So whatever happened to Anthony Kim? Kim hasn’t played since he tore his Achilles in the summer of 2012. Before that he dealt with a tsunami of injuries to his forearm, wrist, and thumb that scuttled his career after a brilliant season in 2008 where he won two tournaments and earned $4.6 million in prize money.
He withdrew from three-straight tournaments in April and May 2012, and hasn’t been heard from since. Rumor–a very strong rumor–has it that Kim continues to live off of a $10 million insurance policy that stipulates he forfeits that money if he hits just one ball in a PGA tour event.
A virtual recluse living in Dallas in his girlfriend’s apartment, Kim was most recently spotted at a breakfast joint in West Hollywood, California when he chatted amicably with a reporter who recognized him. When asked about his golf game, Kim replied, “Um…it’s non-existent.”
This from a guy Sean O’Hair called “an insane talent… In my opinion, there was not a doubt he was going to be a Hall of Famer. And I don’t know exactly what happened there, but it’s unfortunate that he’s not playing because I think golf would have benefited from Anthony Kim playing golf.” I agree, and he’d probably be making more than 10 mil in no time…and having more fun doing it.
Tiger and Phil aside, it’s hard to win on the PGA Tour. American Jason Kokrak, an accomplished journeyman, finally did it Sunday by winning the CJ Cup after battling Xander Schauffele down the stretch. Kokrak started day Four with five birdies through his first nine holes, giving him a one stroke lead heading into the back-9. The 35-year old shot a clutch final day score of 64, capped off by a bird on the 18th, sealing the deal against Schauffele. BTW, it was Jason’s 233rd start on tour, proving that perseverance is, perhaps, the true key to success in golf, anyway. Congrats, Jason!
Bryson DeC has garnered lots of press around his prodigious driving distance, which has catapulted the Tour’s top average distance from John Daly’s 288 in 1991 to BDC’s 344 today. That’s pretty awesome, but what about you and I? The average recreational amateur golfer is purported to average a scant 217 yards, a figure that includes roll, so much of the year when roll is minimal, I would estimate around 200 to be more like it. We handicappers really don’t want or need restrictions on how far we hit the ball, do we? That’s an issue only for the men’s pro game, particularly as courses are slow to adapt to those present and future increases in distance.
But one thing we mortals can do right now is one simple, legal strategy: move to a more forward tee box, according to your skill and age level. I’ve been advocating this for a long time now. Most women do take advantage of this, and the more skilled women are even moving back to the whites, according to their skills. But men, even senior and disabled men, and especially younger, less skilled men seem reluctant to move forward. The advantage of a moving forward is the ability to hit more greens in regulation, lowering one’s score, and having more fun with the game. The game still presents a formidable challenge since you still have to keep the ball in play, and courses are designed to test that ability. But curiously, men, no matter their ability, their age, or their physical condition, default to the whites, which are set at a distance often beyond the ability of most golfers. Better players should and usually will use the blues or blacks. As for the reds, which are often set at distances more appropriate to the skills of the majority of men golfers, but are often labeled “the ladies’ tees”, men avoid them like a colonoscopy appointment. It’s an ego thing, isn’t it? Why else would we pass up a chance, within the rules, to have more fun playing a game we love?
Personally, with my age and struggles with serious illness, I’ve overcome the stigma of playing from the reds, and thankfully the course I often play at, has dropped the “ladies” label and just calls them “the reds”. And that would be my first suggestion: that courses just use color designations for their tees. That would go far in destigmatizing tee boxes. But in the meantime, I would just say to men who would benefit from, and qualify for, using a more forward tee, Just do it! You’ll hit more greens, be putting more for par or bird, have a lower handicap, and have more fun with this game that’s daunting enough without having to contend with a runaway ego.
This week’s event, the ZOZO Championship at Sherwood in Thousand Oaks, California. Defending champ: Tiger Woods. Tiger returns to action, along with all top ten FedEx Cup players. Should be a corker!