Social media swooned Tuesday over the excerpts released from Shane Ryan's Slaying The Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour.
Thanks to all who emailed your concerns over my inclusion as one of the many calculating, shady people who pervade this stuffy and righteous sport oppressing those seeking to expose its human-rights violating ways. While most of you know I'm all for anti-establishment voices and questioning authorities who run the game, I do believe that in order to carry weight such a book should reveal the author to actually like golf.
Anyway, I wasn't privy to a review copy like the rest of the sports media world, but the released chapters ooze the sensibility of a movie trailer that goes on too long and gives way too much away. And all created by someone who wanted to direct a different script.
The takeaway from these excerpts: if you have been in a coma for the last 10 years and hope to get back to a state of vegetative bliss for the ultra low price of $29.00, this is your book.
Working with the material published online, lets consider the games many injustices. Golf.com, normally a solid arbiter of worthy topics, chose and heavily publicized the chapter detailing the plight of Matt Every, who is currently ranked 49th in the world. According to Ryan, Every is "the most outspoken professional golfer in the universe."
“He’s done it before,” he said intently. “He’s picking me out to be a villain because I’m an easy target.”
The subject was Geoff Shackelford, a blogger who covers the sport with an irreverent tone. But since this is golf we’re talking about, with all its claims to propriety, Shackelford toes the line, choosing his victims strategically in order not to offend anyone with real influence.
Wally, would you give him a buzz? On second thought, you have better things to do. And he wouldn't know who you are, anyway. Move along...
For him, Every made a perfect target—here was a player with no power.
I thought he was the most outspoken player in the universe?
Earlier that month, Every caused a minor stir when he complained about the state of TPC Sawgrass. He called it “the worst-conditioned course in Jacksonville” and compared the greens unfavorably to “Miami munis.” (This rant later earned him a “talking-to” from Tour officials.) However, he also took pains to blame himself for his 76-77-CUT performance, leaving the conditions out of it. Shackelford ignored that last part, and suggested that Every was merely making excuses for himself.
“And why is his opinion so *&%$#@! important?” Every continued, still chafing at the perceived dishonesty two weeks later. “I told you I don’t like Geoff Shackelford, and you can write that in your book.” He lowered his head inches from my tape recorder, speaking slowly and loudly for emphasis: “*&%$ you, Geoff.”
“That will go in the book,” I promised.
Didn't Hunter Thompson pen "That will go in the book" first?
As for Every, here’s the original post, unmolested. All of the above points suggested as having been left out are very much in the post. It also remains pretty clear Every was making inaccurate statements about the conditioning of TPC Sawgrass after stinking up the joint.
Over at GolfDigest.com, a 13 page slideshow details the book's many stunning revelations. Warning: you need to sit down. This is going to shock the system. Hearts may be broken: Bubba Watson is a complicated man.
I know, I know. The things you learn from the kids today.
"There are two Bubbas, and they exist side by side, engaged in an endless power struggle," Ryan writes. The first is a real life cartoon character -- fun-loving, God-fearing, with enough talent to capture his second Masters title with relative ease. The second can be petulant, defensive and not entirely beloved by his fellow tour players -- including former teammates at the University of Georgia. "Bubba's never been friendly with Georgia players, and none of us really have a good relationship with him," fellow Bulldog Brendon Todd tells Ryan.
Newsflash from the city! Bubba is different. Bubba is a little weird. Bubba is complicated.
The Christian Science Monitor actually took the time to copy and paste the book's stunning depiction of the U.S.G.A. as the setter-upperer of very difficult golf courses.
“The United States Golf Association might be the cruelest organizing body in the entire sport, and when they take center stage each June at the U.S. Open, they set out to punish and humiliate any golfer with dreams of winning America’s oldest major championship.
“The USGA’s unofficial goal at each U.S. Open, at least in the past decade, is to stage an event so challenging that the winning score is close to even par – ideally on the high side. Sometimes the courses they choose aren’t quite difficult enough on their own, but that doesn’t faze the USGA. They simply doctor the course in the weeks leading up to the event, using some tried-and-true methods to rig the whole event."
They're rigging, they're conspiring, they love par! At least in the last decade.
Please, tell us how these big, bad men do it?
For starters, they grow out the rough, creating gnarly patches of grass that you’d need a machete to hack through.
A metaphor that good requires us to pause ten seconds to worship its artisanal quality.
Then they deprive the fairways of water, speeding them up so that even decent tee shots run forever and eventually find their way into the dense thickets along the side.They do the same to the greens, making it impossible to stick an approach, or to putt on them even if you do.”
Well, except in 2015.
Anyway, the real keeper is the excerpt appearing on Deadspin. The Lords of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, are put in their rightful place with a comparison to North Korea, suggestions of mass squirrel and bird homicide, along with blatant declarations hinting that anyone who likes anything about the place is a bootlicking lackey.
Especially those who willfully take the cart shuttle rides to the media center.
On my first day, I discovered that they didn’t even trust us to walk to the media center on our own, opting to drive us by cart from the entrance instead.
Tip to millennials: this is a thing, like, you know, called a shuttle. It allows you to get to where you are going in less time on a very busy road filled with cars, people (a.k.a. patrons) and trucks making deliveries. It's for your safety and comfort. And it's free!
And when I walked on a patch of grass to reach the cart, an employee yelled at me to stay on the paved path. Big Brother is everywhere.
Big Brother. He's everywhere. Even Augusta in spring.
In this kind of oppressive atmosphere, how could I be expected to appreciate the surroundings, stunning though they may be?
It's hard being a kid today.
For most of the week, I felt like a tourist in North Korea, watched with suspicion by armed soldiers. One false move, I thought, and I could be thrown in the underground bunker where they keep all the dead birds.
Here's the deal: as someone who has been openly critical of the club's treatment of, say, its past champions and the essence of its Bobby Jones-Alister MacKenzie golf course, I have never once been treated rudely. In fact, I'm respectful of their rules and they are quite respectful of my right to my opinion as long as it's delivered without stepping where they don't want me to step and with me having the audacity to accept a shuttle ride every morning.
Which...makes me a very bad person, according to this book:
For some, all this rigorous pomposity is cause for praise. Augusta National is the last bastion of some sacred, vanishing way of life, the theory goes, although what that way of life might be is beyond me, since self-important old rich people who make life hell for everyone else are too common to be considered sacred, and too entrenched to be vanishing.
That's some heavy stuff there, so let's focus on the idea that this is a golf tournament, played once a year and which is a completely voluntary exercise for those attending and covering. No one is harmed in the making of this movie--unless you count the blades of grass mown. Furthermore, as much as I know the kids think it's all about them, it's not. The Masters is ultimately still (mostly) about a week of golf where the players put on a show. Don't like it? Don't watch or attend. North Koreans would love that kind of freedom.
Nevertheless, it’s a rule of life that all despots attract lackeys, and the Masters attracts more than most.
We call them patrons, actually. And they buy books too!
The way the bootlickers carry on about the sacrosanct nature of the tournament, and seem to get such a perverse delight at the innocents who run afoul of the honor code, is enough to make you want to retch.
If this is the kind of thing that makes you retch, maybe then maybe a book on North Korea will bring some relief?