Some Thoughts to Save the Golf Season.

The Gulbis/Johnson "relationship" Was on the Right Track.

So, the PGA Tour season is only two weeks old.  Isn’t it a bit early to say that it needs saved?  I don’t think so.  So far this year’s winners have been Johnathan Byrd and Mark Wilson.  Two very fine players who wouldn’t get recognized in a Golf Galaxy let alone if they were just walking down the street.  The fields to start the season are generally poor, and most big names will actually make their debut this week in Abu Dhabi, but a week away from Tiger’s debut things already seem a little sluggish.  Here are some ideas, conventional or otherwise that could at least keep golf from losing its existing fans.

1.  A tabloid romance.  Notice I didn’t use the word “scandal.”  The biggest story of the year so far has arguably been, are Dustin Johnson and Natalie Gulbis dating?  She was in his gallery, he said he was single.  Sounds like it could eventually fizzle out.  DJ didn’t seem too fond of the spotlight, but it got plenty of people talking about golf.  If one of the PGA’s young, single players got involved with a female celeb or athlete I think it would be great for golf’s publicity.

2.  A foreign villain.  Golf is going global.  There is no denying that.  Each year it seems like less American names are on the leaderboards in big events.   For some golf fans the foreign players don’t capture their interest.  Is that the problem of those fans?  Probably, but it’s the truth.  The majority of the foreign stars seem like good guys.  They love to use Twitter, and that is all well and good, but what the golf public could use is someone to root against.  Essentially, the PGA Tour needs an Iron Sheik.  Don’t you think if one of these guys came out and said, “American Golf is Dead,” it would create some interest?

3.  Tiger F*cking Woods.  Tiger starts his season next week in San Diego.  He has a long winning streak at Torrey Pines.  He hasn’t played there since he beat Rocco in the U.S. Open playoff, but for all people say about his game fitting certain courses, Torrey is really his pet.  The former number one looked pretty sharp at his own event last month before losing a playoff to Graeme McDowell.  We need to put an end to the, “Tiger hasn’t won in 14 months” stories and stir up some, “Tiger leaves the field a whimpering pile of mess,” stories.  I watched Tiger for a few holes when he played in Philly last year and the golf was mediocre by tour standards, but he was still the most captivating guy on the lot by nine miles, and that’s not going to change.

4.  Microphones everywhere.  The PGA Tour has started dabbling with the idea of mic’ing up some players during tournament rounds.  Love it.  I don’t care if they need the bleep button, and I don’t care if they only get two or three usable clips a telecast.  It can’t hurt.  What a lot of people don’t realize is there are some funny and interesting guys on Tour.  I mean, law of averages says at least a few in 175 players have to be amusing, but I think it could build some fan bases.  I read some golf blogs and occasionally they’ll have a diary or a guest post from a PGA Player.  It is almost always someone you’ve never heard of, and yet it is almost always quite interesting.  Invariably you’ll end up seeing comments about how readers are now going to follow the author’s progress.  I think the same type of thing could happen with the microphones.  Golf is a pretty easy sport for the amateurs to relate to.  They should exploit that.

5.  Some type of new format.  Match-play doesn’t interest anyone.  The stableford scoring system is too extreme.  In general, the PGA hasn’t had much success with this idea, but that doesn’t mean it should be killed entirely.  I have to admit that I’m not overflowing with suggestions here, but I’d like the idea of seeing something like a larger version of the 3-Tour Challenge.  Another thing I think would be great, but would never happen…if the network found a group to follow during their Tuesday game.  Tuesdays are the gambling day on Tour.  Get 4 hours of footage and cut it down to a clean 1/2 hour before the final round on Sunday.  You see the guys in a totally different light, see them playing for their own money, I think it would be amazing.  But, I’m sure no one would agree to do it, and the PGA Tour would have a heart attack if they were associated with gambling.

6.  Kill the Celebrity Pro-Am.  This is the golf equivalent of the Slam Dunk Contest.  I promise.  At the very at least these events need a massive overhaul.  No one wants to see Huey Lewis hit one off the planet on the 14th at Pebble for the 20th straight year.

7.  Streamline and simplify the rules.  No one likes a rules discussion.  Casual fans don’t understand it.  I wrote a post a while back claiming golf was too hard.  It is, and that applies to the rules as well.  Not only are the rules too intricate, but now you have rules junkies watching everything on slo-mo DVR looking for a violation they can email the PGA about.  While that is great for that very tiny portion of the viewers, it is a nightmare for everyone else.  As a golf fan I feel like an idiot trying to explain golf’s incorrect scorecard rules and things of that nature.  So he shot 68, but he signed for 67 and he could have fixed it but he already left the scoring tent?  Come on.  Lets break away from some traditions.  After all, golf doesn’t exactly have roots as a game of the people in this country.  Use some common sense.

So, that’s it, off the top of my head.  A lucky seven.  Feel free to add your own.  Cheerleaders, dance teams, one mulligan per round, whatever you think might be good.

That’s my list for now.


15 thoughts on “Some Thoughts to Save the Golf Season.

  1. Quick question: Is it me or is the picture of Dustin Johnson backwards? Isn’t he swinging lefty?

    I don’t think we need a foreign villian as much as we need an American savior. We need an American not named Tiger or Phil and just start rippin ta-tas while not buckling in pressure situations.

    • Dubs, backwards cause you’re looking at your own reflection?

      i hope that is a compliment, cause i meant it as one. but i am…

  2. Yeah, the pic is flipped. I didn’t mash it up, so I’ll pass the ame to whoever did. DJ’s donkey, major choking ass is certainly right-handed.

    I think a great young american player would be amazing, jut not sure what the chances are.
    Think its hard for anyone to really dominate these days, but I’d settle for anyone can close.

    Maybe fowler, he showed some stones in the Ryder Cup, but then again gave away tournaments during the year.

    As long as it isn’t matt kuchar.

  3. Tiger needs to be the dominant villain. He needs to embrace all the crap he did, and then crush people on the golf course. That’s where i think the dichotomy will emerge. If that happens of course, Red Sox nation will adopt poor phil as a native bostonian for his plight with losing so often.

    What about just following anthony kim around? I hear he’s totally ridiculous and relatively funny. Either way, i love the idea of mic’ing these guys up. I also think they need to fix the FedEx Cup. Make it a legitimate playoff, whoever wins the last tournament wins the whole thing. Get rid of the annoying points once the cup “begins”.

  4. I think we have to be moving in the direction of men and women competing against each other at the same event, at least a few times a year. I don’t think there’s any need for them to play the same tees in order to compete against each other fairly. And if you think about the Sorenstam and Wie experiments, there’s gotta be some ratings and advertising dollars that are being left on the table in the absence of such an event or series of events.

    More importantly, it should be an actual event, and not just an exhibition. Make it a crossover PGA/LPGA event. Or even throw the seniors in, too, as you mention. They can play the yellow tees or whatever.

  5. I think we’re right on the same page. Regular season. Find a real good course. Something like Aronimink would be perfect if they got over themselves. 20 people from each tour (seniors included).

    Play it 7200, 6900, 6400 or whatever. Lot of questions get answered about how tough PGA greens are, are the younger guys the best if you take away length?

    Problem would be getting the PGA guys to play, I think. They don’t have much to gain. But, I’d love to see like Tom Watson, Christie Kerr and Phil in a group or something like that.

  6. Maybe the play is to start the 3-tour crossover events at some place where the host is someone who the PGA players can’t say no to, like Bay Hill or the Memorial.

    Ideally I think there should be about four of these events a year. I think it would be a great opportunity for some of the old events that have become second tier to reestablish themselves. Maybe Bay Hill, Colonial, Muirfield Village, and then Congressional or Aronimink?

    Or if you’re the Players Championship or the PGA Championship and you are looking for a way to distinguish yourselves from the other three majors . . . Just saying.

    Also let’s shorten the season here people. Start the week after the Super Bowl, wrap it up on Labor Day Weekend. The season really comes to a crashing halt after the US Open. Reno/Tahoe, Greenbrier, John Deere? Let’s get real people.

  7. I mean, you can’t tell me the ratings wouldn’t be through the roof if you had Paula Creamer staring down Dustin Johnson and Tom Watson on Sunday at Colonial.

    Or imagine a few years ago, Lorena Ochoa and Tiger Woods in the final pairing at Bay Hill.

    How has this not happened yet?

  8. I think its a real solid idea.

    And, actually Greenbriar I think would be a good course to host it.

    Probably disagree with the frequency, once a year would be good for me, like the outdoor hockey game

  9. Yeah. I mean, however it’s done, golf has the unique opportunity to position itself as the sport where men and women compete against each other. It seems like a really obvious thing to do the more we talk about it.

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