Thursday, February 09, 2012

Black History Month

I am by no means an expert on Black History Month. Not even close. But I was listening to "Teed Off" on PGA Tour radio this morning and a gentleman called in with a question pertaining to Black History Month and how minorities (the caller didn't single one minority out) are treated/featured/showcased/portrayed by the golf media.  The caller's point was that when he turned on the TV, he didn't see anyone covering the sport that he could identify with, meaning there aren't many minorities covering golf.  The host of "Teed Off" kind of got off track and didn't really get what the caller was saying, but I think I did.  And I agree. The caller seemed to be saying that minority participation in golf isn't growing not only because of the expense involved, but because children don't see anyone on TV they can relate to. More minority children are likely to become meteorologists than golfers if you compare the on-air talent of the Weather Channel to that of the Golf Channel. Children, no matter their ethnicity, will find people on tv to identify with and from my experience, I know I identify with those who are more like me. I can only assume that's the way it is for everyone.  There are other elements to consider when trying to figure out how to grow the game of golf. For instance, kids are far more likely to gravitate toward football, basketball and baseball because you don't need a specialized field of play for those games. You can play them in any parking lot or back yard very easily and quickly, whereas with golf, you have to find a way to get to a golf course. Convenience is as much a contributor to the lack of minority participation in golf as TV's perceived make-up of their audience and the sport's expense.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Long And Short Of It

Is anyone else tired of the long putter debate? I'm very bored with it, especially since, traditionally, the stats don't back up the negative opinion associated with the unconventional putters.  For the last few years, I've checked in on the putting stats and most of the time the golfers with short putters lead the stats. And as I've always said, Tim Clark would be the #1 player in the world if the long putter was such an unfair advantage.

The most recent hoopla over the putter comes from Pebble Beach this week where the media asked Tiger Woods for his opinion on the long putter.  Where do I start with this?  First, should Tiger be thinking about other people's putters given his performance the last couple of years? Shouldn't he be minding his own business? Second, apparently he's taken it upon himself to discuss rule changes with the R & A? What kind of authority does he think he has to believe it's his place to make rules changes?  Third, given the many, many majors and other tournaments Tiger has won, didn't anyone tell him that if he goes out and maligns other golfers and rules in public that it's going to make him look like a jerk? When someone is that successful, the best course of action is to not criticize anyone or anything in public.

As for my opinion on the long putter, here goes: it's apparently great if you lengthen the shaft of your driver to get more distance. But you can't lengthen the shaft of your putter? Pot, meet kettle. Seriously, watch some LPGA golf and you can't help but think that the club is swinging the golfer rather than the other way around.  The only unfair advantage I see with the long putter is when you're taking relief and other guys have to make do with standard length clubs while a long putter player gets more distance.  Of course, if that's the fight you're fighting, then you have more to worry about than putters. You need to get back on the range and work on your other clubs.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Proposed Changes to Q-School

A couple of weeks ago, the PGA Tour announced some possible changes to Q-School, the PGA Tour season and the Nationwide Tour. From what I've read on the internet, these changes may include possibly starting the Tour season in the fall so some current Post FedEx Cup tournaments could have participation in the FedEx Cup series, Q-School graduates only having status on the Nationwide Tour, and the only way of earning status on the PGA Tour is through the Nationwide Tour and previous year participation on the PGA Tour.  I have a couple of opinions about these changes.  First, the European Tour had a non-traditional calendar for several years and figured out it wasn't working for them so they changed to a calendar-year based schedule. Why would the US PGA Tour make the move to something that's been proven to be a problem?  Second, Q-School, in my mind, is the toughest test a golfer can experience. Six rounds that will determine your entire year and possibly your whole career. I have so much more respect for any golfer who can survive Q-School and then follow it up with successful careers on the PGA Tour. Some notables who fit this mold are Dustin Johnson, JB Holmes and Rickie Fowler.  I think they are tougher, smarter, and stronger than the guys who have a whole year of chances to make it to the PGA Tour.

At play here, ultimately, is sponsorship and money. The PGA Tour believes that bigger purses equals success and these changes are meant to make sponsors happy (like Nationwide, chief sponsor of the Nationwide Tour). I have to think, however, that eventually, the PGA Tour will be unable to sustain the huge purses they've been offering in the last few years and that a collapse of the Tour is a real possibility. The European Tour doesn't have the money available that the US Tour does, but it has quality courses, diverse membership, and what looks like a more sound business model.  And of course, one of the contributing factors the US PGA Tour has to consider is its membership who has reportedly not responded favorably in the past to the suggestion of dialing back the size of purses in tough economic times. More, more, more isn't always the best idea. One day, the US PGA Tour may wake up to find that there is no more out there. When the well dries up, where will they be?