How the new year will unfold remains unclear, but The First Call readers have a few opinions on what they would like to see. Plus, the proposed golf rollback continues to roil readers
Question of the week [December 18-31]: Looking into the crystal ball for 2024, what will be the best story?
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My read on the best story of 2024 will be the crash and burn of the proposed, yet not solidified PGA Tour/ PIF Fund marriage. The courting stage was interesting, but pressure from 12 to 15 top players — not to mention public opinion — will ultimately say the decision and shatter the money train. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will step down immediately following the announcement.
Both sides will end up in court for years to come. Tiger Woods will replace Monahan as chairman and provide a 60-day window for players to return from the LIV tour with the understanding that the players returning agree to donate 35% of their signing bonus to junior golf. This story will surpass Ludvig Aberg’s winning three times and being crowned rookie of the year and John Daly retiring from the Champions Tour to open a chain of driving ranges across the country in conjunction with Coke — appropriately called Grip It, Sip It and Rip It.
At least, that’s how I see it.
The Villages, Florida
A negotiated settlement and resolution between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund.
This is my PGA Tour crystal ball wish list for 2024:
— That PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be dismissed for having badly overstepped the bounds of his position.
— That the PGA Tour will respect all sponsors and not create inflated tournaments at the expense of longtime loyal sponsors.
— That any golfer going to LIV will be banned from the majors, plus all other PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments.
— That any contact with LIV be curtailed.
— That the winner of the Fed Ex Cup will be encouraged to deposit 75% of his winnings into a variety of charities where each charity spends at least 65% of its income on its mission statement.
Surrey, British Columbia
Jon Rahm returns to the PGA Tour.
St. Louis, Missouri
Actually, I have two.
First, being able to watch an entire PGA Tour season without having to watch Jon Rahm hit one shot. And second, hoping that one of the players on the PGA Tour Champions develops the intestinal fortitude to challenge Bernhard Langer on "unintentionally" anchoring his broom putter on every putt he hits.
Fort Myers, Florida
Tiger Woods winning a tournament, and hopefully it being a major.
Based on recent coverage of Tiger Woods and his son Charlie tying for fifth and getting 90% of the media coverage, my best story will be how far down can Woods finish and still suck the air out of an event?
Poughkeepsie, New York
Does anyone believe LIV Golf, with all of its financial prowess, could make a hostile takeover of the PGA Tour, the DP Tour and all other tours, and make them all just subsidiaries of LIV Golf? In other words, could LIV run the world of golf?
Lou Body IV
THE BIG FUSS OVER A LITTLE BALL
[QOTW, December 11-17: What are your thoughts on the decision by the USGA and R&A to roll back the golf ball?]
Cutting back the ball’s distance is clearly for the top 1% of players, mostly those who play competitively. Make tournament courses more challenging. Narrow the fairways. Grow the second cut higher. Deepen the bunkers. Place hazards where the 350-yard drivers could get in real trouble. Leave the other 99 percent of us alone to enjoy the game.
Most of the recently published readers' comments, complaining about the pending rollback of ball distance, struck me both as whiny and oblivious to comparable standards in virtually every other regulated professional sport in the world.
Tennis greats don't get to whip out their own specially juiced balls at the U.S. Open or Wimbledon when it's their serve. MLB pitchers and hitters all play with the same ball manufactured to one standard. And though the PSI of inflated World Cup, NFL or NBA balls may be tampered with from time to time, such tampering is against the rules and, theoretically, to be punished if discovered.
So why should professional or amateur golf be any different? All players contesting a major or even a $2 skins game at the local muni ought to play the same ball. If 'roided long hitters or puny short hitters among the pros can't be competitive with a standardized ball, they can retire to the TV booth or go sell insurance. Incensed amateurs can quit the game and instead take up pickle ball or stamp collecting.
In any case, all golfers should stop crying about a slightly less standard for balls as though it were the end of the world. It isn't.
The USGA/R&A are making a big mistake by shortening the golf ball. The PGA Tour, PGA of America and the millions of amateur golfers are opposed to this decision.
Promoting the game is paramount to the future of golf and a rollback will in no way promote the game. As a senior golfer who spent half of my life as an employee of Titleist, I will stock up on the current ball and have no interest in acquiring a shorter ball in the event that the industry is forced to manufacture a shorter ball.
In my older age, I have lost a lot of distance in driving — 280/270 to 220/210. When somebody tells me I may lose another 5 yards because the pros are hitting their drives too far and golf courses can’t accommodate making their courses longer, I have a hard time feeling sorry for the pros.
First of all, I can no longer hit a golf ball the pros use in competition. Second, I don’t use the pros tee area. I gave them up several years ago. So at this stage of my life and golf abilities I sometimes have to uses the most forward tees.
My thoughts are these:
— First, make more tee areas closer for the short hitters. Keep them in the game and make it little more enjoyable for them.
— Second, don’t play around with the golf balls that the pros will never play — the two- and three-layer golf balls. Leave them as they are today.
I am a 74-year-old male golfer and have played for 60 years. I feel I have lost more yardage in my drives and to lose 5 more yards doesn’t make me feel the game is treating me as an individual who would like to enjoy the game for another 20 years.
Bruce Wayne Grimes
Reno, Nevada / Waialua Hawaii
I'm not going to quit golf, but I am no longer going to pay annual USGA dues after 25-plus years of dutifully doing so.
The USGA's goal should be focused on growing the game. Clearly, this stodgy bunch of snobs do not have the best interest in mind of us recreational golfers. We who make up the vast majority of people paying ever escalating green fees wonder why it takes 4 1/2 to 5 hours to play 18 holes.
Remember when scientists claimed that a human being couldn't physically run a mile in under 4 minutes until Roger Bannister did it? Now high schoolers run under 4-minute miles.
So what if PGA Tour players can hit driver 350 to 400-plus yards, turn 500-yard holes into short 4s with driver and sand wedge, and shoot 61. Make the greens on those tournament courses much smaller and more firm, narrow the fairways, grow the rough, and plant more trees in strategic places.
If the USGA was actually protecting the future of the game, then it would be working to find ways to make courses more affordable and speeding up play for the ones who pay obscene amounts for the latest drivers, and stop worrying about the obsolescence of those few old, exclusive, expensive, historic country clubs that none of us will ever get to play.
The Villages, Florida
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