For many of us in the northern parts of the U.S., golf season is over, our clubs are in the garage and our swings are one less thing to worry about until next spring.
But professional golf has a schedule that never ends, and even though there might already be snow outside that double-paned window, the window of opportunity to watch golf is still wide open.
The fall used to be called the “Silly Season,” with friendly skins games and other meaningless exhibitions, some of which—like The Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge and the Shark Shootout—are still around.
But for the armchair golf fan there is now real drama with real consequences still ahead, including the final stage of the PGA Tour’s Q School and the European Tour’s conclusion of the Race to Dubai.
And coming up from Down Under is the Presidents Cup which, along with the Ryder Cup, is now the annual gut check on the condition of American professional golf—a three-day physical to determine if we are better than the rest of the world.
Our Presidents Cup opponent is the rest of the world without Europe, and we do better at this one than the Ryder Cup. The United States has won six of the eight Presidents Cups since the PGA dreamed up the event in 1994.
But we do a 180 with the Ryder Cup, in which the Europeans have bested us six out of eight times since 1995. For golf lovers, the live broadcasts from Australia starting November 16—some going as late as 2 a.m. ET—will be like an early thanksgiving.
Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott, South African Charl Schwartzel and South Korean K.J. Choi are among the 12 players who will be hoping to tee-off on us at Royal Melbourne. The Americans will include Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and tarnished superstar Tiger Woods, who will undoubtedly be the most highly scrutinized competitor of them all.
Who will be playing with whom in best ball and who will be playing against whom in singles is only known to captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman. It is a matter of speculation for the rest of us. But just for fun, let’s look at a totally different set of match-ups. After all, this is the Presidents Cup.
Facial likenesses are coincidental. Well, not really. I tried to find them.
James Madison versus Matt Kuchar
Madison was an architect of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and his wife Dolley was hot (for the era). So is Kuchar’s wife Sybi. Good battle here between an opponent of the flat tax and an advocate of the flat back swing.
Gerald Ford versus Steve Stricker
Ford was a star college football player at Michigan whom Chevy Chase managed to turn into a klutz for eternity. So, going on reputation, if Stricker gets out ahead too far, Ford could still deliver the knockout blow.
Lyndon Johnson versus Dustin Johnson
LBJ expected you to let him win at golf when he was Commander in Chief, and he knew how to twist arms to get what he wanted. This could be the short route to a “major” for Dustin if he lets his elbow fly.
George W. Bush versus Webb Simpson
G.W. is supposedly a 15 handicapper, and if this match were being played in Florida I’d like his chances. The Walker Cup is named for G.W.’s great grandfather. Webb Simpson played on the U.S. Walker Cup team in 2007 and didn’t win a match. He deserves a Walker.
Calvin Coolidge versus Nick Watney
When Coolidge left the White House, the only item he left behind was his golf bag. Watney will probably only have to keep repeating two words to “Silent Cal” on the course… “You’re away.”
James Buchanan versus Phil Mickelson
Buchanan, like Mickelson, had a Tiger Woods-like problem and his name was Abraham Lincoln. Historians believe that in a different time he might have been considered a great president. Timing is everything.
Richard Nixon versus Bubba Watson
It’s alleged that after he broke 80 for the first time, Nixon gave up golf for good. He was nicknamed “Tricky Dick” and was skilled at foreign relations. Watson has all the trick shots, but Nixon could give Bubba some needed pointers about how the game is played overseas.
Andrew Jackson versus David Toms
“Old Hickory” defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans and it’s claimed he fought several duels that turned fatal for his opponents. Toms has won in New Orleans, too. If he had to play Jackson using hickory, this might be interesting.
Bill Clinton versus Hunter Mahan
This pairing could have the largest gallery who will be curious to see if Mahan allows Clinton any “Billigans.” Nobody doubts Clinton’s love for the game or his love of the spotlight. He’ll probably ask Hunter if he can play his sax in the Golf Boys' next video.
Dwight Eisenhower versus Jim Furyk
Ike played nearly 900 rounds during his eight years in office and had a practice green on the White House lawn. To his credit, he never concealed any of this from the public. It’s likely Eisenhower has more rounds in at Augusta than Furyk or anybody else in the field.
Barack Obama versus Bill Haas
Whatever trouble President Obama gets into on the golf course, it’s got to be “bupkis” compared to what he’s dealing with the rest of the time. Haas just won the $10 billion FedEx Cup bonus, which makes him a lot more solvent than the federal government.
John F. Kennedy versus Tiger Woods
JFK is considered to have been the best golfing president ever despite a bad back, but he didn’t want it known when he played a round. He and Woods would have plenty to talk about.