I Would Watch This Movie

Morgan Hoffmann left the PGA Tour in search of a cure. He found so much more.

Here’s the elevator pitch.

Young, free-spirited, athletic and muscular professional golfer has success on the PGA Tour until he’s diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He becomes extremely disillusioned that the best Western docs have little hope for him living a normal life, let alone continuing his career. He puts his sticks away, moves to Costa Rica with his wife and dogs, lets his hair grow, surfs, and turns to alternative medicine. Gets better. Plans to return to competition.

My Bromance(s) Explained

What’s your favorite golf podcast? Hard to narrow it down? Mine is “The Drop Zone” with co-hosts Sean Zak and Dylan Dethier.

The roots of my Zak and Dethier bromances are at least threefold. First, they have an endearing friendship. Second, their content is always smart and socially conscious and often humorous. Third, Dethier completed the best gap year of all time at the end of which he wrote a book titled “18 in America: A Young Golfer’s Epic Journey To Find The Essence Of The Game” which I still have to read. The book is described this way:

“Shortly before his freshman year of college was set to begin, seventeen-year-old Dylan Dethier—hungry for an adventure beyond his small town—deferred his admission and, “like Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey before him, packed his used car and meager life savings and set off to see and write about America” (ABC News/ Yahoo). His goal: play a round of golf in each of the lower forty-eight states.

From a gritty municipal course in Flint, Michigan, to rubbing elbows with Phil Mickelson at Quail Hollow, Dylan would spend a remarkable year exploring the astonishing variety of the nation’s golf courses—and its people. Over one year, thirty-five thousand miles, and countless nights alone in his dusty Subaru, Dylan showered at truck stops, slept with an ax under his seat, and lost his virginity, traveling “wherever the road took him, with golf as a vehicle for understanding America” (The New York Times).”

Man, what I would give to have had an 18 year-old Dethier in one of my First Year writing seminars.

The content of this fresh-off-the-press piece by Dethier, “How would a scratch golfer fare against LPGA pros? Now we know: not well.” which garnered about a third of today’s 36 minute podcast, kept me company on my chilly morning run to Priest Point Park and back. It exemplifies what makes “The Drop Zone” such a good listen. It’s a smart, funny, and wonderfully feminist take on just how good women professional golfers are these days.

So if you’ve been wondering what’s missing in your life, and you think it may be the lack of a truly excellent golf podcast, given Zak and Dethier a whirl the next time you’re practicing your chipping and putting.

Monday Required Reading

1A. QAnon’s ‘Meme Queen’ Marches On. Loneliness is a scourge.

“What attracts Ms. Gilbert and many other people to QAnon isn’t just the content of the conspiracy theory itself. It’s the community and sense of mission it provides. New QAnon believers are invited to chat rooms and group texts, and their posts are showered with likes and retweets. They make friends, and are told that they are not lonely Facebook addicts squinting at zoomed-in paparazzi photos, but patriots gathering “intel” for a righteous revolution.

This social element also means that QAnon followers aren’t likely to be persuaded out of their beliefs with logic and reason alone.”

1B. The Unlikely Connection Between Wellness Influencers and the Pro-Trump Rioters. Sigh.

2. Why Chamberlain Built a $3,000 Automatic Garage Door For Your Dog.

3. The Golf World Hardly Deserves Praise for “Breaking” With Trump. News Alert: Not everyone is impressed by my newly woke sport.

4. He Just Wanted To Play Catch. La ultima feel good story.

“I think people want to reconnect a little bit right now.”

5. Electric Cars Are Better for the Planet – and Often Your Budget, Too.

“The federal government offers a tax credit for some new electric vehicle purchases, but that does nothing to reduce the initial purchase price and does not apply to used cars. That means it disproportionately benefits wealthier Americans. Some states, like California, offer additional incentives. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to offer rebates that help consumers swap inefficient, old cars for cleaner new ones, and to create 500,000 more electric vehicle charging stations, too.”

All of today’s QAnon reading necessitated at least one President-elect Biden reference. I don’t want any PressingPausers losing touch with reality.

Seeking A Role Model

Man alive, nearly all of my boyhood heroes are biting the dust. Especially baseball players from the late 60’s and early/mid 70’s. Guess that’s how the life cycle works.

But one is still very much alive and kickin’. A golfer with 18 major championships. Goes by the name, “The Golden Bear”. Yesterday, TGB penned a love letter to the President and urged everyone to vote for him. Out of respect to you, I am not linking to it. Of course that’s his prerogative, just like it’s my prerogative to boycott him and his commercial empire.

There were clues along the way. He had zero sympathy for Casey Martin.

Now I find myself rooting for Collin Morikawa to win 18 more major championships sometime before I bite the dust.

So there’s a void in my life. Absent a role model, I feel adrift.

Maybe you would like to apply for the vacancy. Please submit an application starting with who you’ve voted for—or if an international friend—who you would’ve voted for given the chance. Major championship titles will only be used to break ties.

I Miss Tracy Austin

Serena is about to get bounced from the US Open. I think. By Tsvetana Pironkova a 5’11” Bulgarian.

As with the men, women’s professional tennis is now all about power. Everyone is tall and hella strong like Pironkova.

As the game speeds up, people of average height are being squeezed out.

A similar phenomenon is happening in men’s professional golf. Most of the top players are hitting bombs off the tee.

Power’s alright, but I miss drop shots, spin serves, and super long rallies. And watching bombers hit driver-short iron into par fives gets old fast.

And get off my yard!

Postscript—Never count Serena out until the final point.

Weekend Required Reading

Three day weekend in the United States, so I expect local readers to read all of these especially closely. 

1. Online Privacy Should Be Modeled On Real World Privacy. Gather round, John Gruber is fired up.

“Just because there is now a multi-billion-dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.”

2. The Secret Adjustment Factor Tesla Uses to Get Its Big EPA Range Numbers. Outsmarting its competitors.

3. In Washington State, the revolving door between government service and lobbying is well-greased. 

“Washington’s revolving door received renewed scrutiny last year when then-state Sen. Guy Palumbo, a Democrat, resigned his seat to become a state lobbyist for Amazon. Prior to stepping down, Palumbo had been the prime sponsor of a bill to require state agencies to adopt cloud computing solutions for any new information technology investments. In urging his colleagues to approve the bill, which passed the state Senate but died in the House, Palumbo touted Washington’s homegrown cloud computing companies. ‘Namely Microsoft and Amazon who are the worldwide leaders in this space, Palumbo said at the time.”

How to get rich? Step one, get elected.

4. Police reforms face defeat as California Democrats block George Floyd-inspired bills. This is the substantive stuff to pay attention to as the media spotlight shifts.

5. The man who defied death threats to play at the Mastershttps://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32234719. My friend RZ loves golf. The Masters is his favorite tournament. He’s also a sociologist who studies Blacks in the elite. This one is for him.

6. ‘Greatest Met of All Time’: Tom Seaver Is Mourned Across Baseball. How can anyone read that and conclude you have to be mean and nasty to be an elite athlete?

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Is There A More Global or Competitive Game?

Today’s Ladies* Professional Golf Association leaderboard following the first round in Oneida, Wisconsin. Eight countries represented among the top ten. Explained in large part by Asia’s economic rise. Little known fact, Yu Liu played at Duke University**. Course might be a little too easy.

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Today’s European Tour leaderboard, only seven countries represented among the top ten because of a run of Brits. Props to Padraig for reppin’ the old guys.

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*Who uses “Ladies” anymore?

**that’s what I’m here for

The Difference Between Jordan Spieth and Donald Trump

Aspiring leaders can learn a lot from Donald Trump. Specifically, what not to do. Last week he bragged that HE was going to pass the biggest tax cut in history. Not “my administration”, not “Congressional leaders and me”, “ME“. At the same time, when pressed to explain why he’s failed to pass any significant legislation so far, he has his Press Secretary blame Congress for “not doing their job”.

In contrast, listen to 24 year-old Jordan Spieth after winning his next golf tournament. Or Justin Thomas in three days in South Korea. Both consistently credit their teams for their success, starting every sentence with “We“. They credit their caddies, swing coaches, trainers, agents, and families for their success. Also note how they shift gears when they lose. “My putting wasn’t what it has been.” “I never had control of my driver.”

Two utterly opposite models of leadership. The U.S. Constitution says you have to be 35 years old to be President. If not for that, I’d say, let’s make a trade, Spieth to the Oval Office, Trump to the first tee. I mean he claims to have shot 73 last week. That news was timely, I was beginning to think he had his sense of humor surgically removed.

Friday Assorted Links

1. University of Georgia prevents professor from including “stress-reduction policy” in syllabus.

2. A new kind of classroom—no grades, no failing, no hurry.

“The only goal is to learn the material, sooner or later. . . . Mastery-based learning, also known as proficiency-based or competency-based learning, is taking hold across the country.”

What goes around, comes around:

“Mastery-based learning can be traced to the 1960s, when Benjamin Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago and an education psychologist, challenged conventional classroom practices. He imagined a more holistic system that required students to demonstrate learning before moving ahead. But the strategy was not widely used because it was so labor intensive for teachers. Now, with computer-assisted teaching allowing for tailored exercises and online lessons, it is making a resurgence.”

The goal:

“We want to change the conversation from ‘I’m not successful at this’ to ‘This is where you are on the ladder of growth.’”

3. Deep cleaning is a deep challenge for L.A. Unified School District.

4. How mental-health training for police can save lives—and taxpayer dollars.

“. . . the culture in the police world is not to acknowledge fear, stress, or weakness—and if officers do, they can be pulled off the street and put on a desk. Police who are suffering or dealing with PTSD may be more prone to hair-trigger reactions, which in turn can mean more tragedies. Those who’ve gone through the Miami-Dade program have been more willing to recognize their own stress and to seek help.”

4. Why women had better sex under socialism.

“As early as 1952, Czechoslovak sexologists started doing research on the female orgasm, and in 1961 they held a conference solely devoted to the topic,” Katerina Liskova, a professor at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, told me. “They focused on the importance of the equality between men and women as a core component of female pleasure. Some even argued that men need to share housework and child rearing, otherwise there would be no good sex.”

Pardon me while I vacuum.

Agnieszka Koscianska, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Warsaw, told me that pre-1989 Polish sexologists “didn’t limit sex to bodily experiences and stressed the importance of social and cultural contexts for sexual pleasure.” It was state socialism’s answer to work-life balance: “Even the best stimulation, they argued, will not help to achieve pleasure if a woman is stressed or overworked, worried about her future and financial stability.”

5. Genuine life lessons, from of all places, the world of professional golf.

A.  A PGA champion and columnist lock horns over a harsh critique, then learn from it.

B. A generation driven to win, but practiced in camaraderie.