Side bets are as much a part of golf as chips, putts and ugly outfits.
Check out any course on a Saturday and you will find a foursome playing for money. The wagers could be as simple as 50-cent skins with extra bonuses for sandies and greenies or as elaborate as “Wolf.” I played it once and still have no idea what happened except I lost $10.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are talking about taking it to another level.
Mickelson confirmed to Golf Channel last weekend that a one-on-one, winner-take-all match against Woods for $10 million is indeed in the works. The match was originally scheduled for July 3 in Las Vegas, but negotiations with TV networks and corporate sponsors could not be completed in time, according to Golf.com.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, who owns four golf courses in South Jersey, offered the use of Running Deer Golf Club in Pittsgrove Township for free.
I have a better idea.
Let’s bring Woods-Mickelson to the Atlantic City area.
There are a bunch of local courses that would be ideal for such a showdown. If Jaws wants to be involved, it could be held at his Blue Heron Pines course in Galloway Township, though it may not be long enough for them — it’s listed at 6,810 yards from the tips.
My top pick would be Galloway National in Galloway Township.
Designed by Tom Fazio, it’s plenty long enough at 7,111 yards and when the wind is blowing off the bay, it’s even longer. When the breeze calms down, greenheads the size of seagulls offer a different kind of challenge.
Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, designed by two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, would also be an ideal setting. It’s listed at 7,023 yards from the tips and could probably be stretched if necessary. It also has the advantage of hosting some top events, such as U.S. Open qualifiers for men and women, and the 2015 U.S. Men’s Senior Amateur Championship.
Atlantic City Country Club, which opened in 1898, should also be in the running because of its challenging layout and a history that is unmatched by any course in the area. It hosted the Women’s U.S. Open three times and the first PGA Senior Tour event in 1980.
It would be fun to see Phil and Tiger try to earn birdies and eagles at the course where those terms were first coined.
The greater Atlantic City area would seem to be a good fit for the match in other ways.
Tiger is no stranger to Atlantic City. In 1997, a day after he became the youngest Masters champion in history, Woods made an appearance at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort as part-owner of the old All-Star Cafe just off the Boardwalk.
Accommodations wouldn’t be a problem for Woods. If he doesn’t want to stay in a casino suite or private home, he could always dock his $20 million, 150-foot yacht “Privacy” at Frank S. Farley Marina next to Golden Nugget Atlantic City. President Donald Trump parked his 281-foot “Trump Princess” there when the casino was named Trump Castle and Trump Marina.
Mickelson has some indirect local ties. His close friends include Doug Steffen, who was the director of golf at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield Township when Mickelson won the 2005 PGA Championship there. Doug’s wife, Gina (Greenfield), is a Cape May native.
There’s also another attraction. Atlantic City now has legalized sports betting and Phil has been known to place a wager or two on the NFL, NCAA March Madness and other events.
The Atlantic City area is definitely on the rebound in terms of sports. There are major boxing and mixed martial arts events both scheduled for the summer and Boardwalk Hall just landed the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for 2020.
Not to mention the ShopRite LPGA Classic just held its 20th tournament at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
A Mickelson vs. Woods showdown would be the best heavyweight fight to hit down since Tyson vs. Spinks in 1988.
As for me, I’ll stick to my weekly Saturday game with a buddy. Each round has featured the same wager for the last 10 years or so.
Whoever has the fewest putts at the end wins a dollar.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.