EDITOR'S NOTE: In our five-part series during the holiday break, Rotoworld Golf staffers are presenting one thing that they'd change, support or discourage in golf. In our fourth installment -- and in his debut column -- our freshest face, Josh Culp, shares radical ideas on television and entertainment. His expertise is Daily Fantasy Sports and he'll be writing about DFS golf later this month.
The entertainment value -- or should I say lack of -- in professional golf has long been criticized. Television coverage is still prehistoric and most weeks you are lucky to catch more than 10 shots of your favorite golfer.
The problem starts with the lack of household names. After Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, you’d be hard-pressed to find many other recurring notables if you surveyed random people on the streets. The PGA TOUR is also sorely lacking the presence of an All Star competition. I am here to fix all of this.
Anyone that plays golf probably feels disappointed when he or she watches the game on TV. Golfers know just how exciting and exhilarating it can be when you pure that driver straight down the fairway, drop in a long-iron shot to 10 feet or roll in that 25-footer to save par. It sends chills down your spine and makes you want to play another 18 holes. We just haven't found a way to convey this excitement over a broadcast. Let’s change that.
The amount of television airtime the PGA TOUR receives is seriously lacking right now. There are many factors that influence this, such as TV contracts, production costs, ad dollars and demand. Rather than harp on the boring issue of just showing more live golf on TV, I have a proposition.
Before the start of each round, viewers will be able to login and vote for whom they want to watch that day. The top four vote-getters will have their entire rounds streamed online. Ads will be shown periodically throughout the stream and there will be little or no commentary provided. This is still a business after all. There is money to be made. The PGA TOUR already has cameras all over the course, so let’s use them to their full advantage.
There is a new breed of fans that have migrated to the sport thanks to daily fantasy golf. In general, these gamers just want to watch their top-priced stars navigate the course as they cheer for each birdie putt or shake their head in disappointment after each water ball. The PGA TOUR needs to tailor the game to this new generation. The regularly scheduled broadcasts can still target the avid golf fan that desperately wants to see how Mike Weir is doing in his ever-so-slow return to power.
The whole idea of voting on golfers before each round is very fitting in a world being overrun by social media. Golfers can start to trend and pick up momentum, so my concept spotlights golfers that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. If a relative unknown, let’s say Brendon Todd, is entering the week coming off five straight top 15s, there is a good chance he makes it onto a live stream. With this new plan in place, second-tier golfers are now starting to get the airtime they deserve. Now we’re starting to have fun!
The final installment of my renaissance is the addition of an All Star event. Golf is an individual sport and an emotional one at that. There are so many interesting personalities on TOUR, it's just a matter of getting to know them. What better way than to have a special competition to reveal these guys?
Every other major sport has some form of showcase, so the PGA TOUR should follow suit. My All Star event will need to bring the excitement, so an assortment of challenges would fill the docket. They would mimic the thrills of the Slam Dunk Contest and Three Point Contest in the NBA, the Home Run Derby in MLB and the SuperSkills competition in the NHL.
I will feature a long-drive competition as well as a skills competition that will determine the best iron players, bunker wizards, and short-game magicians. Viewers will be in awe as they watch this clinic unfold. At the same time, they will dive into the personal lives of these star athletes, feeling more connected to the golfers they pick each week on their fantasy teams.
Taking from the NHL, my event would include a ballot whereby fans can vote on the most deserving golfers. Two captains will then have a snake draft to finish out the rosters, just like the schoolyard or your yearly fantasy leagues.
You may recall the ADT Skills Challenge, which ran from 1992 to 2012. This event did a lot of things right, but we need to alter some other parts.
The first thing that needs to change is the timing of the event. The offseason or holiday break won’t cut it when it comes to rolling out the game's best. Placing the event after the final major but before the Playoffs is where this King deems the best fit. Most TOUR pros put an emphasis on winning majors, so slotting it after the final major will give them a week to unwind and have a little fun before embarking into the final four-tournament stretch. (INTERJECTION: Suspend your disbelief for a moment an ignore the conflicts that already exist at this time of the season. There was some clamor for this kind of concept during the week of THE PLAYERS, but my All Star event would take a back seat to the TOUR's flagship tournament. No thanks.)
Next, we will add some incentives to make sure the big names want to show up once they’re voted in. In order to incentivize these pros who make millions, we will have to up the ante. The first rule of real estate is location, location, location, and that same rule applies here as well. My All Star event will take place on the same course hosting The Barclays. This gives the players an extra week of prep while getting used to the Playoffs track they will be navigating the following week.
Next, and somewhat controversially, the winning team will be awarded a set amount of FedExCup points. The amount of points will be small, but it will be enough to provide some extra motivation throughout the All Star festivities.
A showcase of the best golfers on the planet with a unique playing format and a laid-back fun atmosphere. This is the spark that lights the fire in the world of golf. The sport is such a therapeutic roller coaster of excitement, it needs to be portrayed that way to the masses. The PGA TOUR is no longer a three-hour show that comes on before primetime television. Golf is now the main attraction.
As it should be.