Welcome to GHIN & Tonic Vol. 10. Double digits! Thanks, as always, for reading. Here are a few quick things that are on my mind this week.

GHIN

The best golf thing I read last week – actually the best thing I've read in many, many weeks – was Brendan Quinn's profile of Lilia Vu in The Athletic. Actually, it's much less of a profile of Vu, herself. It's more of a telling of her origin story.

If you watched any of Lilia's historic run in the majors last year, you probably heard broadcasters making passing mentions of her family's history; her grandparents escaping Vietnam on a homemade boat with a handful of others and making their way to America to start a new life. When it's crammed into a few lines in a media guide, it's a compelling note. But when it's spelled out in full detail – through countless interviews and stop-you-in-your-tracks, first-person perspective, it makes for one of the most thoughtful and propulsive pieces I've ever read in golf.

I wouldn't call myself a particularly patriotic person, and the Olympics as a whole have, admittedly, always been mostly an eye roll for me. But all I'll say is that it's hard to get to the end of a piece like this and not be struck by how beautiful an American medal would look at the end of this particular butterfly effect.

Massive thanks to BQ and everyone who participated in this piece for creating a true show-stopper and an unforgettable feature.



In other news: A professional golfer named Hayden Springer shot 59 last week at the John Deere Classic. It was the 14th time someone has broken 60 on the PGA Tour.

Shooting 59 on a 7,300-yard PGA Tour setup (even a soft one like TPC Deere Run) is a concept that every golfer can theoretically wrap their heads around. You need to make everything. You need a couple of good breaks. But I would guess that the level of golf required to do so is still basically inconceivable to most people. It’s Video Game Golf. Maybe better, honestly. Springer, a player you probably have never heard of, shot 27 on the front nine. Twenty-seven!!!!!!!

When I was growing up, 59 was a mythical number. Sub-60 rounds were like comets that only came around once a decade. It was really fun to look for them. Guys might get close occasionally, but even after Al Geiberger broke the seal in 1977, there were only two more 59s in the next 22 years. And that third one was, of course, the best one: David Duval closing out the Bob Hope in 1999 with a final-round 59 to win by one.

The only one I saw in person was Jim Furyk’s 59, which might have been the most impressive (no one else shot better than 65 on that blustery day at Conway Farms). I was covering the round for the PGA Tour and even though it was a Friday, it felt every bit as exciting as watching someone chase down their first Tour title.

Since Duval, it’s happened 11 more times and each one understandably feels a little less exciting. That’s the way life goes. To be honest, scanning through the list of players to break 60, I forgot about half of them had happened. (Kevin Chappell?)

Springer’s 59 was the second on the PGA Tour in 12 days, after Cameron Young’s 59 at the Travelers. These Guys Are Good. Live Under Par. Things of that nature.

Being a superstar has never been a prerequisite for shooting 59. A lot of 59ers look much more like Springer than Scottie Scheffler (oh, right, he did it once, too). Coming into the week, Springer had made 6 of 18 cuts on Tour. DataGolf had him as the 295th-ranked golfer in the world.

None of this is meant as a shot at Springer: Instead, what I'm struck by is the feeling that rounds like this might be the best way to illustrate how incredibly deep the game is. This is what the majority of the PGA Tour is – anonymous golfers of inconceivable talent, capable of swooping in and being the best player in the world on any given day.

There are a lot of painfully obvious reasons for this increase in sub-60 rounds: Players are better than ever. Agronomy is better than ever. Most of all, equipment is laughably long, forgiving and optimized. I suppose this is what it looks like when a league’s entire floor gets higher. It doesn't ruin my day and I really don’t want to be too precious about it. I just wish this "progress" was a little more fun. This one barely made a sound.

As arbitrary as the difference between 60 and 59 is, I kind of feel like eulogizing what we’ve lost as these types of scores become so commonplace that we start to lose track of them.

A “59 watch” was one of my favorite things in the game. Maybe it was the absurdity of the number itself and just how magical and out of place a 5 looks on a scoreboard filled with 6s and 7s. Maybe it was the fact that YOU knew that THEY knew they were getting close to breaking the sound barrier and you got to watch exactly how that feeling changed their process and emotions on those last few holes. Those moments were some of my favorites in a lifetime of watching golf.

Remember when Phil lipped out his putt for 59 at the Phoenix Open? The golf world stopped. He knew exactly what was on the line. Him coming up short was borderline emotional. The near-misses were just as captivating (maybe even more captivating) than the successes.

We all have our own version of this, which I think is what made those moments both inconceivable AND deeply relatable. Your number might be 79 or 99 or 109, but the feeling is the same. “If I can just do X on the last Y holes…” Hell, our entire Strapped series is powered largely by this exact feeling and idea. Perfection in golf is supposed to be elusive and we aren’t supposed to be posing for history book photos every week.

But the pro game marches on, a little less relatable than it was before. Here’s to whoever turns out to be Mr. or Ms. 57, I suppose. It just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.



TONIC

I had the privilege of hopping on the TrapDraw last week with Neil and Cody to talk about my trip to see Dead and Company at The Sphere (I can’t leave off the “The” – it sounds so stupid).

As we said on the podcast, I think my brother’s assessment of the venue was my favorite that I’ve heard: “It might be the first technological advancement in a while that feels like an uncomplicated net positive.” It’s really freaking fun. And with the valid exception of the steep ticket prices or some possible motion sickness, I would be fascinated to talk to someone who didn’t feel the same way.

When I tried on the Apple Vision Pro for the first time, I was similarly overwhelmed by the creative possibilities, but that, like so many other internetty things, also came with a pit in my stomach about isolation and the idea of somehow being even more tethered to devices and couches. (I’m sure much of this is just me becoming An Old. What are you gonna do?)

(The) Sphere, by contrast, felt like an extremely communal, in-person experience, and I kind of love the fact that it’s mostly impossible to capture with cell phone photos or videos. Everyone inside was mostly there for the first time, having their minds melted simultaneously in the same room together. You could look at the person next to you and see your own bewilderment reflected right back to you, which is the best feeling. Add in the decades of context that most people in the audience had with the songs being played and it really is kind of an emotional experience.

*The* Sphere.
*The* Sphere.

Speaking of those songs: I’m well aware of how grating the entire jam band thing can be and I’m not here to convince you otherwise. I will say this: For a night full of songs that date back 50 or 60 years, I was shocked at the youthful energy at the show and I think it’s fascinating to think about why so many people of all ages get swept up by this band at unexpected times in their lives.

This essay by Anthony L. Fisher captures the experience well. As comfortable as cynicism and detached irony are, I feel like this rings true to my experience as well:

“I still feel somewhat self-conscious when talking about it, but the Dead—and all its ancillary experiences over the past decade—have brought me comfort, new friendships, even emotional steadiness. I’m less judgmental, more empathic, and open to discovery… And though I still find the experience of dancing to shitty pop music at weddings physically painful, I can dance to the Dead like no one’s watching—proving that old dogs can learn new tricks when the right treat is available.”

It's not surprising then, that this feeling, multiplied by 18,000 or so strangers, makes for a pretty great atmosphere. Everyone is on the same page, ready to watch their favorite band with no idea where things are about to go.

My favorite interaction about the band was between a close relative and I some years ago. We were driving and the studio version of "Dire Wolf" came on the car's speakers.

"This is fun, who is this?" they asked.

"The Grateful Dead," I said.

"Oh, nevermind. I don't like the Grateful Dead."

It was a real life encapsulation of the meme that "everyone is a Grateful Dead fan, they just don't know it yet."

For those that eventually let their guard down and give into the archeology and exploration (and understand that the band has essentially never played the same song twice), there's not really any coming back.

Music critic and fellow TrapDraw alum Steven Hyden put it this way:

“It does offer a tremendous opportunity for seemingly endless discovery. This, more than anything, explains why I and perhaps others have been drawn into this world relatively late in life. Getting into the Dead replicates the feeling I had as a kid learning about music for the first time, when all artists were new and classic albums I had never heard were blowing my mind every day.”

So be careful what you say about jam bands. It could happen to you!



Songs I’ve been listening to on repeat:

In no particular order, with no particular unifying thread.

“Terrapin Station,” Grateful Dead (5/19/77 - Dick’s Picks 29): Has never been one of my favorites, but hearing it live made me seek out a lot of different versions and embrace the prog.

“Stumblin’ In,” Chris Norman, Suzi Quatro: I vaguely remember hearing this song as a kid when my parents would have friends over and listen to all kinds of oldies Time Life-type compilation CDs. I’m not sure I heard it again until it was used in “Licorice Pizza,” one of the highlights of a highlight-heavy soundtrack. Then it popped up when Justine and I were driving through Norway listening to some random Yacht Rock playlist and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Perfect driving song.

“My Girls,” Animal Collective: Whenever we do a Tourist Sauce season, a lot of the period between when we’re done shooting and when we start editing is basically sketching out notes about what the episodes should look and feel like based on what we’ve shot and what each place feels like when you’re there. For me, a lot of that is driven by music. I usually start with a bunch of songs that we would never be able to clear and then through following a bunch of rabbit holes (usually by downloading massive random playlists on airplanes), we usually end up with an idea for some sort of direction. For our Australia series, I really had this song in my head.

“Livin’ in the After,” Panda Bear, Sonic Boom: Speaking of Animal Collective, this whole record is just very fun. I had to do some painting in the house a while ago and sent out a tweet asking for the best album to listen to while painting a room and a friend of mine sent me this. Spot on.

“It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning,” We Were Promised Jetpacks: As described above with the Animal Collective song, we’re also working on what I hope turns into a pretty cool Scottish golf project, so I’ve been going through some Scottish bands looking for inspiration. This song goes uncontrollably hard and will blow out the speakers in your car if that’s what you’re looking to do.



I’m out of NLU pods. What should I listen to?: I know the world didn’t really need another long-form celebrity interview podcast, but Rick Rubin’s “Tetragrammaton” pod that started last year gets a pass from me.

Poosh sent me an episode recently and I’ve listened to a few more and really enjoyed the recent ones with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. As one friend said, “there might be nothing more Ezra Koenig than a 2-hour episode that is (Part 1).” But Koenig’s extremely open and thoughtful about all the ways a young artist and band evolve and develop throughout their careers in a way that makes the time fly by. Rubin does a great job of not only asking thoughtful questions but also stopping the interview at times to listen to the old tracks Koenig is referring to, which makes the pod even better and often jogs more insights. I really dig it.

Favorite recent meal: La Merenda, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Justine and I went here on a random weekday evening recently. It’s a small, unassuming place in the Walker’s Point neighborhood and we sat at the outside bar and tried a bunch of different small plates. The menu whips around all over the place (Italy/Indonesia/Spain/Morocco/China/Mexico), which I feel is usually a recipe for disaster, but each dish was better than the last. Standouts were: Pistachio salad, beef empanadas and both specials – a pork dish they have all summer and a smoked trout ravioli. Need to get back ASAP.

What I’ve been watching lately:

Since we did a Perfect Club podcast about "The Bear," I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Season 3. (No spoilers per se, but feel free to opt out here if you'd like.)

I just finished it and … at best it was a pretty big “meh” for me, dawg. Which I hate! You may feel differently. Which I love!

I loved the "Napkins" episode about Tina's backstory (directed by Ayo Edebiri). The scene between her and Michael was one of the few moments that really matched the highs and felt like the same show as Seasons 1 and 2, in my opinion.

The first episode was a feat of very serious TV, but also felt like revving the gas on a car stuck in neutral. And I'm not sure it ever got into gear after that. I won't post any spoilers here... mostly because nothing really happened.

I thought much of the season felt less like a story and more like a series of kinda-boring parables, which was made more annoying each time the plot refused to move forward. Even the needle drops felt more like running out the clock than cultivating a specific feeling that served the story.

By the time we got to the Chef's Table-esque finale, it felt like the boat was swamped. I thought this review by Inkoo Kang summed it up well.

I don’t know. I’m glad The Bear exists and it seems impossible to maintain what they had without feeling like playing the hits. In a way I'm still glad they took a big swing and tried to put a new spin on this season. Maybe it will age better with some re-watches.

I’m still bullish that they will come up with an excellent Season Four. Plus, Pinkerton got some burn. So it wasn't a total loss.

Until next time.

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Thank you for reading. If you have thoughts or recommendations related to GHIN & Tonic, email me at dj@nolayingup.com.