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.
What was the best golf story in 2017?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): IMHO, and I do emphasize ‘H’, I think the proposed rule changes, announced jointly by the R&A and USGA, were a very positive step forward for the game. It showed that the governing bodies are willing to listen and move with the times, even if they could still go light years further in rethinking, simplifying, and disposing of many rules that are picky, confusing, and detrimental to people’s enjoyment. But good for them for at least making a start. For Canadians, another good story was the appointment of Bruce Mitchell as the first-ever Canadian Captain of the R&A. A largely ceremonial position, yes, but at least an acknowledgement of Canada’s deep history and commitment to the game, and a long overdue one.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Sergio’s first major was the best story of the season in my opinion. It was so unexpected and heart-warming to finally see the Spaniard get one under his belt. For years, many golf writers, including myself, had essentially written off the possibility of Sergio ever winning one and his victory served as a reminder that anything can happen at any time in this crazy sport!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Nuthin’ personal, but by far the best story for me was playing a round with my wife and her 90-year-old father. It was incredible. And he’s already talking about getting a game next season. That would make my ’18, but I won’t give him as many strokes this time.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I think Sergio winning the Masters was the best story of the year. In my latest blog, which you can read HERE, I also labelled it as the “feel good story of the year”. Obviously getting the monkey off his back after so many tries was critical to Garcia’s legacy and presumably to his own mental health. Not winning a major seemed to weigh more heavily on him each year. Now, however, that’s done and this story could pay dividends for a long time. Sergio will be a fixture at the Masters every year for a long time and he’s one of the best ambassadors the game has.
What storyline do you wish would just go away so we never have to discuss it again?
Deeks: Tiger Woods making a comeback.
Kaplan: I can’t really think of a story that overstayed its welcome this year. Last year, it was the USGA’s incompetency, but the organization did not have nearly the PR nightmare this year that it experienced in 2016. You could make a case for how Donald Trump’s name kept on coming up in golf stories throughout the year as the most annoying recurring storyline of 2017, but I would argue that even though he is a colossal moron, those stories were mainly funny and often humiliating for him.
Quinn: Not even close — Eldrick’s resurrection! Enough already! I fear that the opening half hour of every Tour event coverage will be devoted to absolutely unqualified Eldrick conjecture on the part of the talking-too-much heads. All I want for Christmas is a mute button that senses when Koch is about to talk over someone and shuts him up before I’m assaulted by a single syllable.
Mumford: I’m tired of anything to do with growing the game or changing golf so it can appeal to a broader audience. Golf will grow because people like and respect it the way it is. Or maybe it won’t grow. Either way, I’m going to keep playing.
The Golf Genie has just granted you one wish to change something about golf to make it better. You can use it make a change in your own game or for the betterment of the game worldwide. What change do you make?
Deeks: I would wish that no one on the planet would be too old or too infirm, or too damn lazy, to be able to walk the golf course every time they played. The benefits of walking, for both physical and mental well-being, are infinite. And on that happy note, I wish everyone on this panel and all our readers, the Very Best of the Holidays and a Very Happy New Year!
Kaplan: My wish for the golf genie would be to universally loosen up the game’s dress code. I want to wear a tank top while I’m playing. Every season, I incur an atrocious farmer’s tan and by August, I barely look human anymore. And I want to play all of my rounds in 3 hours or less! Is that too much to ask for? Tank tops and speedy rounds. Make it happen, golf genie!
Quinn: G.U.R. Just as the NFL can’t define a catch, golf doesn’t know what Ground Under Repair means. The tweed jackets have always asked us to “Please Replace Divots” (the ‘Please’ should be dropped, immediately) and many clubs now have maintenance crews fill divot holes with a mix of sand and seed. In the unlikely event that one of today’s golfers replaces a divot, or if a crew member has filled in the hole, then that tiny patch of golfdom is thereby G.U.R. An attempt has been made to repair it. So by definition G.U.R. relief must be given, and no ball should be played from that spot. The same common freaking sense should be applied to a hole bereft of its divot, and still awaiting a dollop of fill. And another Genie miracle, I fix spikes marks on greens without penalty, always have and always will. Pitch marks? I fix an average of 6 per hole — too rarely one of my own — and then call it quits. Golf Genie should restore the Course Marshall — jettisoning the obsequious players’ assistants — to full power to yell loudly at offending golfers (we know who they are and where they come from) to FIX YOUR GD PITCH MARK! or you don’t get to the next tee! Those small things would make for a much better game.
Mumford: I’d take Mr. Deeks’ suggestion a step further and ban riding carts altogether except for those that medically require one. I’m not sure I can get behind Mr. Kaplan’s desire to wear tank tops on the golf course but to each his own. My genie wish is for all golfers to be more competitive – to have a little wager, a match or some sort of competition that requires them to grind over those three footers and learn how to play under pressure. Too many times now, I hear players say they don’t even bother keeping score. Then they complain they’re not enjoying the game and not getting any better. Well, the best way I know of to get better is to compete against someone else. It’s good for your game and good for your soul!
The Round Table is going to take a little break over Christmas and New Years and will return on January 10th. In the interim, please have a safe and happy holiday!