Charlie Beljan doesn’t care for the 10th at Riviera
Charlie Beljan is not a well-known golfer. Inside golf circles though, he’s known as a pretty honest guy who gives good quotes, something which is sorely lacking in a game that, to most people, is seen as about as fun as going to church. Golf needs more players who are willing to speak their mind instead of providing canned quotes and PR driven responses.
This brings us to Sunday night. Beljan had just finished up his tournament, losing in a playoff against John Merrick, and he was asked about the par-4 10th, the second playoff hole which ultimately decided the event. His response:
For those unaware, the 10th is a drivable par-4 where extreme accuracy is required with deep bunkers guarding the front and back of the green, and a narrow point of entry. With Merrick safely in the fairway after laying up with an iron, Beljan proceeded to step up and hit driver. It went well left of the green, and with the thick kikuyu, Beljan really didn’t have much of a play outside of chipping out sideways with the hopes of two putting and forcing a third playoff hole. Merrick two-putted for par, while Beljan took three shots to finish the hole, and the tournament was over.
I don’t have a problem with a player coming out and criticizing the courses they play on. In fact, I wish it happened more often, but in this case, it comes across as petty after a loss. The 10th at Riviera is a classic risk/reward type hole, where very few players successfully drive the green. Many of the players were asked this week about the hole, and to a man, they all said they’d be happy with par and to go on to the 11th tee.
Now, after seeing Merrick find the fairway with a layup, Beljan obviously thought he saw an opening, and he tried to take advantage. So far this week, Beljan came away with two birdies and two bogeys when playing the 10th, so he knew the risks involved with hitting driver. He made a bad swing and paid dearly for it, and he certainly didn’t have a problem with the hole on Thursday and Saturday when he made birdie. I’m fully aware that we criticize athletes for being boring and then blast them for being controversial, but this is what can happen on holes like this. I’d be upset too if I had just threw away $475,200, but he’s got nobody to blame but himself.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Beljan’s words have riled up the golf community. Last August, his target was President Barack Obama. After this, his Twitter account was deleted before rebooting it a couple of months later.
Much like his political beliefs, I’m betting that he’s going to be a little more careful with what he says going forward on the golf course. We should be happy to see players speak their minds, but in the case of Charlie Beljan, silence might be the best path to take.