Volume Four Hundred Seventy-Eight

Jason Day, ladies and gentlemen. Jason. Day.

Hittin the LinksJason Day outlasted the best field in golf to take home the crystal at the Players Championship, shooting a Sunday 71 to cap off a dominant week. Day opened with 63-66, and didn’t take his foot off the pedal, even as the conditions worsened over the weekend. The win at TPC Sawgrass is Day’s seventh in his last 17 tournaments.

We also take a look at Rory’s continued (relative) struggles, get an update on Olympic golf, and sneak a peek into the continued awkwardness of Tiger’s post-Thanksgiving life.

Let’s hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Sixty-Six

Bubba wins again, Tiger sits on the couch (painfully), and Happy Gilmore turns 20.

Hittin the LinksBubba Watson won for the first time in 2016 this week, furthering the argument that he belongs with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy at the top of the golf world. This was Bubba’s second win at Riviera, and came at the end of quite the busy week.

It was the opposite of a busy week for Tiger Woods, who is still unable to even hit chips after his third back surgery. It was reported that Tiger has had a setback in his rehab, though agent Mark Steinberg has issued a denial. Woods will also be the subject of an upcoming biography about his life and career.

In addition we’ll touch on Jordan Spieth missing the cut, the LPGA Tour’s dwindling ratings, and a big birthday for Happy Gilmore.

Let’s hit the links.

Leupold PinCaddie 2 Laser Rangefinder Review

The $200 laser rangefinder you’d pay double for.

PinCaddie 2 HeroThe debate between GPS systems and laser rangefinders hasn’t ended, and probably won’t for some time. GPS is convenient for a quick glance, and the course mapping is nice, but I always feel a little dissatisfied whenever I use a GPS unit. The touchscreens are generally poor, the distances take a few precious seconds to update (particularly annoying when you’re driving in a cart), and you’re still at the whim and mercy of whoever mapped the course in the first place (not to mention GPS accuracy, cloud cover, etc.).

The GPS systems in use for golf simply cannot match the accuracy of a laser rangefinder, and I’ve yet to come across a GPS unit constructed as well as even an entry-level laser rangefinder. (And that’s without mentioning smartphone app GPS systems, which I find virtually unusable due to the massive amounts of cellular data and battery they gobble up.)

Oh, and did I mention membership fees? What about battery charging? Or course data syncing?

Nike Vapor Flex Driver Review

Nike gives us a taste of what’s cooking at The Oven.

Nike Vapor Flex Driver HeroWhat do you want from a driver?

Distance? Check.

Adjustability? Check.

Great looks? Check.

The best sound and feel I’ve ever experienced? Check.

The Nike Vapor Flex driver reflects not what a driver should be, but what a driver can be. It’s an insane concoction of technology that builds on the innovations Nike has brought to market over the past half-decade, all packaged into one sleek clubhead.

Amazingly, when you actually take it for a spin, it all seems to make sense. It’s a better-player’s club that, despite the lime green and wild esthetics, produces a muted sound and a boring trajectory.

Let’s dive in.

Talking to Shane Ryan, Author of “Slaying the Tiger”

We talk to Shane Ryan about his new book covering the 2014 PGA Tour season, examine a few of the Tour’s outsized characters, and ask just how many Geoff Ogilvys is your golf game worth?

Throwing DartsShane Ryan has written about golf for Golf Digest, Grantland, ESPN The Magazine, and Deadspin, and writes about entertainment for Paste.

Ryan hosts a podcast, Friends of Tiger, and spent 2014 driving around the country from Tour event to Tour event. His first book, Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on The New PGA Tour, is available today. Slaying the Tiger is an in-depth look at the present and future of the PGA Tour, with profiles of rising PGA Tour stars like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Patrick Reed.

We sat down to chat via email to talk about the book, the PGA Tour, and Matt Every’s wife’s middle name.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Eight

An all-Masters Hittin’ The Links. (Well, almost.)

Hittin the LinksWe’re now three and a half months into 2015, and one major championship into the golf season. Jordan Spieth, runner up a year ago, outlasted charges from major winners Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, and Rory McIlroy to win his first green jacket (possibly one of many to come).

Spieth was dominant early on, and was able to coast to a record-tying final score of -18. He’s the second-youngest Masters winner even, trailing only Tiger’s 1997 victory, and he broke or tied just about every record his age didn’t disqualify him from.

Woods himself joined in on the low scoring for a few days before Spieth dominance, and Tiger’s own shoddy play on Sunday, knocked him out of contention.

We also take a look at great tournaments by Phil and Rory, a new limited edition shoe from Nike, bask in a bit of ’90s nostalgia, and check in on old friend Anthony Kim.

Let’s hit the links.

On Tiger Woods and Augusta

Tiger makes his return at Augusta National.

Thrash TalkI’ve started to question recently if I’m truly a golf fan.

Every now and then we’ll get a TST forum member who decides that no one is a “real golf fan.” They believe themselves to be, apparently, the sole member of this rare species. The rest of us are Phil fans, or Tiger fans, or Joost Luiten fans. Maybe they’re right.

I think I’m a real golf fan. I still love playing golf, and I love following it, but there are a lot of ancillary aspects of the sport that grate at me. Golf isn’t a particularly mainstream sport, and I think part of that owes to the general attitude of many golfers. Because allegiances aren’t (grain flow) forged at birth, golf fans tend to pick their favorite golfers irrationally, and that boils over into their general golf fandom. Black-and-white opinions bug me in general, but especially in the golf world, a sport built on a foundation of black-and-white rules, they tend to be the norm. Nuance is lost. Outrage and sensationalism wins out over enjoyment. It stops being entertainment.

Golf has always been entertainment for me. If it ever ceases to be, I’ll move on. Everyone keeps telling me hockey is great.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Four

Spieth wins at Innisbrook, Tiger remains sidelined, and golf rap video you’ll probably want to skip.

Hittin the LinksJordan Spieth, who has managed to kick away a few solid leads over the past few years, finally notched another victory at Innisbrook, toppling the red hot Patrick Reed and a hard-charging Sean O’Hair. It took two insane flop shots on the last two holes of regulation and a bomb of a birdie putt in the playoff, but Spieth did manage to close out the Valspar Championship. Spieth now has a two PGA Tour wins, not too bad for a guy who was in first grade when Sean O’Hair turned professional.

This week we also got a check-in on Tiger Woods by Notah Begay III, we heard Patrick Reed attempt to dig himself out of the weeds, and were all witness to the mashup of rap and golf (R.I.P. to both).

Before I get too excited about the prospect of Rory McIlroy and Tom Brady playing Augusta National together, let’s hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty One

Another playoff at Riviera, Lydia Ko notches a victory, and an NFL kicker wants a shot at Tiger.

Hittin the LinksThis week we saw James Hahn get his first PGA Tour win at the Northern Trust Open, Lydia Ko win her 17th event this month (still fact-checking that one), and Scott Piercy get lost in an ocean of sand traps.

Tiger Woods was ruled out of the next few events, and Josh Scobee wants in.

All that, plus an antsy Michael Jordan, a second dose of DLIII, and a bit of manufacturing innovation from PING.

Let’s get into it.