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 revised PGA Tour schedule, which has four majors in four months, has hurt a few events like this week’s Memorial tournament. Given that some players like to play the week before a major, playing Muirfield Village would mean three weeks in a row with the RBC Canadian Open and the US Open. Rory McIlroy is doing that, but Dustin Johnson is skipping this week to rest his body. Does the PGA Tour have the schedule correct now or does it need more tweaking?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): It probably always needs tweaking, but do I personally care about the fate of more than 6 or 7 tournaments (the majors, TPC, Canadian Open, Memorial)? Not really. I’ve always gotten a big laugh out of the handwringing and whining Canadian media make about the decline of the Canadian Open, as if it’s all the Tour’s fault. But every year, fewer people show up, indicating lack of interest. Maybe this year, with a better slot in the revised schedule and playing on one of Canada’s great golf courses, plus a rock concert, face-painting and balloon animals, it’ll be a bigger success.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: The PGA TOUR is one of the best-operated businesses found anywhere! They are progressive, efficient and successful. In doing so, they also make changes to upgrade their product on a regular basis. One of these changes is the line-up of major tournaments. I like the five consecutive months of majors! However, each player will now to decide their own personal schedule. Beginning with obligatory 15 events and limited to an individual’s capacity to play more than that they have to consider such things as health, family, majors, sponsor agreements, likeable courses and charitable appearances etc. It will take a year or two before everything settles down.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think the schedule is pretty good right now. Most players aren’t going to play three events in a row leading up to a major, regardless of which tournaments they are. But if the tour wants to avoid this string of three important tournaments in a row, they could always try swapping the Memorial with the 3M Open that is set to make its debut in mid-July. I don’t think anyone would complain about that switch.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): There’s clearly no perfect schedule, and no matter what they do, it’ll hurt some events. Unfortunately for the Memorial, guys like DJ have a contractual commitment to the RBC Canadian Open, so they get the shaft since they won’t play two straight weeks leading into a major. So, it’s hard to say whether they have it right or wrong. I like this schedule better than last year for two reasons – the date for the Canadian Open and the fact that the PGA Championship is earlier in the year. It will be strange when the last major is played and we will be thinking “didn’t summer just start”, and it’ll feel like it’s ending in a weird way.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s beyond time that golf stopped contorting to avoid the TV-audience megaliths — the NFL and MLB and US College football. The golf rhythm, so important to all aspects of the game, is now out of sync with the forgotten audience — golfers. Under this administration’s fixation on ratings, it may be too late for the Tour to remember that golfers really care about the big events, but they also are passionate about other sports. NFL, NBA, MLB fans may not care about golf, but golfers do and will watch even if one of the big 3 games is on the next channel. Upsetting that rhythm is not sitting well with life-long golfers that I know. They should stop tweaking, show some confidence in the game and its true followers, before they well and truly piss off everyone.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Once they ditch the Fall schedule, everything will be fine. The Tour needs some real time off, as much for the fans as the players. The current condensed schedule from March to July is going to leave some casualties – lesser events sandwiched between majors, WGC’s and personal “must play” tournaments. The idea that a player can’t play three weeks in a row is preposterous.
John Daly has asked the R&A for a riding cart to play in the Open Championship based on his osteoarthritis. The PGA of America granted him a cart for the PGA Championship. Should the R&A follow suit?
Deeks: Absolutely not. What’s he even doing in the field?? If they’re going to grant this wish, then why not invite ALL previous Champions, and offer them carts, gurneys, IV, defibrillators, personal masseuses and cardiologists during their rounds? I don’t care how popular Daly is with the bottom-feeding Trump crowd, he should NOT be playing in this Championship, and he should NOT receive special privileges.
Schurman: I am not a JD fan and see no reason how his ailments are any more restricting than those of other players. In fact, as seemingly unsympathetic as it sounds, I think at this elite level a player should be required to perform to certain minimum standards one of which is walking the course.
Kaplan: They should totally let him cart. He has a valid reason for doing so and his carting would not affect the tournament in any way. What harm could it do? It’s not like he’s going to contend, resulting in some sort of cart controversy come Sunday. No one expects Daly to win — not even Daly himself! This is as close to a no-brainer as it gets.
Rule: Tough question. I’m a traditionalist and think it would look strange to have a cart on a links course in a major championship. On the other hand…. Wait, why is he even playing in this tournament? I get that they allow past champions to play but he hasn’t made a cut since 2012 and he’s taking up a spot for someone that could be competitive. Let’s face it, I’ll be surprised it he breaks 160 on the first two days this year. So, I think the R&A should deny him the right to use a cart and hopefully he doesn’t play. I’d rather watch guys who can actually compete in the tourney.
Quinn: This is not Casey Martin. This is not a heart tug. This is self-inflicted. Anyone who tried to read his BS book, or has glimpsed his yard sale crap at Tour event parking lots, would never even think of giving this guy a free ride. The PGA erred, probably hoping to sell a few tickets to the mouth breathers. The R&A is above such pandering to the plebeians.
Mumford: Not bloody likely! Daly is an obese sideshow act that belongs in a carnival. Any injuries or conditions he has were brought on by himself and his lifestyle choices. He and they have no place in the Open Championship – riding or walking.
A number of Canadian players have made an appearance on the leaderboard at various times over the past few weeks. Roger Sloan and Mackenzie Hughes were just the latest to do so at Colonial. Which Canadian do you think has the best chance for a breakout week and a win, and where will it be?
Deeks: How about Adam Hadwin at the Memorial? (Sorry, I’m writing this from Whistler, and the aroma of weed is heavy in the air.)
Schurman: It is very difficult to be as current with information now that I am retired. When I was active, I had access to the inside gossip on a more insightful basis. However, it seems (without gossip to support it) that Hughes has taken a bit of a personal ‘time out’. Since he won, he appears to be ‘going through the motions’ instead of realizing he had 2 years to build on his victory. Having said that, he has played very well in the past few months and has shown he has the skill level to win. I’m going to pick him, and I hope it’s in the US Open.
Kaplan: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Adam Hadwin makes history at the Canadian Open by becoming the first Canuck to win the tournament since Pat Fletcher in 1954. But what do I know? I only predicted the Raptors to make the Finals the moment they traded for Kawhi . . .
Rule: It’s exciting to check the leaderboards each week, as it’s littered with Canadians in the field, and more and more often on the leaderboard. It was great to see both Sloan and Hughes playing well last week although they both struggled a bit in the end. It’s tough to pick the next Canadian to win, but wouldn’t it be nice if it happened next week at Hamilton? I think Adam Svensson is the next Canadian to break out and win on tour.
Quinn: I’m in a pool with 1,506 of my closest friends. Not all my pals signed up on time, so maybe next year we’ll all be in it. Because I’ve been playing the game almost all my life — those first golf-less eight I call the lost years — and have been covering the Tour and meeting these guys and playing the best courses around the world, I didn’t want to come on too strong in the pool. Heading to Jack’s place I’m 506th. Nice. Modest. Anyway, I have Hughes in my stable of stumblers, I mean great picks, and for purely altruistic reasons I think he’s the next break out guy. He may not know it but it’s 40 points for a win (Huge) and he just may do it anywhere, anytime.
Mumford: I suspect before a new face jumps into the winner’s circle, we’ll see a repeat performance from Corey Conners. It would be awesome if he could pull a Brooke at Hamilton next week but even if that’s not in the cards, I like his chances for a second PGA Tour win sometime this summer.