Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 Radical Ideas You May Not See Again

                In honor of the final repetitive date that any of us will ever see (no, 2/22/22 doesn’t count), I’ve put together 12 ideas that are just as radical as 12:12 on 12/12/12.  Some of these you’ve heard before, but some you will never hear again because, well, it just ain’t gonna happen. 

1.            Fed Ex Cup Finale
                Want to make the Fed Ex Cup Finale really interesting?  Make the Tour Championship a stroke play and match play event.  Use the current points system to get your Top 30 players.  At the Tour Championship all points go away.  The first two rounds are stroke play cut to the top 16.  Then you have 2 rounds of match play seeded by 36-hole score on Saturday, a semi-final match in the morning Sunday and an 18-hole winner-take-all match for the Fed-Ex Cup.  Now that’s entertainment… (Alternate format could include starting on Wednesday, with matches starting Friday so that Sunday’s final stands on its own).

2.            Bye Bye Bunkers
                Wouldn’t it be great if all sandy areas were played as through the green all the time like they did at Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship?  It would be a major overhaul to the Rules, but it would also be an unbelievable simplification of a Rule book that is taught in a 2, 3 and 4 day seminars throughout the country.   I can’t take all the credit for this radical idea, my colleague who’s been teaching the Rules far longer than I first mentioned it to me.

3.            Interleague Play
                There was a lot of noise when Annika tried her hand at the PGA Tour and just as much when Michelle Wie almost made the cut in Hawaii.  The Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge is fun, but is clearly dwindling in popularity.  What if there was true interleague play a couple times throughout the year?  To make it fair different tees will be set for LPGA Tour, Champions Tour and PGA Tour players but the field will consist of the top players from each Tour all playing stroke play against each other.

4.            Stroke Penalties for Slow Play on the PGA Tour
                This suggestion you will actually hear from others again, but it is so rarely accepted as viable I’m calling it radical.  The rest of the golf world is sadly taking after the Tour and snail-pacing around courses at 5 ½-6 hours and it’s time for someone to lead by example.  The LPGA Tour got some bad press for a slow play penalty that had a major effect on the outcome when Morgan Pressel was slapped with a loss of hole penalty (on a hole she had won) at the Sybase Match Play, but the idea was absolutely correct.  Fines are clearly not working, but a stroke penalty that costs $300k will get players’ attention.

5.            Bifurcation
                Again, this isn’t so radical that I’m the first one to say it, but the USGA and R & A would look at me like I have the plague.  It is nice that golf is a game where the Rules are the same for absolutely everybody, but the truth is…There’s a reason why other professional sports have different rules at different levels and it’s gotten to the point where we ought to at least consider it for golf.  Limitations on professional golf balls, anchoring, ball at rest moved penalties, anything that seems awkward could be considered.  In order to grow the game it needs to be fun and amateurs should be able to have fun and still “play by the Rules.”  In order to keep really small issues from affecting the outcome of tournaments certain penalties should probably not be “called” at the professional level.  As it stands now, the Rules are the Rules and it’s my job to enforce them and teach them so I will, but the times they are a changing…

6.            Major Championships with lots of Birdies
                I’m not saying the U.S. Open should be easier every year, but it’d be nice to see some fireworks of a positive nature on Sunday.  It really wouldn’t be the end of the world if par was not the standard for just one year…

7.            Tweet, Tweet
                Why not?  It gets people involved in the game and makes us feel connected with the players.  If there are players who feel it distracts them, they don’t have to do it.  Right now it’s against policy on Tour, but really?  It’s time to trust that PGA Tour professionals can not disturb their fellow-competitors while typing silently on a phone.

8.            World Cup
                Am I the only one the hates how the major team competitions split Europe and the rest of the world?  I also think the President’s Cup needs some help.  I’d love to see the two joined together.  Eliminate the President’s Cup and pick a “World” team.  Or perhaps the United States should get off its high horse and team up with some other countries?  I think this is particularly relevant for the Solheim Cup and the LPGA Tour.  Who gets South Korea?

9.            Hickory Sticks
                Want to end (or fuel) the equipment debate?  Let’s get the top professionals in the world in a hickory competition.  I’m one who believes that the current players would still play better golf than their predecessors with hickory clubs, but wouldn’t it be nice to see them hack around with some real woods again?

10.          Placement is everything
                Another idea put forth from a fellow Rules guy.  Get rid of dropping altogether.  Anytime a ball must be put into play it should be placed.  Simplify the Rule book quite a bit more. No more question as to whether it should be dropped or placed, where the ball will roll when it’s dropped or how many drops to take when it rolls away.  Just place the darn thing and get on with it.  Most amateurs do that anyway.

11.          What do Bubba and Happy Gilmore Have in Common?
                Applause!  Lots and lots of applause!  These guys are the best in the game, and even they would agree that if the noise is constant, it isn’t really a distraction.  It’s the sudden applause, the sudden photo snap, the sudden shout that throws them off and I’m not going to criticize a player for that because it is hard to tune out random bursts of noise.  It is not, however, difficult to tune out constant streams of noise.  I say it’s time to put the “Stadium” into TPC “Stadium” Courses around the country.

12.          No Money Major
                For just one year, or perhaps just one major, the entire purse should be donated to charity.  I know there are some players who do this one their own, and good for them, but if you’ve made it to the Masters, you can afford to play without winnings.  (That argument may fall apart at the Opens).  Beyond that, I think only the top 20 should be able to pick the charities.  And beyond that, they should not be allowed to choose their own foundations (lookin’ at you Tiger).  I don’t say that because I think those player foundations do poor work (in fact they do some fantastic things) but it would still feel like a player playing for his own money.  Just once let’s see the players like amateurs again, playing to win a major just because they’re there to win a major.

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