Just Call Me “A Change Agent”

As golf fans suffer through the muddle of another undefined transition from the end of one season to the beginning of another I find myself amused reading articles offering all the myriad ways to “improve the product”. These “innovative” ideas apply to events across the spectrum from moving a major to integrating a marginal PGA TOUR stop. While some of these ideas are mildly thought-provoking NONE are imaginative or moderately interesting.

Golf pundits, decision makers and experts wring their hands and gnash their teeth trying to “think outside the box” then come up with conjure up ideas that spring directly from the most moldy of cardboard containers in the golf attic. Ideas that some consider “refreshing” have all been on the shelf of your local Nevada Bob’s store for decades. Come on people we can do better!

LET’S PLAY A TWO MAN TEAM EVENT!

Okay, let’s. Except when we offer this up as “exciting”, “groundbreaking”, or “interesting” we forget we ALREADY HAVE two-man team events. I concede that the Franklin Templeton Shootout is not part of the regular PGA TOUR season but it is played every year; lately to decreasing ratings and tepid interest. In fact this format has been played for so long (more than a quarter of a century) that it’s gone through seven name changes. FRESHNESS RATING – 4 STALE BAGELS

My idea is to BAIL on this idea.

 

LET’S HAVE THE LPGA AND THE PGA TOUR PLAY AN EVENT THE SAME WEEK ON THE SAME COURSE!

Sure, why not. This one, in fact, is mildly interesting. In 2014 the USGA took a bold step and played the United States Open Championship and the United States Women’s Open Championship at Pinehurst No 2 on back-to-back weeks. It was a colossal success and showed that at the right venue something like this was possible. I agree that it would be entertaining to see the best players in the world, regardless of gender, tackle the same track. FRESHNESS RATING – DAY OLD PIZZA

Here’s MY idea… Keep the foundation, play a limited field event with both LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR players the same week, on the same golf course. But make it a team event. No not the ancient J C Penney Classic that gave us 1997 Champions Clarence Rose and Amy Fruwirth but a new, inventive, surf and turf version. Instead of a pro-am pairing party institute a President’s Cup style draft. World Rankings of the participants determine the order of the draw and then you alternate gender. For example if Jordan Spieth (ranked 5th in the world) and Lydia Ko (ranked 1st in the Rolex rankings) are the top players from each tour entered Lydia picks her partner first and puts Jordan “on the clock”. If Lydia happens to pick Jordan than the next PGA TOUR player on the list gets to pick. The team with the combined lowest score in relation to par wins. Best part about this? You get three events in one!

Other things I WOULDN’T like to see…

An LPGA Tour event at Augusta – One trip down Magnolia Lane a year is enough for me

Moving the PGA Championship earlier in the calendar year – why bother? Regardless of when or where it’s played it will still be the fourth major.

Having tournaments end on different days of the week – It’s hard enough to maintain enthusiasm with a Championship Sunday. This won’t increase interest in the sport, in fact, I think it would have the reverse effect.

Another Match Play or Stableford event

Things I WOULD like to see…

Fewer tournaments on the PGA TOUR – there is just too much golf. I get the argument about playing opportunities but I see no issue with dialing it back by a tournament or four. You can appease corporations and competitors by combining sponsors and because of that even raising purses. That would actually give golf fans a chance to breathe and ultimately care when professional golf is played again in January. It could also give us a return to the fun of a “Silly Season”.

The return of the “Silly Season”- What in the world is wrong with having a little fun? We don’t need to exhume then resurrect the SKINS Game or the Skills Challenge but how about events like these…

A Two-day event during which a small field of players compete with decades old equipment. I know this has been suggested by some and I like this one. You could even have different divisions. Ten players go head to head with featheries and wooden shafts while others tee it up using persimmon and wound balls then another group heads out with Gintys and aluminum.

Night golf, Righties playing Lefty and vice versa, Five clubs in the bag, One ball only. Even four pros go head to head with a different “celebrity” partner on each hole (the added twist is they don’t know who that partner is until they step up on the tee). No gender requirements, no age divisions; women, men, Web.com tour, Champions Tour, all are welcome.

Some things are inescapable; hundreds of 54 or 72 hole stroke play events is boring, a January to December playing schedule is untenable, unlimited sponsors and money is a fantasy. Golf may not need a transfusion but it could use an infusion. And that infusion should not come from the same old box pundits and executives have been “thinking outside of” for decades.

 

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s