First Tee to Last Call: Canton West & Clouds of Smoke
This is a special edition of “First Tee to Last Call” written by Bo McBrayer, filling in for Conor Coughlin.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is a saying that rings in my ears, along with the tinnitus from growing up on a hunting ranch. My mom is a planner. Her mom, Grandma Barbara, is a planner. They took turns burning that Robert Burns quote into my life with such fervor that I am now the antithesis of a planner.
I fly by the seat of my pants, rolling with the punches and counter-punching like a very poor man’s Floyd Mayweather. I married a planner. She says we balance one another out (through her teeth with one eye twitching). My nonchalance, however, is not equipped for when we are expecting a friend to stay over for the weekend.
The best-laid plans were to attend the Fantasy Football Expo in Canton, Ohio last weekend. As fate would have it, we had bills to pay and couldn’t justify the cost of an impromptu soiree in the Midwest the weekend before our daughter began third grade. My nimble partner-in-crime, Scott Simpson, was also not attending the Expo out of health concerns in his family. Of course, the natural progression in the plan was to host Scott at my house in Northern California and call it “Canton West.”
We had approximately two months to layout our itinerary for Thursday night through Monday morning. Naturally, I told Scott that I would open the kitchen up to him and cook whatever he wanted. That was the easy part. After ironing out the menu two months ago, I truly didn’t plan anything. In the background, the missus was worrying about every detail and logistic. When the time finally came to pick my “internet friend” up from the airport, we were ready.
It was a blast. Scott and I were meeting one another in person for the first time, but our friendship has long been established. There was no awkwardness or tension. There wasn’t a hint of drama between us. We ate well, smoked some of the finest flower from the 530 and complained about the heat while sitting poolside. We stayed abreast of the Canton shenanigans, but I can’t say I would have done last weekend any differently.
It was “good vibes only.” We drank delicious pints from Blue Note Brewing Company and grubbed on delectable barbecue from the food truck on Dead Cat Alley. I took Scott to Father Paddy’s Irish Pub and introduced him to pot still whiskey, Irish coffee and then the owner of the place took us back into the aptly named “Whiskey Vault.” Father Paddy’s is in a historic building that was originally a Bank of America, with the actual vault door now opening to a heavenly collection of distilled spirits. It wasn’t Canton, but it was a great time nonetheless.
I made a batch of my famous HotBox hot sauce and Scott was the sous chef and guinea pig. He witnessed the entire process; from cooking to bottling, packing and shipping. Scott and I spent the weekend planning our upcoming season, drafting best ball lineups and interviewing Field Yates on our show, “Chalk Blocked.” It was the most enjoyable time I’ve had in ages.
The weekend wrapped up much too quickly, saddening both of us that we had to return to our normal lives. The purple smoke from our late-night philosophy ramblings has faded into the orange haze from local wildfires. Meaningful friendships are as fleeting as a free weekend. They are also rarely planned.
The Northern Trust
Liberty National is a picturesque stage for the beginning of the season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs. The New York City skyline looms from the other side of the Hudson River, with Lady Liberty’s gaze casting a judgmental shadow over the shots made on this nearly 7,400-yard Bentgrass track.
Winners at Liberty National are usually great all-around players. The fairways are narrow, but rough is less penal than it was in the early days of tournament play. The greens are challenging and have plenty of undulation. No single metric will stand out as more important than the other from my perspective.
Some Metrics I’m Looking at This Week
Even though I’m not taking a very statistical approach to my DraftKings (DK) builds this week, I will use certain pieces to reinforce my construction process.
- Total driving
- Bentgrass scoring average
- Scoring average (7,200-7,500 yards)
- Strokes gained putting
The Northern Trust Picks
Collin Morikawa ($10,400)
Nobody strikes their irons quite like former University of California Bear, Collin Morikawa. The Open Championship winner is playing out of his mind this season. If he has one weakness, it’s a streaky putter. Liberty National is a forgiving track if you are a longer hitter (check), a good ball striker (big check) and can give yourself makeable birdie opportunities (check). I don’t normally spend up to the top of the board in this kind of event because the depth of talent is better and weighted at the top.
Rory McIlroy ($10,000)
My “The 19th Hole” co-host, Conor Coughlin, has been in my ear all week about his favorite golfer of all time. Rory McIlroy is definitely cut out for this venue and should be around the top of the leaderboard all week. McIlroy can still bomb the ball and make courses like Liberty look incredibly small and attainable. He also has a knack for showing up when the stakes are raised. McIlroy is a playoff-caliber golfer and his price is not reflective of his incredible chance of winning the Northern Trust and the FedEx Cup altogether.
Tony Finau ($8,200)
Tony Finau’s game fits just about any course layout. There is a good chance it’s the reason why he’s been so close to a lot of trophies. He also happens to be a great fit for golf on DK, where birdie streaks and eagles are the keys to scoring cash-worthy points. I don’t suspect Finau’s price will go much lower than this in a very long time, so I guess you can call him a value sleeper who drives a fancy car.
Other Golfers I Like This Week
Cameron Smith ($8,500)
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,800)
Sungjae Im ($7,800)
Cameron Tringale ($7,300)
Charlie Hoffman ($7,000)
Patton Kizzire ($6,500)
“Last Call” Dart Throw of the Week
Doug Ghim ($6,200)