Ex-Braves LHP Smoltz pitching golf career

The U.S. Senior Open is being held this week at the Boadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and among the many interesting storylines is the participation of baseball hall of famer John Smoltz, who is competing in his first USGA event.

The 51-year-old Smoltz took up golf as a young man looking for activities to help fill his off-days while pitching in the minor leagues. Over the years, Smoltz’ game improved to the point where he is now a scratch golfer.

It will be interesting to see how well he stacks up this week against the country’s best senior golfers (he was 15-over after Thursday).

Another storyline involves longtime PGA star John Daly, who made his own headlines this week. Daly drew attention when he withdrew from the championship after the USGA denied his initial medical petition requesting the use of a golf cart.

Daly, who suffered a knee injury earlier this year, rebuffed the USGA’s request for additional, supporting documentation and instead withdrew from the event.

He went on to tell the USA Today he would never again play in a USGA event.

Ironically, Daly made a similar announcement after the 1999 U.S. Open (held at Pinehurst) in response to his frustration with that tournament’s extremely sloping greens. Back then, his pledge didn’t last very long as Daly went on to appear in the U.S. Open the very next year.

I don’t think USGA officials will be losing much sleep over Daly’s absence this week, but here’s hoping he mends fences quickly and is in good enough shape to make a full recovery.

Daly has always been entertaining to watch and a fan favorite for decades.

Another rules violation?

Professional golf has witnessed several high-profile rules controversies in recent years. However, an incident which happened at last week’s PGA Tour event might just take the cake.

During weekend play, cameras at the Travelers Championship captured newcomer Bryson DeChambeau using a compass to check true hole locations on a pin-location sheet provided to each player in the competition.

The fact that a golfer would be using a compass on a golf course seems amusing enough, but DeChambeau has gained a reputation for his odd, scientific approach to the game in his short time on tour.

With that said, I was really surprised to learn that Tour officials had quickly informed DeChambeau that they would be looking into whether using a compass during competition was allowable under the rules.

Shouldn’t they know one way or the other?

The whole thing seems a bit petty.

I would consider myself a stickler for the rules, but questioning the use of a compass — utilized just to check distances on a piece of paper — seems to be going way overboard.

While we’re talking about the rules of golf, it’s hard to watch a golf tournament today that doesn’t include multiple images of players and caddies pouring over pre-purchased “Green Topography Maps.”

These maps are compiled using state-of-the-art, 3-D imaging to provide each golfer with detailed information on how much every putt will break.

Though nothing has been announced to date, I really do believe the USGA will soon make efforts to ban the use of such maps. Recent statements by the USGA have made clear its position that reading greens is a human skill, which is an essential part of the game.

Look for golf’s governing bodies to make an effort to eliminate these topography maps in the near future.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net.