The odds are that golf may not enjoy the happiest of new years – well, at least so far as it goes for professional golf. (The game that really matters, of course, is the stuff that we play.) And so far as it goes on golf’s tours, the R&A and USGA have run into some serious blowback – inevitably so – as regards their efforts to rein in the distance the ball travels, something they would like to see implemented by 2028. Pretty much all the equipment manufacturers and the tour players they sponsor are against the idea. One particular tour player, Adam Scott, has a different idea. “The biggest fundamental change in the game since I’ve been a pro,” he told Golf Magic, “is traditionally the driver has been the hardest club to hit, and now it’s the most forgiving. And that’s the biggest evolutionary change in the golf bag to me.” So let us carry on using drivers with 460cc heads but make the pros use something smaller! Let’s see if that notion catches on.
And then there’s LIV. There is simply no way of getting away from LIV Golf...well, other than by restricting your golf viewing to the major TV outlets. And even then you will not have avoided LIV Golf if you have been watching the DP World Tour; five of the circuit’s final six tournaments of 2023 were won by LIV players. Their number now, of course, includes Jon Rahm, for a fee reported to be £240 million (The Times) or £450 million (Daily Telegraph). That’s quite a disparity, but then all LIV figures are quite divisive. Take Greg Norman, for example.
Although Norman is still in his post. How long the same goes for the hapless Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, is a moot point. In an interview just before Christmas, Viktor Hovland said he could understand why Rahm had defected. And it wasn’t only for the money. “The management of the PGA Tour has done such a bad job,” said the Norwegian. “I’m not complaining about the position I’m in, I’m very grateful, but the management has not done a good job. They almost see the players as labour, not as part of the members. After all, we are the PGA Tour. Without players, there is nothing.” When LIV first started making waves, Monahan refused to ‘demean’ himself by negotiating with them and constantly referred to it as the ‘Saudi Golf League’ which as an organisation was an ongoing insult to the bereaved families of the 9/11 attacks. If he stays in post in any LIV-related deal, he will very much be the junior partner.
Finally, an out-of-left-field prediction. If a deal does get done between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi backer of LIV Golf, you might find the Ryder Cup being played every year and one in three of the matches being played in Saudi Arabia, perhaps beginning after the centenary match in Ireland in 2027. Oh, and remember that long-ago floated suggestion that as the fourth of the four majors the USPGA Championship might sometimes be played outside the United States in order to enhance its allure? Maybe make a note about that one day enjoying itself in Jeddah, too.
Happy New Year!
You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com