Welcome to the first installment of GHIN & Tonic. Our hope is that this space serves as a callback to the spirit of the original writing that appeared on No Laying Up dot com: unvarnished, wide-ranging, and somewhat random, but with golf as the loose thread. Some will be more golf-heavy, some golf-light - think TrapDraw Podcast plus some golf sprinkled in. We’ll pass the ball around on these on a weekly basis and all will be personal in nature. And if you can’t figure out which sections are “GHIN” and “Tonic”, that’s on you!


Wrapping up some points from the Masters-recap pod and beyond…

  • We did our usual major hand-outs and have probably awarded at least 200 majors over the next 30 years. HOWEVA, I want to make note: After what we just witnessed at Augusta, the other guys pegged Ludvig’s career major total at TWO VICTORIES. TWO! Meanwhile, Scottie was awarded three future Masters wins and a lot of talk about a calendar year grand slam. I had Ludvig pegged at six or more major wins, which I think is achievable and likely with his mindset, skillset and fitness level. I can’t believe the disconnect. And then to see both of them validate the performance this week at Harbour Town (as if they needed, to) is invigorating. With Scottie playing at this level the margins are so thin for any challengers, so Ludvig can evaluate these performances with absolute clarity on what he needs to work on.

  • For the record: Ludvig was the #3 ranked amateur in the world when I called his name out during the Ryder Cup, not #1, as was suggested on the pod. Keita Nakajima (#1 at the time) wasn’t mentioned for future Presidents Cup stardom, nor was Pierceson Coody (#2) for even future Ryder Cup appearances. Ludvig is special!

  • Another note from the pod I think is worth calling out: I gained a much deeper appreciation for the 14th hole at ANGC. The combination of the firmness, the hole locations they chose, the slopes on that green, the width, slope and various angles of that fairway, and the limited depth available to land a shot made for really engaging viewing and a distinct difference between good and great. On the flip side, the opposite seemed true with the par fives, most acutely the 15th hole. The firmness, downhill slope from the fairway and wind combined to suck some of the art and suspense out of that hole to the point that most guys played conservatively, and the ones who did go for it and executed good shots ended up in the same general area just long. It was a cool thing to see how the course ebbed and flowed from a few soggy years into the conditions we were blessed with this year, but on 15 it really called attention to how little those trees down the left side of the fairway make sense. If it’s going to be tough then you’d almost rather encourage guys to go for it if they’re brave enough, regardless of which side of the hole they’re on. Or if you want to add a variable, do so with mounding or something more thoughtful than trees. It will be very interesting to see what “The Riddler” does over the next 3-5 years as far as the course goes. The man seems like a genuine golf nut who values the stuff that us sickos value and will try to bring back some of the MacKenzie spirit to the golf course (on that note, bring back more of the boomerang on 9 green!) One promising note this year was what seemed like a retreat for the second cut. Hopefully, we see that continue so that the fairway height is mowed all the way up to the pine straw, thus reducing the friction on wayward balls that are currently keeping them in the grass!

  • We made it a point to cast aspersions upon the Pimento and Skip It hats on offer in the Masters Pro Shop (which, Augusta doesn’t need to be doing that stuff - you don’t need to be all things to all people. You’re the Masters! I think there’s a bit of a correction coming on that front with a few things they’re doing that are a little too cute, but we’ll leave that for another day) only to see news of this atrocity emerging from the upcoming PGA in Louisville. I shudder to think of what the PGA has in store for us next month, between the one-year anniversary of Blockie and all of their social media thirst and their continued post-haste social promotion of ZJ’s tragic captaincy (would link, but they deleted the tweets.)

  • Related:
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  • Speaking of merch: I think the Augusta merch situation is out of hand. When I was growing up, or in the 2000s, all through the mid-2010s, and even as recently as 2022 at ANWA, you didn’t wait in lines and you went in, snooped around, bought a few things for friends and one or two impulse items that caught your eye and then you checked out, stored it and got to the golf. It was a quick deal. At ANWA on Saturday, I witnessed lines that stretched for hundreds of yards all the way down to the entrance gates and just didn’t make any sense. It was evident there was a subset of people (I won’t even call them patrons, because that’s not the correct term in this instance) who purchased tickets that day just to get first crack at items in the pro shop. On one hand, it was truly a bummer, because it’s such an intimate experience getting a first look at the course for the week in a more intimate setting and real competition going on. On the other hand, it seemed like they sold quite a few more tickets for ANWA this year, so anything to soak up the crowds a bit. I’m not sure what the solution is: dollar amounts for each transaction? Limited selection on SKUs and variety that day? I know they want to sell things to people in return for money, but the over-commercialization reminds me of the Billy Payne Olympics in 1996! And there may be some troubling downstream effects.

  • I was excited to hear about The Patch getting some love and resources courtesy of Augusta National. That said, let’s take it a couple of steps further and get Forest Hills some love, too. That place could be so good, and I know it’s not as simple due to Augusta University running the show over there, but it seems like they’d welcome some support. Augusta can and should be a public-access golf mecca via two different avenues: true best-in-class public courses that already exist (see: Aiken Golf Club) and hopefully those supported by the generosity of Augusta National to get to a certain level, and then private courses opening their doors to the public each April to subsidize the membership costs and bring a taste of the UK or Australia to the States. Palmetto’s perfected this and some of the new national membership clubs around the area are leaning in early. On Forest Hills: Our state championship was there in my sophomore year of high school. It’s a Donald Ross on good land, but I think there are four or five holes that were sold off or used for university development, and then they brought Arnold Palmer Design in to refashion and reroute some things, and I remember thinking even as a 15 year-old who barely knew what golf course architecture was “damn, these holes are different, and actually they stink!”

  • The ninth hole at Harbour Town has supplanted the tenth at Riviera as the best short par four on tour. I just love it. And last week marked the true ten year anniversary of NLU, as we recorded that first podcast at Harbour Town before Matt Kuchar won in illustrious fashion, holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole. Somehow, perhaps fittingly, this is the only picture I have from that weekend: the hibachi chef fanning the flames of what would be, while Tim Clark sits nearby:

  • Speaking of the Lowcountry: I was blessed to get an invite from my friend Rob Collins down to the opening of the new reversible course that he and his partner Tad King built at Palmetto Bluff. I captured a bunch of drone stuff and got to hang with Rob and a few other friends and get a couple of spins around it. We’ll get a couple of reels out on it soon. I described it to my colleagues as “Sweetens Cove with millions of dollars of private equity money and a lot more available dirt.” It’ll be the perfect place for us to film a match at some point. So happy for and proud of Rob. And much like Landmand and Sweetens, there’s a bunch of big, wild stuff that’ll catch your eye, but the detail work and shaping on some of the greens is what really sticks with you. The existing May River Golf Club down there is a personal favorite (best Nicklaus I’ve ever played - he did it right after Sebonack and it seems Doak rubbed off on him) and there’s a new Coore & Crenshaw in the early stages of being built. It’s an extremely private setup, both literally and figuratively, so I take that into account when sharing this stuff, but I think it’s instructive to know what Rob is working on. As you can see below, it’s a giant playground and there are probably 50-60 hole combinations out there. I’m really proud of Rob and Tad and their continued success and creativity. More to come from this excursion:

  • I’m blessed to take a lot of great trips, both professionally with my colleagues and personally, with my family. Travel and experiences are something that I treasure above all else. The only risk/downside is having a lack of time to properly reflect on them - often it’s onward to the next shoot or the next adventure, directly or with just a few days at home. This happened last year after Scotland when I took one of the better trips of my life with my good friend Jim Hartsell, Paddy Neill, Matt Golden and then flew to London and then LA and then Pebble Beach afterward, and to an extent it happened after our Australia trip earlier this year, after which we flew directly to California for the tour event at Pebble.

Right now I’m trying to do two things: 1) Relive that Australia trip while we piece together the footage to make the episodes and all the accompanying content, and outtakes and social stuff. It’s so fun to see it through the camera on the back end and with talented guys like Cody, Kevin Jackson and Ross Flannigan drawing different things out. Makes you notice different details and makes you want to do it all over again.

2) Catalog and journal everything I’ve been feeling during and after our recent trip to Scotland. A day at Troon has me excited for this summer’s Open Championship, the opportunity to make a quick spur-of-the-moment return trip back over to the Isle of Arran and introduce DJ to people like Ewan and Greg and experience first-hand places like Corrie and Shiskine that he’d only seen through the lens of what we’d shot on the Hartsell project. It meant a lot to go back and see Ewan and Greg and I hadn't expected to get back so soon. Those guys mean a lot to me and I didn’t realize how deeply it would resonate to see Arran in sunshine this time and to be able to introduce someone else to it, much less DJ who had been gobsmacked by the footage of the place. I look forward to taking my family there in the coming years. Then, we were onward to Fife and stopped at some cool under-the-radar spots I’d bookmarked, and we droned and just explored. Pics of the journey below:

And then the main event: five days in St Andrews with the centerpiece being two loops around the Old Course, one in each direction. I’ll leave it there for now, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m confident we’ll flesh it out properly in the videos, and I’m working hard to translate it into some writing. Came back feeling more grateful and introspective than I have in a long time…

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…and knocked out my GlobalEntry interview upon arrival in Newark!

  • On that note, I promise I’m trying to get the annual Airports TrapDraw Pod recorded, I just need things to slow down for a bit!

  • All sorts of stuff Randy and I are monitoring on the air travel and logistics front. Will make one of these dispatches air travel and logistics-focused as we lead up to Airports pod. I will say, that the AirTrain at EWR continues to be the single-weirdest piece of transportation or infrastructure I’ve ever encountered.

  • I couldn't resist snapping this photo to show Randy:

  • On the food and beverage front, the process of putting together my Champions Dinner menu was such an unexpected delight, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t lead to a fair bit of anxiety, consternation and paralysis over the sheer number of directions to go and the balance between picking stuff you love and creating something more than just a list of those dishes and wines. I loved it. And I loved that everyone else ran with it, too. Randy’s Cincinnati Chili, Casey’s Little Italy rendition, DJ’s ode to Milwaukee, Neil’s yearning to go back to growing up and our ever-talented Mom, Peggy, cooking up delicious, varied stuff every night and not knowing how good we had it, KVV’s bizarro Montana/Baltimore Surf & Turf that I dig, all of it. Just fun!

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  • I can’t recommend the Envinate wine that I included in the wine selections menu highly enough. Any of their selections are approachable, relatively affordable and will open up a whole new window into Canary Islands wine that you probably didn’t have any idea about unless you’re somewhat deep into wine. Basically, they’re four friends who make wine all over the Atlantic-influenced regions of Spain. Of their selections, Migan, Lousas, Albahra, Taganan are all good, but the Benje Tinto and Benje Blanco are the first ones I had from them and are among my favorite bottles on the planet. The red is like nothing I’d ever tasted and reminded me of a charcuterie board and umami and salty sea air. And the white has an almost-oily viscosity to it, but without being heavy, and features that same salty smoothness. The farming techniques are wild (the Canaries are VERY far south; volcanic mountainsides; all sorts of marine effect, etc.) and these wines just capture my imagination. Get down the wormhole. Ikewen is another good one from a different producer - if you see it, buy it.

  • On that note, Spring Wine Club shipments are rolling in and I’m starting to taste those. Will report back! Also, a listener sent me an Indian cookbook from the standout London eatery Dishoom - starting to wrap my head around it and feeling a bit intimidated!

  • Not sure how or why, but I’ve been deep into making homemade chimichurri sauce for the past couple of months. We’ve got a nice garden going in the back and a lime tree that’s producing like crazy, so maybe it’s just a desire to use those ingredients, but it’s been nice and simple. Marinate some skirt steaks in soy sauce, go nuts on garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, lime, olive oil, oregano and red pepper (and mess with the ratios each time), stir it up, and then put it on a couple of steaks fresh off the grill. Fresh flavors for spring!

  • On the back end of Scotland and before heading to Augusta, I was unexpectedly in Atlanta by myself for a few days. For the first time since I moved away about nine years ago, I explored the city on my own terms and marveled at how much has changed. Really neat experience to feel like a stranger in a place that I know intimately and sort of fall in love with various things all over again and appreciate the new stuff and the evolution. Went to Lucian Books & Wine one night with a good buddy (and our TrapDraw YSL Trial Correspondent, “Magic Jeff”!) who coaches high school basketball and had an exceptional meal, and a wine list that matched the wide spectrum of the menu. Also, went to a couple bougie-ass coffee shops around town, notably East Pole and Spiller Park. Both were good additions to the scene. Also returned to eat at Snackboxe Bistro (Laotian food, always great) and The Deer and The Dove (overpriced, but excellent and distinctive.)

The famous omelet w/ creme fraiche and caviar at Lucian; the coffee-rubbed seared venison w/ beets at TD&TD; the Pork Laap at Snackboxe.

One thing I’ve read, watched and listened to lately:

Read: Soly and DJ roped me into this NLU fantasy baseball league and it’s gotten me back into following the sport a bit, and while I still refuse to watch the games, it’s fun to track. I’ve gone from not knowing anyone to becoming somewhat of an expert on the current Norfolk Tides roster since the Orioles’ farm system is chock-full of promising prospects. So when I saw this piece in The Athletic’s daily roundup newsletter (which I highly recommend, by the way) on a Silver Lake-backed group that’s buying up dozens of Minor League Baseball Teams around the country I perked up. And with ANGC stuff on the brain lately, it was pretty synchronous to find out that Pat Battle is the guy heading the group up. Interesting play! And one that I hope doesn’t yield to MiLB becoming homogenized or bland, as one of the beauties of it is the local element. As much as I’ve disliked baseball in general (stemming from working 81 home games during a college internship for a BAD Cincinnati Reds team), I’ve had some great memories with various family members at Minor League games in Greenville, SC, Davenport, IA, and here in Jax with the Jumbo Shrimp. To read such glowing reviews of a PE-backed firm going in and maintaining a balance of efficiencies and local flair seemed too good to be true, and maybe it is. But it does seem like there’s a level of trust and operational know-how that can’t be faked, especially when considering Battle’s time spent building IMG College and honing a similar strategy and philosophy in a regionalized area such as college athletics. In any case, deep ANGC tie-ins here too, so there are some concentric circles there with Masters stuff above. Also, in the context of the current M&A climate and increased FTC scrutiny, it’s interesting to see consolidation play out in real-time and out in the open in an industry that has an anti-trust exemption.

  • Watch: Talked about it a little on the last TrapDraw Chop Session but Dream Scenario with Nic Cage just floored me. DJ recommended it before we hopped on a flight to Europe and I was so tickled by it. Thoughtful, bizarre, hilarious, sort of genre-bending and dark. I know Randy loves it, too. Highly recommend. Made me want to watch more movies! Next up, I’m going to fire up “Masters of the Air” on Apple TV on Randy’s rec. I don’t even think I have Apple TV. Nor do I think I’ve even watched any non-sports on TV/Netflix/etc. in months. Also, time to fire up Top Chef Milwaukee and start working towards a fun Perfect Club with DJ on that.
Poster for Dream Scenario with Nicolas Cage.
Poster for Dream Scenario with Nicolas Cage.
  • Listening: I’ve been in deep the last few weeks on a podcast (or rather podkast) called In Good Company, which is produced by the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund and hosted by its CEO Nicolai Tangen. Basically, the fund is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, and as such, holds massive positions in many of the largest and most innovative companies on earth. They do things a bit differently, as most Norwegians do, and exclude certain companies on ethical grounds, seem to promote genuinely good corporate governance, and use their sway and relationships to get some astonishing guests on this podcast - lots of people who don’t speak publicly much outside of investor calls or corporate summits, much less in a relatively informal, wide-ranging setting. Kind of. There are 66 episodes, and I’m only about a dozen in and have skipped around a bit. It’s very substantive, no-bullshit, direct Norwegian stuff and has some unexpected twists and turns. With confidence, I can say that if you like “How I Built This” or “Business Breakdowns” or “Acquired” then you’ll love this. You can find it here on YouTube, or Apple Podcasts!

DJ will be taking the reins next week. Cheers! -TC (tron@nolayingup.com)