The Round Table: uncertainty, anticipation and resolutions greet the New Year

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.

After celebrating it’s first season, the future for LIV Golf is still in doubt. The lawsuit against the PGA Tour has been pushed off until 2024, we aren’t likely to see Jay Monahan and Greg Norman doing lunch anytime soon and the sniping from both camps is likely to continue. So far, no changes have been made with respect to World Ranking points but 16 LIV Golfers who otherwise qualified have been invited to the Masters, and it’s expected the other majors will follow suit. The PGA Tour has countered the existence of LIV Golf with mandatory “elevated events” for their Top 20 players. Will 2023 bring us more fighting or are we likely to see things settle down?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I imagine it’ll be more of the same.  But my impression is that, after the initial flurry of signings by LIV, the tide of big-name defectors has stopped.  The LIV events haven’t drawn more than a handful spectators, the format is bewildering, and television has not bought a dime’s worth of broadcast rights.  If you see a LIV event on TV in 2023, you should assume the airtime has been purchased by LIV.  All of which means, the Saudis continue to pour huge money into – basically – a no-revenue enterprise, for no apparent gain whatsoever.  (“Sportswashing”?  Gimme a break.  Their reputation has surely taken a further beating from this whole debacle.)  I would think even the Saudis might be questioning the wisdom of all this.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Not only will the sniping continue so will the players continue to join L1V. As the PGA TOUR players see how much guys they can beat are earning in just 14 events they too will want a piece of that ‘pie’. L1V should make a bigger effort to fulfil Norman’s original dream of a World Tour by playing in counties other than the USA and finally, L1V should begin inviting LPGA players. Forget Jay M. Forget the head-to-head confrontation. Simply build a better ‘mouse trap’ somewhere else.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Let’s hope things settle down but I don’t see that happening.  There are many names rumoured to be the next to make the move, so until those rumours settle down, this story will continue to dominate the professional golf landscape.  And with the Masters inviting the LIV players, it’s likely the other majors will follow suit, and you have to think World Ranking Points are going to be offered to them at some point in the future.  It’ll be interesting to see where LIV sits at the end of 2023, that’s for sure.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: After Qatar and the World Cup billions spent, Ronaldo signing with the Saudis for a soul-crushing stipend, and on and on, are we not just sick and tired of this LIV thing? Damn, it’s such an affront to what is going on in the real world.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): More fighting, more chest beating, new desertions, then some recriminations and maybe some mea culpas. As in what have we done? Greg Norman, “I’ve hurt the Tours that made me rich and famous.” Jay Monahan, “I’ve destroyed the relationships the Tour has with dozens of sponsors and players that aren’t part of the new “elevated” cash grab. Keith Pelley, “I sold out the European Tour.” Money often costs too much.

What 2023 event are you most looking forward to?

Deeks: The total collapse of LIV Golf, but it may not happen till 2024.

Schurman: That never changes. It is always the Masters. It was back in the early days when it was broadcast in black and white, and it still is now. I’ve had the incredibly good fortune to attend it twice and the second the music starts playing I’m taken right back to wonderland.

Rule: The US Open isn’t always my favourite tournament, definitely third on my list of favourite majors, but this year I’m excited to watch them tackle Los Angeles Country Club after Gil Hanse’s renovation.  It’s a course I don’t know a ton about but have heard tons about recently, so it should make for great TV in early summer.

Quinn: As always, the Open Championship. Doesn’t matter the venue, whether or not some icon will be waving farewell, or in this go round whether or not the LIV multi-millionaires are putting a peg in some old links sod. Here on the wet coast, it’s 5 am wakeup and time to savour, and remember that a grandmother (on my mother’s side) grew up playing the Old Course.

Mumford: Certainly, the Masters, which although it has a healthy purse, has never been about money. With 16 LIV Golfers in attendance, it will be the first tournament post-split with all the best players in the world, battling for a gaudy green jacket and a legacy.

What New Year’s resolution did you make (or should you make) for your own golf game in 2023?

Deeks: I resolve to continue to apply an age-old swing thought that worked for me right at the end of this past season.  All of a sudden, I was hitting the ball flush, like I did 30 years ago, minus the 20% reduction in yardage that age has forced me to accept.  I’m looking forward to a Happy New Year indeed!

Schurman: Starting about 15 years ago, I completely lost my game due to injury, surgery and some family matters. I shot scores that were embarrassing. I tried everything to find some way to recover even a little bit of it, but things actually got worse. Starting in 2018 and during Covid I began to disassemble my entire M.O. from my equipment, my club fitting, my practice routine, my method of swinging, pitching, putting etc. I did it because I was turning 72 and I thought if I was successful, I could shoot my age. I had one score of 65 when I was 69 but nothing even close since. In 2021, I began to enjoy both a longtime friend and a regular weekly game with him. I got close a couple of times but each time I let it get away. Suddenly, one day, he shot 79 at age 80, our other friend shot 76 at age 82 and I shot 69 at age 75. Since then, I’ve had over 20. My goal is to do it in an organized event.

Rule: As I approach the big 5-0 in a couple of years, I have lost a significant amount of distance in my game, so my goal isn’t so much to regain that loss, but just stop the bleeding!  Everyone seems to be hitting the ball further with the new technology, so perhaps it’ll take some investment beyond swing speed training, and I may have to put a new weapon in the bag.

Quinn: Same one as the past three years — new driver. Got the 2022 Callaway Rogue (more distance, more fairways) late last summer after the sim tests proved that the face on my Olde Callaway (5 years) had died. Difference in carry was 25 yards between the olde and new. Dang. Done and done. Then the weather changed and life interfered, and I thought, the 2023 will be even longer and straighter (love and believe ads). So, I took the Rogue back. Still had the shrink wrap on the head. It never missed a fairway. But I resolve that the 2023 Callaway (or whatever) gonna be even longer and more fairway friendly. Nice not to have to come up with a new resolution every year.

Mumford: My vow in 2023 is to play smarter golf and avoid big numbers. As I get older, some of the shots I used to take for granted have become high risk. For example, a 180-yard approach shot used to be a routine 5-iron, then it became a 4. Now it’s a hybrid but my chances of hitting the green have fallen way off. If there’s a pond or any nasty gunk lurking, then big numbers are possible and I’m often left scratching my head, saying, “Hey dumbass, why did you do that?” A lay-up with a 6-or 7-iron, followed by a short pitch shot would have left me a chance at par and probably no worse than bogey. In the coulda, shoulda, woulda post round reviews, this one always stands out.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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