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.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the FedEx Cup playoffs and might finally be turning into the kind of finish that Tim Finchem imagined. The best players in the world are heavily invested in the process and making it exciting to watch. After years of tinkering, do they have it figured out now?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’m probably not the right guy to ask, because I’ve never really figured out the playoff structure, mainly because I really don’t care that much about the outcome. I’m still just an old school, majors-are-the-most-important kinda viewer. But if the best players are heavily invested, and the leaderboards reflect that, then it gains much more credibility.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): It’s as good as it’s ever been. It’s still a little odd that the Tour Championship winner and the FedEx Cup winner can be two different players. I’ll still follow mind you. Might be time to up the anti though – make it $20 MILLION!
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Ya, it looks like they’ve got it down now. Spieth, Thomas, DJ, Matsuyama, and Rahm – all five of the top ranked players in the world – each have a legitimate chance at winning this year’s mega-payout. Obviously, this is going to make for one hell of a gritty finish at East Lake. I’m glad you didn’t ask who is going to win the FedEx Cup because I have absolutely no idea at this point.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well, I’ve actually been watching this year, so I guess that says something. I haven’t paid much attention to the playoffs in years past but because it’s such a close race for player of the year, and all of the top players are playing each event, it certainly is more interesting and I’ll be watching the last two events. It also helps that there are still two Canadians in the playoffs!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I think they’re lucky this time around. They haven’t figured out anything beyond throwing a tonne of cash at these guys while dodging the opening of college and NFL football. From day one the players have just played ‘show me the money’ and ignored the screwy points systems. That half way into these playoffs (sic) the top guys are playing well has nothing to do with the Tour figuring it out. But it would be nice if the networks stopped projecting on Saturday morning where the first round leader would end up on the FedEx points board if nothing changed over the next 48 hours….in the middle of July! The green and red lights beside their names on the board are just as irritating. I actually kinda miss Steve Sands trying to explain it all on a whiteboard. That was hilarious. Then Haas sinks one out of the pond. Oops.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’ve never been a fan of the contrived FedEx Cup points system and its convoluted permutations to determine an annual champion. What’s really idiotic in my view is that someone can win the final event but not win the FedEx Cup. That doesn’t mean that as individual tournaments the playoffs aren’t exciting. In fact, this year even more so with all the top players battling each other each week on great courses. But as a means to identify a season champion? Not even close. To me it’s still about majors, other victories and money won. The big payout at East Lake is immaterial and says nothing about who had the best year.
Golf Magazine just released its list of the Top 100 Courses in the World. Canada has three entries: Cabot Cliffs (#50, pictured above), St. George’s (#94) and Cabot Links (#96). Is it odd that other courses like The National, Hamilton, Beacon Hall and Capilano, which in our own rankings often rank ahead of St. George’s, aren’t on the list? If you were a ranker for Golf Magazine, which 5 Canadian courses would you put at the top of your list?
Deeks: I haven’t played the Cabots yet, but I defer to others’ raves and would put the Cliffs on my Top 5 list, at the very least. I’m surprised it’s not ranked higher in the Golf Magazine rankings. Goodwood (near Uxbridge) is below everyone’s radar because it’s been so exclusive, but it’s the best of the 156 courses in Canada that I’ve ever played. I would add Hamilton for sure, and Muskoka Bay, and probably Capilano just a smidge over St. George’s. Neither The National nor Beacon Hall make my top 10.
Loughry: It’s a joke we don’t have more in the top 100. Our country is home to WORLD CLASS golf – it’s just that nobody outside Canada knows it, which is unfortunate.
Kaplan: It is odd. I don’t think St. George’s is anywhere near as fantastic as many others would have you believe. In fact, I think it is considerably overrated. My Top 5 Canadian courses are Cabot Cliffs, The National, Goodwood, Banff Springs and any of Tobiano/Muskoka Bay/Crowbush Cove. I don’t think King Valley is worthy of a Top 5 ranking, but I am convinced that the track does not get the respect that it deserves.
Rule: I think the three Canadian courses on the list are worthy recipients. The Cabot courses have certainly taken the golf world by storm since their opening, with the Cliffs garnering the most attention due to its incredible eye candy and dramatic holes. And it’s not even fully grown in yet, so we’ll have to see where it ends up when the greens are running faster than 6. It speaks to the quality of golf in our country that we can consider four or five other tracks that certainly deserve consideration for the list. My top 5 Canadian courses – not necessarily in any particular order – are National, St George’s, Cabot Links, Toronto GC and Capilano.
Quinn: I was a course ranker for years for SCOREGolf, except they never told me. I would have recused myself anyway as I was writing about courses all the time. It became a mute point, aided by their silence, but I was regularly disgusted when courses I wouldn’t have in my top 100 in B.C. made the top 20 in the National Rankings. Ron Whitten had strict criteria for Golf Digest rankings, which helped their cred, but it is still subjective. Haven’t played the Cliffs or Links, but hear they’re both way better than 50th. So in My Five, I’d definitely have Capilano, Hamilton, and the National. For fun I’d add Victoria and Banff, with a side trip to tally my subjective selections at Grey Wolf.
Mumford: Rankings are so subjective it’s impossible to have a definitive list. I always include a fun factor in my course assessments, which is about as subjective as you can get. Since I haven’t played Cabot Cliffs, I can’t comment on it but I wouldn’t put St. George’s or Cabot Links in my top 5 Canadian courses, although both would be in my Top 10 for sure. My Top 5 are The National, Goodwood, Hamilton, Highlands Links and Devil’s Paintbrush.
Congratulations to Adam Hadwin for making the International President’s Cup team. However, it looks like the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the US squad again, which will also be playing on home soil. Does the fact that the US side has dominated this event for most of its existence diminish its excitement or watchability?
Deeks: If you care and keep track of the results, then I suppose the American dominance matters. But I personally don’t think the event is diminished because of it. I think it’s great fun watching these matches, as much as the Ryder Cup. But I also wish the organizers would simply combine the two events, and make it the US vs. the Rest of the World, to make a truly representative competition. Ditto with the Solheim, which just seems stupid without the Asian players involved. I’m delighted Adam Hadwin has made the team, and I hope his A-game shows up with him.
Loughry: I think it does cost viewers/interest. It’s why you can’t compare it to the Ryder Cup, where the rivalry is real. I’ll still watch mind you, as I like watching team golf competitions. It’s not something we quite see enough of.
Kaplan: I don’t think it diminishes its watchability, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this International roster is WEAK! I understand that the Ryder Cup features the US against Europe, but I don’t see why there can’t be a few European players on the international squad every other year. A team consisting of Matsuyama, Day, McIlroy, Garcia, Stenson, Pieters, Hadwin, Fleetwood, Scott etc. would be quite a formidable challenge for the Americans. Too bad we will never get to see that play out!
Rule: It’s definitely not as exciting as the Ryder Cup, and that’s even when a Canadian is participating in the event! It’s a shame that the competition hasn’t been closer, with the quality of golfers in Australia and South Africa in particular. This year looks like the most lopsided in a while given the struggles of many of the top International players. Matsuyama has to go 5-0 for them to have any chance at all! I’ll be watching as always because I love match play events, and it will be interesting to see how Hadwin does while flying the Canadian flag proudly!
Quinn: My only two memories of all the Prez Cup matches are of little Mikey beating big Eldrick in Montreal and of Big Ernie and Eldrick staging the Duel in the Dusk at Fancourt. That’s it. This thing will always be the poor man’s Ryder Cup, a shameless TV-money grab idea. And with the proliferation of WGC events and the hyper-hyped FedEx Cup, less exciting and less watchable each time around. I’ll only watch Hadwin. Could be a career changer if he comes through in some big spots.
Mumford: The Americans rarely pick a fight they can’t win, which is another way of saying they stack the deck beforehand. The Presidents Cup was never a fair fight and in the long run, neither is the Ryder Cup. When you compare the combined golfing populations and significant golf resources (golf courses, college programs, training facilities, professionals, etc) from all over the world against the US, the Americans are still way out in front. The only thing working against the US in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches is the team format, which they’ve never really embraced. A more fair fight would be US against the World with a requirement that six Euros and six Internationals be on the World team. As for this year, I think enlightened golf fans really like to watch match play so they’ll watch despite the likely one-sided outcome.