN:    like tees outside the golf course at the last Open

GeoffShac:    speaking of diverting, tell us what you thought of the commissioner's rationale for keeping the WGC's in the US?

JHUGGAN:    yet again, short-term thinking

JHUGGAN:    or maybe he thinks that, having killed off the Aussie tour he can go after Europe next

GeoffShac:    how can you accuse of him of thinking short term when he's signed with the Golf Channel for 15 years?

JHUGGAN:    i rest my case....vacuous talking heads--Renton Laidlaw aside--are right up his alley...no tough questions

JHUGGAN:    i'm not sure I understand anything he says

GeoffShac:    is the European Tour going to be hurt by the new Tour schedule?

JHUGGAN:    next year for sure....

JHUGGAN:    after that i have a hunch that this Fed-Ex thing will flop

JHUGGAN:    the best players don't want to play that much in a short space of time

JHUGGAN:    the euros don't want to be in the US that long in the summer

JHUGGAN:    and history won't care who wins it

JHUGGAN:    and if history doesn't care, neither does Tiger

JHUGGAN:    if he loses interest, it's over

GeoffShac:    speaking of him...
GeoffShac:    I woke up last night and realized that he may win his 20th major at some dreadful 8,000 yard modern course in about 2015

JHUGGAN:    it's headed that way

GeoffShac:    do you think he cares about something like that...
GeoffShac:    that it might not happen at a "storied venue"

JHUGGAN:    i think he does

JHUGGAN:    i think he'd rather play proper golf

JHUGGAN:    he'd win even more if they did

JHUGGAN:    can't recall the last time i saw a shot shaped into a tucked flag

GeoffShac:    would you call the way he plays now "proper"
GeoffShac:    it works
GeoffShac:    but it's not the same game he played in 2000

JHUGGAN:    i can't blame him for doing what works

JHUGGAN:    he's not the problem

GeoffShac:    of course not, I admire him for adapting to the changing game

JHUGGAN:    he is so much better than everyone else it is a joke

JHUGGAN:    only ernie is close

JHUGGAN:    ish

GeoffShac:    well one difference is, Tiger isn't racing off for ribbon cuttings in between Sunday and Wednesday's first round

JHUGGAN:    i don't think you'll see him do as much of that

JHUGGAN:    only in weeks where he doesn't care about the event

JHUGGAN:    he hates la costa

GeoffShac:    can you blame him?

JHUGGAN:    which is to his credit....

GeoffShac:    yes and he loves Riviera
GeoffShac:    so he gets bonus points

JHUGGAN:    he does

JHUGGAN:    and he's a good guy

JHUGGAN:    likes a beer i hear

GeoffShac:    on a more heartwarming note...
GeoffShac:    you will be making your triumphant return to Augusta after 6 years

JHUGGAN:    i will....i'm sure they can't wait to see me

GeoffShac:    looking forward to fine cuisine in town and a nosebleed seat in the media room?

JHUGGAN:    nothing there is edible apart from the chicken sandwich

JHUGGAN:    actually, i'm looking forward to seeing a new course

GeoffShac:    yes, you will have to be reacquainted

JHUGGAN:    what is that slop stuff they serve?

JHUGGAN:    i know what it looks like....

GeoffShac:    pimento cheese
GeoffShac:    it's not so bad!

JHUGGAN:    nah, the other stuff

JHUGGAN:    it's brown

GeoffShac:    oh, I stayed away from that

JHUGGAN:    me too

GeoffShac:    well where can we read your correspondences from Augusta?

JHUGGAN:    the guardian and scotland on sunday

GeoffShac:    columns?

JHUGGAN:    bit of everything i suspect

GeoffShac:    tell us the truth, you are there to put the finishing touches on that lavish Monty coffee table book you have been working on

JHUGGAN:    it's a joint venture

JHUGGAN:    a tribute to our lasting friendship

GeoffShac:    touching I tell you

JHUGGAN:    teary

GeoffShac:    great to see you two back together

JHUGGAN:    it's always been an interesting relationship

JHUGGAN:    i knew him before he was Monty

GeoffShac:    oh? there was a pre-Monty?

JHUGGAN:    oh yes, he and i were even in the same team when he was an amateur

GeoffShac:    ah that's where the bond grew

JHUGGAN:    sprouted

GeoffShac:    ah, excuse me
GeoffShac:    well I know he'll be happy to see you at Augusta

JHUGGAN:    he does have more hair than me

JHUGGAN:    and a bigger chest

GeoffShac:    he does appear to be expanding again in the weight department,
GeoffShac:    the car washing isn't burning enough calories

JHUGGAN:    the man is in love, leave him alone

JHUGGAN:    and not only with himself

GeoffShac:    really? wow, this is serious

JHUGGAN:    nigel the ex-husband has moved out i hear

JHUGGAN:    only in england....

GeoffShac:    see, we Americans are above such petty gossip

JHUGGAN:    nah...you love it all

GeoffShac:    we'd love it if you came over here and covered Phil more often

JHUGGAN:    phil is well enough covered i feel

GeoffShac:    alright, last question before this gets ugly

JHUGGAN:    stu schneider got longer than this!

JHUGGAN:    i wasn't in caddyshack of course

GeoffShac:    exactly, we love our movie stars here

JHUGGAN:    he's too busy watching the hockey, believe me

GeoffShac:    no no, he really watches the Golf Channel
GeoffShac:    so this distance thing that you have a big bias about...
GeoffShac:    what do you see happening?

JHUGGAN:    i have to believe that sanity will eventually prevail

JHUGGAN:    my theory has always been that as soon as it becomes an economic problem for finchem, then it will change

JHUGGAN:    and the ball will be hauled back 50 yards or so

JHUGGAN:    once everyone starts switching off in big enough numbers...it will happen

JHUGGAN:    no matter what titleist thinks

GeoffShac:    so not economic because of the cost of changing courses but because no one can relate to the game as it's played?

JHUGGAN:    correct...while i have obvious sympathy for your point about courses, that isn't what will precipitate change

JHUGGAN:    money!!!

JHUGGAN:    finchem's money

JHUGGAN:    and, by extension, his employer's income

GeoffShac:    well that's a lot of money then
GeoffShac:    will the european tour be supportive?

JHUGGAN:    i think they will....even over here where there is a greater variety of course setup, the game is less interesting to watch

GeoffShac:    do you sense the players--outside of Geoff Ogilvy, maybe Ernie Els and a few others--are aware of this?

JHUGGAN:    the majority are not...or don't care

JHUGGAN:    see above...under "money"

JHUGGAN:    the long-term health of the sport is not something they spend a lot of time on

GeoffShac:    well, if you make it out of Augusta alive perhaps you can share some thoughts in another of these stellar interviews?

JHUGGAN:    do i get paid?

GeoffShac:    no

JHUGGAN:    didn't think so

GeoffShac:    you get the pleasure of getting your money's worth out of AOL

JHUGGAN:    get better questions next time

GeoffShac:    I will try (note to self: no questions about women's golf)

JHUGGAN:    you're holding me back

GeoffShac:    well, we've gotten personal with Monty, Phil, what have I left out?

JHUGGAN:    i'm a media personality waiting to happen

GeoffShac:    maybe The Golf Channel will hire you
GeoffShac:    wait, wrong accent

JHUGGAN:    you forgot the USGA

JHUGGAN:    i'd love to work with brian hewitt

JHUGGAN:    all that knowledge he could pass on

GeoffShac:    there goes your Sprint Post Game appearance from The Masters
GeoffShac:    you two are collaborating on a book right?

JHUGGAN:    not this year

GeoffShac:    well give it time, maybe you can bond at the Golf Writer's dinner

JHUGGAN:    uh-huh

GeoffShac:    I'll talk to the right people and make sure you are seated together

JHUGGAN:    sadly, i will be absent

GeoffShac:    it might be the only decent meal you get all week in Augusta

JHUGGAN:    i'll be applauding from afar during the writing awards

GeoffShac:    you don't exactly do the maudlin stuff, that goes over well with the judges you know

JHUGGAN:    i must find a terminally-ill child to write about

GeoffShac:    preferably one that plays golf left handed, was visited by Monty in the hospital and who supports a manufacturers right to sell unregulated equipment

JHUGGAN:    a sure winner

GeoffShac:    on that note, promise you'll share some insights from Augusta?

JHUGGAN:    if i have time in my busy schedule

JHUGGAN:    i'm terribly important you know

GeoffShac:    doing this interview tells the world that
GeoffShac:    thanks a bunch