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Help me clear my mind

18 SEP 2018

By Peter Mumford


A week with no PGA Tour event, especially in the midst of the playoffs, presents a rare opportunity to address some things that have been rattling around in my cranium periodically for a while now. You may know the feeling – some issue is nagging at the edges of your consciousness but not really developing into a full-blown thought. Eventually, it will all come together or maybe go away but until either happens, you’re left with this piece of unfinished business that can wake you up in the middle of the night or intrude at some other unwelcome moment.


Maybe your mind works more efficiently than that and you’re not burdened with solving these problems. Unfortunately, I am. Here are five issues I need to unload.


New Rules still too many


The new Rules of Golf, which will officially come into play on January 1, 2019, are shorter and definitely easier to read than the previous version and there are fewer rules than before. In fact, the Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf (which you can read HERE) even has pictures and diagrams in it to make explanations easy to understand. 

There are some good changes coming, like not penalizing players for accidentally moving their ball and addressing those situations that plagued Dustin Johnson and Lexi Thompson in recent majors. The procedures for taking relief, with or without penalty, are more consistently applied so that players can easily adapt them from one situation to another. 


Looking for a lost ball is reduced from five minutes to three, which I understand may speed up play but if you just whacked a new Pro V1 into the bush at $5 a pop, you’re going to find that sucker or an equivalent if it kills you.


The new book is 161 pages, which is about 2/3 of the old book, but still way too long in my opinion. I’m from the “hit the ball, go find it, and keep hitting it until it’s in the hole” school. You play it where you find it but if you want to touch it or you lose it, that’s a penalty. I get that the Rules of Golf must be exact to avoid any confusion or doubt about how to proceed but 161 pages? I’m thinking a couple of dozen should do it.


Of course, that thought will now consume me until I re-write the whole book to my satisfaction.


FedEx Cup playoffs still not right


There’s one event left in the playoffs and the PGA Tour has announced that the format still isn’t right so they’re going to change it again next year. Is it any wonder that golf fans are confused?


The new format reduces the playoffs from four events to three and in the Tour Championship, the points leader will start at -10 while the 30th player will be at even par. That’s crazy! Why not just give the leader the $10 million bonus and skip the event altogether?


The way to fix this is to make the playoffs like real playoffs – that is, losers go home. They don’t get to hang around based on some algorithm.


Start with 125 players and cut to 100 after 36 holes, then to 80 after 54 holes and then to 70 players that move on to the second event. If you want to reward the top finishers from the regular season, guarantee that they will make it to the second event but only if they play the first one. No skipping events!


In the second playoff event, everybody starts even. There would be cuts after 36, 54 and 72 holes again to pare the field down to 30.


The final would be the same: everybody starts even and cuts after 36 and 54 holes would leave 10 players with a chance to win it all on the last day. No algorithms, no points – just old-fashioned scoring.



Should winners get more?


This one began with an article I read recently that suggested that winners on the PGA Tour don’t get the recognition they deserve and winning ought to mean more. It’s a bit of a swipe at the all-exempt Tour and the chance to amass a fortune without ever tasting victory.


I can agree with most of that, but I have always bridled at the notion that players can make a very good living by consistently making cuts and adding a few Top 25 finishes. I’m OK if they cover expenses but nobody should get rich by losing.


The Tour needs more incentive to get players to take risks and go low every round. I want everybody scratching and clawing to get into the Top 10 every week where the real money is.


So, here’s my formula for the prize payout: Missing the cut is worth $0 as it is now. Players finishing from 11th position to 70th receive $5,000 to cover expenses. The rest of the $7 million purse is split amongst the Top 10, weighted very heavily to the Top 3. Each position has a significant bump up from the one below it to make sure everybody is scrambling to climb the leaderboard.


And one more thing. Let’s have more winners-only events.


What’s up with Atlanta?


As noted above, the FedEx Cup playoffs have just one more event at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Much has been written about the commendable restoration project at East Lake, both to the golf course and the local community, but in all the accolades, rarely do you hear anyone suggesting that East Lake is a great golf course.


It’s OK but definitely not great.


Let’s face it, the Tour Championship is in Atlanta because Coca Cola is headquartered there, and they sponsor the event.


The PGA Championship returned to St. Louis this year after a 26-year absence and the fan support was huge. Other large cities in the country such as Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Miami are all without regular PGA Tour events and all have great courses – some that have hosted multiple majors.


The PGA Tour could make the Tour Championship really special if it moved around the country. Almost like a major!


Who will win the Ryder Cup?


Next week, we’ll let the ClubLink pros give you their take on that question and more in our Ryder Cup Round Table but for this week, I’ll finish with a few thoughts on the shenanigans about to unfold at Le Golf National in France.


American captain Jim Furyk has just about the best squad ever assembled for a Ryder Cup and I fully expect them to lose.


Almost every significant stat points to a U.S. advantage. The American team has more experience, fewer rookies, longer hitters, and more majors.


The Europeans have a couple of questionable captain’s picks in Garcia and Stenson (both playing poorly of late) while Furyk’s Old Guy picks went to Woods and Mickelson, who are both on form. And both Americans have more career wins than the entire European team.


Poulter’s glare is a toss up with Patrick Reed’s Captain America shtick but Jordan can out-whine Garcia and McIlroy combined. And Bryson DeChambeau has everybody so confused with his science and calculations that they might as well just give him five points and let him enjoy some Paris nightlife.


And the advantages continue to pile up. Webb, Bryson, Tiger. How can you beat names like that with Paul and Tommy and Ian? OK maybe Thorbjorn and Henrik are cool but the Yanks counter with Bubba. Nobody tops a Bubba.


I could go on, but I think it’s pretty apparent why the Americans should win easily. Which is why I say they’ll lose. I’m never right on these things.


Thanks for helping me clear my mind. Now I can work on the Leaf’s Stanley Cup parade.


Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @FairwaysMag