(Photo credit: Photosport)
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.
The Presidents Cup was even more of a rout for the US than expected. What was your biggest takeaway from the event?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I watched very little, but read with dismay about the obscure rules infractions, including loss of hole against Jordan Spieth when he stopped a Ball after a meaningless putt by his opponent. As I’ve said many times before, many of the rules are idiotic, and I’m convinced that the only people who respect them are those nerds who get to enforce them. Get a life, guys.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): My biggest takeaway is that the US now has its own dream team and that the International side is doomed for the foreseeable future. The international squad was so thoroughly outmatched last week that it wasn’t even fun to watch. And it’s not going to get better any time soon. Just wait until Xander Schauffele, Ollie Schniederjans, and Patrick Cantlay are also on this team. It will be unwatchable.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Without question, the disingenuous vacuous ramblings of the Tweeter in Chief — dedicating the Cup to the victims of the recent hurricanes, most callously to those still without water or power in Puerto Rico — was the biggest takeaway. A distant second was the video of the miracle worked by $225 M (and the great Bob Cupp with an assist from Tom Kite) to transform a backlot of The Sopranos into a great looking golf course.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Two things really stood out for me. The first was how poorly the top ranked players on the International team played. Jason Day and Marc Leishman couldn’t find a fairway to save their lives and Hideki Matsuyama was just MIA until Sunday. Meanwhile all of the Americans were on their game. The second was the golf course. Liberty National received a lot of criticism from Tour players when they had a playoff event there, mainly because it’s not a bomber’s course and there are some really quirky green complexes. However, quirky becomes fun in match play. The views are awesome too.
Brooke Henderson won an LPGA event for the fifth time in her career after capturing the rain delayed New Zealand Women’s Open. The 20-year old has already surpassed a couple of Canadian Golf Hall of Famers and is second to Sandra Post among women on the all time win list. What’s the upside for Henderson and where do you see her having the most influence in women’s golf?
Deeks: Since American networks only cover Brooke when they absolutely have to (like when she’s 1 or 2 on the leaderboard), I think her only real influence will be on young Canadian girls. And it can and should be profound. She’s an amazing talent, amazing person, great role model and exemplary Canadian. Well done, Brooke!
Kaplan: Five victories, including a major, by the age of 20 means that Henderson’s ceiling is virtually unlimited. I expect Henderson to ascend to #1 in the world at some point in the next three years and I wouldn’t be surprised if she racks up a total of 10+ majors over the next two decades on the PGA Tour. Brooke is already a gigantic superstar in Canada and we need her to keep on winning and making public appearances so that we can grow the game at the grassroots level and get more kids playing.
Quinn: Right now Henderson and Lexi Thompson have the potential to save the LPGA Tour. There isn’t a US corporation — or a TV camera — that doesn’t love these two. They both have the talent and charisma to become the LPGA Tour’s Big Two which would be wonderful for the game; inspirational for junior golf in Canada (Henderson is already an icon in that segment) and the US for the short and long term; and give Juli Inkster a much needed lesson in ‘cause and effect.’
Mumford: At the rate she’s going, the sky’s the limit. Everywhere I go I see little girls, teenagers and young women dressed like Brooke and presumably part of her fan club. The key to her future success will be how well she manages her time and all of the demands that will be made on her. As she keeps winning, those demands will only grow and so too will the opportunities to make more money, speak publicly and have an influence both in golf and beyond. Right now, that’s a lot to put on a 20-year-old’s shoulders, so the best thing now is to just let her play golf. The rest will happen. So far she has handled success well, which also reflects admirably on her support group.
The 2018 PGA Tour season starts this week. The Tour has said they don’t want to compete against the NFL but they will for the next eight weeks, then again in January. Do you think it’s necessary that the two sports have different schedules and if so what should the PGA Tour do?
Deeks: I think the Tour should understand that it can’t compete with the NFL, but also shouldn’t worry about it since there are thousands of people like me who don’t give a hoot about football. I wish they’d just go back to starting the golf season in January, where it made a lot more sense.
Kaplan: The PGA Tour has a full-year schedule so they are always going to be competing with whatever sports are in season. Plus, this is the wrap-around part of the schedule that we are talking about here. It is going to take a back seat to everything that is on TV this fall: football, baseball playoffs, basketball, hockey, re-run marathons, you name it! The only people who will be watching these tournaments are golf nuts, who would have their televisions tuned to the Golf Channel anyway — regardless of whether a tournament is on.
Quinn: The PGA Tour should just back off in the greed department (activate faint hope clause). This wrap-around is the new ‘Silly Season.’ It’s as if baseball opened two months early with their Triple A teams — charging major league ticket prices — and pretended that the games meant anything. It’s a bunch of guys only their families are cheering for making a lot of money while the North American sports audience is watching the NFL, college football, the opening of the NHL season, and the MLB lead up to the World Series. Put the clubs away boys, no one cares. See you when you get to Hawaii.
Mumford: The conflicts between watching the PGA Tour and the NFL don’t bother me in the least. That’s what a PVR is for. However, after nine full months of watching the PGA Tour through majors and second tier events, it’s time for a break. The better players usually take one anyway and skip much of the Fall Series, which means the talent level is watered down and so too is the excitement level. It’s commendable that so many companies are lined up to throw buckets of money at PGA Tour players but this is minor league product and shouldn’t factor into the real season. Start in January, end in September, then take a break. And while we’re changing the Tour, let’s go back to using the Money List to determine exemptions and playoff positions. FedEx Cup points are like Canadian Tire money – annoying and useless.