BOB WEST ON GOLF — Hornet’s nest follows golf ball proposal; locals find success at all levels  

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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For an operation that for years ran smoothly and was relatively free of controversy, the PGA Tour seems to be embroiled in a new dispute on a somewhat regular basis.

First, there was the threat posed by LIV, which is ongoing and won’t be settled until several lawsuits wind through the courts. Then it was big changes to the regular PGA Tour schedules, with some events being “elevated” and others left with second level status.

With all that simmering, along comes golf’s two major governing bodies last week with a proposal to scale back how far the golf ball travels. The United States Golf Association and European Royal and Ancient, however, made it clear such an option would just be for certain elite professional championships.

As you can imagine, the proposal went over with professional players like loud noises on their backswing. With the game now totally invested in the “bomb and gouge” approach of drives that travel through time zones, the screaming and hollering was predictable.

The suggested distance reduction would not come into play until 2026 to give everybody, starting with ball manufacturers, plenty of time to adjust. Those ball manufacturers, by the way, are among the ones screaming the loudest about producing one ball for pros and another for amateurs.

As it stands now, and it is certainly not written in stone, the U.S. Open and the British Open are the events that would require a dialed-down ball. It would be up to the PGA Tour and other tours to call their own shot on going along.

Early speculation is the Masters decision makers would probably be on board.

A scaled back golf ball is something Jack Nicklaus has preached for years. His reasoning has been protecting the integrity of courses not designed to deal with equipment changes that allow massive distance upgrades.

Tiger Woods, to a less vocal extent, has also been on board.

Tiger’s buddy Justin Thomas, one of the biggest bombers on tour, is strongly against the idea, as are most of the game’s top players.

“This is so bad for the game of golf,” fumed Thomas, at a press conference last week.

Added Sam Burns: “At the end of the day, we are an entertainment sport. I don’t think people necessarily want to come out here and watch guys hit it shorter. They enjoy watching guys go out there and hit it 350 yards. I think that’s a skill and I don’t agree with trying to take it away.”

Stay tuned. This is going to get really, really interesting.

CHIP SHOTS: Former Lamar University star MJ Daffue posted his best PGA Tour finish of the 2022-23 season at the Valspar Classic in Tampa. With the scores much higher than at most PGA Tour stops – 10 under won — Daffue finished tied for 19th with one-under 283.

That earned him a season best check of $89,100, boosted his season earnings to $319,521 and elevated him to 129 on the Fed Ex Cup points list . . .

PNG-ex Andrew Landry also had a good week, after making the plus one cut on the number by sinking a birdie putt on the 36th hole. Landry wound up T45 with a plus 2 total of 286 and collected $21,595.

With the tour’s top players gathered in Austin this week for the WGC Match Play Championship, Daffue and Chris Stroud will be playing in the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic. Stroud is currently No. 126 on the Fed Ex points list and 137 on the money list with $378,714 in winnings . . .

It was another tough week on the APT Tour for former PNG and Baylor star Braden Bailey. He missed the cut at the Coushatta Casino championship after rounds of 75-71. His 146 total was two above the even par cut . . .

Connor Denson of Hankamer won Boys 15-18 in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour stop at Beaumont Country Club last week with a four-over-par 75. Denson finished three shots clear of Groves’ Jaxon Wolf and Kolby Stork of Beach City.

Other Junior Tour results saw Kentyn Clark of Huffman shoot 93 to win Girls 15-18 by one stroke over Peyton Hidalgo of Sour Lake. Erin Eaves of Beaumont won Girls 13-14 with a 96.

In Junior Links play, Grace Dai of Beaumont won Girls 13-14 with a nine-hole score of 55. Little Linksters winners were Jaxson Roddy of Spring with a 49 in Boys 11-12, 9 hole red tees, Sophia Holt of The Woodlands with a 51 in Girls 11-12, 9 hole red and Harper Rhodes of Orange with a 31 in Girls 9-10, 5 hole modified.

In the Saturday 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Brian Mirabella, Cap Hollier, Thad Kieshnick and Harrell Guidry won the front with minus 1. Even par won the back for the foursome of James Vercher, Robert Gautreaux, Tom Brown and George Adams . . .

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight format was two-man teams playing 6-6-6. There was a tie at 69 in First Flight between the team of Gary Whitfill-Ted Freeman and, Vercher-Gautreaux. Glenn Judice-Charlie Leard shot 71 to edge Rick Pritchett-Tom Fenner by two in Second Flight.

In Third Flight, Greg Theriot-Buddy Elmore won with a 70, besting Don MacNeil-Charlie Perez by a stroke. Frank LeBlanc-Sid Ducote took Fourth Flight with a 75.

Closest-to-the-pin winners were Gautreaux (No. 2, 12-10), Whitfill (No. 7, 2-11), Danny Robbins (No. 12, 13-9) and Hollier (No. 15, 4-4) . . .

Entries are being taken in the Zaharias golf shop for the 50th Nederland Heritage Festival Flighted Two-Person Scramble. Cost is $20 cash for the prize fund plus cart and greens fee. There will be an 8 p.m. shotgun start. Players will be flighted by handicap. For more information, call 409 722-8286.

Golf news should be e-mailed to Bob West at