Is The PGA Tour Relevant?
I haven't gone out on a limb with a controversial topic in some time, so I thought I would toss this one out for all of you to discuss for a few days. I've watched professional golf since way back in the 1960s, when the tournament telecasts were only a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday. That has evolved to where we can watch PGA Tour players ply their craft nearly non-stop in some place or another.

But I keep seeing signs that the PGA Tour is really not that good for the game, if you look at it certain ways. I also think a good argument can be made that the game the pros play is so different than the one we play that it is completely irrelevant to our own golf. I'm going to make both of these cases here, and you tell me if I'm off base or not.

First, is the PGA Tour good or bad for the game as a whole? My contention is that it does more harm than good, at least from a couple of perspectives. Hear me out.

First of all, the much-talked-about pace of play problem can be directly related to the "standard" these guys on TV set for us. Endlessly stalking putts from multiple angles, taking forever to choose a club, play a shot, etc. PGA Tour two-somes, with caddies, typically take well over four hours ... sometimes nearly five ... to play 18 holes, and that pace has crept into courses everywhere. When I was in my 20s, we generally played a pretty good "money game" — of fivesomes usually — and played 27 holes as our "standard", in less than five hours, with a break after 18 to figure bets over a beer. What happened?

Secondly, the prodigious distances these guys hit the ball are so misleading to all of us, but especially the youth coming into the game. They were hitting 7- and 8-irons to a par five last week at Bay Hill, for Pete's sake. When was the last time you did that? What can you really learn about your own game watching a bunch of 20-something prime physical athletes, with lab-tuned equipment, hit the ball the distances they do? We don't have their technology or their strength ... and never will! It might be entertaining, but it's not relevant to the way you play the game ... no more than NASCAR is to the way you drive.

So here's where I see the negative impact on the future of the game. These guys are setting the bar so high in the way of distance, it can make the average recreational player throw up their hands and ask "Why even try?" And it manifests mostly in the youth coming into the game. While there are a lot of very talented junior players out there, most of the kids are so focused on trying to hit it far, that they never learn how to play and score. Listen up, kids, a six-iron isn't supposed to go 175-190 yards!!!!!!!!

What I see locally are a bunch of kids that only want to hit it hard. Most can blow it by me 40 yards off the tee and 20 yards with any iron ... but they can't break 90, or even a hundred!!!! I watch high school scores and they are atrocious for the most part. The team that can shoot under 320 is rarer than those that post over 360. What's a kid doing on a high school team if he or she can't break 90 ... or even a hundred??!! Those kids are not going to be golfers for life if they can't learn how to score when they are in their teens.

I'm just sayin'...
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[ comments ]
Noel Bomar says:
Terry, I agree that to the recreational golfer the pace of play, distance players are hitting clubs, the time taken between shot decisions and their physical condition are all quite different from the game we play...just as it is with recreational tennis, bowling or any other sport. That is why the play professionally and we play for the shear pleasure of the game. Most of us who play on weekends at the local course and play in the occasional non-sanctioned tournament are never going to achieve the proficiency of the pros. As for relevance to the recreational game there is no comparison, however I will state that there is some benefit to the recreational golfer in watching what the pros do in the way of bunker play, club selection in bad lies (i.e. "the rough") and other similar aspects of the game. I will also state that the quality of courses the pros play vs recreational golfers differs greatly. All in all I think that the PGA Tour is relevant to even the recreational golfer, in the right context.
greggmazz says:
The PGA Tour would be a lot better for the game if we could bet legally on the tour each week. Give a duffer at home a stake in the game and watch the ratings rise - Tiger or no Tiger.

Not quite on topic, Terry, but a point nonetheless.
ally1957 says:
We can bet on the game and it proberbly doesn't make any difference to TV ratings.
PGA Tour golf is about the same as the world cup is to saturday afternoon kick about on the local pitch. I would say that the reason most people play sport is because what the see on the TV or live is what they aspire to be for that perfect home run the bicycle kick over the head in to the top left hand corner of the net,(or right hand corner) the chase down the field for the touchdown, the hole in one or a round of par or less. All of which infront of a large supportive crowd. most of us know it ain't going to happen. BUT... maybe this sunday....
footsz says:
I agree with you, but that is not the only problem. The rules of golf are so complicated no body can understand how to do what. The average golfer does not have the luxury of a PGA official walking with them to make rulings.
The other problem as I see it is the cost of golf. Who in the world can afford the cost of clubs anymore. Be realistic, $500 dollars for a driver. That is stupid.
Terryn10 says:
The PGA tour has no relevance to real golf (the golf you and I play). They should have 2 hours to play the front nine. If they aren't done in 2 hours add 2 strokes to their score. Pretty soon the players would get the slow one moving. If the back 9 takes longer than 2 hours, penalize them again. If there are too many players on the course for this speed, cut the size of the fields. This week there are several playing that have no business being on the course David Duvall for one. When is the last time he broke par?
Wise Neil says:
I don't really understand the point as to the relevance of the the PGA tour or any other tour come to that. The guys you see on the TV are golf's elite. These guys over the years have always been super human. For instance Jack Nicklaus and his 1 iron or what Gary Player could do out of the sand. Seve from just about anywhere on or off the course. Kids are going to copy their heroes the same as they always have. Right now the long game is the attraction for the kids but the short game will progress as the cream rises to the top.
I agree with the comments about slow play but putting has always been slow on what ever event you're watching.
Hari Soebagio says:
The phenomenon of having people trying to hit far and all is true. Just yesterday, I was playing with a new friend of mine at a local golf course. At a par-3 167 meters (182 yards) long, he was using a 6-iron. I questioned his club choice and he said that is the length he usually hits with his 6-iron. But he shanked it. What I think is going on is that people are used to gauge their overall capabilities based on a once or twice fluke strike which goes really long. BUT is this really because of PGA Tour people bombing the balls far and all? I think it's more about the advertisements by the major brands coming up with all new types of clubs every year saying that it goes longer, bla bla bla.

I face slow play flights as well from time to time. But this is because they are playing the money game all too seriously. "Too much money game, Less golf" as I see it.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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