I’m a bit disappointed to not get a single Christmas card in my mailbox, but I’ll use the questions below to make predictions for next year, so strap in.

@NoLayingUp Who wins the 4 majors this year?

— David Kateeb (@DKateeb) December 1, 2015

As I was able to correctly predict all four winners for the 2015 majors, it’s my duty to take a crack at the 2016 champions.

DJ’s caddie is gonna need to wear this in 2016

Masters – Jordan Spieth – A solo second finish in 2014 and a record setting win in 2015. It can’t be a coincidence. They’re going to have to Spieth proof this place, and the only way they’re going to be able to do that is to put a limit on the allowable weight of a player’s stones. Considering the USGA’s apathy towards dialing back the balls, I think we’re safe here.

U.S. Open – Dustin Johnson – The breakthrough will finally come in 2016. In January, he’s going to cause an international upheaval by bombing ISIS all the way from Hawaii (attacking from the East, where they least expect it). Then he lifts his first major championship trophy in June at Oakmont. As Tron says, an absolute bomb threat.

British Open – Rory McIlroy – He should have won it this year, and I haven’t forgiven him for it. He’ll make it up to me in July.

PGA Championship – Brooks Koepka – You know I had to, right?

Bonus: Gold Medal -Jordan Spieth – I know next to nothing about the course other than it is has been an absolute disaster in the construction phase, but Spieth seems like the kind of guy that would be really motivated for this thing.

@NoLayingUp Will Ted Scott finally come to his senses and part ways with bubba in 2016?

— Casey Milewsky (@CaseyMilewsky) December 1, 2015

At this point, the only feasible explanation is that Ted’s got an advanced case of Stockholm Syndrome (we’ll call it “Watson Wickedness”). It’s capture bonding at its best. He’s in deep, and now he’s an enabler to Gerry’s antics. The Himmler to Bubba’s Hitler. He seems to be very content with his life, and I can only hope that it was our prayers that made this difference.

On a more serious note, the financial rewards for putting up with Bubba’s shit would probably make it worthwhile. I’m a man of principal, but I’d sell out in a heartbeat if it meant making $100k to carry Bubba’s golf bag and other excess baggage around the Bahamas for a week. Who knows, maybe his shtick is a lot more tolerable if taken in the proper context, and if you actually know him? Don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m trying to be reasonable here. Or…. wait a second…. I’m starting to feel it…… wait…… do I??? No…… do i…. do I have Watson Wickedness!?!? Let’s move on.

@NoLayingUp with Dechambeau's recent australian success, do you see him being the next young star?

— Zack (@zkupper_bsg) December 1, 2015

I would like to think so, but I haven’t made up my mind on the guy yet. There’s no doubt that he’s a talented stick, but I kind of agree with Big Randy here as well:

@Wrong_Fairway it's early but I shelve Bryson's variety of FIGJAMness with 'Off-Putting' works instead of 'Endearing/Entertaining.'

— Big Randy (@BigRandyNLU) November 13, 2015

He seems to be trying really, really hard to make himself stand out with the dumb hat, and the emphasis he puts on the weird things he does (which includes soaking his Pro V’s in epsom salt). I tend to like guys that are cut from a different cloth, but then again, you can also say that guys like Poulter and Bubba fall into this “different” category. As @PFTcommenter would say, it goes both ways.

From a golf perspective, the guy has dominated at every level he’s been at. There are many that have doubted his unorthodox swing pretty much every step along the way, and that won’t stop until he’s proven himself on the PGA Tour. It’s been well documented that he plays with a set of irons that are all the exact same length, and I think questions about how that will effect him on the PGA Tour circuit are fair. I’m for sure not saying he can’t excel with his unorthodox approach, but I’m in the camp that I’m going to need to see it before I really start to believe it.

In the same breath, people shouldn’t rush to judge him (for better or for worse) until he’s been given the proper amount of time to develop, but I get the feeling that people are going to overreact in either direction like they always do. So in summary, I do think he will be very successful, but I’m not going full fanboy crush just yet.

@NoLayingUp How would an all 27-&-under US side fare at the Ryder Cup and who would make the team?

— Dillon Friday (@noclassfriday) December 1, 2015

This is a fun one. As an alternative half-baked idea that totally would never happen, I’ve floated the thought that the Presidents Cup should entertain an idea like this, but I would love if they had a similar U-27 or U-25 Ryder Cup event that went opposite the Presidents Cup that no one watches anyways. But to answer Dillon’s question, here’s what my 12 man team would look like as of today:

  1. Spieth
  2. Rickie
  3. Koepka
  4. Thomas
  5. Reed
  6. Berger
  7. Henley
  8. Finau
  9. Rodgers
  10. English
  11. Schniederjans
  12. Hoffmann

I didn’t put a ton of thought into that, and there’s a solid chance that I have a glaring omission, but I would feel pretty good with those 12 going up against any other group of 12 International or European players.

That being said, when I started making the list, I expected it to be chalked full of more top 50 OWGR players than it is. It’s pretty clear that the top 5 on that list have distinguished themselves from the rest of the pack, but I don’t know why I thought that group of five would be bigger. It may be because those five have had such a profound effect on the current state of the game. Regardless, the future of American golf is so bright you gotta wear Justin Rose style shades that cover most of your forehead and the bottom half of your cheekbones.

@NoLayingUp Biggest surprise to make each 2016 Ryder Cup team?

— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) December 1, 2015

I think the the US team is actually pretty easy to predict at this point, and I don’t see a big surprise or sleeper on the horizon. Chris Riley, Brett Wetterich, Vaughn Taylor, and J.J. Henry are not walking through that door.

I know you want me to say Robert Streb here, but I’m not giving in. I made my Ryder Cup picks in October, and the only thing I would change there is to sub out Tony Finau, and sub in Kevin Kisner. I’m not sure he really qualifies as a surprise, but he’s the closest thing to it. I know his win this fall doesn’t count towards the standings, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t have another huge 2016 like he did in 2015. He’s not a headline maker, so he probably doesn’t get the attention that he deserves, but this may change this year.

On the European side, it’s an absolute crapshoot at this point. As noted in the link above, once you get past Rory-Stenson-Rose-Sergio, it’s pretty wide open. He’s obviously a huge talent, so I’m not sure if he qualifies here, but I’m going with Matthew Fitzpatrick. I would think it would be a bit of a surprise if he made a Ryder Cup team this early in his career considering his age, but I can picture it.

@NoLayingUp Who/what are you most excited for in 2016?

— Sarah Endacott (@sendacott) December 1, 2015

This is like asking me to choose a favorite child. I love all of my children the same!

Current American golf scene

I’ve beaten the topics to death (and also beaten that phrase to death prefacing my statements on these two), but I’m most excited about Koepka and Thomas. I think They (yes, capital ‘T’ to imply deity) are poised for at least two wins between the two of them in 2016, and that includes a major. I will continue to scream their names from the top of the mountain until I feel like they get the respect they deserve, which may not come until said major. The reason for the crazy (series of) mancrushes is that I feel like they both have unmatched potential, and along with Spieth, will be the face of the changing of the guard in American golf. I’m not going to apologize for being overly excited about it.

But in the grand scheme of things, Thomas and Koepka are like the hot twins that live in your dorm freshman year. They’re young and sexy, but there’s still a lot more to see. 2016 is going to be a year we remember for a long time. An extended list of things I’m pumped about:

  • Rory’s return to major title contender/winner
  • Spieth’s attempt to follow up on 2015 and maybe even swear once?
  • Second full season of health for Jason Day (?)
  • DJ’s major breakthrough at Oakmont and subsequent arms treaty
  • The Olympics (could have been so much cooler, but I’m still pumped for it)
  • The U.S. regaining the Ryder Cup, and not giving it up for a long time
  • Kyle F’n Stanley’s return to the PGA Tour
  • Patrick Rodgers becoming Justin Thomas’ Good Buddy
  • Patrick Reed in a Revolutionary War uniform at the Ryder Cup
@NoLayingUp when you sink a shot from off the green, why do you pull the ball out without pulling the pin out?

— Taylor Naughton (@Naughtme) December 1, 2015

Reason #1 is obvious: #TourSauce. The rules of the sauce require you to act as if you’re playing Operation, and if you touch the flagstick or the lip of the cup, you are electrocuted.

Reason #2: There is some kind of rule about removing the flagstick and pulling your ball out (if it is not fully below the lip of the cup) with it that puts the ball back in play. But mostly reason #1.

@NoLayingUp Having been able to see more of it up close, any views to share re: the Euro tour, good, bad, or as expected?

— Kevin Vedder (@vedderkj) December 1, 2015

Before moving to Europe, people kept telling me that I would become the European Tour expert. It turns out though, they don’t play any European Tour golf in Europe. The more and more you look at their schedule, the more you realize they desperately need to rename that tour. Rory won the Race to Dubai this year by playing a total of two non co-sanctioned events on the continent of Europe. Of the 45 events on the schedule for the 2015-16 season, only 19 take place in Europe. There are more tour sanctioned events in the US (and South Africa!) than there are in the home of golf, Scotland. I know there is not a west coast like the US where you can play golf basically year round, and no “Heaven’s Waiting Room” like Florida, but if someone can win your tour’s championship while barely setting foot on the continent, it’s time for a name change.

So I can’t really answer your question, Kevin. I feel like I’m rarely even in the proper time zone for a European Tour event, and it’s rare that the Euro event for that weekend is more entertaining to me than the PGA Tour event. Chances are I’m not watching both in the same day, so I’m almost always choosing PGA Tour golf. Despite being (theoretically) closer to the action, there hasn’t been enough going on with the European Tour to capture my attention.

On a similar note, being a PGA Tour fan in the European time zone can actually be pretty awesome. Golf comes on at night here, and I rarely have to budget my day around a significant tournament. I can come home from work on Thursdays and still see as much coverage as I want. I travel a lot on weekends, and usually return home on Sundays with plenty of time to make it to the couch for the back nine on Sunday. For all other sports, living here sucks, but for golf, it’s actually pretty ideal.

@NoLayingUp shampoo choices? Conditioner too? How many washes in a week are we talking about here? Asking for a friend

— Colby Work (@colbywork) December 1, 2015

So I just recently discovered that you’re not supposed to wash your hair every time you’re in the shower. I’ve literally washed my hair every time I’ve taken a shower since the day I started taking showers. I’m sure there are worse things to find out that you’re doing wrong, but that’s the exact fear that struck me when I found this out. What else am I doing wrong!? Why wouldn’t I assume I should wash my hair every time? To me, it’s like washing your body, wiping your ass, using sunscreen, using laundry detergent, wearing deodorant. Why wouldn’t you just do this every time? It reminded me of the great standing vs. sitting debate (highlighted by Deadspin here). You’re not even aware that there are people out there that do these things differently than you. There needs to be a database where we can keep these simple facts in one place.

@NoLayingUp tips for surviving a Golf winter in Chicago? (Other than the obvious take a trip somewhere warmer)

— Will Stockert (@willias1) December 2, 2015

I do. As a Chicago resident for six years, my golf game suffered through many harsh winters as my sticks collected dust. What I tried to do every fall is identify one thing I wanted to change about my game. I have a very unnatural grip and takeaway, so I spent a winter doing simple drills just rehearsing my takeaway in front of a body mirror. I spent maybe 5-10 minutes a day just practicing bringing the club back more on plane. I would then go outside and at least make a few free swings to help maintain that natural feeling of a golf swing. I have no scientific data to support this, but doing those drills yet not mixing in actual golf swings hitting balls really helped me actually implement the change come spring time.

So my advice is, pick one goal, or one thing you want to change. It could be a switch in putting grips, address position, posture, chipping, etc. Work on that in your free time in the winter, and you’ll be a lot less rusty come spring.

My second suggestion breaks the only rule you set, but I think planning at least one trip during the winter is essential. Make sure you plan this for a period of time when it is still going to be cold in Chicago (I once fell victim to the winter blues, got antsy, and booked a trip in February to go to Myrtle Beach in June, despite the fact that it’s going to be perfect golf weather in Chicago in June, and very hot in South Carolina). This gives you something to look forward to during the winter months as well, rather than the inevitable “no end in sight” feeling you’ll get when that snow starts falling.

@NoLayingUp From a couple hundred tweet followers 2 years ago to over 30k. How does this make you feel and who would you like to thank?

— Peter McAlpine (@khunopie) December 2, 2015

Peter, this is a great question. It makes me very, very appreciative of the readers we have, and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s who we owe our most gratitude towards. We started this site with no real mission or goal other than creating a community where people could hang out and talk about golf without taking things too seriously. Hopefully people have laughed, and maybe even learned a thing or two along the way. Readers interacting, commenting, sharing material, retweeting, liking, or even arguing is what makes all of this worth it. So the first thank you goes to anyone out there who has done any of the above in some way shape or form in the last two years.

Secondly, there are too many people in the industry that helped us get our exposure, and have given up a large amount of their time to help us out, without expecting anything in return. This goes from something as formal and official as going on a podcast, down to g-chatting about the wording of a tweet. The three people that stick out the most who have been with us from the start in this regard are Shane Bacon, Kyle Porter, and Adam Sarson. I randomly DM’d Bacon asking if he wanted to a podcast, and he gave me an hour of time (and many since) like it was nothing. Same with Porter. I even hit him up for a round of golf when I was in Dallas. I talk to Sarson pretty much every single day and we’ve never even met in person.

When I moved abroad 14 months ago, I wasn’t sure I would continue to do this. At times there are significant delays between podcasts, posts, etc. (which will inevitably continue), but the feedback and interaction have kept me coming back for more. So for everyone that made it through all 2,600 words of this, and even those who did not, thank you. (And if you want to thank us by doing your Christmas shopping in the NLU Pro Shop you’re allowed to do that too.)