Home Columns First Tee to Last Call: Gone Fishing

First Tee to Last Call: Gone Fishing

by Conor Coughlin

I live in the Midwest. South Dakota to be specific. 

I wasn’t born and raised here. Matter of fact, I was born in Texas and grew up in Colorado. When I moved to the Midwest about 8 years ago, it was culture shock to say the least. 

Oftentimes it feels like I’m living in the past. South Dakota is typically about 6-12 months behind on the trends but makes for a much simpler lifestyle. I have fallen in love with it, but it took time. 

One of the biggest adjustments for me was the amount of rural culture that is shared by everyone. It seems like everyone either grew up in a small town or spent a lot of time in one. 

Hunting, fishing and dive bars are a mainstay. It turns out you can have a combination of any of these all at once. One of my favorite combinations of these things is ice fishing. 

The first time I was invited ice fishing, I had the mental image of a couple of guys huddled around a hole in the ice freezing to death. If you’re familiar with the movie “Grumpy Old Men,” that’s pretty much what I pictured. 

Reality couldn’t have been farther from the truth. There are people who are purists that do fish that way (a little more modernized, but for all intents and purposes, it’s what I described above). Then there are people who fish in “houses” that are legitimately nicer than some people’s actual houses. 

For anyone not familiar with what I’m talking about, let me explain. 

Fish houses are a common way to ice fish in Northern Mid-West states.

A typical “fish house” for my friend circle is about 30 feet long by about 15 feet wide and sits atop a trailer frame on airbags. The airbags allow you to raise and lower the house onto and off the ice by the push of a button. The outside of the house is very similar to any R.V. you’ve ever seen. But the inside is what really blew me away. 

Inside the house, you’ll find granite countertops, wood cabinetry (stained or painted to your preferred color), wood floors, oven and stove, full bathroom, refrigerator and freezer combo, an eight-person dining table and several full-size couches that fold out to beds. There’s a master bed, which in newer models is on an electric lift, that raises and lowers from the ceiling. It’s at minimum a queen size bed. 

All of this is climate controlled, of course. 

There are several holes cut into the floor of the house to allow you to fish. Above the holes are fishing reels mounted to the wall that have a rattle inside, so if a fish bites, the reel rattles. But the thing that blew me away, though, was that most people have full-on satellite T.V. with multiple flat-screen T.V.s mounted on the interior walls. 

I know none of this would surprise someone if you were in an R.V. park in someone’s hundred-thousand-dollar mobile home, but we are in the middle of nowhere on 12 inches of ice. 

I love going ice fishing. We gather multiple houses together and have what essentially becomes a small community of bars and hangouts. No exaggeration, there’s dancing, karaoke, NFL Sunday Ticket, fully stocked bars and absolutely no last call. I’m sure I have drunk my weight in Busch Lights and Canadian whiskey there over the years. 

With the Farmers Insurance this week, I’m reminded, like I am every year, of ice fishing. The first time I went fishing was the 2016 Farmers that Brandt Snedeker won. Spoiler alert:  I won’t be playing Snedeker this week. I watched the third and fourth round from the middle of a lake. Snedeker shot a 3-under-par final round, as contenders KJ Choi, Kevin Streelman and Jimmy Walker all shot over par that day. 

I wasn’t on any of them – shocking I know. It wasn’t my best DraftKings weekend, but it was an amazing introduction to something I never knew I’d enjoy so much. We even caught some fish, too, the best of which was a 28.5-inch walleye. It was probably the biggest fish I’ve seen in person, but apparently not large enough to be a trophy. Since then, I’ve spent New Year’s Eve, seen countless UFC fights, who knows how many NFL games, a Super Bowl and round upon round of the PGA on the ice. 

Here’s to hoping some of those good vibes help me this week with my picks! 

For the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Deigo this week, players will play the North Course and the South Course Thursday and Friday before the cut. The final two rounds will be played on the South Course, which is the more challenging of the two, playing about two strokes more difficult on average. We have a 156-player field this week with the top 65 and ties making the cut for the weekend. 

The weather looks to be cooler and quite windy in the afternoon, with winds in the mid to upper 20s. It’s a factor to consider, as it may de-emphasize the ability to bomb the ball off the tee. 

I’m looking at accuracy and good drives gained this week more than I normally do. 

Good drives gained is when a player reaches the green in regulation from the fairway or near the fairway. Near the fairway is the part of interest. I’m looking for guys that can recover if they miss the fairway, as I see the layouts being fairly narrow in spots. 

Farmers Insurance Open Picks 

Jon Rahm ($11,300)

Jon Rahm loves playing in California and typically does good work there. He is No. 1 in the field for shots gained total over the last 36 rounds. He’s also No. 2 in the field for greens in regulation hit over the last 50 rounds, and has finished in the top five in three of his four starts here with a win and a runner up. I like paying up here and fading Tony Finau, who is looking to be the most popular play over $10k this week. 

Will Zalatoris ($8,100)

Will Zalatoris is going to be a big-time player, and I’m going to keep plugging him into my lineups whenever he tees it up. He’s No. 3 in the field for shots gained total, No. 8 in the field in shots gained approach, No. 2 in the field for good drives gained and No. 1 in the field for greens in regulation. 

He has three top 10s in his last six starts on the PGA tour, and before that, he had five top 10s in his last eight starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. His ownership is tracking at sub 10 percent right now, and he’s a great pivot away from Gary Woodland ($7,800) and Ryan Palmer at ($8,400). 

James Hahn ($7,100)

James Hahn is someone I may have never used before. This is kind of a gut play. I liked what I saw in his first two rounds last week at the American Express. He rates out in the top third of the field in all of the shots gained metrics. 

The model I built for accuracy loves him. He is No. 1 in good drives gained, No. 6 in greens in regulation and number 11 in fairways gained. He has three top 10s in his last seven starts with only one missed cut. He’s a nice pivot from Doug Ghim ($7,200) and John Huh ($7,000), who are both projecting to be more than 10 percent owned. Hahn is tracking to be sub 5 percent. 

Other Golfers I Like this Week

Rory McIlroy ($11,000)

Bubba Watson ($8,800)

Ryan Palmer ($8,400)

Cam Davis ($7,900)

Martin Laird ($6,800)

Thanks for reading, and good luck this week!

Conor Coughlin @aRandomGr3nade

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