The 2022 Grainy Awards

Outside the Ropes columnist Tim Moraghan recaps another strange golf year — focusing far more on comedy than drama.


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It was another strange golf year, when our business looked even more like Hollywood, with almost as much action on courses and screens as there was in courtrooms. Because we prefer comedy to drama, here are the Grainy Awards for 2022. Please keep your acceptance speeches short.

The “Show Must Go On” Award

To the GCSAA for carrying on with the annual Golf Industry Show — excuse me, the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show — despite the not-quite-post-pandemic hangover and the annoyances that came with holding it in one of the most expensive travel destinations in prime season. Is it a surprise that not too many showed up? But it was a great reunion for vendors. Most common refrain heard on the show floor: “Remember when …?”

Worst Set Design

Architects. Almost every one of them. Certainly, all those who randomly throw in swales, bunkers and native areas without regard to how they’ll be maintained — particularly in the midst of a significant labor shortage among grounds crews.

Best Production Design

Southern Hills Country Club. Despite a big freeze the winter before, the course shone magnificently in the 2022 PGA Championship thanks to talented golf course superintendent Russ Myers and his team.

Best (or is it Worst?) Dramatic Series

“The Money Heist.” Not the TV series, but the battle of bucks between upstart LIV Golf and the hanging-on-by-its-slippery-grips PGA Tour. Dustin Johnson wins $35 million playing in tournaments nobody saw, while the suits from Ponte Vedra found a pot of gold somewhere that they’re now throwing at rookies, “elevated” events and a new Player Impact Program.

Best Foreign Feature

The Old Course at St. Andrews. Part documentary, part tear-jerker, this one had it all, from Tiger’s (probably) last appearance across the pond to Open Championship winner Cam Smith grabbing the Claret Jug one minute then jumping tours the next. And while the Old was, is and will always be my favorite course, I really don’t think it needed to be burnt like a slice of British toast. Her next big appearance is the 2023 Walker Cup and we’ll be watching that sequel closely.

Worst Sound Editing

NBC relieves longtime announcers — and, notably, former players — Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch of their microphones, saying it wants to “refresh” its broadcasts. I wholeheartedly agree that golf broadcasts — all of them! — need to be refreshed. Maybe if they stop showing golfers taking three minutes to line up a 10-footer … and then miss.

Worst Sound Effects

The ever-astute State of California Legislature, for banning gas-powered lawn equipment as soon as 2024. What have the lawmakers got against lawn mowers and leaf blowers? If they want to stop noxious exhaust, maybe they should keep their mouths shut.

Worst Remake

The USGA Green Section. To quote the great philosopher Yogi Berra, it’s “déjà vu all over again.” With all the knowledge, expertise, research and talent on the Green Section staff (not to mention all that money), you’d think they could come up with something fresh or innovative. Nope. What we got was the same old stuff we’ve been talking about for the past 40 years. I strongly suggest they take a good look at the Best Remake of the Year, “Top Gun: Maverick,” for some hints on how to take something that was pretty lame to begin with and give it a welcome redo.

Weirdest LIV-e Program

LIV Golf. It sucked the air out of the golf world for months and it isn’t done. And you thought Hollywood studios could spend a lot of money on a box-office bomb …

Best Original Score

The Irish ballads played at morning meetings in the maintenance facility at The Country Club to rally the troops preparing for the 2022 U.S. Open.

Best Short Features

The spate of 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-hole courses. A great way to get people to learn and engage with the game. From the Cradle to Circle T Nine, Little Sandy to The Baths, such courses are diverse, fun and can be played quickly. We need more of them, and it looks like we’re going to be getting them.

The “Wait, I’ve Seen Him Before” Award

Like character actors in the old days of Hollywood, Pat Jones has a way of popping up everywhere, especially when you least expect him. (See: Harvey Keitel — he’s everywhere and in every movie!)

Best Visual Effects

Quail Hollow was in prime shape for the Presidents Cup (almost as good a shape as the American team). With an unbelievable build-out and superb conditions, Keith Wood and patriarch Johnny Harris hit it out of the park.

Best Supporting — Yet Also Unsupporting — Actor in an Ongoing Series

Phil Mickelson. Yeah, you knew Lefty had to win something. Not playing golf, but from us. He was here, he was there, he was everywhere (like Pat Jones), then he disappeared, and reappeared. He had a beard, then he didn’t. He drank his own coffee — to say nothing of the Kool-Aid. And he was, as always, a quote machine. In football, they call that a “triple threat.” In golf, we now refer to it as “one scary mother---er!”

Runner Up:Rory McIlroy, who was golf’s Swiss Army knife this year, winning events —though not a major — while keeping the PGA Tour membership in line. A great example of leadership that many other golf organizations could learn from.

Best Supporting Actress(es)

Hats off to the women’s volunteer grounds crew at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles. You made yourselves — and us — proud. Plus, a special shoutout to host golf course superintendent David Fruchte.

Best Actors and Actresses

40 million golfers! That’s how many are now playing our game, says the National Golf Foundation. Yes, that includes off-course games like Topgolf and even virtual reality, but we’re happy to have them.

Runners Up: The hundreds of superintendents and their crews at more than 1,000 courses in Florida and elsewhere devastated by Hurricane Ian. Unfortunately, we’re often not noticed until the worst happens. I hope your members/golfers show their thanks.

And the 2022 Grainy Goes To …

Mike Whan and the USGA. Rather than celebrating themselves (like in the old days) and before congratulating 2022 U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick, they did the right thing by recognizing Dave Johnson, director of grounds at The Country Club, and his team. The inaugural Marshall Platter recognizes excellence in USGA championship agronomy and course preparation. The award was presented by Whan on the 18th hole after the completion of the championship before the assembled gallery and a national television audience. It’s about time!

Tim Moraghan, principal, ASPIRE Golf (tmoraghan@aspire-golf.com). Follow Tim’s blog, Golf Course Confidential at http://www.aspire-golf.com/blog/ or on Twitter at @TimMoraghan.

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