“Offseason” months seem to be the only months I actually consistently do a mailbag year over year, and figured it was time for me to catch up. The overwhelming majority of my posts in the last month+ have been about an Ireland golf trip, and I haven’t talked much real life golf since the Ryder Cup, so let’s get it.

@NoLayingUp who will make the cut for the SB2K17 roster?

— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) October 18, 2016

I think SB2K17 is already doomed before it begins. The beauty of SB2K16 was that we didn’t know what we were getting into, there was no anticipation, and no expectation. We were all so innocent back then. It was a performance that can’t be replicated without it feeling fabricated. Once something like this makes its way mainstream, and every golf website on the planet is covering it (and the PGA tour is pairing three of them together in subsequent events), it goes from being a trendy, funny surprise, to an overplayed top 40 hit. Golf Digest has an article about it in this month’s magazine! It’s kind of like the Beef thing. He’s been the flavor of the month for every magazine, twitter account, and television network to the point where we just get beaten over the head with it, and almost forced to reject it.

SB2K17 is doomed before it even begins

And there’s a direct crossover here, as Beef is specifically one of the dudes that invited himself to the sequel. As funny and entertaining as the 2016 version was, by day three or four, it had gotten a bit repetitive, and the law of diminishing always rules strong.

That being said, if they need a golf blogger down there to document it, I can clear some stuff from my schedule (damnit, I just invited myself).

@NoLayingUp do you think Rory gets back to no.1 this year?

— michael murney (@themurn) October 18, 2016

I was begging for a Rory question. I’ve been dying to talk more McIlroy since Hazeltine, where he consumed my soul about six times over through the course of three days.

I’m going to say yes. The Rory we saw the final month of the season looked a lot like that baaaaad man from 2014. Day’s health is too big of a question mark, and Rory is going to rattle off some wins, and probably a major. I feel like he’s adequately addressed the putting issue, and there’s no other issues with the rest of his game. I hate the “whose ‘A’ game is best” charade more than anyone, but I just feel like we still don’t give enough respect to how great Rory’s peak was. As ridiculous as Day’s run has been over the last 15 months or so, he got one major out of that. People still don’t understand how many majors four majors is! It’s taken Phil an entire career to get five, and Rory’s got four at the age of 27. And I see nothing to make me think he’s dropped off from being that player.

I think his biggest threat isn’t Day, but it’s DJ. He’s the only guy I’m confident we can say that we don’t know what his ceiling is. 2015 was the DJ Shock and Awe campaign, with the main difference being that he’s not hunting for weapons of mass destruction, he is the weapon of mass destruction. An arms race between Rory and DJ can only end in Mutually Assured Destruction for my loins, and will probably be the end of my existence on this planet.

@NoLayingUp Why is Spieth so popular? He's slow, not exciting, caddy reliant/whiny. Appreciate talent, but gimme Rory. Not trolling I swear

— Jake Borton (@jsb1872) October 18, 2016

I don’t take this as trolling at all. It’s understandable if you don’t like Spieth, and I’m actually not seeing him as being as popular as maybe you’re implying.

2016 was certainly a bit of a disappointment for Spieth, but it was pretty easy to predict. There was just nowhere to go but down after one of the greatest single seasons in PGA Tour history. The surprising shift to me was how quickly I felt the public jumped off his bandwagon. All of the things mentioned here (pace of play, not exciting, caddy reliant/whiny) all existed in 2015, but our focus was on his meteoric rise to the top of the game. I think in general we just kind of brushed them aside, identified them as “passion,” and didn’t think too much about them because we weren’t that exposed to him.

Now, he enters 2016 as the defending Masters, US Open, and FedExCup champion, and nearly every shot is going to be shown on television. Along with that, the pre-shot routine. Don’t forget, that two months before he won the Masters, he bogeyed the 72nd hole of the Northern Trust at Riviera to miss a playoff by a shot, and didn’t have a shot of his shown until the 17th hole. That’s how little exposure he was getting at this point (which Big Randy had noted even a year prior). Now, that’s more of an indictment of the abomination that is CBS golf broadcasts, but it’s a great example of how much our window into Jordan Spieth shifted from one year to the next.

In my mind, the pendulum swung too far, and by reading my timeline, it seems like people are mostly out on Spieth (that, or Tron is just speaking for the entire country). Strolling the fairways at Hazeltine, I swear there were more American fans cheering out for Rory than there were for Spieth. He kind of seems like the forgotten man, but I can see a huge bounce back in 2017. I’m gonna assume that he’s going to lighten up his schedule, not wear himself out early in the year, and focus on what made him the best player in the world in 2015, which was his iron play. I’m going to pick him to win the Masters probably every year for the next ten years, and that’s the only major pick I’m ready to lock in at this point.

@NoLayingUp What is the biggest thing being inside the ropes that we don't get to see on TV?

— David Kateeb (@DKateeb) October 19, 2016

The best thing about it obviously is the vantage points. It’s kind of shocking how close they let you get to the players while they’re hitting. There is a certain amount of trust that’s implied with the access, in that you are expected to be unseen and unheard. This can be challenging, but I do my best to just err on the furthest side of caution imaginable.

But one of the things I love about it is that it just humanizes these guys so much more. I’ve always been curious to hear what players talk about, and in my mind picturing it being the most riveting conversation imaginable. If we could just get a mic in there, it would be gold. Then you hear it, and realize it’s just two people talking, and the conversation sounds exactly what it would be like if you and I chatted. A football game, how a putt broke, a fan that yelled something, etc. They don’t seem to be secretive at all about what they’re saying, and most of it is not even remotely interesting enough to report back on. TV makes this guys look like and seem larger than life, but walking near them in person, they just seem so much smaller in the huge sea of people, and the fact that they’re just playing a golf tournament becomes more evident. It feels less dramatic than television, and just much more raw. I’m not sure if that answers the question, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

@NoLayingUp Ideally all of us working stiffs would go (not quite full) Joey D, but realistically what do you as a better player do 1/

— Lou Brown (@Lou_TireWorld) October 18, 2016

@NoLayingUp either physically or otherwise to stay as golf ready as possible between infrequent opportunities to peg it? 2/2

— Lou Brown (@Lou_TireWorld) October 18, 2016

I’ve touched on this in a previous mailbag, but it’s that time of year to start thinking about it again.

For myself, I try to view the time off as an advantage, and not a hindrance. Do you have any major changes you’d like to make? If so, what better time to make them and drill them than an offseason where you have nothing but time to hammer it into your muscle memory. About four years ago, I completely re-routed my backswing in the offseason. I was coming back so shut and to the inside, so I spent 10-15 minutes a day in front of a mirror in my room just practicing taking the club back with my arms extended out. Come spring time, it was second nature to me, and not something I had to even think about, and it really helped me turn a corner in my game. I had no confusing rounds in between in the middle of the swing change, and didn’t beat tons of balls trying to work my way through the change. Just some simple drilling. This year, I think I’m going to focus on a grip change. I grip the club horribly, and have known it for a long time, but have never been able to commit to changing it.

Pick something, maybe it’s a putting grip, maybe it’s a slower takeaway, maybe it’s a shorter backswing, a change in your weight distribution, etc., and just drill it home until it’s a strength. That’s the extent of my advice.

@NoLayingUp what's in your bag?

— Ryan Johnson (@RJyeezy) October 18, 2016

Yikes, this one’s ugly. My best buddy back home once told me “you have the worst looking bag of any good player I know” (humblebrag). I use Titleist 714 AP2 irons, a Titleist driver and three wood, and an uuuuuugly Odyssey White Hot Blade Dart putter. Seriously, this putter was on clearance at Golfsmith because they had so many of them in stock. Because no one was buying them. Because they’re embarassingly ugly. For some reason I liked the way it lined me up, and so I’m still playing it.

I was playing a mix match of wedges from a bin until I was provided with some PXG wedges this summer. I’m obsessed with them. They’ve completely changed my confidence from 120 yards and in, and it’s making me wonder how much a full on, through the bag gear change would help me. Speaking of equipment…

@NoLayingUp So when are you getting a PGA Tour credential so you can give us equipment insight from week to week?

— Zack (@zkupper_bsg) October 18, 2016

NEVER AGAIN. I regrettably tweeted some information I had received regarding Tiger’s equipment for the Safeway, and I was exposed to an entire world of equipment worshippers that I did not know existed. There are 25 page threads on message boards attacking this information, speculating on it, etc. I was a couple of glasses of red wine deep on a transatlantic flight, and had zero clue it was going to be that shocking of information. But in the future, I’m gonna leave the equipment stuff to Jonathan Wall.

We still have to wait to see if these changes ring true, but I certainly heard plenty about it when he showed up at a clinic with his same Nike clubs. I don’t put any stock in this, because if he makes an equipment change, it’s not going to be at a clinic. And he may have changed his mind come December regarding some of the gear, so who knows. But the information I had was good, and I stand by it.

The funny thing was, the negative blowback from that info caused me to not want to even remotely dip my toe in the water when I heard on Sunday night that Tiger was going to WD from the Safeway the next day. I didn’t personally believe the info myself when I heard it, and no one else could confirm it, so I sat on it. Which I don’t regret. I still can’t believe he committed to the tournament on Friday to withdraw three days later.

@NoLayingUp recommendations on planning a european golf trip.

— BORW (@the_real_borw) October 18, 2016

Well, BORW, I’m glad you asked this. We’ve recently added a tab at the top of the No Laying Up site that details golf trips I’ve done in Ireland and Scotland, with all sorts of recommendations on courses I’ve played, how to plan these trips, what the experiences have been like, and anything else that I thought might be helpful to readers. Also, I just posted a podcast on my experience playing throughout Ireland. Take a spin through those, and if you (or anyone else) has any specific questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them.

@NoLayingUp best candidate for ROY in 2017?

— jlapp ♍️ (@jordanlapp17) October 18, 2016

I’m all in on Brandon Hagy as the new NLU obsession. The dude can absolutely move it, and his downswing looks like a guy swinging a wiffle ball bat. Check this Golf World feature on him:

Kyle Porter and I have a joint venture with a sole investment in Hagy enterprises, and it was reinforced when he said out loud that Dustin Johnson is the only guy that can keep up with him in driving distance. This is quote that we put on the cover of our prospectus. Hoping to have him on the podcast soon.

Trey Mullinax is another guy that I’m on to, but I’m late coming around on him. He played on two national championship teams at Alabama, and won the 2016 Rex (Grossman) Hospital Open, so he’s about as far from a sleeper candidate as you can get. He’s got a great swing, and the lettuce to keep up with the likes of the other young guns on tour like Bobby Wyatt and Ollie Schneiderjans.

As far as the actual rookie of the year, I can’t even keep track of who is a rookie and who isn’t, and neither can the tour. Is DeChambeau a rookie? Jon Rahm? I think they fall in the bucket, and if they do, I’m going to say that Rahm wins this thing easily. He terrifies me.

@NoLayingUp The economics of being a Tour caddie: do you get annual minimum w/ share of winnings? What about events w/ no purse (Ryder Cup)?

— Patrick Pearson (@Ppearson281) October 18, 2016

From what I’ve gathered, caddies are paid a flat fee for the week, plus a percentage of their player’s winnings. The flat fee obviously varies from caddie to caddie, or player to player, but a rather standard rate is around $1,500, though I’ve heard of some guys caddies setting their standard rate around $2,500. The player pays the caddie this directly.

For the winnings, a common misnomer is that a caddie gets 10% of the earnings. This is often true for a win, but usually it’s around 5% of the winnings, or 7% for a top ten, then 10% for a win. For the Ryder Cup, I would imagine that the PGA of America provides a subsidy of some kind to the caddies, but I honestly don’t know the final answer on that.

I go back and forth on whether or not I think being a caddie would be a good living. If you’re carrying for a top 50 player in the world, I think the answer is pretty easily yes. But if you’re caddying for a fringe guy, making $1,500 a week flat (not 52 weeks a year either), your guy is missing cuts, and you’re in charge of your own expenses? Flights and hotels ain’t cheap, especially when you may need to change plans at the last minute. That’s gotta get tight. Then factor in that they probably have a family at home, kids, etc. I’m not sure if they make any extra money from sponsorships, but I would imagine it’s gotta be tough not knowing how much money you’re gonna pull in for the month. This is why a lot of caddies will bunk up together during tournament weeks, stay with friends nearby if they can, and try to limit their expenses as much as possible.

But make no mistake, for a lot of these guys, it’s a grind out there.

@NoLayingUp does it hurt your feelings when @shanebacon says his favorite golf t shirts are swing juice's?

— Cody Green (@codygreen24) October 18, 2016

It does, Cody. Hey Shane, does your NEW girlfriend have an AK4LYFE shirt?? Huh? What about #TourSauce polos?

I remember a simpler time, when Bacon was still alive to me.

In all seriousness, if you haven’t taken a look around the Pro Shop recently, take a few minutes to do so. The rest of the gang has spent an exorbitant amount of time and energy into building this thing out, and even friends have mine have come up to me and said things along the lines of “you have so much stuff in the NLU Pro Shop now, it’s insane.” Shirts, hats, visors, polos, coffee mugs, hoodies, phone cases, bucket hats, and more. And if you’re looking for something we don’t have, shoot us a note, and we can likely get it mocked up in a matter of days. We sincerely appreciate everyone that has come through in the recent months, and we hope to keep add it providing quality materials that you can use in your every day lives.