Amen Mailbag.

"Golden Bell? More Like Golden Hell" ~ Rick Reilly

“Golden Bell? More Like Golden Hell” ~ Rick Reilly

Blistering 84 degrees today.  Inappropriate.  There was a scene in the Mad Men opener, a solid start to the season I thought, where some squatters were lamenting the winter.  Living without heat one of them said they missed the summer when they were hot all the time.  I suppose this is the only answer if you are living in an uncontrolled environment, but assuming it’s not a life or death situation, I’ll opt for the chill in the air.  Maybe it’s just the shock to the system.  Fifty degrees to eighty, but it feels like 95 out there today to this guy.  I had to break out the short pants.  My legs are in Mid-January form.  They’re whiter than Gonzaga.  In the spirit of the Masters, I may have to take them out for some type of golf activity to get some color.  Let’s mailbag, some golf, some not…

Q:  What do you think is the best hole at Augusta National?  Ronald Ross, Jeffersonville, PA.

A:  I feel like there is answer to this question if you’ve played the course, or at least seen it in person, and then an answer for those of us who watch it on television.  If I went and played the course, I would probably choose the one hole where I made a par (assuming I made one) or something along those lines.  But, let me approach this as an armchair critic with a very high opinion of his taste.  First, some holes of note.  One is just too damn hard for an opening hole.  The par fives on the front nine don’t really stand out.  I always loved the green complex around 7, but have heard too much about the hole being “ruined” in recent years.  I like eleven, sixteen, and I love the tee shot on 18, but I’ve got to choose twelve.  Is that the biggest cliche answer in the history of this blog?  MAYBE.  Twelve is great because it’s not 230 yards and because it’s a perfect representation of Augusta.  Elevation change, hazards, small targets, a treacherous putting surface.  I’ve always felt Augusta was about the individual shots.  So, why not choose the best individual shot on the course as the best hole?  Please feel free to correct me in the comments.  

Q:  Can you ever interject into a stranger’s retail purchasing experience?  Say they are about to pick some horrid mustard off the shelf, or emerge from the dressing room looking upholstered…can you speak up?  SHOULD you speak up?  

A:  I’ve had this happen to me in the positive way.  I was once pulling a bottle of Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce off the shelf and a woman standing there felt COMPELLED to tell me how much her husband like that sauce and how she sometimes had to go to GREAT LENGTHS to secure it for him.  It made me marvel at her social instincts.  If I saw someone doing the same it would definitely register in my mind, “I’ve had that sauce–It’s good.”  But, I would never open my mouth.  You’re in a grocery store aisle.  Not an open forum.  We’re not filming for QVC.  ARE WE?  I can’t imagine my reaction if someone told me my selection was a poor one.  The unsolicited part of this is what makes it a tough question.  If someone hold ups a bottle of Hunt’s ketchup and is like “Yay or Nay,” you are free and clear to make gagging noises, but if they just pick it up off the shelf?  I don’t believe you can intervene.  That crosses the line into forcing your opinions on someone else.  After all, if there is an entire rack of Hunt’s ketchup–someone must like it.  People without taste buds, people who put on elaborate Halloween stunts–they need their ketchup too.  So, as usual, best to just button it up.  

Q:  This would never happen, but say it did.  What if Augusta National auctioned off a membership?  What price do you think it would go for?  Donald Trumpp, Miami, FL

A:  Assuming the membership would come stigma free, it would go for an astronomical figure.  I did some research and it appears the golf club with the highest initiation fee is Sebonack, the relatively new course in Southampton with the legendary neighbor, cost $650,000 when it opened its doors.  That number is now rumored to be closer to 1 million dollars.  There are others in this rare air.  The Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’ spot in Jupiter FL, reportedly will set you back a 1/2 million, but that comes with some equity.  Equity or not, Augusta would blow these figures out of the water.  I imagine like at most exclusive clubs, the annual dues at Augusta probably aren’t as high as you might think.  They create a ton of revenue, they have a vast membership, so we’re really talking about a one-time outlay of cash.  On the low end, I’d guess 10 million.  And, honestly, nothing under 50 million would even make me bat an eyelash.  Mark Zuckerberg in a bidding war with an Oil Sheikh?  100 million?  Sky is the limit.  

Q: I have a question about overweight actors and actresses.  Do you think they ever tire of the fat jokes?  Isn’t this a bit sad, or are they just happy to be playing a part?  Polly “pass the biscuits” Pendergast, Manakin Sabot, VA.

A:  I’m sure it bothers them.  I don’t think anyone is ever fully immune to a joke.  Not completely.  It’s like when I watch a celebrity roast and these comedians are saying awful things about one another.  They are all laughing, and you hear about comics having this inner circle where anything goes, but I don’t know how you can brush something like that off completely.  Another way you know it must bother people?  There are always actors and actresses who start out heavy and then drop a bunch of weight.  Jonah Hill was pretty ROTUND, but he slimmed down to give himself an opportunity to play something other than the chubby, funny guy.  I don’t think the weight loss is really for the specific role as much as it is for the opportunity to get a wider range of parts.  I also wonder what overweight actors think of skinny actors who “gain 50 lbs” for a part.  Are they like, “HELLO, right over here.  Already BIG-BONED.”  But, seriously, I think it is so tough to get into acting that most are probably happy for the work.  I think most actors and actresses have to lower their standards a bit, or come to terms to play some early parts.  I’m sure the young women playing Topless Girl #4 aren’t necessarily dying to show off, but next time around maybe they’re in a bikini, maybe they get a line–who knows?  

Q:  What do you think Bobby Jones would shoot at this year’s Masters if you took him in his prime, transported him to modern times, gave him a new bag full of Titleist swag and let him practice for a month?  Hootie Johnson, Auguta, GA.

A:  Bobby Jones last played the Masters in 1949, but that was long after his prime.  You’re talking about a golfer who was at his best in the 1920s.  The equipment would be a shock to him.  Even though it would be way more forgiving than his set of butter knives, he would probably have to adjust to the weight, the feel of the new ball on the club face, etc.  People are talking about Rory McIlroy struggling to make the adjustment from Titleist to Nike, well that’s just different versions of the same technology.  But, even with having to make the adjustments, the golf swing is the golf swing and Bobby Jones certainly swung it well enough, and was powerful enough to not be phased by the shocking length of Augusta National.  The extra 1,000 yards wouldn’t be much of a factor in my opinion.  The biggest difference might be around the greens.  Augusta had different grass on the surfaces back in his day and I don’t think the speeds were quite as extreme.  Getting a feel for the short game would probably be the biggest obstacle.  I think an in his prime Jones, with a month to get ready shoots around even par.  I would say he finishes in the top-30.  I hope that’s not too disrespectful.  It is, isn’t it?  

Q:  The top-5 shows in 1988 were: The Cosby Show, Roseanne, A Different World, Cheers and Golden Girls.  This is what people liked 25 years ago.  Say none of these shows ever existed, which one would be the most popular today?  Rusty Dalrimple, Queens, NY.

A:  Golden Girls was a top-5 show?  That’s a bit shocking.  I mean, Golden Girls had that ROLLICKING theme song and some moments, but was it that good?  Maybe it was.  Lot of sass on that show.  LOT. OF. SASS.  So, none of these shows existed and they are all getting pitched in 2013?  Well, I think with the possible exception of A Different World–they’d all get made.  A Different World was a spinoff of the Cosby Show, so maybe it has the least merit standing alone?  Shows about college kids don’t usually do well.  Is that a fair statement?  Something happens between high school and college that makes people less interesting?  No, I think it’s more, kids in middle school watch shows about kids in high school.  Kids in high school and college don’t really watch sitcoms?  There’s a theory.  I’m booting Golden Girls, too.  Can’t get past it.  So, you have the Cosby Show and Roseanne, two family shows centered on famous comedians, and Cheers, which is more of an ensemble production centered in a bar.  Shows about families are still popular.  There’s certainly some Roseanne in The Middle, for example.  I think Cheers would be critically acclaimed and have a real loyal audience, but ratings wise would probably be doomed to Office and Parks and Rec type numbers.  Pressed to make a final decision, I’m going (based solely on ratings):

  1. Roseanne
  2. The Cosby Show
  3. Golden Girls
  4. Cheers
  5. A Different World

11 thoughts on “Amen Mailbag.

  1. Yeah, 13…

    Its an exciting hole. I have a little thing with doglegs. Plus, Fred always butchered that hole when he was in contention post-92

  2. I love 13 and 15 because they offer everything from an eagle to a nine. How about the fact that on 13 you can putt your ball into the hazard? That just blows my little mind.

    The approach on 15 from about 230 has to scare the hell out of you considering most of us would hit a low bullet that would bounce off the green and into the hazard on the other side of the green (a hazard that almost never comes into play for the pros).

    Give me 13 because I hit one of my snap hooks and potentially get away with it.

    This is how you know Augusta is the best course in the world: Grown men will say things like, “I love the azaleas at the Masters.” Or, “I hope hope the azaleas are in bloom this year.”

      • We may have to do a full anatomical breakdown of the hook and its incarnations at some point. The slice two. A spectrum of mis-hits if you will

  3. Oh and couple more things: The Masters has its own App this year and it is AMAZING. They have video of guys on the range, featured groups, live scoreboards, Amen Corner and anything else to can think of. The best part is that it’s free.

    One of the features is that they have flyovers and pictures of each hole. Dear Lord, that place is immaculate. I got so giddy I made Lindsay look at some of the flyovers and pictures. She said to me, “How much does it cost to play there.” I laughed at her in an arrogant way as if to say, “Are you effing with me.” So it got me thinking of your question above: how much do you think someone would pay to play at Augusta? I’m guessing into goes well above $1,000, right?

    • I think if you opened it to the Public, you could easily charge $2500 at the beginning. The novelty might wear off, but think of it this way. People pay close to that sometimes to play a swanky course in a charity outing, so this isn’t a write off, but it’s Augusta frickin’ National.

      Everything they do, from the website to this app is top of the line. It’s tough to hate on them when they execute things so well.

  4. wow…a different world. i so wanted that to be my college life.
    nice, masters, go, wow….good bag.
    in future mail bags, could you please answer:
    why (besides nonsensical brain decay) do we need tv’s at gas pumps? and what are the long term social and environmental implications?

    pissed at pump. Q

    • DC, yus? Only pastures and Northern Lights in Vermont? Yeah, that’s my memory of V-ville…great place.

      gas stations with tv’s banned in that state? gas stations may be banned…

      Anyhooo. YUS YUS YUS, there are tv’s at least at several to most Sunocos in S.E. PA….this is really hurting my emotional state…(but I still look at weather reports or headlines, which makes me feel worse about myself…)

      I’d like to open a bike air filling station….and on top of the air machine, they’ll be a Choose Your Own Adventure paperback.


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