The First Call Inbox

The state of golf is ...

The First Call readers share their views on what's good, bad and somewhat ugly about the sport they are passionate about

Question of the week [March 11-17]: How would you describe the state of golf today?
RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

— — — — — — —

Bifurcation is the word I would use to describe the game of golf in 2024. While there is much more to golf than the men’s professional game, we look to the top of the food chain for direction regarding the state of the golf as we know it. In this case, the split in the men’s professional game is symbolic that all is not well. None of the cast of characters is blameless or without fault regarding the bifurcation that currently exists between the PGA Tour & LIV Golf.

In short it’s a negative story that that hurts our game and casts a dark cloud over our great sport. When one looks beyond the men’s professional game, things appear much brighter with strong participation and healthy interest in the game. I am truly uncertain how this will all play out and will not wager to guess. The game itself remains unique and special, and that is a good thing. So hopefully that will lead us to brighter days in the years ahead. Let’s hope for the best.

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

Since LIV Golf's intro and the PGA Tour sellout, I'd say the game is at a never before new low. A once heralded, honorable sport has been exposed as a money grab, exemplary of Faustian morality. I hope sponsors leave in droves. 

Rich Gray
Aptos, California 

Golf is fine. It's the entities who feel that it's their job to protect golf that are screwed up. The governing bodies of golf have zero clue about how the masses look at the game of golf. Oh, they have an idea about how it's viewed on TV. They have metrics for how people see it in person via ticket sales. But they have no idea how it's felt in the hearts of the millions who play every day.

The ruling bodies cater to the professional game because, for them, that's where the game is best with best equating to most money. The disconnect comes from the fact that millions of people spend billions of dollars regardless of what pros play, how they're governed or what they think about the average golfer's game, and the ruling bodies overlook this.

No amateur golfer thinks the ball goes too far. No amateur golfer thinks the clubs are too good. No amateur golfer is getting paid millions to play the game they love. Perhaps the ruling bodies should take that into consideration when making rules for a miniscule percentage of golfers.

Rob King
Savannah, Georgia

I think the game of golf you and I play is in a great state. A little expensive in places and now crowded in many places, but overall great. The high level amateur and college game appears great, as well. More national exposure, better courses and better competition. 

The pro game has a big perception problem — greed and money. I’ll watch who’s playing, but haven’t watched a LIV Golf tournament yet. They have about four players I’d like to see and maybe one day I will again. But I think we are headed to a 50-60 player world tour with about eight to 10 tournaments, jointly owned by the PGA Tour, PIF and the DP World Tour. That’s where the best of all tours will play, and everyone in those tournaments will play on their respective tour to fill out their preferred schedule around the world tour events. And the majors proceed with their special invitations and qualifying for those majors will be tweaked to include more worldwide players, including LIV. 

Barry Duckworth
Knoxville, Tennessee

For me as an amateur golfer, golf is great today. I play on extremely well-taken care of courses and my friends and I enjoy the true essence of what golf was meant to be.

Professional golf, on the other hand, is pretty screwed up. Thank you, Jay Monahan or Greg Norman.

John Brewton
Johns Island, South Carolina

The state of golf has never been better. Public golf appears to still be growing — with thanks to Tiger Woods and those he inspired. College and amateur golf, junior golf, female participation, putting courses, Topgolf ... all are good and growing, as well.   

Despite a few older tour stars moving to LIV, I’ve found the PGA Tour intriguing with an amateur win, rookies tested and stars struggling to find past magic. I don’t miss those that sold out since LIV Golf players who matter have already earned major status or will earn invites to the majors — OWGR rankings or not.

Golf instruction is creating more proficiency sooner, such that players are crushing more home runs or throwing darts or wowing with short games — all while having fun with friends, getting healthy away from smart phones, and learning great life lessons whether they know it or not.

Friendly wagering — with some occasional trash talk — is the best, although I’m no fan of the organized gambling we’re seeing lately. I’ll choose to ignore it as best I can.

Golf combines power, finesse, strategy and drama that any size, age or gender can enjoy for a lifetime. Golf is the best game ever. No wonder the state of golf is good.

Gary Stauffenberg
Phoenix, Arizona

Fractured: The schism between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.

Bifurcated: The PGA Tour has designated events with high-stake payouts and fields filled with big name players. Then, there are the other PGA Tour events replete with indistinguishable members and lower purses. 

Broken: The bonds of trust between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and a significant number of the Tour’s members.

Steve Rosenbaum, Sr.
Oak Lawn, Illinois

To answer that question, we need to define the industry. There are three distinctive categories to golf:
1, Professional golf
2, Amateur golf, competitive
3, Recreational golf

Professional golf has issues with divisive tours, player distance from fans, golf ball rollback fiasco, etc.

Competitive amateur golf is in a great place, however, although I have have not heard of impacts, I am concerned the NIL and unionization poses great risks to this category.

Recreational golf has never been better. The quality and availability of instruction has substantially improved; course access and availability is on an upward trend, and Topgolf and other venues add more entertainment to the category. Plus there has been diverse participation improvement.

Rod Liddle
Boca Raton, Florida

Generally speaking, the current rising cost for green fees all over the country is out of control. It’s getting to the point that young golfers and senior golfers on limited income can barely afford to play more than a couple times a month.

A few courses have adjusted rates for these groups, but more should follow the trend so that golf can remain the great game that it is.

Not sure what the answer is.

Rudy Lucero
Colorado Springs, Colorado 

The state of golf among people who play golf recreationally is in great shape. More people, women in particular, are embracing the game more than ever. 

The state of golf with regard to professional tours is a mess. The PGA Tour, long the holy grail of tournament golf, is reeling from defections to LIV Golf, the need to increase purses to compete and the murky stories of a merger between the two tours — now complicated by the entrance of a private equity investment ... or not? 

Regardless, LIV picked off Jon Rahm for gazillions. 

The average fan is wilting under the constant barrage of competing interests and slowly, but surely, losing interest in the whole thing, waiting patiently for the majors — which is the only thing with any meaning left. 

Meanwhile, the USGA is rolling back the ball for everyone, despite the professional tours' opposition, leaving the general public to state "We don’t need this change." What about them? 

Follow the money. 

Jim Doyle 
Tampa, Florida

I’d say pro golf is now a mess, largely, if not solely, due to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. His petulant stand regarding LIV Golf was foolish and reckless. Every Fortune 500 company does business with Saudi Arabia. The U.S. government does also. Why is professional golf the only entity questioned about this? 

Monahan never returned Norman’s calls. They could have worked out an amicable, business relationship. How Monahan still has a job is stunning.

The mega-purses each week detract from emphasis on actually winning. A pro can finish as low as 30th and still cash a check for over six figures. 

Announcers and Golf Channel need to wean themselves off their Tiger Woods idolatry. They’ve countenanced his boorish behavior for decades, overlooking his contempt for fans and rules. Now that he’s become a sideshow similar to John Daly, it’s time to focus on real contenders.

Separately, how about no more stories on his son who barely broke 90? Let him be a teenager.

Vinny Mooney
Poughkeepsie, New York

Golf costs today are getting out of control. Everything from tee times to equipment. As popularity has grown, so have costs.

Joe Aucoin
Marlboro, Massachusetts

I would best describe professional golf today as being in a state of flux. With the obvious division created by the PGA Tour-LIV Golf rivalry, there is confusion in the ranks. To further complicate things is the PGA Tour itself, with questions surrounding the new funding deal. And with the secrecy surrounding the Saudi deal, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is ducking more questions than he is answering. 

Sitting here this week in Ponte Vedra for the Players Championship, there are only 85 of the top 100 competing for $25 million. Monahan is speaking, but not saying anything of substance. Looking around, the caddies are more recognizable than the players. Sad. 

Will things work themselves out? Not without considerable changes, which include Monahan’s departure, Greg Norman’s backpedaling and a merger between both Tours. Perhaps this can be accomplished by naming one Eldridge Tiger Woods to the position of grand poobah.
Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

The First Call invites reader comment. Write to editor Stuart Hall at Your name and city of residence is necessary to be considered for publication. If your comment is selected for publication, The First Call will contact you to verify the authenticity of the email and confirm your identity. We will not publish your email address. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity.