Undercover Golf

Playing under the name his initials stand for, J.B. Holmes led his team to a win in a scramble with a $30,000 Calcutta, but only after he was outed
Ryan French
Ryan French
May 30, 2023

If I said the name Jonathan Bradley, it wouldn’t mean much to most golf fans. But J.B. Holmes, the five-time PGA Tour winner and two-time U.S. Ryder Cup member? In a six-person scramble last week in Franklin, Tenn, Holmes played using the name his initials stand for: Jonathan Bradley. When tournament organizers found out, his team was declared ineligible for a Calcutta that totaled almost $30,000. 

The Franklin Bridge Golf Course has an annual six-man scramble called the Gangsome. The rules state that four players on each team must be members and each team can have only two plus-handicaps. 

This year the Gangsome attracted 22 teams. After the first day, the teams were divided into three flights and a Calcutta was held for each flight. In a Calcutta, each team is bought in an auction and the pot is divided among the top teams. It’s not uncommon for teams to buy themselves, or at least a share of their team. 

After the first round, the Jonathan Bradley team led. At this point no one knew that Bradley was in fact Holmes. Under tournament rules, 70 percent of the Calcutta, or about $21,000 in this case, would go to the team that posted the lowest score the following day, with the remainder going to the runner-up. The trophies would go to the teams with the lowest two-day total in each flight. But who are we kidding? With so much money on the line, everyone was focused on the second day. (The Calcutta total for the three flights was about $70,000.)

According to multiple members, the owner of the club recognized Holmes’s swing when his team teed off on its third hole of the second round. (Holmes is 41, and in his prime he was among the longest hitters on the PGA Tour.) At that point, it was decided the team would be refunded its buy-in of the Calcutta but be ineligible for the big money. Holmes’s team would, however, be allowed to play for a trophy. 

Word had spread around the course about the true identity of Jonathan Bradley, and when everyone came in for the post-tournament dinner, they found the names of Holmes and his teammates had been crossed out on the leaderboard. The flight winners were announced, with the top flight revealed last. According to one member, when Holmes’s team was announced, the crowd “went crazy, boos started, then some random vulgarities started.” That was followed by chants of Bullshit! 

According to the members I spoke with, Holmes didn’t attend the dinner and his teammates grabbed the trophies and left quickly, without posing for pictures. 

“The thing is they didn’t break any rules for having a pro on their team,” one member said. “What they did do is lie and cheat their fellow members by signing up Holmes under a different name.” 

Holmes responded on Twitter with the following. (I respect the typo, and assuming this is actual Holmes tweeting, though I wasn’t able to verify)

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