Whether you’re “establishment” inclined or with “the rebels”, everyone seems to be agreed on one thing – the current fractured world of golf is not a good thing.
“I hate it” said Rory McIlroy at the Dunhill the other week. Greg Norman, for the other side, constantly rails against perceived unfairness and preaches that he wants to live within golf’s “ecosystem”.
Well, if you’ve been reading these columns for the last year – well done to you – then you’ll know where I stand on all this. But actually, I’m not convinced that a fractured, competitive world of golf is all that bad.
Competition improves everything, doesn’t it?
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) October 16, 2022
Firstly, doesn’t it actually encourage the “competition” that we’re constantly told is beneficial for any sphere of business?
LIV, with their Saudi millions, and the established game (it’s not a definitive description but it’ll have to do) with its historic authenticity are currently embedded in a struggle for the game’s best players.
There’s been a bit of a lull in that at the moment. I’m told by people closer to it than me that we might see some movement again in the spring.
That’ll have to happen for LIV’s sake, because I don’t think for a second that the alignment we have now means Phil Mickelson’s assertion last week that LIV is on the up and the PGA Tour declining passes even the briefest examination.
Put it this way, what really got more attention at the weekend? The LIV player who won the LIV tournament or the “LIV player” who won on the DP World Tour?
But competition is good, supposedly. Let it play out, and perhaps the survival of the fittest will bring us back to an integrated united game anyway.
Let the public choose
Secondly, who says that golf has to be united? Having two tours, very different in style, allows the public to pick their poison. The PGA Tour and DPWT’s relentless year-long grind of 72-holers, or the gosh-darn-it innovative format of Area 54.
As regular readers know, at T2G we think the views of the common golf fan have been totally ignored in all this turmoil. Much more importance has been lent to gargantuan egos, growing bank balances of players and sponsors’ desires.
Let the battle continue and the public – even the non-golfing public – have a say. Aren’t the kids flocking to Greg and Phil’s brave new world? Not yet? Well, I’m sure it’s just so awesome it’s only a matter of time.
Thirdly, golf WILL be united – or should be, at least – four times a year. Other than Martin Slumbers’ shot across the bows at The Open, the major championships have kept their counsel – publicly at least – on the civil wars.
But despite Slumbers’ assertions – which as you know I basically support – I don’t really think the majors need to do anything. At all.
The majors can be the one ‘united’ place
The major champions who are playing in LIV should and surely will play on in those championships, for decades.
Each major offers a goodly number of return exemptions for high-finishing players, which should cater for the other prominent LIVers, even without OWGR approval. Maybe we could just ditch the rankings altogether, eh?
And in addition – if recent Twitter exchanges are any guide – we will get a healthy edge of spite which will ramp up at each major.
I know for some pearl-clutchers that might be a little uncomfortable. But I expect there’ll be a number of excellent stories that result.
Which is my business, after all. But surely it’s better than a bland world where everyone agrees on everything?
A gaming competition, and the PGA Tour’s on both sides?
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 14, 2022
Golf’s fractured in real life, and it seems to be fractured in the alternative reality world as well. There are two premier golf video games being launched for the new season.
Currently the market leader is PGA Tour 2K23, released last week. It bears that official brand and it has a further mark of authenticity with Tiger Woods on the cover and in the trailer. On a Game of Thrones style throne made of golf clubs, no less.
But sadly, the FedEx Cup is your premier goal on 2K23 if you’re playing in career mode. Which everyone knows is far from the actual premier career goal of any professional golfer.
Where 2K23 always scores, for me, is the in-game course designer. This brings back fond memories of 25 years ago and the similar facility within the Jack Nicklaus games of that era.
Ah, the hours spent downloading brilliantly concocted “real” and imagined courses on dial-up internet. Happy days.
2K23 in previous iterations spawned the same sort of design community that the old JN6 did. You can download a decent and often outstanding rendition of any course you want – just about – and especially the major venues that 2K23 misses.
EA comes back with Augusta
The only place to experience it all 🏆🏌️
Spring 2023 🗓️
— EA SPORTS PGA TOUR (@EASPORTSPGATOUR) October 11, 2022
Gaming giant EA Sports used to have the PGA Tour and Tiger franchises. They withdrew five or six years ago after a series of disappointing games, to focus on the more lucrative football games, FIFA and Madden.
But they’re back-back-back(!) in the spring. They come armed with the official approval of the four major championships and oddly, the PGA Tour as well. Which one’s official? Who knows?
Jordan Spieth appears to be the main man on the EA Sports version, but their selling point is major venues.
Specifically, what appears to be (from the trailer teaser) a meticulous rendition of Augusta National. Right down to the polish on the clubhouse veranda.
As a long-time golf gamer, I’ve never felt that any game has really ‘got’ Augusta or the Old Course at St Andrews to a tee (pardon the pun).
The best OC rendition I’ve seen visually is the online game World Golf Tour, but it plays utterly un-links-like, which kind of defeats the point.
I’m curious to see which golf game does it better, and sucker that I am, I’ll probably get both. But I bet I still end up still craving the old days of JN Golf.