News & Opinion

PGA Tour could get in step with walkup songs

Consider the possibilities if the Tour were to adopt the melodic introductions featured in other pro sports and allow players to face the music on the 1st tee

The NHL All-Star Game was staged in St. Louis recently, and during the skills competition, goaltenders entered the fray with an introduction – aka “walkup” – song of their choosing.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington asked to have the Ginuwine song “Pony” played upon his arrival. Maybe you know it, a catchy little ditty that features lyrics too sexually explicit to be repeated here.

AT&T Pro-Am
Easygoing Dustin Johnson would be a natural fit for the walkup song ‘Take It Easy’ by The Eagles.

Keep in mind, 11-year-old Laila Anderson was in attendance and a featured part of the All-Star Game festivities. Many of the participating players had their children there, as well. Fortunately, the discomfort was avoided.

Turns out the Enterprise Center DJ expected NHL players to be adults when they picked a song, and assumed the choices would not make longshoreman blush. So Binnington’s mixtape got edited. Instead of “Pony,” he skated out to the sounds of Justin Bieber’s “One Time.”

Perhaps a Green Day tune would have been better suited … Oops! Scratch that thought.

Of course, that’s hockey, and Morning Read is all about golf. Still, one can’t help but wonder – Binnington’s bad judgment aside – whether golf maybe misses the fairway on the walkup-song concept. After all, it is part and parcel with Major League Baseball, gets featured prominently in professional wrestling and is the way most combatants enter the ring in boxing.

Yes, golf has employed musical interludes here and there. The European Tour makes use of them. So does the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open and the Zurich Classic team event. But why not make it a staple and incorporate it into every PGA Tour gig?

If a speaker and microphone can be set up for a first-tee announcer, a sound system with a little more juice should be no problem. Let the best players in the world make a personal statement. Let them be inspired as they enter the fray. Don’t allow them to be sexually explicit or profane, but Dave Loggins’ Masters theme “Augusta” isn’t everyone’s sheet music.

Instead of having four players standing around on the first tee, waiting their moment, let them walk the designated path from the clubhouse and enter the teeing ground one at a time. With their song of choice playing, they put their tee in the ground and put their ball in the air.

And after all have engaged, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers sends the foursome off clippity-cloppin’ toward their appointed rounds withHappy Trails.” Maybe the Masters Tournament would prefer Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert’s recording off “Green Acres” as a departure song, or maybe the piano music … OK, definitely the piano music.

As for the individual players, speculating about what those choices might be is kind of fun, as well. For instance, the walkup song for Tiger Woods is a layup. He’d have to go with “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor; anything else would uncivilized. But if he wanted to mix it up, “Roar” by Katy Perry would work, or maybe “Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent.

If it were 2001, MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” would play nicely. Ah yes, as Mary Hopkin would say, “Those Were The Days,” but we digress.

Here a few other ideas for some prominent players:

Dustin Johnson – “D.J.” hits it a mile, but it’s his laid-back personality that truly sets him apart. “Take It Easy” by the Eagles would fit, and so would Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).”

Jordan Spieth – As Spieth tries to recapture form that put him atop golf’s billboard charts in 2015, he might try “The Comeback” by Danny Gokey, or Journey’s “Don't Stop Believin'.” Another consideration might be the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” but that might be a better fit for the Korn Ferry boys.

Rory McIlroy – When he’s on, as everyone knows, no one hits the driver quite like the Northern Irishman, who returned this week to No. 1 in the world ranking. Considering McIlroy’s heritage, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U” might work. U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” also comes to mind.

Patrick Reed – Brandel Chamblee and others might pick the Hank Williams classic “You’re Cheatin’ Heart” for Reed. That said, Reed might respond by having his lawyer play No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” for Chamblee. But this is Reed’s choice for himself, and the Masters champ could answer his detractors with “Hate It Or Love It” by The Game and 50 Cent. If Reed really wanted to rub it in the face of the moronic hecklers, he might use Metallica’s walk-up classic “Enter Sandman.”

Bryson DeChambeau – Lots of directions to take here. DeChambeau has had to deal with some pace-of-play adversity, so Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” would be appropriate, or anything by Eric “Slow Hand” Clapton. That said, DeChambeau’s analytical approach has earned him the “Mad Scientist” nickname, so Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” or Aretha Franklin’s “Think” would fit the bill.

Brooks Koepka – DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” would work well at the U.S. Open this summer. Of course, Koepka is known for his muscular build, so “Flex” by the Party Boyz would be dope, to coin a phrase.

Henrik Stenson – Known as being the best iron player on the planet, the Swede might go with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Iron Man” as the perfect walk-up tune. At the same time, Stenson’s nickname is “Iceman,” so Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” also works.

Phil Mickelson – Sammy Davis Jr. had a hit way back in 1968 with “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” and that seems appropriate for the Saudi Arabia flap. But a great walk-up for Winged Foot this summer would be the Philster approaching the first tee and tossing his driver into the crowd as The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” blasts through the speakers.

Jim Furyk – The 2003 U.S. Open champ and recent Ryder Cup skipper has always had to listen to people talk about his unorthodox swing. Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” seems perfect.

The possibilities are endless. Justin Thomas has stamped “Radar” on the back of his wedges, so why not tee it up to “Radar Love” by Golden Earring? Matt Kuchar took a lot of flak for shortchanging his rental caddie after winning the 2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic. Kuchar made amends, apologized and moved on, so The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now?” seems proper. And, of course, Australia’s Marc Leishman recently won at Torrey Pines.

C’mon, that’s a no-brainier … “Down Under” Men At Work … mic drop.

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