By Eric Beaupre
Now that the Ryder Cup and most of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series has come and gone a familiar sentiment is crossing the golf fan community: “Well, that’s the golf year. Time to shut it down until the Masters.”
My question is why?
The Fall Series has brought plenty of high quality tour golf where lesser-seen players are competing for their livelihoods. Not only has it been compelling, it has given golf fans an opportunity to see, learn about and become a fan of lesser known players that get overshadowed by mainstream media coverage of Tiger, Phil and Rory. And there’s plenty of entertaining golf to watch between now and April.
First, there’s the conclusion to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai where the top names from the European Tour compete for big dog honours. Then there’s the Asian/Australian swing where big name players compete in a World Golf Championship in China and in big draw tournaments in Australia. Lastly, there are the silly season events that draw all the fan favourites. And this is all before Christmas!
The New Year brings the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with plenty of pre-tournament fun, great views of Hawaii and even better play. The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship always brings fireworks, which can only be matched by the noise of TPC Scottsdale during the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And let’s not forget the majesty of Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Doral that bring not only bring great golf but great golf courses that I would do just about anything to play, but I digress. I asked a question and I know that there are answers out there. It’s just that none of them make any sense to me.
Answer No. 1: “I want to watch the big names. I’m not interested in Joe Journeyman.”
If this is your argument, I’d argue that you’re not much of a golf fan. If you’re just watching the big names, how interested in golf are you? If you’re that interested in stars, I suggest TMZ. In addition, see my paragraphs above. There are loads of opportunities to see the big names play between during the fall, winter and early spring.
Answer No. 2: “It’s just a silly season where the big names make a ton of money for showing up.”
If this bothers you, pro golf should as well. These guys compete for millions of dollars week in and week out. Why is it that when money is assured you’re suddenly bothered? If you are bothered, are you also boycotting no-cut events (the WGCs, and the last two legs of the playoffs). In addition, most pro golfers make a solid chunk of change from endorsements. Does this offend you as well?
Now I know what some might say: it’s just for money and not for competition. First of all, there’s no way you get to tour level golf without being highly competitive. One needs to only look at Tiger’s win at The Chevron World Challenge last year or the Ryder Cup to see that it doesn’t take much to get a competition going.
Answer No. 3: “It’s all about the Majors, so I’m not watching golf until the Masters.”
Sigh. I can’t even begin to describe how annoying this has become to me. Bobby Jones won the “Impregnable Quadrilateral” in 1930. Then Arnold Palmer said something to the affect of “wouldn’t it be cool if we had our own version of a Grand Slam” to some dude on a plane in the 1960s and bam! You got major championships.
My point is that the majors are what they are because we say they are. Granted, they are generally great tournaments because they have good fields and are usually played on great courses, but there’s nothing that makes them intrinsically special or better than any other tournament. This is glaringly apparent in the loads of tournaments that also have good fields and are played on great courses. I could go on about this for days, but the fact is that the majors are just four great golf tournaments among many, some of which take place before the Masters. The Honda Classic has been a strong tournament of late and the Match Play is always great. Torrey Pines is no slouch, either.
Before I leave this point, and for those of you that say that it’s the tradition behind the majors that makes them special, not only is that illogical based on the fact that the tradition is based on something that occurred before Augusta National even existed, let’s remember what a tradition actually is, namely something you do on a regular basis and don’t know why.
Long story longer — there’s no good reason to shut it down until April. There are tons of good golf, great players, big names and big tournaments. Heck, there’s even the Big Break if you’re interested. Don’t shut it down for clichéd reasons. You’re a fan, so there’s plenty for you.