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.