Charlie Rymer sits down with his good buddy, Golf Channel personality Billy Kratzert, to cover a wide range of topics including Billy’s career on the PGA TOUR, his work with Golf Channel, and insight into some of his college hijinks. Enjoy the episode!
Charlie Rymer (00:21):
Hi and welcome to Balls in the Air. I’m your friendly host, Charlie Rymer and we’ve got a special show for you today. Doing the show has been a lot of fun for me because I get to talk to a lot of neat folks, a lot of friends and some special guests, but today, I’m telling you, is really special because it’s one of my best friends on the planet, family really. Thrilled to be joined by four-time PGA TOUR winner, and this kills me to say this, two-time All American at the University of Georgia, a man who comes from an amazing golf family, we’re going to get into that real quick, but at age 16 he actually won the Indiana State Amateur, think about that for a second, folks. How amazing the State of Indiana has been in golf and to have a 16-year old be the State Amateur Champion, really exceptional. But please welcome Billy Kratzert.
Billy, thanks for taking some time to come on my show today and as always, great to see you and great to hang out with you a little bit.
Billy Kratzert (01:22):
Well, thank you for that intro, Charlie. That was way too kind but very happy to do it and very happy to spend some time with you.
Charlie Rymer (01:30):
Well, Billy, I want to get into your background a little bit, because folks over theses last 25 years have come to know you and love you through your work in television and believe me when I say this, folks, we make fun of a lot of announcers as fellow announcers make fun of each other and say, “You work for every network.” Truly, Billy, you worked for every network, we’ll get into that a little bit later too. But I want to go back a ways, I mentioned you won that State Amateur at age 16, your family is an amazing golf family, your sister Cathy Gerring had a lot of success on the LPGA up until a horrible injury that she had. There was a freak accident that really sidelined her career.
Charlie Rymer (02:12):
But I want to talk a little bit about your dad first. Now you were born in Quantico, Virginia, you were raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana where your dad was the Head Professional at the Fort Wayne Country Club for a long time. He’s a Marine, we lost him a few years ago, and we lost a good one in your dad. But tell me a little bit about growing up in Fort Wayne in this amazing golf family? It’s actually been Golf Family of the Year by the PGA of America in the past, but what was it like growing up on that really neat golf course with a dad and a family and an amazing golf community?
Billy Kratzert (02:46):
Well, Charlie, it certainly afforded me the opportunity to learn the game and I think, when I reflect back and I think what my father did is that he never really pushed me towards golf. I played baseball, I played hockey, I was fortunate to play against Gordie Howe’s sons in a National Championship in Pee-Wee Hockey. So he never really pushed me, he let me experience all of the other sports. It was never a defined, “You’re going to play golf, this is what you need to do.” He let me seek it out on my own and that was the beauty of it and so, we didn’t live that far from the golf course, so I would just put my clubs on my shoulder and ride my bicycle over there and I’d go over there and hit balls and play.
Billy Kratzert (03:39):
What he did right at the beginning, Charlie, is for me to be allowed to play the Fort Wayne Country Club, which is a private membership golf course, I had to caddy there. So, I had to caddy at least three days a week, and that gave me the opportunity to go out and play and so, I learned how to play there and it’s an old-style golf course. You and I talk a lot about old-style golf courses, everything’s defined off the tee, you know exactly what shot you need to hit immediately off the tee, you know how you have to approach those very tiny greens, so it was a great experience, wouldn’t trade it for anything. Fort Wayne is a great town and the only drawback was the winters can get a little cold.
Charlie Rymer (04:27):
I understand that. So many of us in this game learned from the folks that came before us, and for me, you and I didn’t get to be friends until we started broadcasting together. I had certainly seen you around, you were still playing some tour events when I was playing. We never got paired together on the PGA TOUR, but you got into broadcasting a year or so earlier than I did and when you get into broadcasting, folks, there’s not some school they send you to, or class or online course or anything like that, they throw you in the deep end of the pool and see if you sink or you swim.
Charlie Rymer (05:04):
And you and I became good friends right there at the beginning and you sort of took me under your wing and I’ll tell you right now, you’re my big brother, and I learned so much from you but I also know that you’re not smart enough to figure out a lot of these things that you told me on your own. You learned a lot from your dad, a lot of great lessons. Hanging out with you I learned the importance of being on time and being prepared and so many things that I use every day but I know those lessons came from your dad. So talk to me a little bit about your dad, maybe an instance or two where you learned something from him that has stuck with you your entire life?
Billy Kratzert (05:49):
Well, whether he was upset he didn’t understand a situation with maybe a member or a person, he never lost the composure. Whether that was the fact that he was a Marine or the upbringing, my grandfather, his father was a very disciplined man. And he was an engineer for the Highway Department in the State of Florida, something that I did not get from my grandfather was the fact… He never made a B or less his entire education, he made all As, I rarely made an A. So, we were different there, but I think the thing that sticks out in my mind, Charlie, is that my dad, he would listen, he was a great listener before he reacted and it’s almost like he gained all the knowledge or all the information that he needed in order to make a decision. And when I think about a couple of cases where members had come in and they were a little upset and everything and he’s just kind of, take them and he’d say, “We’ll let’s just talk this out.” And they’d go from the pro shop to the clubhouse back to the pro shop and from a, I’m going to say a 120 yard walk, everything was resolved.
Billy Kratzert (07:25):
And so, there was never that quick reactionary outward statement, there was always that ability to listen, process and then act. I haven’t always done it, you know that, but I try to do that and I think that’s probably one of the greatest lessons that I ever learned from my father is that he was a whole lot smarter than I thought he was and he became so smart by the time I became 21, but he had that ability to listen and he was cagey, he told me stories and I remember coming home and the curfew was, I think, one o’clock, very lenient, and I exceeded that by about three hours, maybe three and a half hours.
Billy Kratzert (08:22):
And I had to get up the next day because I had to go to the pro shop and so, all of a sudden, I get a knock on my bedroom door and he says, “Hey, how you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m doing fine.” He says, “Are you about ready?” I said, “Yeah, I’m okay.” What I didn’t know is that he had gone down to see where my car was parked, when he came back up, he wanted to know when I got in and I told him, “Well, I think maybe a little bit after one, but not much after.” He says, “Well, before you come to the pro shop today, I’d like for you to take your car down to get the engine checked, because when I put my hand on the hood, it was still hot.” And I went, “Oh.”
Charlie Rymer (09:12):
Billy Kratzert (09:14):
Yeah, so, very savvy. But I think a great lesson I learned, Charlie, was the fact that he listened before he reacted.
Charlie Rymer (09:25):
Hey, that’s… There’s so many lessons learned from your dad. I know you miss him and I always enjoyed the time I got to spend with him. I want to talk to you about your sister, Cathy, for the people that don’t know her story, would you go over her career a little bit and then the accident and then maybe we’ll get into how she’s doing today?
Billy Kratzert (09:50):
Well, she was probably, I’m going to say the best athlete in the family. Well, my dad was the best athlete, because he lettered in three sports at Florida State but Cathy was a heck of an athlete and she didn’t really take up the game of golf until late. Anyways, through her play and quick advancement, she was able to get a scholarship to Marshall but then things didn’t work out there, so she transferred to Ohio State and she played for Ohio State. And then she was able to get on the LPGA Tour, she was on the Solheim Cup team, she and Dottie Pepper had pictures of the two of them winning their match. But she had a wonderful career, she married Jim Gerring and Jim Gerring was the first director of golf at Muirfield Village for Jack Nicklaus. And so after marriage they had a child, they had Zach. Well, then they’re at Nashville for the Sara Lee and what happened was, she was the only one in line at a buffet line and one of the workers behind-
Charlie Rymer (11:03):
Oh no, I know it’s a bad story you’re telling, but folks, I got to tell you this, the Georgia Fight Song that just came on when his phone rang, and me being a Georgia Tech guy, I don’t know if I can even continue this podcast after hearing that Georgia Fight Song, Billy.
Billy Kratzert (11:18):
Well, it’s one of your favorite people, my wife, Janie, so…
Charlie Rymer (11:23):
I understand that, but back to the story, sorry to interrupt.
Billy Kratzert (11:27):
Okay, so she was in line and she was in line alone and the worker behind had denatured alcohol and was trying to fill the rechaud underneath and instead of bringing it out, filling it, he squirted it and what it did is it hit the rechaud and the denatured alcohol carried the flame up onto Cathy and because she didn’t have a petroleum-based shirt on, she was okay, I mean she had severe burns on her face and hands but she didn’t have it on her body. But I remember driving from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Nashville, I’m going to say it’s about a seven and a half hour drive, I made it in about 6:15.
Billy Kratzert (12:19):
And so, after winning three tournaments on the LPGA and being a member of the Solheim Cup team, then okay, “Where’s the career, where are you?” And that pretty much, because of the hand damage and the nerve damage, that pretty much ended her career as a professional golfer on the LPGA. Now she tried to play a couple of times a few years later but just, she couldn’t practice as long, the stamina wasn’t there. So the decision was made by her and Jim that, “Hey, you know what? It’s fine, you had a great career, we’re sorry that it was cut short and let’s move on.” And so she’s moved on and she’s battled a couple of things, when you have injuries like that, but she’s doing a great job now she and Jim. Jim’s retired and so they spend half their time in Fort Wayne and Half the time in Miami, so… That horse track is just around the corner in Miami.
Charlie Rymer (13:28):
I know they spend a lot of time there, that’s a lot of them, but she’s happy and healthy, functioning well right now.
Billy Kratzert (13:35):
Yeah, and her boys are doing well, so everything’s good there.
Charlie Rymer (13:39):
Yeah, well thank you for updating. That was a horrible accident, I’ve enjoyed it, the few times I got the hang out with her and she’s always looking for dirt on you and that’s not hard to come up with, so…
Billy Kratzert (13:49):
Wow, wow, wow…
Charlie Rymer (13:53):
We’ll get into that on another day. Now you’re a man who’s made few mistakes in your life, very few mistakes, but one of them was deciding to go to the University of Georgia, how did you end up at the University of Georgia? How’d you end up at the University of Georgia? I mean what happened on that? Was it just a weakness? I mean college isn’t just for everybody? What was up with that?
Billy Kratzert (14:12):
Charlie, Charlie, I did visit a few colleges, I took a visit to Wake Forest enjoyed the visit there, even went to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Houston but maybe it was just the right time to visit Georgia. When you visit the University of Georgia in April, that’s the start of when maybe the co-eds-
Charlie Rymer (14:48):
Lot of good scenery there?
Billy Kratzert (14:50):
The sundresses start re-appearing and no… But seriously, that’s certainly a benefit obviously, but I just felt like it was home. Allen Miller had just graduated and he was an All-American, highly-rated amateur player, he had just walked me through the process when we were at the Porter Cup, Sunnehanna, played all these amateur tournaments and when I went down there for a visit he was there, Tommy Valentine was there, Danny Yates was there and it was just kind of a connect and I felt like if I went to the University of Georgia, I felt like I could play right away. Wake Forest loaded, Houston loaded, I just didn’t have the confidence that I could just automatically jump right in and play right away, but at Georgia I felt like I could be a part of the team and play all four years.
Charlie Rymer (15:48):
Well, it’s certainly a decision that paid off, you had a great career there, two-time All American, but I do understand that shooting dove in the backyard of SAE House is probably frowned upon there in Athens, is that the case?
Billy Kratzert (16:04):
Didn’t know it was illegal.
Charlie Rymer (16:08):
Did you get any?
Billy Kratzert (16:10):
Well, yeah, and my buddy Eddie [Roddenberry 00:16:16] we just decided that we’d done our practice and everything and a couple of pledges were up the stairs so, we decided to go ahead and take a little practice, so we had them throw some clays out the window and we didn’t think much of it, so we just continued when we didn’t have any more clays. So, there were a few dove that flew over the… They didn’t quite make it across the yard, and you could probably guess, there were some sirens and some officers and they explained to us and then we went in front of the Athletic Director, Joel Reeves and we were scolded and we were very fortunate not to be sent home and never to come back the University of Georgia. So, we owe a lot to Joel Reeves, he was a great Athletic Director, but yeah, that was not a great moment for old Billy boy and Eddie.
Charlie Rymer (17:29):
How long was it after that happened that your dad found out about it? Or did you ever tell him?
Billy Kratzert (17:33):
I don’t think I got back to McWhorter Hall before he knew about it.
Charlie Rymer (17:38):
That doesn’t surprise me.
Billy Kratzert (17:41):
And that conversation didn’t go well either.
Charlie Rymer (17:43):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’m sure it didn’t. But let’s talk about, after school you graduated, I believe your degree was in business, solid degree, University of Georgia, and you didn’t get to Q School immediately. A couple of shots you didn’t make it, and then you got a real job for a little while, tell me about that real job and did that motivate you to get through the Q School in your third attempt? Like you pulled off…
Billy Kratzert (18:15):
Can you drive a forklift?
Charlie Rymer (18:16):
I don’t think I can fit in a forklift, not in the seat, I could fit on the front of it, you could lift me around.
Billy Kratzert (18:21):
You know what, I could put you on a pallet, put the forks right up underneath it, and lift you straight up in the air. But that’s what I did, Charlie, yeah, I guess it was a burn out, whether it was a physical, a mental so far as the game was concerned, so I just decided to go home, went home in the winter time. A gentlemen by the name of Mr. [Layman 00:18:50] owned a company, and I said, “Hey, all I want is just a place to go work eight hours a day, that’s all I’m looking for. I just want to get away from the game.” And so I went there and did my eight hours a day and drove that forklift around the warehouse and loaded trucks and everything, it was pretty fun.
Billy Kratzert (19:14):
And if that forklift would have gone just a little bit faster, I’m pretty sure I would have had a wreck and [inaudible 00:19:21] but, it’s a valuable lesson to me, at that time, because I thought, “You know what, I don’t want,” not that it’s a bad thing, but I don’t want to do that because that’s not what interests me, what interests me is going and playing professionally, that’s what I want to do. And when I was waffling that I want to go into a business, did I want to go back to school, could I get into law school, could I do anything like that? But driving that forklift drove me to where I needed to be and that was back in golf, John [inaudible 00:20:10] at another club gave me a position, I taught for a year, decided to go back to the Q School and made it.
Charlie Rymer (20:18):
Well, once you got through the Q School and you got comfortable on tour, you had maybe five years around 1980 where you played your best golf, I think you had four or five years in there where you were no worse than 12th on the money list, what do you remember most from that period? I mean obviously you’ve got the four wins that happened pretty close to that window, but those five years where you were playing your best golf, when you think about that time, what’s the first thing that stands out?
Billy Kratzert (20:49):
Just how much fun it was to actually have the opportunity to play with Arnold, with Jack, with Lee, with Raymond, with Weiskopf, I played with Arnold when I was 16 in an exhibition in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but that was the beauty of it, today, the guys do a lot of practice, they use TrackMan and they work out all the time and all of that, but when I started, you warm up and then you go play.
Billy Kratzert (21:23):
And so you’re on the golf course and you’re visiting with guys and you’re seeing, you’re watching them, how they play different shots, I think you pick up so much more when you do that. And Arnold, Lanny, Jim Colbert, Eichelberger, Ed Snee all these guys, there was always a game on Tuesday. Mickelson, he didn’t come up with this idea of the Tuesday game, that Tuesday game was done a whole lot earlier and it got a little expensive at times.
Charlie Rymer (22:00):
I’m sure it did, and I don’t want to do the old guy talking about the young guy routine, I mean, obviously things have changed, but by and large it’s pretty safe to say that the younger players, they put themselves in a bubble and they don’t really interact with a lot of the current players or some of the legends. I love hearing the stories about you spending time with Mr. Palmer and some of the players that predated Mr. Palmer a little bit and maybe some of the wisdom got passed down and some of the unwritten rules of golf got passed down. Where that just doesn’t happen this day and age.
Billy Kratzert (22:40):
No, and I think one of the ones that really is overlooked a lot that was not overlooked when I first came out on tour is the slow play. There was more self-policing of the slow play, you didn’t want to be that guy in the locker room with two other guys coming towards you if you had that corner locker to be spoken to. You did not want to have to address slow play, therefore, it went pretty quickly. And if you were slow, you may get a warning with maybe par-5 and all of a sudden the guy fires it up there right on the fringe of the green. That was a signal that maybe you need to hustle a little bit, I think-
Charlie Rymer (23:34):
Wait, wait, wait, let’s go over that again? If you were slow somebody could actually fire on onto the green before you got of there?
Billy Kratzert (23:43):
On par-5, if you’re waiting, the signal was, “Okay, let’s just fire it up there, if I get it on the green, it’s just going to roll up there anyways.” But you just go ahead and fire it, and usually there’s the courtesy of you don’t want to do that because you don’t want the sound of the ball hitting the turf to disrupt the putting stroke, but if they were slow and you knew that they were over a hole behind, you just go ahead and fire one up there and if it rolled up there, so be it. And if they said anything, “Maybe you ought to quicken your pace.” And that’s how it was handled.
Charlie Rymer (24:18):
I love hearing that, one of my favorite stories you’ve ever told me, I believe it was Memphis, you might have been a rookie, you were paired with Palmer and Don January. Tell me about what happened on the first tee there, did I get that right? It was in Memphis?
Billy Kratzert (24:37):
Charlie Rymer (24:37):
Billy Kratzert (24:38):
Colonial in Fort Worth. So I’m a rookie and it’s final round, Palmer, January and myself, and so I tee off, January tees off and Arnold tees off and he hits that low riser and he starts walking right away and, well, I start taking off. And all of a sudden I hear January, “Hey kid,” so I look back, “Kid, come here, we’re just going to take it a little slower today.” He says. “He’s like a bull, and we’re going to let the bull get out there in front of us and we’re going to let the bull just run at his pace and we’re just going to slow the game down a little bit. And about the 15th hole, the bull’s going to get a little tired, and we’re just going to watch.”
Billy Kratzert (25:39):
And sure enough, you know how hot and steamy it can get down there in Fort Worth, all of a sudden, we’re just there and 15th hole, Arnold, he had his shirt out and he’s like this and the collar way open like that and hands on the hips and he’s down there we’re walking down the fairway and January says, “Take a look, the bull’s about ready to expire.”
Charlie Rymer (26:07):
You and Don January icing Arnold Palmer, I love hearing that. Some of the other stories I would hear back in the day that people weren’t as precise with the yards and you’d sort of club off of the guys you were playing with, and there was actually a shot in golf that people would practice. If you had somebody clubbing off of you, you’d figure out how to hit maybe something a little of speed to mess them up, is that true? Have you ever seen that happen?
Billy Kratzert (26:43):
Well, I told you it happened to me with Weiskopf at Doral, I was bag hawking over there, I’m looking and all that and I’ve been doing it for eight holes and so, he just went in there and he and Leroy were a great team and they would have a little conversation and I mean, it’s a seven iron shot, Charlie, maybe an eighth iron, all depending on the hole location and so, the wind’s in our face and you know how it can blow in Miami, and so it’s pretty strong, when all of a sudden he gets in there and he pulls out a five iron, and so I’m looking and I see the four and I see the six and I see the seven and I’m going, “Good gosh, it’s going to be a lot of club.”
Billy Kratzert (27:32):
All of a sudden he takes this big swing and he says, “That’s all I’ve got Leroy.” And this thing went in there about 10 feet right behind are hole, so I’m looking at Wayne Beck, my caddie and I’m going, “That was a five iron.” He says, “Yeah, and he looked like he hit it good.” So, sure enough, I take that five iron out I whistled it into those bleachers, it clanked around and I had to call for a ride because I had no idea where I needed to drop. I was a club and a half too much. But Sam was that way as well, Sam Snead, he could hit a three iron 160 yards and he could throw you way off and I’m not so sure you can do that with the equipment today, like the guys would do it, but yeah, that was [crosstalk 00:28:28]
Charlie Rymer (28:28):
It was part of the game that just doesn’t exist anymore, really. I mean you don’t really mess with anybody, maybe sometimes occasionally in match play, but week in in week out on a PGA TOUR, really nothing like that goes on, does it?
Billy Kratzert (28:41):
No, no. And whether it’s the equipment or not, I don’t know, but the guys today, it’s a totally different game because they play such a power game. And it’s certainly fun to watch, you and I get a big kick out of how quickly they can push the ball through the air. But yeah, when I reflect back to some of those shots, Chi-Chi could do that a lot, there were a lot of the old players that could mess with your mind, but when he smiled at me when I was walking off the tee, I just went, “Okay, can that be the last time please?”
Charlie Rymer (29:22):
Very valuable lesson you learned there, no club hawking, especially with Tom Weiskopf. So I want to talk to you about driving a golf ball, you’re known for being one of the best drivers of a golf ball, really ever and you’re 68 now and if you and I went and played golf this afternoon, and you only hit 12 fairways, you wouldn’t be happy. And he, folks, he doesn’t hit it short either, and it’s his beautiful draw and I just have always loved and admired watching you drive the golf ball and so I just want to ask you for our listeners, one key that you have that you can maybe describe that would help somebody listening drive the golf ball a little bit better?
Billy Kratzert (30:07):
Probably the biggest key for most people, amateurs, pros alike, is the transition. The more time you can put in a swing, the better the transition is, and when the transition is good, because you want all the speed going forward and if the transition is fast then the shoulders, the torso everything gets out in front and then you become upper-body oriented. The sequence gets totally out of whack. So I would think that for the people that are listening, if you can make that transition, I don’t care about the shoulder turn because some people are limited some people, they can’t make a hip turn, so they’re stuck there, but whatever the length of your golf swing might be, if the transition can be a little bit slower and smoother, to where you can go ahead and get the proper sequence, I think that’s the key to great driving, is when you look at guys…
Billy Kratzert (31:10):
When you watch Rory McIlroy, he’s probably the best long driver in the game in my opinion, he and Dustin Johnson. It’s almost like there are times when McIlroy looks like he’s back there and he just kind of stays back at the top of his swing, and then the transition is just like taking a paint brush and going right down the wall. And I think that’s a huge key for people when they want to drive the ball accurately and hitting it solid, because if the body becomes too much this way, and overtaking the arm swing and the club itself, you’re going to hit it on the toe, you’re going to hit it on the heel, you’re always seeking and you’re always manipulating. So I think that transition, painting the wall on the way down is a great visual.
Charlie Rymer (32:02):
Be patient and paint that wall on the transition, I love it, and that’s certainly something that I try to do when I’m out driving it, and I have less success with it than you do, but when I’m driving it well, that’s the way it feels to me, but you mentioned McIlroy you mentioned Dustin Johnson, those players, to me, sort of relate to you playing your best golf, I say around 1980, watching a Rory McIlroy swing, I can see where there’s some commonalities there. But when I look and see what Bryson DeChambeau is doing, I don’t see much in common with what we’ve sort of thought of as being traditional golf swing, traditional approach to the game. When you look at Bryson DeChambeau, driving it in the heat of battle, puling that driver and just going at it like he does, what do you think?
Billy Kratzert (33:00):
I think he’s figured out that he’s going to have access to a hole location whether he’s in the rough or he’s in the fairway. You can look at Winged Foot, I think the fact that the rough is so tall it actually benefited him because when you start looking at the field and what they were able to do so far as their percentage of fairways hit, well, he was at a higher percentage of hitting fairways than the field average. Now, you put him out there at 340, and then somebody here at 275, no one can spot another player 70 yards and beat him, even in the fairway, I don’t think. And that’s what happened, and DeChambeau didn’t lead that week so far as distance of the tee, it was Matthew Wolff but I think that’s where the game, the way that the ball is constructed, the way that the irons are constructed… You take it as deep as you can and then you take your chances.
Billy Kratzert (34:04):
I remember first seeing that up at Shamrock Hills with Vijay Singh, first tee shot. Everyone started to play in the corner down there, well he took a drive and took it right to the green, he didn’t care that he was in the rough, now squared wheelers were still being played then, but he took it down there as far as he could so, he had a wedge in his hand and instead of having an eight iron back here, he felt like he can get the sand wedge closer and that’s the first time I saw it, but you want to drive the ball well, and when we talk about a Jordan Spieth with the way that he’s driven the ball, it doesn’t make a lot of difference in today’s game, how many fairways you hit.
Billy Kratzert (34:49):
It’s can you go play your miss and I think if Jordan can tighten that up, and he’s not playing off the side walls as much, then that’s when we’re going to get Jordan Spieth back to where we’re used to seeing him play. Driving the ball, usually guys that chase yardage, they don’t succeed, but it was important when I played to drive the ball in the fairway because you didn’t have the equipment that you could get through the rough and it’s good to see the U.S. Open get back to their identity, and I like that, and I think there should be more importance put on accuracy, but with the way these guys play as strong as they are in the depth currently out there, it’s going to be hard to do.
Charlie Rymer (35:38):
You’re as plugged in as anyone, we’re in basically a comment period from the USGA and the R&A over trying to reel in distance, your best take on this, are the governing bodies going to be able to make changes that are going to be significant enough that will throttle what we see on the professional tours day in and day out in terms of distance?
Billy Kratzert (36:04):
Well, I don’t think you can roll it back, I don’t think the study has done a whole lot to change my mind. I think putting a ceiling on where it was in 2020 when all the discussion was being made and when it started it started about February 6th, 2020, when people started trying to think, “Okay, what can we do to better the game and make it a little more realistic for the average golfer?” I don’t think you can do that, these guys are that good, they work out, the athletes are going to get bigger, they’re going to be six foot four, they’re going to be 215, they’re going to have flexibility, so, I think if you just stay where you are, then I think you’re going to be as good as you can get it. I don’t see a reason to roll it back, I really don’t. I just don’t see the benefit and I don’t see, if you’ve given this, how you can take that away. And so-
Charlie Rymer (37:17):
It seems like if they try to do that, the winner’s going to be the lawyers because that’s going to be tied up in litigation for years.
Billy Kratzert (37:25):
That’s a great point as well. I just don’t think it benefits anybody, game, player, whatever, to change anything. Just put the limits to where they are right now and don’t exceed those anymore.
Charlie Rymer (37:41):
And live with it, yeah, because if they start trying to roll it back the perception is an average golfer is going to think, “Well, they’ve got Dustin Johnson playing a ball that cost him 40 yards, will it cost me 40 yards too?” And it wouldn’t work that way, the average golfer would only lose a yard or two but they would think that, “Oh, they’re trying to take my fun away.” And that would be a tough sell, I think, for the average golfer to do that.
Billy Kratzert (38:04):
The only thing that I think they could do, Charlie, is keep the distance in the ball, however you do that, along with making the ball spin more.
Charlie Rymer (38:17):
Billy Kratzert (38:18):
Now, how do you do that? I don’t know I’m not an aeronautical engineer and I would have no clue as to where to start, but I think if you made the ball spin a little bit more to where that offline shot instead of being eight or ten yards offline, now all of a sudden it goes more into the 15 to 18 to 20 yard offline with a driver.
Charlie Rymer (38:42):
You’d bring short and straight and long and crooked into play, which we don’t have either one of those right now.
Billy Kratzert (38:48):
Exactly, yeah, but don’t take the distance away from the guy that can take it 320.
Charlie Rymer (38:52):
Yeah, but it needs to be that his mishits can be a little farther offline than they are right now, yeah. Well, Billy, I appreciate your time now, I want to finish up with this, as I mentioned at the top of the show, you’ve over the years worked for every network in every role. We’re often seeing you in the Golf Channel Studio down on the ground doing the streaming for a variety of networks, streaming for PGA TOUR Live, you’ve been out over this past year at tour events and major championships, on the ground, covering the events on sight. It’s been a challenging year for many people because of this darn pandemic, it about took me out, you know that, and the world is very different.
Charlie Rymer (39:38):
But when I look at what the PGA TOUR and the other governing bodies in golf, the USGA and the PGA and Augusta National have been able to do to go ahead and pull off these events, and I know it’s been different, but the effort that is going into that has been Herculean and it’s been amazing to me that they’ve been able to pull it off. We’re starting to see a few fans now, but just your take over the last year and what you were able to witness and watching golf being played in a time where everything is so different and I know you’re a little like me in that you’re grateful that we were able to play professional golf, not only because we make a living doing that but and that I think it’s important for people to have something to look at when so many things are going bad in the world.
Billy Kratzert (40:30):
Well, it was more than a little strange to go to a golf tournament and really not have any fans there. To look across the fairway at Winged Foot last year and I could see the par-3, seven and six, the par-4 then five then four, I mean you could see clear across the golf course. But in conversations with Commissioner Jay Monahan, he will tell you, it’s been a collaborative effort of his team in place, the USGA, the PGA of America and you’re right, it’s been a Herculean effort and they’ve done so well. I was a little nervous, at Travelers, when okay, we’ve got a couple of weeks in and then all of a sudden we went up there and then there were two or three cases with maybe Brooks and then Ricky Elliott and we thought, “Uh-oh.”
Billy Kratzert (41:27):
Maybe it tipped right there and we weren’t going to play, but all the preventative measures that were taken by the PGA TOUR, by everyone associated in the golf industry and competitive golf, all the steps that they took were absolutely on the money. They certainly laid the blueprint out there for everyone that they could follow. Now, when we get back to a 20% capacity, I think that’s what they’re trying to achieve at the players this year, that’s a huge step, but I’m in agreement with you and I think everyone else that what everyone did in order to put golf out there to be able to watch has been fabulous. And I certainly don’t want to see it again, I want this to be over sooner than later, and hopefully maybe late summer we’re at that point to where we’re maybe half capacity, I don’t know.
Billy Kratzert (42:33):
But golf has been a big part of a lot of people feeling good about it, and looking forward to something each week. You have your seasons with football, baseball, basketball, but golf is year round, I mean there is a very little time off with the wraparound season and I think it’s been good for a lot of people and I think it’s been good for the public, certainly the people playing golf, the amateurs, they can get out they can have fun. You’re supposed to be outside, you’re supposed to get the vitamin D with the sun and all that, so, golf has been good. It’s now that we need to get the PGA TOUR and everyone, so the spectators can see what’s going on.
Charlie Rymer (43:21):
Well, Billy, we’ve got plenty of vitamin D here in Myrtle Beach, I appreciated it when you and Janie came up and visited with Carol and myself. It’s been a little too long, maybe about a year ago, you guys come on up to Myrtle Beach we’ll soak you up some vitamin D on one of the great golf courses around there. I can’t eat anymore, I’m on a diet, but we’ll certainly tell some stories and I might be able to work in a beverage or two in there somewhere, but thank you for your thoughts, thank you for your stories. You stay safe and appreciate your time and appreciate you.
Billy Kratzert (43:53):
You too my friend. Love you Buddy.
Charlie Rymer (43:55):
All right, love you too.
Charlie Rymer (43:56):
Folks, that was Billy Kratzert, one of the all-time best drivers of golf ball in the history of tour and he’s also one of the all-time best tellers of stories on tour. Most of that wasn’t very true, but… Yeah, maybe a little bit of it was, but we appreciate you being with us here on Balls in the Air, I’m Charlie Rymer, make sure that you like us wherever you consume your podcasts, we’re available everywhere and we’ll be right back with you next week with another great guest here on Balls in the Air!