Welcome to the fourth 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, with KVV up next week. And if you can’t figure out which sections are “GHIN” and “Tonic”, that’s on you!

GHIN

Here’s what I’m monitoring in competitive golf right now:

  • We’ve got you covered on the PGA Championship front - if you’re yearning for predictions or discussion around Valhalla, please head to our preview podcast and eat your heart out. And then catch up on ESPN2 on Thursday and Friday from 11am-1pm eastern, and ESPN+ on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-11am eastern). My primary focus will be on not cussing on live tv, which takes way more willpower than it should and is probably a sign that I should clean things up across our productions. More than anything, I’m excited to talk golf and watch the best players compete in a meaningful tournament - a fleeting thing these days.

PGA Tour rant:

Here’s a snippet of Jimmy Dunne’s letter announcing his resignation from the board:

As you are aware, I have not been asked to take part in negotiations with the PIF since June 2023. During my testimony at the Senate hearing, I said it was my intention to cast my vote alongside the Player Directors if a final agreement was reached with the PIF. Since the players now outnumber the Independent Directors on the Board, and no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with the PIF, I feel like my vote and my role is utterly superfluous.

And here’s a snippet from “Big Jay” Monahan’s statement in the wake of Dunne’s resignation:

"With these foundational elements in place and – more specifically – with an active, focused and engaged Transaction Subcommittee, we continue to make meaningful progress behind the scenes in our negotiations toward a potential agreement with the PIF. Our goal remains to deliver the best possible outcome for the PGA TOUR, our players, partners, tournaments and fans."

Pretty interesting to see Jay continue to gaslight everyone and frame his close ally’s departure from the board as a coherent step in meaningful progress. Reading between the lines, it appears we’re approaching a true Mexican standoff and there are no good guys.

In one corner we’ve got the subset of Cantlay/Tiger/Spieth, who seem 1) intent on a domestic tour that moves forward independent of PIF deadset on barring LIV defectors; 2) appalled at what they’re seeing as they continue to look behind the curtains and get a close-up of how the tour is run (welcome to the party, guys!); 3) naively hoping that they can wait this thing out with the SSG investment in-hand and keep going with current purse sizes despite more corporate sponsors balking, the prospect of additional defections, ratings cratering, and golf fans realizing that nothing matters outside of the majors. While I dig the distrust and hatred of Monahan and Co., it’s hard to envision a scenario where their intransigence yields a positive outcome. Rather, the most likely scenario is the tour continuing to whither away and everyone involved being poorer for it.

In the middle, you’ve got Rory (and presumably SSG/Fenway) who wants a more global tour, a way to fold things back together even if it means amnesty for guys who left and are tired of the divide in the game. But Rory is also still aligned with Jay’s cronies, which makes me distrust him to an extent. Continued support of Jay is a non-starter and the one thing that makes it feel like it could get everyone at least somewhat realigned is ridding the tour of his malignant presence and getting fresh, competent blood in there.

Jay’s got allies all over SSG and throughout golf, but at some point, they have stakeholders and will need to side with competence and strategy over the blind Boston loyalty that has thus far superseded everything else.

In another corner, Big Jay continues to hunker down with independent directors Herlihy and Flaherty (will they follow Dunne out the door?) and Webb, Malnati, Rory’s other foot and Jay’s lieutenants and deep roster of VPs inside the Global Home. Amazing that we’re four years into this and dozens of muffed decisions into this thing and Jay’s still holding on. There are only three explanations for the series of decisions that have been made and the lack of turnover in leadership: 1) gross incompetence + a completely broken governance structure; 2) Tour leadership, with complicity from golf’s ruling class, is hiding malfeasance and a wide variety of skeletons in the closet, whether collusion with the majors, anti-competitive behavior fighting all of this off, some sort of financial fraud or sketchy tax moves, a regime that’s covered up a variety of scandals, etc. ; 3) some combination of the two. In any case, THESE are not the people who should be charged with fixing things and being creative and coming up with solutions.

My armchair analysis (read: hope) is that newly minted DP World Tour Guy Kinnings. My hope is that he and DPWT member Rory can link up, throw the “Strategic Alliance” and the various things underpinning that (PGAT investment into European Tour Productions, etc.) out the window, and partner with PIF on setting up some sort of big money events series in July/August/September that guys from any tour can play and DARE the PGA Tour to block players from playing in that. Rory and others could still play the PGA Tour (particularly from February to June) but this would provide a way forward and show how myopic and self-sabotaging the PGAT is being right now. You’re telling me that other European-based players like Hovland, Fleetwood, the Hojgaards and Ludvig wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to play those events? It’s insane that we’ve gotten to a point in this whole thing where I’m actively rooting for PIF to have a coherent stake in things, but the reality is they’re going to have a stake one way or another and if that investment yields solutions for making the game more global, less dependent upon title sponsors, more creative and nimble, and provides a path forward for reunification, then bring it on. I’m not going to sit here and lament the PGA Tour schedule potentially being trimmed to 25-30 events or for a super league sitting atop a rank-and-file Tour schedule that increasingly feels like a souped-up version of the Korn Ferry Tour, abandons wide swaths of the United States (and works aggressively to diminish the sport globally!) and hosts way too many events in Florida, Texas and California.

Burn it all down. Everyone involved deserves to get thrown out on their asses and given a scarlet letter within the golf world. This entire four year fiasco has been an embarrassment and the sports washing worked. Fly the banner, Yasir.

  • Speaking of burning stuff down, I’ve gotta call out this ghoulish lack of self-awareness and cynicism from NBC Sports to send this email out midway through a tournament that they were not televising on linear TV until a two-hour block of final round coverage on CNBC that the LPGA paid for. Good on Damon and Eamon’s sentiment and no issue there, it’s the jarring contrast between that sentiment and NBC/Golf Channel’s week-to-week actions, and then the lack of tact it takes to send that email out.

  • Continuing the NBC/GC vent session, there are some telltale events that will yield a window into their strategy over the next 6-7 weeks. Much has been made of NBC Exec Producer Sam Flood’s contradictory comments last week at US Open Media Day at Pinehurst, but nobody pressed him on the trajectory of USWO coverage and how that will look this year. I felt last year’s efforts from Pebble were actually worthwhile and a rare #dub for our friends at the Peacock. Can they keep that up? Meanwhile, their effort on the KPMG Women’s PGA was perhaps the most abysmal I’ve seen in the last decade of covering golf: pitiful coverage windows, a lack of physical cameras, zero energy on display, a complete lack of graphics, etc. Can they work with the PGA of America to get that broadcast on track?

Additionally, Golf Channel has coverage of the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships the next few weeks from Carlsbad - will they choose to invest in what is a compelling, primetime product, or mail it in and continue to show us the breadth and depth of their cost-cutting maneuvers. We’ll see!

/rant over.

  • This made me laugh:

View post on X

Bandon 25th Anniversary Trip

  • As you probably saw on our socials or heard on the podcast, I was fortunate to make the trip out with some of the crew to Bandon’s 25th Anniversary Celebration to reconnect with industry friends, see some of the new offerings (Shorty’s, the new 19-hole short course is a welcome addition, and I preferred it to Preserve - more to come on that front; Ghost Tree Grill is a good addition to the resort’s dining options - will highlight one offering down below). Most of the time, I’d feel sheepish digging into specific elements of a stay at a single resort, but Bandon’s become somewhat singular in the world of golf - Mike Keiser took what Sand Hills started in Nebraska and brought it to the coast and to the public, and 25 years on it sets the tone for golf travel at large. Here’s some quick hits from the trip:

  • Each time out there I gain a new appreciation for a different element of the resort. This time, it was Old Mac. We played that day in some truly bad weather and Old Mac is one of the rare courses that seems to shine in wind and rain, much more so than the other courses at Bandon. The width of the tee, the way it sits down in a bowl a bit detached from views of the ocean, and the windswept openness all combine for a quintessentially linked feeling. A big part of the newfound appreciation for Old Mac was the Poa Annua greens coming into their own. During previous trips, I felt the fescue greens on Old Mac were a layer of mud with small whisps of fescue interspersed. This time they were lush and gorgeous and added so much visual depth to each green site, but still firm and linksy. I love the idea of fescue, but it’s tricky in certain settings and the Poa Annua just wants to creep in. Poa isn’t without its faults, which were evident on the other courses.

  • As soon as we arrived at Bandon, I was inundated with messages about the state of the greens. Candidly, I’m tired of answering. It was an extraordinarily wet winter on the Oregon Coast, resulting in standing water on greens and damage to the Poa, particularly on Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes. Much has been made of a social media post showing No. 2 green at Bandon, but outside of that one and spots on three or four other greens, the greens at Bandon were fine. Pacific Dunes’ greens were bumpier and more inconsistent. Trails was fine and everyone said Sheep was running nicely (we didn’t play that one this trip.) Going to Bandon in late April/early May comes with the expectation that things aren’t going to be pristine, even in a normal year. Does the resort need to limit play more during the winter and early spring months? Probably. Now quit asking me about the greens.

  • I continue to love shoulder season at Bandon (and elsewhere.) I’ve now taken two shoulder season trips to Scotland (all March/April), three to Bandon (all April/May) and one to Ireland (April/May) and have had a variety of conditions for each that have added to my enjoyment of the trip. Sunny, warm weather is fun. But so is variety and getting a taste of different seasons on the same trip.

  • I went to the range for the first time in four trips to Bandon, and what a range it is!

  • Bill Coore, David McLay Kidd, Jim Urbina, Dave Axland, Rod Whitman and Keith Cutten, who have all worked on the various courses at Bandon throughout the years did a chat one of the evenings, and I remain in awe of Coore’s wisdom, humility and class. Each gentleman provided fun anecdotes about their experiences and work on the property, but Coore’s clarity and self-awareness shined bright. He had stories about Tony Russell (who is probably the only person to work on each course at Bandon with his work clearing each site), Howard McKee (the land planner who helped Mike Keiser bring the totality of the resort to reality), and Keiser himself (“Mike, I know this site <for Bandon Trails> is not going to be on the ocean, and that’s fine, we’re ok to do something different”) all belied a lack of ego combined with an immense amount of self-belief. A rare combination!

Here's a Bandon photo gallery:

Tonic

Football

  • I still can’t believe the Falcons drafted Michael Penix. It’s so nonsensical that I think I’ve come around on it and dig it. If having a quarterback is a prerequisite to actually mattering as a franchise, then perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world to have two (especially if both are oft-injured!)

  • Meanwhile, checking in on one of my other favorite franchises (among the half-dozen or so):

Tony Khan wears a neck brace after his AEW debacle.
Tony Khan wears a neck brace after his AEW debacle.

Food and Beverage Department

  • Been in kind of a slump with cooking - messed up a few dishes/tried some new stuff that just didn’t pan out and ingredients have been meh here in Jax, with the exception of seafood. I did taco night a couple weeks ago with some fresh Golden Tile and Mayport Shrimp from a local seafood market that gets stuff from right off the coast.

TC's taco Tuesday spread.
TC's taco Tuesday spread.
It's white wine season in Florida.
It's white wine season in Florida.

You’ll see a couple of #ExcitingWhites in that picture above. It’s officially white wine season here in Florida, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.

  • Bandon F&B Report:
    • The fish and chips at McKee’s Pub still slaps.
    • Grant, the Beverage Director at Ghost Tree Grill, led us on a fun journey through a few different Pinot Noirs. Got two opposite expressions from the Willamette Valley and then something that embodied the best of both from Burgundy.
      • 2021 Cristom, Jessie Vineyard
      • 2019 Eyrie, Daphne Vineyard
      • 2019 Georges Lignier, Chambolle Musigny

  • The “Mary’s Chicken” entree at Pacific Grill is possibly the best chicken dish I’ve ever had. Stuffed with prosciutto and fontina, served atop tomato leek risotto, and with a fried artichoke, I was astonished. It takes a lot for me to order the chicken, and I was not disappointed. This and some lobster arancini paired well with a callback from G&Tv1, the Envinate Benje Tinto, which I was stoked to see on the list. Poosh, D.J. and Soly were blown away by it!

  • Poosh and I drank a bottle of sake during our round on Bandon Trails and it continues to be my favorite on-course beverage. Clean, refreshing, distinctive. I’m getting deeper and deeper into the sake game.

TC holds up some sake to Bandon Dunes in the background.
TC holds up some sake to Bandon Dunes in the background.
  • Poosh’s continued efforts to get me deep into DC were not successful. It tastes like chemicals.

Poosh excitedly holds up three bottles of Diet Coke.
Poosh excitedly holds up three bottles of Diet Coke.

  • One thing that Bandon does NOT offer that I deeply craved during a few cold wet rounds was Bovril. The beef broth concoction combined with sherry or brandy is unbeatable on a golf trip in conditions. The booze hits your system quickly to warm you up and take away some soreness, and the salty broth sticks with you. The only place I’ve seen it offered in the States is at National Golf Links of America. We need to change that!
A cup of Bovril sits in front of a rainy window.
A cup of Bovril sits in front of a rainy window.

  • Trader Joe’s “Many Things” snack mix continues to be the gold standard when it comes to travel provisions. Other recent entrants into my snacking rotation: sunflower seeds making a massive comeback as I spent a lot of time at the ballpark this spring at Freddie’s baseball games. Some of the team dads introduced me to these Hatch Chile Seeds and then I’ve become reacquainted with the majesty of spicy dill-flavored seeds.

  • I shouted it out on social, but another mention for Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs in B Concourse of the Denver Airport. I’d walked by this place dozens of times and never stopped in and now I regret each of those instances. The snap, the offerings, the quickness of the service, all of it. I usually never get airport hot dogs outside of O’Hare, but that changes moving forward! Extra points for the caraway sauerkraut and proper relish.

Steve's Snappin Dogs in Concourse B of the Denver Airport.
Steve's Snappin Dogs in Concourse B of the Denver Airport.

Speaking of airports, thanks to everyone who has listened to the first installment of this year’s TrapDraw Airports Podcast. Our friend Andy Johnson was gracious enough to join me and brought the noise. While it is one of our most sought-after and downloaded pods of the year, this pod isn’t for everyone and I would just like to warn that it gets DEEP into the weeds on subject matter that may not be relevant to those who don’t travel much. Stay tuned for another couple of installments over the next 6-8 weeks, including our annual roundtable with everyone at NLU and their last 12-18 months in travel, as well as an interview with various professionals in the air travel industry. This pod has morphed from being something wildly stupid into something I have a ton of fun doing and care deeply about, especially as it’s a window into society at large. The fact that others enjoy it brings me a lot of joy!

Miscellaneous Thoughts/Stuff I’m Tracking

  • Bob Baffert continues to be a cartoon villain. I always get such a kick out of him.
  • This story rules. All of it. It reads like a TrapDraw Madlib.
  • Need to get this guy on the TrapDraw. Basically, he got tired of flat tires in Atlanta, so he rolls around the city with a giant magnet and picks up all sorts of nails and debris. Heroic stuff.
  • The most unanimous sentiment of the year may be around Neil’s Australia mullet: he needs to keep it. My son Gustav was so inspired by it (and the other one featured in TS9.4) that he asked for one at his last haircut. Here’s a few pics from the homefront:

Gustav rocks his brand new mullet.
Gustav rocks his brand new mullet.

Freddie and Gustav rocking their new No Laying Up young hitters tees.
Freddie and Gustav rocking their new No Laying Up young hitters tees.


Julius Peppers smiling in the face of destruction.
Julius Peppers smiling in the face of destruction.