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The Masters will always be No. 1, unless the USGA does something bold

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It is unequivocally the preeminent professional golf tournament, and my respect for them is paramount.

Professional golf, be it a major or any event, is about television. The purses and media attention are all a factor of TV ratings. Take television exposure out of the picture and the gigantic purses disappear into the good night. The Masters annually gets the highest TV ratings, which is why it is considered the No. 1-rated golf event. Trust me, this has not gone unnoticed in the halls of the USGA, which puts on our National Championship, but more on that later.

I have been to one Masters, back in my active years. It’s truly a magical place. The atmosphere is almost palpable… and no, I’ve never played there. It just wasn’t in the cards while building a business. For the record, I’m not campaigning; the course requires a golf game that I don’t have any more. Enough said. 

Why do I call it magical? Sure, it’s a great course, but you have to love the fans. I don’t know how you combine thousands; passionate, yet polite, but it’s done. I’m no prude, but having experienced fans at high-profile sports events has relegated me to sitting in my chair watching TV. And even then I need to record it so I can fast forward. Watching serious fans, yes. Camera time for those imitating a freak show with attending choreography? Nyet!

Augusta’s grounds are beyond clean, and if you need any more proof $1.50 Pimento Cheese sandwiches on white bread are a “must have.” The players get great respect, thunderous cheers for outstanding performance and eerie silence surrounding a crucial shot.

How about this one: “Yes, Mr. TV Advertiser, we will accept your [significant] money, but only under the condition that you limit the number of ads. We want our television viewers to enjoy the event without constant interruption.” Pretty much like the Super Bowl… not!

I could go on, but it’s the same message. Sometimes they get a bit full of themselves, like the time they banned Jack Whittaker as an announcer because he used the word “mob” describing a cluster of fans moving from one hole to the next. Jack Whittaker, in addition to being a great announcer, is one of the fine gentlemen in the industry, so a somewhat arrogant decision on their part while attempting to establish excellence. I don’t claim they are perfect, just excellent.

I read recently that there is consideration to lengthening No. 13 at Augusta National. At 510 yards, it has been described as one of the great short par-5 holes in the world. Yes, some bombers can reach it with a medium iron after a perfect drive, but for the most part they walk away with fours, same as those hitting a hybrid. All I can say is I would do everything possible to make the second shot either on the green or in trouble; the risk/reward aspect makes for riveting television. Once again, I’m not waiting for the call and, given the track record of Masters officials, they know their product and the TV game.

That brings me to the good folks at the USGA. They will be in attendance, smile and congratulate, but deep down inside the question nags, “You run the National Championship and you can’t win the TV game?”

Enter “Adams Consulting,” where I get paid the big bucks. One advantage the Masters has is being played on the same course every year, which helps maximize the TV message. My suggestion for the USGA is to turn the annual course situation into an advantage. The first thing is to listen to Mr. Nicklaus, and dial back the golf ball. Not for us hacks, but for the U.S. Open Contestants with a “tour ball.” All PGA Tour events? Who knows, but let’s start with the U.S. Open.

A shorter-flying ball brings dozens, if not hundreds of great venues back into play for our nation’s championship. The USGA can give all kinds of altruistic reasons, but the reason I use to justify is the media. Each venue is a repository for stories on how it will be played with a shorter ball that spins more. The stories, the build up, the after stories about next year’s course… one objective, the No. 1-rated major golf tournament.

The purists can put down their quills. I know the arguments, but this is about a specific challenge, making the U.S. Open the No. 1-rated golf tournament on TV. Your vision is on the golf course, and it’s history. Mine is on TV and the ratings. I’ll take my consulting pay, cash, brown bag. The gang is assembling on the 1st tee and needs my contribution.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

73 Comments

73 Comments

  1. chris franklin

    Apr 18, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    No qualification only invitation so why is ‘The Masters’ a major championship?A large part of the field have zero chance of contending for the main prize (Ian Woosnam,Darren Clarke etc) others are invited to keep sponsors and TV companies happy,the course has become a tricked-up joke and the organisers are as synthetic as the course with their pseudo-worship of Jones.
    If they had any real feeling for the spirit of the man and the game they would grow some rough and put some definition back into the course rather than having it look like the gardens of a stately home with some flags stuck in it.
    Without doubt the pre-eminent golf tournament regardless of code is The Open Championship followed by the Open Championship of the United States.

  2. Don

    Mar 31, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Just squeeze in the fairways at 300 yards and surround it with 4 inch rough around fairways and greens and you will take care of any advantage the long ball brings…How many times do you think a pro could get anywhere near the pin hitting form 170 down to less the 100 yards coming out of 4 inch rough??? Then again club companies and other sponsors never want to see a tournament won by 3 or 4 strokes…bad for business……

  3. Rick

    Mar 30, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Barney if you read this how about telling us the truth about what club companies do for the Pro on TV, as in how different or special are their clubs Forged vs. Cast, better quality metal, better shafts etc….make a great article…

  4. RG

    Mar 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I think your a bit off Barney. The difference between the Open and the Masters has nothing to do wit the ball. The USGA is to blame for the way it sets up the courses. The edict is that they want the champion to finish around level par, a couple over is just fine. Well that may be great for some old cynics, but it makes for REALLY boring television. To a die hard baseball fan a no hitter is great, if your a casual fan it’s horrible. The Open is just that. It’s tedious and it’s a sruggle. Heck even I get bored watching guys grind out a bogey. The USGA has no one to blame but itself and it has nothing to do with the golf ball.

    • Brad

      Mar 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      VERY well said.

      • RG

        Apr 1, 2016 at 5:21 pm

        Thank you Brad. You know you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube.

    • SirBigSpur

      Mar 30, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      I don’t really understand this sentiment… at the end of the day, if you look at the players’ scores RELATIVE to each other, its the same as a birdie fest where everyone’s 15 under. I for one find it interesting to watch one tournament a year where players have to scramble and grind to make a score vs the typical bomb and gouge style you can see week-in-week-out on the PGA tour if that’s your thing. Having a tougher golf course gives you a window into players’ though process and decision making in scenarios you rarely get to see during your typical tournament.

      • RG

        Apr 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm

        Ok, I’ll make it simple for you. As golf geeks we mike enjoy seeing guys chunk it out sideways from just a few feet off the fairway, but to the CASUAL observer that is BORING. Whether you or I or anybody likes it the fact remains:
        CHICKS DIG THE LONGBALL AND BIRDIES ARE SEXY!!!

  5. golfman

    Mar 29, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Old person complaining about the “new ball”
    Yawn….

    This is like the 1000th time this has been put forward to no avail , how complicating and pointless.

    It is still a putting comp and always will be.

  6. Greg V

    Mar 29, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Barney, I like the way you think. If Jason Day is hitting it 280 off the tee, and Matt Kuchar is hitting it 240, Jason Day is going to look really long on TV. And they can play a shorter course and speed up play.

    I would add one thing: don’t rake the bunkers. Play all the sand as waste areas.

  7. Bob Jones

    Mar 29, 2016 at 11:42 am

    We can only dream about how the USGA would set up Augusta National if it were to be in charge of a U.S. Open at the site.

  8. Mark

    Mar 29, 2016 at 5:00 am

    The Masters is first in the season. That doesn’t mean it is the best. An ultra elitist course and club that is in truth a museum for rich business men (and equally rich women). That you cannot buy tickets for without a huge premium. On a course Jones wouldn’t recognise. With a very limited qualifying system. Of the four majors I rate The Masters as fourth. I am sure the Confederate flag is flying somewhere on the premises….

  9. Jimmeh

    Mar 29, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Was the US Open at Merion, which was comfortably under 7000 yards, not a good US Open then? I don’t understand why the ball needs to be dialed back at all. Make the rough tougher so the ball-strikers shine! And from a mere-mortals stand, keep the rough short so people don’t spend 5 minutes looking for their ball

  10. Jesse

    Mar 29, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Limiting the golf ball is like lowering the net in basket ball. Size, speed, and strength are skills just as much as putting or chipping. If the USGA want the open to be as popular as the masters stop having it courses like chambers bay and making the greens as hard as pool tabels. I personally hate the open because the course set up is always so rediculous. Make it difficult but you shouldn’t hit great shots and then be punished because someone at the USGA is pushing an agenda on water management or thinks the course needs to be 8000 yards. Great shots should be rewarded and bad shots should be punished and the course should be played as it was designed.

  11. Johny Thunder

    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Also, surely the USGA can be satisfied with being #2 to the Masters. I know that modern corporate attitude is “we have to be #1. We have to crush the competition.” I’m sure the US Open has plenty of viewers for their advertisers. Or, is this the first in a series of articles which ends with a ludicrous competition for viewers which ends in the USGA ruining the game, Augusta ruining a great golf course, both going bankrupt along with Golf Channel and NBC? Or, in other words, a typical story in modern business.

  12. Johny Thunder

    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    WOW – will we never hear the end of the Almighty Jack Nicklaus and ***THE BALL***.

    Jack may have been the greatest golfer of all time, but perhaps not the smartest. THE BALL is *one part* of a much larger equation; graphite shafts, ever better, lighter and properly fit, longer club lengths, course maintenance (fairways today run like greens in Jack’s era), fitness levels vastly different, clubhead optimization, etc, etc. Each of these things is a few yards of overall distance gains. Changing any one element will make little difference – unless you’re suggesting playing the Cayman ball – in which case, prepare for LOWER viewership. There are VERY, VERY FEW golf fans who want to see SHORTER drives (do you hear cries for shorter basketball players? Less home runs? Maybe fewer punches in boxing???). Jack makes this complaint (incessantly) because he is a COURSE ARCHITECT and he wants to protect his designs, and be sure people can hire him to design on small plots of land. And he’s still not right.

    The *average* TV golf viewer (not the Golfwrx type, who make up a very small percent) wants to see great shots and excitement. Augusta sets up absolutely perfectly – two par 3 holes on the back 9 that are aceable, reachable and eagleable par 5s, a bit of water and tough greens. They appreciate the well-known landscape of Augusta National, and though few ever play it, we know it almost as well as courses we’ve played, especially in relatively recent years with expanded coverage.

    The *average* TV golf viewer doesn’t want to see middling tour pros hitting 3 woods in to par 4s, nor hacking balls out of the rough sideways with sand wedges, etc. US Open courses, as a whole, are less interesting and TV-friendly, certainly less familiar given the bizarre rotation and coming-and-going.

    Also, the Masters happens at a time when half the US golfers are still waiting for the big thaw. The US Open happens when people are on the golf course, on vacation, summer activities with the kids. This part is a no-brainer. Surely the USGA is aware that network TV plays re-runs most of the summer, right? Duh.

  13. hs

    Mar 28, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    masters sunday and us open sunday are 2 of the best days to go out and play golf

  14. Andy W

    Mar 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    The Masters is #1 in ratings because of ATTITUDE. Jones and fellow green coats set out to run a golf tournament the way it was meant to be conducted; with civility, manners, sportsmanship, respect and environmental beauty. Money is not a consideration in any way. Not in making or spending. CBS is allowed to cover the tournament if they stay inconspicuous and behaved. That again is attitude. There will never be unruly fans shouting, “You the man.” No distractions like steak sandwich smelling up the place like a racetrack. No bothersome TV commercials.

    Even if the US Open can develop some attitude to compete, there is still this golf tournament called The Open to overcome as well. The Brits invented attitude.

    • NJP

      Mar 29, 2016 at 12:06 am

      You forgot good old fashioned racism, sexism, and elitism.

  15. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 28, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    If, by changing the golf ball, you can make Bubba Watson hit it only 265 like I do, I’m all for it!

    • Jesse

      Mar 29, 2016 at 1:41 am

      Should we lower the hoop so you can dunk too?

  16. Steve

    Mar 28, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    No Barney you of all people should understand that what those Pros are playing on TV (maybe just the names on clubs because most of us will never play a tour level actual club) but a ton of us can, if once in awhile, play a tour level ball and if you go to a tour event ball you will say goodbye to ball sponsors and maybe even put some of the ball companies out of business…How many Prov 1,s for $48 a dozen are going to sale if they are not number one on tour anymore???? And if you say the pros are playing dialed back balls basically it would have to be the same ball for everyone and have to be made by the same company (like pro football, pro baseball etc.) so which ball company gets saved (Bring back Top FLite?????)

  17. BIG STU

    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    The Masters will always be The Masters period. It is steeped in tradition and it is the most beautiful place on earth period. I like the point The Masters committee has always ran it and done what they see fit. Who cares what the winning score is compaired to the US Open. Yep that would be all we would need the USGA getting involved with The Masters Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts would roll in their graves several times. The USGA could screw up a one car funeral! Look at what they have done in the last 10 years with their stupid equipment rules and now lately with their stipulated round handicap posting rule. Let the USGA screw up their own thing which they excell at. Goes to show The Masters committee is smarter than the USGA

  18. GMatt

    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    The USGA can’t get out of their own way…… the Masters will always rule the TV ratings

  19. mhendon

    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Ok so lets say we dial the ball back because the avg guy on tour is hitting it about 290 and the big hitters are driving it 300 plus. So then what do we do 10 years from now when you have kids coming out on tour with 140 mile per hour club head speeds and we’re back to guys averaging over 300 yds. Do we dial the ball back again? I mean when do the guys just get the credit they deserve for being superior athletes to the players of yesteryear. I think better yet we quit worrying about what the courses stated par is and just focus on who shoots the lowest score.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Mar 28, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      Take the ball back to gutta percha! That’ll show ’em!

  20. joe

    Mar 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Something else to consider, the Masters has the advantage of being the first major played each year. So you have all this pent up anticipation by fans to see some major golf and everybody is excited and tunes in. Also, it is during April which means a lot less folks are on vacation like they are in June so more viewers there as well.
    A fun experiment would be to switch the tournament dates. It may not push the US Open to the lead, but my guess is it would at least narrow the gap somewhat.

    • Mat

      Mar 28, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      Yep. Like Daytona. It’s a major, but FIRST!

  21. nick

    Mar 28, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Lets get is straight y’all, Open Championship, the US Open, than the masters, all real golfers hold this opnion

    • Michael

      Mar 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      No Nicky. Not so. Dream on. Masters will always rule. Obviously, you are not a real golfer, but are a nationalist who can’t face the truth.

      • Roided

        Mar 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

        At least we ain’t fascists like demyankeees

  22. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Masters advantage: Run by the club. not beholding to any association, its constituents/members, nor its ever-changing board of directors. This extends to ability to change the course as it sees fit, fund the event as it sees fit, control every facet of the event as it sees fit. I could go on, but I don’t know enough.

    US Open fallacy: Dialed-back equipment would bring certain clubs/courses back to the table. The size of course required by today’s equipment pales in comparison to the amount of property needed to host a US Open. Room for corporate tented villages, tour vans, souvenir and concession sales, practice facility and other amenities goes way beyond what classic, small-footprint clubs have available. A Merion can happen once every 20 years or so, as a nod to tradition. This presumes that clubs of that estimation are interested in hosting a US Open. Consider the Pinehursts, the Bethpages, the Chambers Bays, the Winged Foots, the Oak Hills and their brethren. They have multiple courses or excess property that allows them to situate the aforementioned amenities and still have room for a 7500-yard golf course for a US Open or PGA Championship.

  23. Mat

    Mar 28, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    This argument is way off the mark. Discussing the ball is great, but if you’re not willing to change the ball except for “one tournament”, your rule change doesn’t stand the sniff test.

    The US Open may be overshadowed by the Masters on TV. Save the Fox schpiel, the purpose of rotating the US Open is to broaden the game. It is to be available to one and all, and that means rotation. Now, if you want to have it in a 6-region rotation at the same public courses, that’s fine. It’s not far from that now. It serves its purpose. It will never be the Masters because the Masters is purpose driven; a club that just got around to letting in a woman a few years ago, one where the words “private” and “exclusive” are taken to a very high level. It’s the equivalent of a “closed set” to film on, but the extras pay to be there. The US Open, by its nature, can never be that.

    Besides; we don’t want it to be Masters2. It needs to serve its outreach purpose, and give munis around the country the opportunity to host regional qualifying, etc.

    As for your statement Barney, if you don’t have the balls to change the balls in the rules, for everyone, your rule sucks. If you’re going to bifurcate, and all USGA/PGA events are a Titleist TourneyBall or Bridgestone TournaB550, fine. Do it. NOTHING would turn me off of a US Open faster than knowing they’re hitting SpongeBall Squarepants the whole time. Because then it’s “wow, those guys can hit just as far as me when I use the ‘old man’ ball”. Ya, no thanks.

    If you want to try out your ball theory, get the Web tour to play it for a full season.

  24. Bob Jones

    Mar 28, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    If the Masters is number one, it’s first because the members are masters of self-promotion (nothing wrong with that), and second that we are all so familiar with the course we don’t need announcers to set the scene for us of tell us what this or that shots entails — we KNOW this place

    The third thing is that the members have a keen sense of history. They remember their champions, honor them, reward them. Past champions are members of an exclusive club. There’s the green jacket. There’s the loft, and the past champions dinner. It makes the U.S. Open look like your city’s municipal championship by comparison.

    The USGA could take a few tips from that and get back its rightful place as the premier championship in golf in the eyes of the golfing public (which in my personal opinion it still is).

  25. Shallowface

    Mar 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I get sick of reading how the distance the pros hit it today is less about equipment and more about how they’ve all become such workout fiends. There are plenty of fat old guys on The Champions Tour that have never lifted anything heavier than 12 ounces and have derived similar benefits.
    There are two reasons and two reasons only why the guys on Tour who do work out are doing so. Because their clothing deal requires it, or in an effort to get a more lucrative clothing deal. With a possible third reason being they are still looking for the right Tour Issue Blonde.

    • Tom

      Mar 28, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      So your explanation is “clothing deal”?

      • Keith

        Mar 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        ’tis true. If only I had the latest, greatest equipment, I’d surely be on the tour. The visible correlation between fitness and winning is obviously an illusion created by The Fitness Industry.

        • Shallowface

          Mar 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm

          Jason Day is winning because he is the best chipper and putter around today. Not because of how his shirts fit.
          When Tiger was winning, it was because he was the best chipper and putter of that time. The workouts likely shortened, and maybe ended, his career.
          And in an earlier day, Billy Casper won 51 times against a high level of competition because he was a great chipper and putter. Not because of any workout program.
          The current generation didn’t invent winning. Sorry to have to break it to you.

          • Shallowface

            Mar 29, 2016 at 8:11 am

            During the “Haney years” Tiger had far from the best long game but was always in contention and won so often because of his short game, which was perhaps the greatest of all time. When the putts stopped dropping, he was just another guy, and when he lost the ability to get a wedge on the ball he couldn’t even make a cut. Most of Spieth’s success last year was due to putting.
            Now it’s Jason Day’s turn. The man has the touch of a surgeon with a wedge.

          • prime21

            Mar 29, 2016 at 10:13 am

            Do you carry a Chipper as one of your 14 clubs? If I were to look at 50 of J Days greenside shots last week I bet he only “chipped” 4-6 of them. You should just say that the best players in the world are there for many reasons, one of them being superb short games. Throwing Billy Casper out as “proof” really only tells us simply that you are old and angry (I really hope you don’t believe that 10 players is considered a high level of competition).
            The latest generation of players should not be given any credit for anything, only those that came before them have shaped the game and made it what it is today. Today’s players are simply taking advantage of better equipment, golf courses, and other technologies, they really aren’t that talented. If they had to play with Billy, Jack, Arnie, & Gary with their equipment, they wouldn’t break 80. They probably wouldn’t have even been able to make it to school in the winter because it was uphill both ways, the plow only came once when it snowed, & people walked back then because they were tough and did things the hard way! Kids today don’t know what hard work is, everything is given to ’em, and they’re never grateful for those who have blazed the trail before them! I bet you also think that Steph Curry wouldn’t be able to score against those that played in the NBA when you were growing up.
            The bottom line is that times change & you either adapt or become extinct. Anything, including training, can be overdone, but to not train is the recipe for the body getting old and breaking down faster. The worlds best have great LONG games & SHORT games, without either one you simply don’t make it out there. The current generation didn’t invent winning but more have won at a younger age than any other generation, because they are ready to do so earlier and they are more well rounded as players than those before them. The blueprint is out there and it has been laid by many generations, but it is still up to every individual if they are willing to put in the work to make it happen.

            • Shallowface

              Mar 29, 2016 at 5:39 pm

              What, no “get off my lawn?” Otherwise, “YAWN.”
              I do apologize for the generic use of the word “chipping.” Of course I meant chipping, pitching, flop shots, bunker play, putting from off the green, etc. etc. etc. I’m sure most of you got it.

    • Jordan Speeth

      Mar 30, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      EXACTLY RIGHT!

      • Jordan Speeth

        Mar 30, 2016 at 11:35 pm

        Unfortunately, Golf just doesn’t pencil out as a pastime for most people. That’s the problem. Most people can’t afford the time to practice 10 hours a week and, what, 10 hours and $200 for a couple of rounds….a lot more if you belong to a club. Donald Trump, unfortunately, is correct again. Golf is an aspirational pursuit for the wealthy and those who hope to be wealthy someday. The game also suffers from the same problems that every other business does. The corner hardware store, the family run restaurant, the local cleaners, the shoe repair shop, the independently owned pharmacy, etc…. Unless you’re selling something made of water and flour, costs are too high to make ends meet anymore, for both the end user and the business. Sad but true, and it will probably just become more so as time goes on. The idea of opening the game to the underprivileged is a pipe dream in my opinion. I wish it were possible…that’s how I was introduced to the game in the mid-60s. The difference was that greens fees were $5, you could play with hacked up balls and found clubs. There was MUCH more leisure time then, especially for kids, and we could go places without our both-working parents having to ferry us everywhere. I rode my bicycle to the golf course and washed carts, caddied, picked up the range for greens fees. How will anybody be able to afford a game that requires so much time and money when they’re already working 70-80 hours a week to make ends meet. You think that guy’s wife is going to let him blow that dough on GOLF!!??….i’m not thinking so. It just is what it is. Sorry for the rant.

  26. Brad

    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I think one thing as a viewer of both tournaments is the golf course setup.

    At the Masters, it seems like that “risk-reward” factor plays a strong role in how diverse the scoring can be. Some players are able to take advantage of certain holes and end up shooting -10 or lower…while others struggle to maintain level par or worse.

    The USGA claims, “We intend that the U.S. Open prove the most rigorous examination of golfers. A U.S. Open course should test all forms of shot making, mental tenacity, and physical endurance under conditions of extreme pressure found only at the highest levels of championship golf.”

    While they continue to list 13 specific details in what they look for in a course, maybe try limiting expectations to 5-7 details and use the course design (not setup) determine the shot making abilities and imagination players are required to have Augusta National. Make the event complex in it’s simplicity.

  27. Kevin Kelly

    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Barney I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments. Your history, legacy and personal brand in the industry is to be complimented and respected. I agree with your feeling about playing Augusta. I have been very lucky to have been a guest many times over the years at the Masters. When I was young and a scratch , even got to a plus 3 for a summer once, I would love to have played it. Now with my 4 handicap I think I’d be lucky to break 90. It’s beautiful , classy, and every hole is etched in my mind but I no longer have the game. I would never turn it down but I would ensure that whomever was hosting would be assessed for my play! I had the honor to meet you in the locker room on afternoon at Preston Trail. My friend interrupted the “friendly” gin game and lunch to introduce me. You were polite and a gentleman and it was my honor to meet you.
    Couple things on the US Open. I was born on the day of the final round of the US Open during Ben Hogan’s played in 3 and won all 3 majors he played in. He had 4 1st places and 1 2nd place in the 5 tourney’s he played in. I love the Open.

    That being said I think there are some other points of consideration. Your ball idea does hold merit but it doesn’t matter if they can’t find them! Too often the Open is a torture chamber of lost balls and knee deep rough. To me that is not golf. I’ve played 100’s of rounds in Ireland and Scotland and truly respect their game. My great uncle Eamon Murray, lifelong member-now deceased of Royal Dublin, told me that the “ball is round it’s meant to roll. When I play in America it’s like playing hide and seek in rough and closely resembling a yard game called Jarts!” At 88 year’s old fighting terrible arthritis we walked his club in 3 hours and 4 minutes. He couldn’t hit the ball 150 yards in the air but he could take our a persimmon driver on the fairway and roll it 225-245 on the tight firm fairways. There are times when the Open is unwatchable no matter the venue. I love the old courses and have been blessed to have played many of them. I would love to see them back in the roto and their history engaged and pass onto the next generation. I know you’ll say the ball roll back would allow them to trim the mowers. But I disagree. I remember the great old courses when we played persimmon and balata. I remember seeing Nicklaus, Casper, Trevino, Watson, Irwin and others hitting shots sideways to the get the ball back in play. While that may point out the straightest driver of a golf ball that week it does not play well on TV. Augusta National is beautiful and yes excellent. I also remember an announcer saying something about the “greens and bikini wax” and being banned forever. I’d appreciate your thoughts on that. What I love about their excellence is that I can bring my mom, my wife, my daughter and now granddaughters to this event not having to worrying about fights, swearing, rudeness and “you the mans’ or “go in” on every shot including shanks! They politely control this with their excellence. You can put your chair down at the green, go walk around and come back 3 hours later and your chair will still be there. Where else can you find that? It feels like the four of us in my family attending could get a drink, couple sandwiches, chips and I still got change back on my $20. Take last years US open. It was almost unwatchable. MY whole family either attends or watches all the Majors on TV. We ranked viewing pleasure last year, 1. The Masters 2. The Open Championship 3. The PGA and 4. THE US Open (sadly). The course looked awful. You could see how much the Pros hated it. I know 4 people who attended will never go back.
    I might debate that if the Open dialed the ball back and Day, Dustin, Rory, Bubba were smashing it 280 all week that it might even make the TV viewing worse than ever when compared to their 320 yard drives at Augusta!
    Anyway I appreciated your view as always. I am glad to see that you are going to be a contributing writer to Golf WRX, one of my favorite golf stops on the net.
    Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful golfing year.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Mar 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Mr. Kelly… kudos to you on your well-written composition… nary a flaw. Hope I’m writing that well when I’m 88.

  28. Craig

    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    When I saw the title I said, great some sage advice to the USGA. Shank! As long as the USGA try’s to run it’s tournament like it did at Chambers Bay, it might even sink lower than the PGA.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Mar 28, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Craig, were you there in person?

  29. Tom S.

    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    There is reason why baseball has stood the test of time – b/c they don’t let the pros use aluminum bats. If they did, every ballpark would be obsolete…come on – this isn’t that hard, don’t pander to equipment manufactures USGA!!!!

    • Roided

      Mar 28, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      You mean Steroids? Oh yeah baseball really stood the test of time there, didn’t it?

  30. Steve

    Mar 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    For me being a life time golfer and having played in College and Mini-Tours around Florida The Masters and U.S. Open are 1a and 1b of my favorite tournaments to watch and attend. Both have their place. The one thing with the Masters that it will always have over the U.S. Open is it’s storied background and being on the novice radar. Whether, it’s being one of the hardest events to get tickets for or being the first major of the season, Augusta and the Masters tournament will always surpass the others, like Wimbledon in tennis.
    Arguably, the U.S. Open is a more difficult test of skill and challenge than the Masters, the one way I see it being as well watched is not by limiting the distance of the golf ball but by simply making the greens smaller and faster. What the USGA has done over the years of shrinking the fairways and growing the rough, in my opinion is making whatever course on rotation more like the courses that the average golfer plays. Not a fully manicured and perfect example of what golf can be for the pros but more what it’s like for the average golfer. Shrinking the greens and making them faster along with the standard changes the USGA does to the courses in rotation will allow the casual fan to see what golf is really like and most people like to see the pros grind it out to make a par, instead of seeing birdies drop like crazy.
    Last years U.S. Open was panned by most, for me I loved it. Seeing all the struggles and hearing the gripes of the pros was great. The course was not pretty to look at but most courses in the real world are not either, unless you have great money to spend, like in Augusta. But sadly for the our U.S. championship, I don’t ever believe that it will surpass the aura of the Masters because it draws in the casual fan not the golf addict.

  31. Shallowface

    Mar 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, the US Open was Number One. The 1986 Masters changed all that, and that will never be undone.
    Regarding the ball, all equipment, for everyone, should be rolled back to the original Overall Distance Standard of 1976. No other sport allowed its equipment to change to the degree golf did, and it was a huge mistake that benefited absolutely no one.

    • Tom

      Mar 28, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      I prefer a multi material titanium face driver over a persimmon head with a plastic insert

  32. Happyday_J

    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I don’t think the universal ball will be the solution, just doesn’t seem feasible with litigation. Just growing the rough and tightening the fairways doesn’t do anything but help the bombers and hurt the shorter, accurate players. Simple question, rather have a short iron from deep rough or a mid iron?

    To me the there is a solution that doesn’t seem like it’s being considered. They have done graduated rough sideways off the fairway, why not down the fairway. Further you attempt to go down, the hole off the tee, the greater the risk, yet there is a reward for having having short iron into firm greens.

    Will bring a lot of strategy into the decision making when factoring in, what club do I need to hit to a tight hole location, and is it worth having to do that from the more difficult rough?

    Wouldn’t cost a thing to do, and would save the hassle of dialing a ball back.

  33. Chris

    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:10 am

    The USGA will never overcome the advantage The Masters has of being on the same course every year. There is so much history on most of those holes that even the casual fan can recall great/disastrous shots from years past on each hole on the back nine that only a regular rota of US Open courses could even start to compete. Even on the most famous US Open courses and holes, what are the great shots? I challenge anyone to tell me a defining shot on #18 at Pebble Beach? Even #17 at Pebble, as storied a hole as that is, probably has 2 memorable shots I can think of (e.g. Watson’s chip-in). Yet everyone can probably recall 4 or 5 shots on #12, #13, #15, #16, #17, #18 at Augusta.

  34. Hans

    Mar 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

    sort of strange for usga to disallow a ball thats legal under their own rules. as a rule making body, thats seems weird. dont mind the idea, but would seem more approriate for the pga championship than ine put on by the usga.

  35. Rough

    Mar 28, 2016 at 10:31 am

    The ball will never be changed back. Know why? Titleist will no longer be the #1 ball in golf if that happens, and they will lobby with their money to make sure that never happens like any good politician buying their votes.
    One thing that the game can do, is to tighten the fairways and raising the rough. On every course. While there will always be areas where the fans trample the grass to make them flatter to play off of, the rough on most of these courses are practically non-existent these days for the sake of providing good entertainment in allowing the players to shoot lower scores, such is the current obsession with seeing more players go low. The game wasn’t like that back in the day, it was more about whoever shot the best score won. So, make the fairways narrower and grow the rough again where you can’t see the players feet 4 feet off the fairway. Make it difficult for them to get out of the rough. Make it an absolute premium to hit the short stuff. The bunkers are fine, let them be perfect and easy to get out of, they are there to kill distance, so that should be enough. But thicken the rough.
    You’ll be amazed at how driving accuracy will become a premium when they absolutely have to hit fairways.

  36. ooffa

    Mar 28, 2016 at 9:46 am

    TV and Ratings that’s what you care about and that’s why the the telecast sucks. Same crap every year. I know what the course looks like I’ll read about who wins in the paper or see it on sports center. No need to tune in for hours on end for views of the same ole track. I’d rather see what new disaster the US open course holds for our prima donna tour pro’s each year. That’s far more interesting TV then some flowery track in Georgia.

  37. Weekend Duffer

    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Masters is boring. No one wants to see some no-name, one hit wonder kid go -18 on an easy course. You’ll never see such silliness in a real tournament like the US Open.

    • Charlie

      Mar 28, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Tiger Woods, 1997. One hit wonder kid won with a -18 on that very same easy course…

      Nope, nobody ever wanted to see any more of that guy.

    • Jafar

      Mar 28, 2016 at 9:53 am

      That was also the same boring kid who won the tournament you say is real…

      So he’s actually only a 2 hit wonder…

      • Me Nunya

        Mar 28, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        There are more trolls here than on 4chan.
        Please DON’T feed them.

  38. Forrest

    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:43 am

    While it’s great that the “National Championship” rotates across the country…I don’t think many would complain if there was a regular rotation of courses (ala the Open Championship).

    Say that over a 10 year period, the US Open would definitely be played at Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Olympic, Winged Foot, Bethpage, and Pinehurst. That gives you 2 west coast, 3 northeast, and 1 in the south as well as 3 courses that are “public access.”

    The other 4 years would backfill with 1 west coast, 1 northeast, and 2 in the south/midwest. That would help the USGA achieve their “growing the game” mission of exposing the masses to new, accessible venues (Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, etc) while also focusing on the “best” championship venues we have to offer.

    It’s great to see the legends of golf finishes their major championship careers at St Andrews and Augusta National. Likewise, it would be great if you knew that 2030 would be Tiger’s last trek down Pebble Beach or 2025 would be Phil’s last crack at the elusive Winged Foot.

  39. steve

    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Who cares which one is viewed more, unless you have some skin in the game. The Masters has a better time slot for lack of a better phrase. It is the first major and feels like the official/unofficial start to the golf season. Especially if you live in cold winters and cant play for awhile. Golf in general has a declining viewership, Tiger is the needle and as much as they tell you “golf is in a great place” or how these young guns are great for the game. It is almost like if they say it enough you will believe it. Tiger or Phil in the final group gets big ratings, these new guys are great players but are dry chicken and milk, boring. Think about it, does 80 year old grandma know who Jason Day is? Does she know who Tiger Woods is?

    • calsolarguy

      Mar 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      I think the larger point is access to the game has been hijacked by NBC / Golf Channel. A lot of folks complain about the cost of the game and reduced participation year after year. A broader viewership of the events would go far in broadening the appeal. Which would drive up TV viewership and attendance at golf courses. Tell me – Why does one have to spend $150+ per month for cable or satellite TV access just to get GolfChannel? Golf at large is clinging to old school business models (read as the cable industry’s super sizing the channel selection, most of which is crap – for more $$$ – and STILL inundate you with commercials) that many younger people will not opt-in for. And as a baby-boomer – I agree with them – having recently cut the cord and gone OTA HDTV with TiVo + Amazon Fire with SlingTV. Tell me why NBC / Golf Channel can’t provide a la carte access via TivoTV, or Amazon, AppleTV, etc.? Quite a few people I am sure would happily pay $3.99-5.99 / mo for “Golf Channel” access similar to the HBO access model via SlingTV. The USGA, PGA and cable / satellite TV need to wake up. Before too long – their viewership is going to dry up since many of the X-Gen, Y-Gen and millennials will not be tuning in. What would rather spend your $1600+ per year on? TV – or greens fees?

      • Keith

        Mar 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        In the long-term you’ll probably get that “a la carte” access over the interwebz, but you’re quibbling over peanuts. Regardless of where it’s shown, Thursday/Friday viewership is always gonna be microscopic compared to the weekends – when most tourneys are still on good ol’ OTA TV. Weekday golf telecasts will never have an impact on overall interest.

      • Rich Lerner

        Mar 29, 2016 at 7:44 pm

        Pre golf channel the PGA tour coverage was on basic cable and it is still on basic cable so I am not sure how the golf channel comes into play

        Also, most if not all golfchannel content is free online

    • Dave C

      Mar 29, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      Living in Massachusetts, this is dead on. Mod April is generally cold and raining during the Masters. My itch to play is at its absolute peak. In Jun-Aug, I’d much rather be outside playing than being glued to my TV.

      Masters multiple tv/streaming channels/hole views helps a lot, too.

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