“Has Gary Van Sickle put on a little height?” asks a reader from Normal, Ill., followed quickly by an South African correspondent who suggests that Gary’s diet might contain “a little too much iron.” I didn’t know what to make of these comments until I scrolled down the Top 50 home page and noticed a change to the permanent sidebar photograph of my longtime Sports Illustrated colleague. The photograph still has him gnawing on his putter after a round on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry (No. 4), but Gary appears to be noticeably taller and thinner than before.
Concerned about his health, I called Gary at home and found him to be in good spirits and fighting trim. “I think the photograph has been doctored,” he said, “and by ‘doctored’ I mean digitally manipulated, not ‘subjected to medical treatment by a certified physician.’”
No one here at Catch Basin would doctor a photograph, but our security chief — whose name I cannot divulge for security reasons — has traced the corrupted image to WordPress, the outfit that hosts this blog. For legal and proprietary reasons, WordPress has chosen to retire the old Top 50 design and replace it with one that is “similar.” The transition has been relatively smooth, but our photographic link to the Top 50 algorithm has been stretched like taffy, elongating Van Sickle’s image in the process.
Gary isn’t complaining — “Now I can dunk!” — but I have to make some hard decisions. I can ask our IT wizards to purge the distorted photograph and try to replace it with the original, but that could take weeks. Or I can leave the photo as it is, perhaps adding a caption encouraging readers to “imagine Gary 20 inches shorter and 30 pounds heavier.”
I’m willing to consider reader input on this question, but I need your opinions by next Thursday, when I plan to release my annual “Top 50 Resort, Military and Correctional Institution Courses.”
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but I’m paying my second visit of the year to the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., site of this week’s LPGA Tour Championship. This event is notable for its “two-cut” format, a laudable process that sends half the field packing after 36 holes and banishes another half after 54, leaving only 30 players to dig up the fairways and trample the greens. It’s a winning strategy for these economically-depressed times.