Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Olympic golf is over, the medals have been awarded and as far as we know, nobody got Zika virus. The athletes really seemed to embrace the experience. Did the exuberance of Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and Brooke Henderson convince you that golf has a place in the Olympics?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): No convincing required for me. I’ve been a supporter of Olympic golf for nearly two decades. I thought both tournaments were terrific, even though (like 99% of golf fans) I would’ve chosen a different and more creative format. The only better outcome would’ve been a gold medal for Brooke Henderson, but that will come — no doubt — in Tokyo four years from now.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It was great to see the golfers take to the tournament and really enjoy themselves. I think the golf course helped, it was a great track and in perfect condition, so the pros loved that. I’m convinced and I’m actually looking forward to watching it again in 2020!
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): If you watched, and apparently we did (drawing a global audience equivalent to the Majors) then you can’t argue with the competition itself. It was conducted well, well attended, and on a beautiful course. On the men’s side, you had compelling storylines for medals. Stenson/Rose shot for shot coming down the stretch, even KOOCH coming in for third with a great final round. On the woman’s side, how about Ko ripping it up the leaderbord to grab Silver. It was great and it’s here to stay with a few tweaks. I would love to see a team component.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Absolutely! Leading up to the Rio Games, I was a sceptic because of the format and the fact that so many of the top male golfers dropped out. They didn’t seem to think it was worthwhile so why should I? However, the exuberance and excitement displayed by the players in Rio showed they totally embraced the Olympic experience and with a few tweaks for Tokyo, golf could become one of the feature events.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Yes, golf certainly has a place in the Olympics, but I think that participation should be limited to only amateurs. Let the pros play again in Tokyo in 2020 in a MATCH PLAY FORMAT — if only to cement the sport’s status and popularity at the Olympics — and then make the change for 2024 and all subsequent summer games going forward.
Tim Finchem is getting ready to retire as PGA Tour Commissioner. If you had the opportunity to replace him, even for a short time, what’s the first change you would make to the Tour or the way it operates?
Mumford: Definitely shorten the schedule. January to end of September would be just fine thank you, with any extra events thrown into the old “silly season” bin. After nuking the Wrap Around Season, if I had some time left over, I might also tackle pace of play, drug testing and the TV broadcast package. Can I fire some of those guys at CBS? Oh, and get rid of anything to do with points. The old money list worked just fine. Let’s go back to that.
Rule: Pace of play. Although it doesn’t really impact us if we are watching it on TV, I still get irked at how long it takes some guys to hit a shot. Another pet peeve of mine is the US television coverage, and how few shots they show during a broadcast. Not sure if the PGA Tour can mandate that, but let’s get rid of all the stupid soliloquies and interviews and show more golf. Take a page from how the European Tour covers their golf!
Kaplan: I would take some events out of the schedule because there are just too many of them right now. With the wrap-around season kicking off so soon after the conclusion of the FedEx Cup playoffs, we’re just getting oversaturated with tournaments at this point. As a result, top-ranked players are regularly skipping out on key tournaments during the season to avoid getting fatigued. I certainly won’t be missing the Shell Houston Open or the Zurich Classic … that’s for sure.
Deeks: What a terrific question! And in the five minutes between writing that sentence and this one, I can’t think of a thing. I think I’d be happy just to sit at his desk, and collect his salary, even for a short time.
Loughry: I’d damn well designate the Players Championship and Canadian Open as the 5th and 6th Majors…oh wait, realistically, I’d shorten the bloody schedule. The PGA Tour season agonizingly drags on and on; it’s like an MLB season – TOO LONG. We’ll crown a Fed-Ex Champion and two weeks later the 2017 season starts…REALLY. Players would take less time off between events and more fields will be deeper as a result, TV ratings will no doubt go up too. I think everyone would win in this scenario. A distant second would be allowing players to wear shorts in practice rounds. I’ll wait for my phone to ring after this is published for the job offer. I’d be a player’s choice.
What’s the best golf course you’ve played this summer that you’d not played previously?
Deeks: Another terrific question, for which I have three answers. I’ve played 13 courses this year for the first time, but these were tops: 1. Cedar Brae, in Markham… if you’re looking for a club to join, pick this one — it’s a gem! 2. The Dunes, in Myrtle Beach… step back six decades, and enjoy. 3. North Granite Ridge, south of Hunstville, ON… a delightful, challenging, and unpretentious summer course.
Loughry: I’ve actually only played one new course this year, Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse. She’s an old Donald Ross and quite a course that goes straight up and down the side of a small mountain. Some of the most severe greens I’ve ever had the pleasure of three putting on.
Kaplan: I finally managed to get on to Goodwood and, let me tell you, it really is Canada’s Augusta National. In fact, just playing that course was easily the highlight of my golf career. I can’t remember a golf course where I just ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed” while standing on every single tee box. Everything at Goodwood was impressive, whether it was the panoramic views, the au naturel layout, the considerable elevation drops and undulation or the multi-tiered green complexes … and the conditioning was pristine. Unfortunately, my scorecard was not.
Rule: Easy one for me this year. I finally got to play Devil’s Paintbrush. I had heard lots about it, and had an idea I would like it since that’s a style of golf I love. From the quaint clubhouse, to the tiny pro shop, to the golf course layout and conditioning, it’s a cool place, and somewhere I would join if I lived in that area. And if I was a member, 95% of my rounds would be at Paintbrush, 5% at Pulpit. Loved that place!
Mumford: I just returned from a trip to Michigan where I played some really strong courses including TPC Michigan (Jack Nicklaus) and University of Michigan (Alister MacKenzie). My favourite though was an Arthur Hills design cut out of a pine forest some 40 minutes north of Detroit called Shepherds Hollow. It’s a beautiful hilly layout and has amazing greens with multiple tiers and wicked contouring. They were super fun to putt!