Golf is our passion. We play it, we watch it, we live it and we always want the game to evolve. So what could we tweak in professional golf to make the game even better? Read on for our 10 ideas for 2014.
Walking rules officials in every group -- If you had to coin 2013 something, it would probably be the year of the rules, with Tiger getting in trouble a few times and it turning into the biggest controversy of the entire golf season.
Just have a guy walk with each group, at each tournament, and 97 percent of the problems will simply go away. It might be a tough thing to do initially, but if we can find scorers and sign boys and marshals for each group at each event, we can find 100 people that know the rules of golf front to back.
Laser flag sticks -- We've heard this idea before about goal-posts in football or the foul pole in baseball, so why not golf? If instead of old school flag sticks that get in the way of a good shot we had a simple laser or hologram that shines up from the bottom of the cup to indicate where the pin is, it would take away guys getting completely hosed when they pull off an almost perfect golf shot (Also, easy sponsorship opportunity with the "Star Wars" franchise).
For those thinking that not having a real flag would be a problem for caddies and the wind, remember that our national championship was just played on a golf course that had wicker baskets on the top of the sticks and not flags. And, if this had happened a season ago, Tiger Woods would probably be on a hunt for major No. 16 or 17 when the 2014 Masters rolled around.
The FedEx Cup giving us some sort of match play for all the dough -- I don't care how they do it, how many people they have or which course they play it on, but we should get the top two or four or eight players in the FedEx Cup standings going at in the most exciting format in golf on a Sunday. Make the final day of this system a man and another man simply having to beat each other for the $10 million bonus, and I think it would add extra drama if second place got nothing. Win? You just set your kids and grandkids for life. Lose and you'll have to walk back to your mansion and beautiful wife without any bonus money.
Force the best in the world to play in team events with a penalty if they skip -- Rumors have been swirling about certain big names potentially skipping out on upcoming Ryder and Presidents Cups, but aren't the governing golf bodies forgetting that they actually do have some power? If the Presidents Cup wants to ensure they'll have the biggest names in the world participating, make it mandatory to play if you qualify with a penalty being that you won't be invited to one of the majors next season if you decide to skip out. If there is one thing that can scare the swooshes off of Tiger or the smiles off Phil it's the idea that they'll have to miss majors, the only thing they really care about, and making a serious demand like this would definitely lock in those names, and others, for the coming years.
(Also, in defense of the players I think they should get paid to play in these events moving forward, and understand why they would get upset that everyone is making money on these team events except them.)
Bring Back the real Q-School -- This new format is seriously the worst. The only guy that gets full Web.com status for next season is the guy that wins out of 152 guys that qualify and they still have to play six grueling, mind-numbing rounds? Get out of here with that.
Find a solution to slow play or risk losing fans for good -- I know one of the most tired arguments about baseball is that the game is slow, but if you simply look at the fans in 2013 you won't find a lot of youngsters haggling with scalpers so they can go sit for four hours and pay for overpriced food and drinks.
The thing that golf has over baseball is that they can show other holes when the leaders hit their shots, but the game is still. so. slow. We have to find a way to speed it up or else the game is going to go the way of long-winded journalism, and it needs to happen sooner than later.
You know what scares pros more than getting pulled to the side for a drug test? A penalty. We've waived the slow play penalty over the head of players for years like a hopeful kid holds mistletoe, but that kid isn't getting a smooch and these big names aren't really getting a shot added to their score if they play in five and a half hours.
Find a way to penalize the players no matter their name, stick to your guns for the entire season and see if we can cut just 15 minutes from each round on tour. It would makes the players happy, it would makes fans enjoy the game more and it might bring a few more eyeballs if it was just a little faster.
Allow the PGA Tour and European Tour to be separate entities -- I'm not sure when this started, but it almost seems rare to find PGA Tour events these days that don't count for some point system over in Europe.
This isn't fair to players that spend their entire year across the pond, and all it does is make the rich a lot richer. Why not make all the tournaments except the majors count for the tour they are played on? Some might complain that a World Golf Championships event should count for both, but just play two in the United States, two in Europe and count those points for those tours.
I get that this might lose the likes of Tiger traveling to Europe to play in an event that won't help his FedEx Cup number, but it seems that certain players that aren't scared to play a split schedule get all the dough while guys that are strictly European Tour members don't have a real chance at the end-of-year bonuses because they didn't get points for tournaments that didn't take place in Europe.
Some universal prize for a double-eagle -- In 2013, the PGA Tour saw 30 aces to just two double-eagles, a staggering number but not that shocking considering how tough it is to make a double-eagle.
Why not get some company to sponsor some double-eagle challenge, where the first man to make a double-eagle "wins" the prize but if someone tops it at any point in the season he "steals" the prize from the original albatross man? If nothing else, Lexus or Mercedes or Huffy should give the guy some mode of transportation for going 3-under on one hole.
A LPGA major at Augusta National -- It's 2013, we have women members at the most famous golf course in the world, and it seems that Augusta continues to evolve and grow.
The next logical step? A major held at Augusta for the LPGA. Seriously, what is the downside to this? Golf fans get to see Augusta for another week, the best women in the world get their own shot at Camellia, Firethorn and Holly and everyone is happy.
The PGA Championship goes back to match play -- I know, I know, you've heard this one from me before, but why not?! Up until 1958 the final major of the year was all match play, and the format should be part of at least one of the four big majors each season.
I get the drawbacks (a Shaun Micheel-Chad Campbell final isn't going to break the Nielsen ratings), but I just think fans love match play and would enjoy seeing two guys going at it, head to head, for the final major of each season.
Now, your turn! What would you like to see change in professional golf?
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