Tiger Woods Drama More Fun When He’s Struggling

This week’s soap opera, starring Woods, Foley and Bubba makes for a riveting sideshow.

Thrash TalkHas the eighth ranked golfer in the world ever been this big a deal? Because no matter how badly Tiger Woods struggles, the embattled superstar continues to gobble up nearly every ounce of golf attention. Few weeks offered as much evidence as this one, with fans and detractors hopping on Woods’ relationship with his coach, his fellow competitors and even his equipment.

Chalk it up to the layoff and the fact that Woods has been off the scene for a while, but there was no lack of drama surrounding the great one when he arrived at TPC Sawgrass for this week’s Players Championship. The most glaring storyline was borne out of Bubba Watson’s recent comment.

“I’ll just go ahead and say it. I think Tiger is going the wrong way,” said Watson.

Players Should Stand Up, Save Heritage Themselves

If they love the Hilton Head event so much, take a cue from LPGA Tour and turn it into a no-purse, all-charity week.

Thrash TalkThere’s been an awful lot of hand wringing and furrowed brows over the future of the PGA Tour’s Hilton Head Island stop, thanks to a lack of sponsorship to continue carrying the Heritage.

From players who rave about Harbour Town Golf Links as well as the beautiful HHI setting to the locals who say the tournament creates millions in revenue for the local economy, it seems no one wants to see it go.

I’ve got a solution for the players: Fund it yourselves.

When it Comes to Memorable Golf, it’s About More Than a Score

My most special on-course experiences involve great courses. But to reach the top of the list, these three go beyond anything I’ve seen before.

Thrash TalkSo many elements add up to creating an unforgettable round of golf. It might be a birdie on the toughest hole, the miraculous putt on 18 for your career best, or the golf course itself. Could even be watching your uncle make four birdies to start the round and caring far less about your match and more about him carding the type of score that made him your golf hero to begin with.

Thanks to my day job as a newspaper editor (and my obsession with playing golf whenever and wherever possible) I’ve had opportunities through the years to play some of the best golf courses in the world. USGA championship media events at Baltusrol and Saucon Valley come quickly to mind as two of the heavyweight classic designs I’ve been lucky to play.

But as much respect and admiration as I have for the classics, I’ve come to realize that to crack into the class of “burned into the memory forever” it takes something beyond simply a great golf course.

It usually means seeing something new, experiencing golf in a way you’ve never previously imagined. Three unique experiences stand out and illustrate exactly how I’d define the formula for truly memorable golf experiences.

Staff Predictions: 2011 Masters

More than winners and losers, our panel offers up surprise picks and the style of golf they hope to see.

Thrash TalkA year ago, Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf set the stage for a remarkable Masters week. While Woods had the attention heading in (and played what turned out to be his best tournament of the year), his long-time rival Phil Mickelson stole the show. Consecutive eagles on Saturday. A rousing final round to capture his third green jacket. Little did we know it would be the high point of both golfers’ season.

A year later, we enter Augusta with Mickelson fresh off a birdie-fest victory and Tiger still limping along, having fallen to a once-unimaginable seventh in the world. Will this be the first time since 1999 that a European player — five of the top six in the world are from across the pond — emerges? Our experts weigh in.

Staff Roundtable: All About the 2011 Masters

Favorite moment? Is Augusta National at its best? Will inclusion in a video game cheapen golf’s most traditional event? How much would you pay to tee it up? All that and more.

Thrash TalkBefore each major, The Sand Trap staff offers up our (supposedly) expert predictions. But when it comes to Augusta National and the Masters, there’s so much more to the event than winners and losers.

Today we held a virtual roundtable, weighing in on the history, tradition, and even controversies that make the Masters one of the highlights of the golf season.

New Season on Links Means Time for Fresh Resolutions

I’ll be focusing on fitness and consistency this year, and hopefully they’ll go hand in hand.

Thrash TalkAs if winter in the Northeast would never end, I’d convinced myself weeks ago to quit thinking about anything but the driving range. But suddenly, March arrived in New Jersey, the temperatures spiked, cleared away the mountains of snow, and there was hope my home course would open as scheduled on March 12.

So what happened on March 10? Some of the heaviest rains we’d seen in years. It was a real shock then, that I called the pro shop to see how bad the course was hit by the storm when they told me it was full steam ahead for a regular opening. Caught off guard, and with no time to fixate on the first round of the year, I headed out for a casual, just-have-fun day on the course.

Now that it’s arrived, I realize that with a new season comes hope of better golf, as well as fears it will all go wrong. With most of the country out of the deep freeze and spring fever cranking up, I offer up my resolutions for the 2011 golf season.

If Quality Counts, Wilson Staff’s Rep Should Be Strong As Any

As a long-time fan of their equipment, it’s reassuring to see just how solid FG Tour offering proves to be.

Thrash TalkAs a whole, we are a nation of consumers, and when it comes to fast food restaurants or golf equipment, so many of our decisions are influenced by name recognition, brand loyalty and the messages delivered through marketing of all sorts.

So when you add up reputation, commercials touting technological advances, and Tour player endorsements, where does actual quality enter the equation?

For Wilson Staff, that’s the million dollar question.

Sorry Phil, Bubba Now Sits Atop My Favorites List

As he enters the spotlight more frequently, I realize Watson’s a guy I can really root for.

Thrash TalkI never thought I’d say it, but after years of answering “Phil” or “Lefty” or “Mickelson” if I was feeling proper, I’m fairly certain my answer is now “Bubba.”

So if you want to know my favorite golfer, I have to admit, a new southpaw has taken over at the top of the heap.

Maybe Tiger Really is Just a Terrible Human Being

Spitting saga shows Woods has opened door to critics as his character flaws are no longer overshadowed by his trophies.

Thrash TalkCall it the loogie heard ’round the world if you’d like, but Tiger Woods’ spitting incident offers more than the fact he’s missing some proper manners and common decency. It points out his fall from grace has taken him off the pedestal that once shielded him from all manner of criticism. From fellow players to television commentators, having a go at His Tigerness is now fair game.

For those who aren’t European Tour junkies, and those who spend more time rooting on Bill Murray while thinking of funny Caddyshack clichés, the news may be passed you by at first. But in true Tiger fashion, a ripple in the sea can turn into a tsunami without much effort.