Major(s) News & Notes, September 15th, 2022
ANGC's new 13th tee has grass! Plus, WSJ targets Monahan, Scheffler's key to improvement, Reed vows he "never ever" intentionally broke rules, Marco Simone's in the spotlight, Westwood's fall & Reads.
Days to the 2023 Masters first tee shot: 204 days
Days to the 2023 PGA Championship 246 days
Days to the 2023 U.S. Open first tee shot: 276 days
Days to the 2023 Open Championship first tee shot: 309 days
The Golf Gods said to me one night, Geoff, start a newsletter focused on the majors and the Ryder Cup. You’ll practically have Septembers off!
Oh well. At least we’re not scraping barrel bottoms in another busy (free) weekly News & Notes edition of The Quad. We’ve got fresh recon shots from above Augusta National, the Wall Street Journal targeting Jay Monahan’s Kardashian #jetlife, ShotLink unlocking season-long data to reinforce Scottie Scheffler’s secret 2022 sauce, Patrick “never ever intentionally” cheating Reed, Marco Simone previewing the 2023 Ryder Cup, Lee Westwood vying for fastest image crater-job, the Saudi’s covering their influencer bets and, of course, Reads.
The New 13th Tee Is Grassed!
Eureka Earth flew over Augusta National as the club wraps up another busy summer of construction. The highlight is a new 13th tee which recently received underground heating and cooling. This latest shot showing dark green “second cut” around the tee indicates the club is not waiting for the upcoming ryegrass overseed to install cool season grasses for the looooong walk back to the new tee.
A closer look:
WSJ Targets Monahan’s Jet Usage, Spending
I don’t care to label solid investigative journalism a hit piece. But if you take in the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of PGA Tour executive spending in light of any number of potentially unflattering stories they could have investigated, this one felt, well, aggressive. As one WSJ story commenter noted, “I mean, using your non-profit's corporate jet to fly private to a wedding in Turks and Caicos is a bad look, but it still beats murdering dissident journalists.”
Still, the details are terribly unflattering for the PGA Tour’s image and carbon footprint. Key revelations from Mark Maremont and Andrew Heaton’s reporting:
The Tour owns its Citation X through a for-profit subsidiary. WSJ: “The Tour’s private jet use, however, can’t be gleaned from the annual tax filings required of all nonprofits. Those filings require a nonprofit to provide a narrative description of certain benefits offered to top officials, including private-jet travel, which the Internal Revenue Service calls part of ‘charter’ travel.”
Curiously, the story only focuses on the one jet and no other private air travel by the PGA Tour.
The Tour told the WSJ that Monahan is required by the Policy Board to use the corporate plane for all air travel—business and personal—because it provides the “necessary level of efficiency, privacy, and security.” Translation: Jay could get stuck in first class next to plebians who might ask if Tiger is a nice guy.
Monahan used the Tour jet for 17 trips since early 2017 to Steamboat Springs where a property is registered in his wife’s name. Other personal trips include multiple visits to Montana; Nantucket, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos.
Flight records show a June trip to Turks and Caicos for the Brooks Koepka royal wedding. “A few weeks later, in the middle of the Monahan news conference at which he discussed the Tour’s financial efficiency, LIV announced Koepka as its newest recruit.”
WSJ put the Global Home cost at $81 million for the Foster and Partners-designed headquarters, definitely up from the “on budget” $65 million previously reported by the Tour. It’s not clear in the story where that number came from or what it encompasses.
Tim Finchem is still raking in SVP level money: “In addition to receiving almost $19 million the year after he retired, Finchem remained on the payroll—making at least $800,000 annually—until at least 2020, the filings show.” The Tour said his pay is for work as chair of the First Tee fundraising campaign.
Air Monahan “flew back and forth between Tour headquarters in Florida and Augusta, Ga. four times during the week surrounding this year’s Masters.” After all, lodging can be tricky that week if you don’t reserve early enough!
The Tour pegged the base compensation Monahan received in 2020 at $8.3 million, a year he claimed to have frozen his salary for a time. The final total compensation number hit $14.2 million “with the remaining sum either long-term incentive compensation he has yet to receive or an estimate of future retirement benefits accrued in 2020.”
The Tour paid out $8 million in severance and $32 million in other compensation to retired executives from 2017 to 2020. The severance may be tied to the mostly older, lightly-compensated, wolf-friendly meat Monahan tossed out during the pandemic and which he was, amazingly, praised in exercising “fiscal responsibility.” Fast forward two years, hundreds of millions found between the cushions and this is one wild and crazy not-for-profit!
Scheffler’s Improvement According To Shotlink
With the PGA Tour’s wraparound debacle finally coming to an end and the people who thrust it upon us flying around to the world’s wealthiest enclaves, maybe in future years there will be time to better reflect on the incredible data produced by the hard-working folks at Shotlink?
For now, these numbers on 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler leave little doubt as to how he went from promising young player to World No. 1 this year. Teach your kids to dial in their irons…
Reed Speaks: “Never Ever Intentionally” Tried To Break Any Rule
Tom Kershaw of The Times spoke to Patrick Reed about his frivolous lawsuit against Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel. The usual whining about media and a fake narratives came from the notorious lie-improver who is also suggesting the PGA Tour is fueling the narrative surrounding his awful image.
“I have never ever intentionally tried to break any rule of golf to gain an advantage on anyone,” Reed said. “I take too much pride in the hard work I do each and every day to try and gain an advantage in such a petty and deceitful way.”
Hate to be that person, but which of the incidents are you referring to?
Rory Assesses Marco Simone
The 2023 Ryder Cup venue hosts the DS Automobiles Italian Open this week. It’s Marco Simone GC’s second DP World Tour event since a complete overhaul by European Golf Design’s Jeremy Slessor and Tommy Fazio. The course will also host again the Italian Open next May before late September’s matches.
Rory McIlroy headlines in his first Italian Open start. He’s raving about the beauty of Rome and just letting it fly these days in pre-tournament pressers. Regarding the course he said reminded him of something between Gleneagles and Celtic Manor:
“The front nine is a little more -- it's like the first couple of chapters of a book. It gets you into the book a little bit and sort of sets the story, but the real juicy bits come on the back nine. That's where you really get into it.”
“I think the back nine here is a wonderful layout and a wonderful set up for match play. I think it's going to create some really exciting finishes to matches. You know, you've got two drivable par 4s on the back nine. You've got a few holes with water and you've got that wonderful closing hole which could be really exciting.”
Regarding those former teammates and donkeys Westwood, Garcia, Poulter, Stenson, Casey and Kaymer, they’re dead to Rory:
“I think we were in need of a rebuild, anyway. It was sort of -- we did well with the same guys for a very long time but again as I just said, everything comes to an end at some point. I think Whistling Straits is a good sort of demarcation, I guess.”
“That's all behind us. We have got a core group of guys but let's build on that again, and instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let's blood some rookies and let's get them in and build towards the future. I think that's important.”
I’m not sure about blooding the rookies but we get the point.
Keep an eye on Marco’s 7th hole and any potential adjustments made since the last Italian Open. In previewing the event, Rod Morri noted an issue with its length and difficulty last year.
Lee Westwood’s Fall
A year ago he was the presumed 2023 Ryder Cup captain. An elder statesman of European golf and popular old guard pro who was respected by fans that came oh so close in several majors.
Now Lee Westwood is best known for Twitter moaning about media criminality, captaining something called the Majesticks GC, hawking golf travel solution discounts, and serving as a 25% off coupon code for this week’s LIV Chicago stop (WESTWOOD25).
His latest Twitter spat involved former footballer Gordon Armstrong, though the pithy replies proved more LIVely after Armstrong deleted his shots at LIV golfers:
Saudi Arabia Investing In Noted UK Influencers
My Golf Spy’s John Barba did some impressive investigative work and reveals how Sanabil Private Equity Investments, with ties to the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and Golf Saudi, quietly purchasing a majority stake in Performance 54. That’s the influencer-driven marketing firm with ownership stakes in popular YouTubers Rick Shiels and Peter Finch.
Both Shiels and Finch have done work on on behalf of the R&A and The Open, and each had business partnerships with Performance 54 predating the Saudi investment. Other Performance 54 clients include Titleist, FootJoy, Troon Golf, FlightScope and Faldo Enterprises.
But apparently unaware how this conflict thing works, Shiels used his latest podcast to lament media “agendas” criticizing LIV and even poor Sergio Garcia after BMW PGA WD last week, wasting a field spot that would have gone to Spanish player on the cusp of losing his card. Not that influencers worry about such finite details when there is a wealthier beast to feed.
🔢 Jay Coffin reports on player world ranking status post-BMW PGA Championship. Talor Gooch kept himself in the top 50. Sergia Garcia’s WD to get home for UT-Alabama dropped him to 77th. Patrick Reed remained 50th despite a T5 finish. Cue the conspiracy theories.
🇪🇸 David Segal and José Bautista head to El Molar in Spain’s Jaén province to report on the parched olive oil capital of the world. They also tell the story of how the good stuff gets harvested and the tourism business around olive farming. So it’s not a totally depressing read.
And finally, since The Quad is filed from the St Andrews of beach volleyball, I can assure any doubters that this is “next level” stuff…