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Opinion & Analysis

How to liven up pro golf



Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the PGA Tour is in the process of being handed quite an opportunity to grow by rival sports and their leagues. It might sound crazy, with the NFL dominating our Sundays and making the PODS championship, or whatever it is called next year, a distant second on even an avid golfer’s list of priorities. But I believe this to be the case. The tide might be ready to turn again, and the sports we choose to watch could be ready for another momentum shift.

Crazy right? Four major sports have dominated television ratings for a while now — the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, with golf hoping to sneak in during majors or whenever Tiger Woods is playing. But these things tend to be a bit more fickle then we give them credit for. The NFL has ruled the last 15 years, led by shorter seasons than most, neatly bunched games on Sundays, parity keeping every fan base interested and fantasy football drawing even people who didn’t play football into watching it. But this wasn’t always the case.

Before free agency kicked in and fans in places other then Dallas or New York had reasons to watch games, the late 80’s and early-to-mid 90’s saw many people praising basketball as “America’s new game.” It was a time where Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s battles captivated Americans, where Michael Jordan’s struggles against the Piston’s Bad Boys and his eventual championship three-peat (capped off with a win against the outspoken media darling Charles Barkley) brought the NBA to being arguably the hottest sport in the U.S. Before that, it was pretty much standard practice to call Major League baseball “the national pastime.” But drawn-out, boring games in the Internet age and the decrease in American stars shifted it to the back burner.

Football will soon have issues to deal with. Player health and safety concerns could cause some problems, either legally or by cutting out the natural funnel of talent as children stop playing it (this is more realistic than you think right now). Pro hockey is mired in a lockout that no one seems to care about. Major League Baseball is still limping along as it has the last 10-to-15 years — still pretty boring to watch for the casual fan. Think about it, I’m guessing your girlfriend would rather watch golf with you than baseball, right? And the NBA? Well, the NBA is actually in a pretty great spot.

What about golf? It’s a sport that is safe to play and becoming more and more affordable every year, as courses fight for our dollars in a struggling economy. Can golf capitalize on some of its young stars in conjunction with the struggles of other sports? I believe it can, but it starts at the top.

The PGA Tour needs to become more compelling. It needs to make people want to watch and want to play, because there are a lot of fans out there waiting to be wooed. And with the young talent on Tour right now, it doesn’t seems crazy to implement some fresh ideas. Here are a few things that could give golf a boost:

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

All-Star Weekend

The most puzzling thing to me about the PGA Tour is the lack of an all-star weekend. How on earth has this one been missed? I mean, does Tim Finchem not watch any other sports on TV? Not only should the PGA Tour have an all-star weekend — I’m convinced it could be the BEST all-star weekend of any sport. Between the Masters and the Open Championship, there are some great tournaments – the RBC Heritage, the Wells Fargo Championship, The Players Championship and The Memorial. But other tournaments, such as the Zurich Classic, HP Byron Nelson Classic, Crowne Plaza Invitational and the FedEx St. Jude Classic don’t pack much of a punch. You’re telling me those sponsor wouldn’t rather be a part of something as cool as a PGA Tour All-Star Weekend.

Fans would go nuts to see Bubba Watson face off against J.B. holmes in a long drive content. And Phil Mickelson in a flop wall contest or Luke Donald in a skills competition? That’s must-see TV.

You are probably thinking that a lot of pros wouldn’t show up, but I beg to differ. There’s nothing the pros like more then easy money. The purse this year at The Greenbrier Classic was $6 million, which is why the second-tier PGA Tour event attracted golf’s two biggest names, Tiger and Phil. That proves that when big money is on the table, the pros take notice.

As far as actual golf, I’m thinking 27 holes with 9 on Saturday afternoon and 18 on Sunday. You could use a modified Stableford format that greatly increases points for birdies and eagles. You think these guys are good? You would surely see that watching them flag hunt for 27 straight holes. I’m convinced this would do as well in the ratings as anything other than the majors. Plus, it would help grow the game.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

Country club-style tournaments

Another thing I don’t really get about the PGA Tour is the lack of diversity in its tournaments. Fans scream and scream for match play for example, and that seems to get shot down because the sponsors want some assurance that the television cameras can show Tiger on Sunday. I get it; I mean, I guess I do. But does that really mean we have to watch 30 tournaments every year using the exact same format?

With the increasing trend of seeing pros line their schedule with WGC’s, the Majors, the Middle East tournaments, The Players and the FedExCup (that’s half your schedule or more right there), there seems to be a real struggle from some of the lesser-known tournaments to attract sponsors and draw a field. Maybe they could get a bit creative you know? Country clubs all over the world have several different formats for tournaments that get members excited. Why couldn’t these work on the PGA Tour? Why couldn’t there be a team best ball event early in the season, like at Kapalua for example? Four rounds playing with a partner would be a good way to work on the game early in the year with less pressure, plus it would offer something different for fans to watch.

But to me, the biggest head scratcher of all is the lack of a “big money” Vegas tournament. HOW ON EARTH DOES THIS NOT EXIST? Every single club in America has a big money Vegas, and it’s usually one of the most fun weekends during the entire year. You couldn’t replace a tournament with this? There are 15 tournaments before the Masters! 15! If you are a fan, would you rather watch the Tampa Bay Championship or a three player team Vegas event? Maybe make 20 teams of three, one player ranked between Nos. 1 through 20, another from Nos. 20 through 40 and another from Nos. 40 through 60. You know, something like that. Have it be a two-day event with the pro-am Friday and throw a big purse at it. Cha-ching!

Again, I think there would be a good turnout since the field would be limited and there would be a greater chance to earn a bigger paycheck. Plus, it would be really great to watch and analyze. You know how golfers at country clubs spend hours analyzing the teams in the bar with everyone else, talking trash? You’re telling me a big-money team event wouldn’t lead off Morning Drive every day for a week and spawn countless threads about which team meshes together the best?

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

Fix the FedExCup

OK it’s been a few years now, and I’m yet to be convinced that the FedExCup is actually a playoff. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big supporter of the FedExCup and think it has a lot of potential. But it was pretty obvious the format was screwed since Jump Street. With Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh winning early on so convincingly, the Tour Championship became irrelevant. The reaction from the Tour was more predictable then the ending to a Night Shyamalan movie (No, I don’t mean that it’s a trick, I mean that it’s going to be bad). To combat the lack of volatility of the earlier years, the PGA Tour made the FedEx cup so volatile that it basically was reduced to being won by whoever won the Tour Championship. Congratulations Brant Snedeker and Bill Haas. It kind of takes some of the credibility away from the whole “Season-Long playoff event,” doesn’t it?

I understand the Tour has a problem in that they don’t want the thing over before East Lake, and they also want a way of guaranteeing they can show some Tiger and Rory on the weekend (so long pure match play), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better ways to do this.

Here is my suggestion — Have the Tour Championship come down to an eight-person match play on Saturday and Sunday. To guarantee that there will be some big names, break it down is as follows:

Top-4 point getters from the regular season are automatically given byes to the weekend at East Lake as the top 4 seeds. This guarantees that the regular season, you know, counts for something and also that guys like Tiger, Rory and Phil could earn their way in without having to perform well only in the Playoffs. They would have the option of playing in The Playoffs to warm-up or just to pick up a check, but their spot is guaranteed at East Lake.

The winners of each playoff event are also given a bye into the match play portion at East Lake (Barclays winner gets the  No. 7 seed, Deutsche Bank winner gets the No. 6 seed, etc). If one of the already exempt players wins a playoff event, then no one gets the spot and it gets delayed until the Thursday-Friday portion of the Tour Championship.

On that Thursday-Friday, the remaining spot or spots for the Match Play segment are decided by a play-in tournament that rewards the highest cumulative FedExCup points score of any non-exempt player in the playoffs. It would be points in the first three events, as well as the Thursday and Friday stroke play at East Lake combined. And there you have it, a mix of big names and hot players, dueling it out in match play on the weekend at East Lake. Try and tell me that wouldn’t be more compelling than what we currently have, and that sponsors could legitimately complain about it. You can’t convince me that would happen.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

Scrap and replace the Presidents Cup

I am Canadian, so the Presidents Cup is supposed to be relevant for me. But I can pretty much tell you that it isn’t. I attended the Match Play portion of the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal about 10 minutes from where I live in 2007. I watched Mike Weir defeat Tiger and watched the fans go nuts for that. But the fans didn’t care who won the actual event.

It was cool to watch golf, and fans overall showed a bit more preference to the international squad, but I think that it boils down to it being more of a fun jab at our neighbors to the south more thn anything, who we trade barbs with on occasion. But no one was hurt when the Internationals lost. I don’t think anyone playing or watching REALLY cares about the Presidents Cup, so why not replace it with someone genuinely interesting? Here is my suggestion:

There’s too much history and too much sports rivalry involved between Europe and the U.S. for the Presidents Cup to rival the Ryder Cup, so don’t try and compete with it. Change the format to something a little more fun.

Why not have the top-2 ranked players in the world get selected as captains and have them each draft a 12-man squad. No rules or country alliances, just straight drafting. Anyone is eligible anywhere in the world. Captains would pick teams, come up with a team name and then they would play against each other in the same manner as the Presidents Cup format. As with the Vegas tournament I proposed, how much fun would this be to analyze? How much discussion would spawn over why Rory picked this guy or that guy? You wouldn’t want to watch this more then the boring Presidents Cup? And of course, as with the other suggestions, forget the history or honor associated with playing in the event. Sell out to corporate sponsors and offer $5 million to the winning team. I’m pretty sure that will keep the competition fierce.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008



  1. Nathan W

    Jan 2, 2013 at 10:49 am

    How about a tournament or Fedex Cup tiered along the lines of the world cup. You have groups of players playing against each other to get out of their groups. You could do it match play or stroke play. So you could actually play better than someone, but because of the group strengh you could get left behind. Base this on pre tournament rankings. It also allows for cinderella’s.

  2. Jon

    Dec 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Great stuff. I like your ideas. I have always thought the Tour Championship should be like the US Amateur event.

  3. Ty

    Dec 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Personally, I think the whole “Sportstainment” concept that ESPN so blatantly pushes on its audience to be disgusting. I think real fans enjoy sports for the beauty of the game itself. We do not enjoy having our sports reduced down to a collection of highlight reels with sophomoric commentary.

    NFL games now last over 3 hours because of all the stoppages for advertising etc.

    Golf would do well to avoid as much of this “entertainment production” formula as possible. Its already embarrassing how much they show Tiger on TV at the expense of other players who are actually in contention for the tournament.

    People like to watch golf because they play golf and like to see it at the highest level. Golf also has great history and traditions which will suffer if major structural changes are made to the way the season quantifies champions.

  4. Pingback: – How to liven up pro golf | Golf Products Reviews

  5. pablo

    Dec 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Good ideas – I like them all!

  6. patrick

    Dec 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    You have some great ideas! That all star weekend end and the president cup replacement reminds me of the nhl all-star weekend. I live in montreal to just down the street from Royal. When the presidents cup came, i watched Wier and Tiger but couldn’t care less who won team wise. I would love to see some of your ideas come into effect. That would be awesome!!

  7. sean_miller

    Dec 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    The President’s Cup is boring because 1.) there’s no one team feel for the International side and 2.) the outcome is basically a foregone conclusion. Make it co-ed and the internationals would have a much better chance.

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Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview With 36 Golf Co.



Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email for consideration. This interview is with Jay Vogler of 36 Golf Co (Pictured above caddying for business partner Chevy Mayne).

Talk to me about 36 Golf Co. What are you guys all about?

We’re all about getting people out to the course, having fun and not taking golf too seriously. We’re trying to create a brand for people who love the game, but aren’t necessarily trying to turn pro. The whole idea started when I was walking through a hockey shop and saw all these hockey lifestyle brands and I was like, “Why doesn’t this exist in golf?” We’re mainly targeting the 18-35 crowd; folks that kind of have a laid-back approach. We think it doesn’t matter if you wear cargo shorts and a T-shirt as long as you’re respecting the game and taking care of the course. It’s more important to replace your divots, repair your ball marks and keep up with the pace of play than it is to wear a collared shirt.

There are a lot of people launching brands in the soft goods world these days (clothing, towels, head covers, etc.). As a result, that world can be a little crowded. What makes 36 Golf Co. different from everyone else out there?

Our corner of the market, if you will, is trying to create a community of people who see the game the same way we do. We want to see the game grow, especially among the millennial age group. We think participation is lacking in that demographic, and we want to play a part in making the game a little more accessible for them. We want people to connect over our attitude toward golf. If you see a guy walking down the street wearing a 36 hat, we want you to think he’s approachable and he’s down to hang out and talk about golf and life without being pretentious. We’re out there to lower some of the barriers to entering the game.

Since I know you’re all about growing the game, what do you think it needs? What do you think is the biggest “problem” with golf that’s keeping people away from playing it or trying it?

I think perception is probably the biggest thing honestly. I picked up the game five years ago when I was 22 and I came from skateboarding and snowboarding. When I got into the game, a lot of people make a weird face and were like, “You play golf?!” It’s totally a perception thing, but once you get past that, it’s just such a fun game. From the first time I flushed a 7-iron at a driving range, I was hooked, but a lot of people don’t even get that far. We’re just trying to lower the barriers to the game and put a community out there.

36 Golf Co. “The Looper” Meshback Hat

If you could change one thing about the game of golf, what would you change? It doesn’t have to be something in the USGA rule book necessarily.

Obviously, I would get rid of dress codes. That’s my big bugaboo with the game. If I was just going about my daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing pants and a collared shirt and I think a lot of people would be in that same boat. If we let people come as they are, I bet participation would go way up. Appearance, respectfully, only matters so much. You can wear a collared shirt and still be a jerk and not repair your ball marks.

When you got the idea to start this company, how did you actually go about making that happen? Did you just google shirt suppliers or something? What was that process like?

Yeah, I pretty much spent the first month on Google looking for suppliers. I have a design background, so we did the design and the website ourselves, so that was good. Finding the right suppliers who were willing to work with us and had quality stuff was difficult.

What’s the biggest road block you’ve experienced with 36 Golf Co.? Launching it, marketing it, logistics, billing, whatever…

Starting a business in general was just…so much to take in. It’s overwhelming. Accounting, problems with suppliers… but if you don’t just start it then you’ll never know. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s not that any one thing was so difficult. It was just the amount of things that come your way.

36 Golf Co “The Sniper” Snap Back Hat and “Fleck” T Shirt

What are you most optimistic about with 36 Golf Co? What’s got you excited these days?

We just went to a show this past weekend in Toronto, and we just met a lot of people who really seemed to get what we were about and were excited to be a part of it themselves. That’s what gets you excited; when people really understand your vibe and want to be a part of that community and rep your brand for no other reason than it resonates with them. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s play a game. Imagine golf was like baseball and you got to pick a “walk-up song” when you got to the first tee. What song are you going with?

Haha. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jurassic 5 lately, so we’ll go with “What’s Golden.” I feel like that’d be a pretty good hype song.

If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which one would it be? It has to be a course you have played before or have access to, though. Don’t just say Augusta.

There’s a little course called Bathurst Glen just north of Toronto. I used to work there, but it kicks my butt every time I go. It’s a friendly spot, which I enjoy. I struggle playing really nice golf courses. They kind of stress me out.

Chevy Mayne of 36 Golf Co. in the “OG” T Shirt and “Frost Delay” Snapback Hat

It’s kind of old news, but I’ll ask the following since it’s right up your alley. What was your take on the LPGA dress code announcement last year?

Oh man. I was like, “What the hell are you thinking?” You know, when they said that I was showing it to my girlfriend who’s a non-golfer and she was like, “I don’t understand what the problem is.” It’s not like they’re wearing thongs or something. Obviously, I think that golf needs to be tailored to welcome people into the game, and I think that sent the wrong message.

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Let us know what’s coming from 36 Golf Co.

We have limited resourced with just two people, but we have tons of plans. Our main products right now are our hats, which are mainly modern styles. You know, snapbacks and flat brims. We also have T-shirts and quarter zips available. All of that is on our website at We will be getting some golf shirts in soon, which we are calling our “collared T-shirt” this spring, so that’s going to be the most exciting launch for us in the near future. Follow us on Instagram @thirty6ix_golf_co and on twitter @Thirty6ix_golf to keep up with our brand and join our community.

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Opinion & Analysis

How valuable is hitting the fairway, really?



Hitting more than 50 percent of fairways has long been considered a good goal for amateur golfers. The winners on the PGA Tour tend to hit 70 percent. I have long maintained, however, that it is not the number of fairways HIT that matters. Instead, it is the relative severity of fairways MISSED.

Think about it. By the one-dimensional Fairways Hit stat, every miss is the same. A perfect lie in the first cut is exactly the same as a drive in a hazard… or even OB. There is nothing in the 650+ PGA Tour stats about this. In all, there are 60 stats in seven categories that relate to driving performance, but none about penalties! Like PGA Tour players don’t make any?

Let’s see exactly how important the old tried-and-true Driving Accuracy (Percentage of Fairways Hit) really is. To test it, I used two data clusters: the 2017 PGA Tour season (14,845 ShotLink rounds) and my database for the average male golfer (15 to 19 handicappers – 4,027 rounds).

For the graph below, I started with the No. 1-ranked player in the Driving Accuracy category: Ryan Armour. He certainly was accurate by this measure, but why did he only rank 100th in 2017 Strokes Gained Off the Tee with a barely positive 0.020?

Next I looked at the actual top-5 PGA Tour money winners (J. Thomas, J Spieth, D. Johnson, H. Matsuyama and J. Rohm), the 2017 PGA Tour average, and all PGA Tour players that missed the cut in 2017. We all know the significant scoring differences between these three categories of players, but it’s difficult to see a meaningful difference in the fairways hit. They’re not even separated by half a fairway. How important could this stat be?

For those that have not tried, our analysis includes Strokes Gained and Relative Handicap comparisons. That enables users to easily differentiate between FIVE MISS categories below based upon severity. The final three categories are what we consider to be Driving Errors:

  1. Good lie/Opportunity: One can easily accomplish their next goal of a GIR or advancement on a par-5.
  2. Poor Lie/Opportunity: One could accomplish the next goal, but it will require a very good shot.
  3. No Shot: Requires an advancement to return to normal play.
  4. Penalty-1: Penalty with a drop.
  5. OB/Lost: Stroke and distance penalty, or shot replayed with a stroke penalty.

As we are fortunate enough to work with several PGA Tour players at Shot by Shot, we have access to ShotLink data and can provide those clients with the same valuable insight.

Let’s see how the frequency and severity of driving errors relates to the above groups of players (removing Mr. Armour, as he simply helped us prove the irrelevance of Driving Accuracy). The graphs below display the number of Driving Errors per round and the Average Cost Per Error. Note the strong and consistent correlation between the number and the cost of errors at each of the four levels of performance.

Finally, the average cost of the errors is heavily driven by the three degrees of severity outlined above (No Shot, Penalty, OB/Lost). The graph below compares the relative number and cost of the three types of errors for the average golfer and PGA Tour players. The major difference is that PGA Tour players do not seem to have a proper share of OB/Lost penalties. I found only TWO in the 14,000+ ShotLink rounds. While I accept that the most severe faux pas are significantly less frequent on the PGA Tour, I also believe there must have been more than two.

Why so few? First and foremost, PGA Tour players REALLY ARE good. Next, the galleries stop a lot of the wayward shots. And finally, I believe that many of the ShotLink volunteer data collectors may not actually know or care about the difference between a Penalty and OB/Lost.

Author’s Note: If you want to know your Strokes Gained Off the Tee (Driving) and exactly how important your fairways and the misses are, log onto for a 1-Round FREE Trial.

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Opinion & Analysis

Yo GolfWRX: “Are you betting on Tiger Woods to win the Masters?” (Bonus: A March Madness-inspired shot attempt)



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss a variety of topics including Tiger Woods being the favorite at The Masters. Also, a Fujikura Pro 2.0 shaft unboxing, Knudson paints the new TG2 studio, and Tursky tries to go viral during March Madness season.

Enjoy the video below!

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19th Hole