This weekend's Zurich Classic in suburban New Orleans will look a little different from most PGA Tour events, as 80 two-player teams will compete in alternate-shot and better-ball formats. It also will sound a whole lot different, because the teams that make the cut will have the walk-up song of their choice playing as they stride to the first tee on Saturday and Sunday.
This is a startlingly fun innovation for a sport that, until recently, was so hidebound that it allowed television viewers to rat out golfers for rules violations. But what about the songs themselves? How do they stack up, and what do they say about the golfers who chose them? Read on:
Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly: "As Good as I Once Was," Toby Keith
Stricker and Kelly are both 51, the oldest players in the field, so this wistful, middle-of-the-road ode to age-appropriate shenanigans seems apt. Keith sings of meeting female twins who are "up for a rodeo" and getting into bar fights with his buddy Dave. We can just pretend he's really talking about par saves and distance off the tee.
Tom Hoge/J.J. Henry: "Right Now," Van Halen
Guys. Guys. Of all the Van Halen songs you could have chosen, you picked the one that sounds as if it were written for the express purpose of selling homeowner's insurance. Which I guess is a peak golf move. "I was tired of writing cheap sex songs," lyricist Sammy Hagar said in describing the thought process that went into this one, forgetting the fact that Van Halen's best work is almost entirely composed of cheap sex songs.
Matt Every/Sam Saunders: "Running With the Devil," Van Halen
Now these two get it. Though not a cheap sex song and not one of Van Halen's best -- it's only like the sixth or seventh best song on the band's 1978 debut but also the one that probably has received the most airplay -- it's also not "Right Now."
Chris Kirk/J.T. Poston: "Crazy Train," Ozzy Osbourne
I'm guessing this one was chosen more for its searing Randy Rhoads riffage than the Cold War lamentations contained in the lyrics. Unless Kirk and Poston are making some soft of geopolitical statement about the current state of things. This seems doubtful. Anyway, as solo Ozzy goes, it's hard to beat.
Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays: "Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)," Zapp
Goodness, this is a fun song. Zapp wrote a bunch of songs that later had the life sampled out of them by hip-hop acts. Good on Finau and Summerhays for going straight to the source.
Chez Reavie/Lucas Glover: "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Metallica
This is not a fun song. This doesn't mean it's a particularly bad song -- it's hard to top anything Metallica did in the '80s, before they became the soundtrack to a night of drinking Bud Light -- but, I mean, these lyrics: "Men of five, still alive through the raging glow/Gone insane from the pain that they surely know." In any case, I'm going to wager that Reavie and Glover chose it for the ominous bells that open the song and not because of any sort of shared Hemingway fetish.
Ryan Armour/Johnson Wagner, Ben Silverman/Matt Atkins and Chris Stroud/Brian Stuard: "Enter Sandman," Metallica
And then we have the weekend's most popular selection, the song that ushered in the latter, lesser era of Metallica's career. This song probably works better at Virginia Tech football games than it does on a golf course.
Harold Varner III/Robert Garrigus: "Ebony and Ivory," Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
The PGA Tour is not, shall we say, particularly diverse, but this pairing surely is: Varner, one of the few African-American golfers on tour, and Garrigus, a white guy from Oregon. Well played, gentlemen. Well played.
Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello: "The Best," Tina Turner
Today I learned the song originally was recorded by Bonnie Tyler of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" fame. Turner made it famous, obviously, with a rendition that graced just about every championship celebration of the 1990s. The Spaniards will use it before a champion is crowned. Bold.
Cody Gribble/John Peterson: "Careless Whisper," George Michael
I don't know who either of these two golfers are, and I don't know the message they're trying to convey here. But I hope they make the cut so everyone else can be as baffled as me.
Alex Cejka/Ben Crane: "Here I Go Again," Whitesnake
A song Whitesnake recorded and released twice -- mainly because singer David Coverdale thought people would confuse the word "hobo" with "homo" -- the latter version ("drifter" replaced "hobo") became a hit for the world's worst Led Zeppelin tribute band thanks to the Tawny Kitaen-intensive MTV video. Unless Kitaen is working the bag for either Cejka or Crane, it's an inexplicable choice.
Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels and Greg Chalmers/Cameron Percy: "Down Under," Men at Work
Chosen by not one but two pairs of very literal Australians.
Brendan Steele/Jamie Lovemark and Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney: "California Love," Tupac
Chosen by not one but two pairs of very literal Californians. Features the late Roger Troutman of Zapp fame on vocals. If you picked a gimmicky PGA Tour event as the site of the Great Zapp Renaissance of 2018, you win.