The Tour’s cashing in on the Tiger Effect

Once the official announcement is made, the Tour will see its broadcasting value increase a ridiculous 60%. That’s thanks to the new broadcasting deals with CBS and NBC totaling $700 million per year, up from $400 million. The 9-year agreement keeps the two networks as the official homes of golf, and begin once the previous contracts expire at the end of the 2021 season.

Why such a dramatic increase?

Tiger Woods, probably. The 2018-2019 season was the best we’ve seen from Tiger as of late, and from the Tour as a whole. It was emotional, it was controversial, and it was super fun to watch. The “Tiger Effect” is back in full fucking effect.

At this point it doesn’t even matter to the masses if Tiger wins or loses — so long as he’s playing, we’re watching — it just so happens that he’s coming off one of his best seasons to date, and performing better than many thought he would after making his comeback. And lucky enough for the Tour, it’s all happening as their current broadcast deals are expiring. The Tour did make a little gamble by not opting out of the deals and making a go at a larger amount back in 2017, good call.

It’s not all luck, perhaps. Golf has come along way in reimagining itself in recent years (still thanks in large part to Tiger). Brooks, Rhambo, DJ, Rory, JT, Phil, Rickie — there is no shortage of superstars to root for. And now, going out on a limb a little here, the Tour is enjoying its very own international super villains in Patrick Reed, and, to a lesser degree, Bryson DeChambeau, too. Golf is younger, flashier, and a whole lot more interesting. Those trends show no signs of stopping, and when you add the second-coming of Tiger Woods to the table, it’s no surprise it’s paying off for the PGA Tour.

Presidents Cup is must-see tv after what went down last week

Patrick Reed imageAs if there weren’t enough excitement surrounding the 2019 Presidents Cup already, the week that saw the Hero World Challenge provided a whole lot more to buzz about heading into Melbourne.

Topping the list is Patrick Reed’s now-infamous rules infraction during the third round of the World Hero Challenge in the Bahamas. Leading the tournament at the time, Reed found his second shot at the par 5 11th buried in a waste bunker. With a camera locked on, Reed can be seen grounding his club and sweeping a generous amount of sand from behind the ball — twice.

That little number earned Reed a two-stroke penalty at the end of his round, the loss of the lead heading into the final day, and ultimately the tournament. A couple stroke penalty and little social media chastising would usually be enough for everyone to move on, but not when it’s Patrick Reed.

Like him or not, Reed is one of the most socially scrutinized golfers on Tour and isn’t known to do himself any favors when it comes to his public perception. That continued with his statements after the penalty, in which he claims he didn’t intend to improve his lie, and something about the camera angle making it seem more egregious than it was (yeah, OK, Pat).

Adding even more fuel to that fire is Reed’s spot on the American Presidents Cup team, captained by Tiger Woods, the host of the tournament at which Reed made a fool of himself. The memes and calls for his removal from the America team immediately flooded social media, garnering reactions from other tour players and the bringing promise from some that Team USA, and Reed in particular, are gonna get it from the International fans in Melbourne.

International rookie Cameron Smith made his thoughts known unabashed. “I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone [on the American team] next week,” Smith told the Australian Associated Press. “If you make a mistake maybe once, you could maybe understand but to give a bit of a bullshit response like the camera angle … that’s pretty up there.” Marc Leishman echoed the sentiment saying Reed’s brought the verbal lashing on himself.

With the odds stacked against them (US -275 at the time of this writing), the International team has asked fans to not screw up their would-be home-field advantage. “I’ll be disappointed if they are cheering enthusiastically for Tiger or anyone on the U.S. team,” Adam Scott told the Herald Sun last week. “Last time it was too friendly.”

Patrick Reed or not, that’s a tall order considering we’re talking about Tiger, the GOAT, Woods and the rest of the star-studded American roster. Woods is hot right now, finishing fourth at the Hero after winning the ZOZO Championship in October, and he’s clearly feeling himself.

Paired with Justin Thomas for the opening round of the Hero, Tiger set the tone for HIS weekend by trolling JT on the tee box:

And followed it up with another jab on the fairway:

When the GOAT dishes it, you have no choice but to take it. But Thomas saved a little face when he wanted it known he’s undefeated against Woods when the two are paired together. We can only hope these two play together once again at the Presidents Cup.

Speaking of pairings, we may have gotten a taste of what to expect at the Hero, according to Golf Channel‘s Ryan Lavner:

There was one Team USA name missing from the tee sheet last week. Dustin Johnson withdrew from the Hero to recover from a knee surgery he had after the Tour Championship, but says he’ll be ready to take on the International team. As for his teammates, along with Woods, Reed, Thomas, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, and Tony Finau all finished top-10 last week, giving team USA plenty of momentum heading into the week. (Oh yeah, Henrick Stenson took the Hero Challenge and the $1,000,000 purse at 18-under par.)

After last week, as we eye the opening rounds of the 2019 Presidents Cup, we already know what we don’t know. We know the International players and fans want to get under the Americans’ skin, we just don’t know if they can. We know the American pairings are going to be good, we just don’t know how good. And we know the Americans are going to win, we just don’t know by how much. We’re ready to find out.

Coverage begins Thursday, December 12, with the fourball opening round followed by the foursome matches on Friday. Saturday brings a full slate with the second round of fourball and foursomes, and closing on Sunday with the singles matches. Tune into the Golf Channel for live coverage Thursday through Sunday, and NBC for a replay of Sunday.

Will the PGA Tour’s new pace-of-play policy really change anything?

When word that the PGA Tour Policy Board had passed and will implement new pace-of-play guidelines during the 2020 season began to spread, the age-old cycle of news headlines, analytics, anonymous sources, finger pointing and speculation got another big boost. We don’t know all the details of the new plan, and won’t until the Tour makes its official announcement about the change (reportedly coming early 2020), but we do know enough to keep the speculation going until then.

Golf Digest reports the new policy will shift the Tour’s focus on players in groups that are out of position to individual players regardless of group position, which is in-line with the Tour’s August announcement that it would be taking a closer look at the pace-of-policy. That announcement came on the heels of the “recent incidents,” the Tour cited at the time — those incidents being Bryson DeChambeau’s antics at the 2019 Northern Trust and a whole other p-o-p rabbit hole. But back to the new policy. To shift the focus to individual players, the Tour is reportedly going to create a secret shit list of the slowest players so they are more likely to be put on the clock. If a player records a second bad time during a round they will incur a one-stoke penalty.

The new policy is supposed to start a week after the Masters, at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina. That seems a pretty quick turnaround for what’s being talked up as some kind of sweeping, answer-to-all-problems policy — but is it really any of that? There are rules meant to address slow play on the Tour already on the books, though they are pretty weak, obviously. But the bigger part of the problem, one the rulebook can’t fix, is the Tour’s inability to enforce it’s own rules, or unwillingness to do so.

Pace-of-play has been a massive problem for the Tour ever since, well, ever. Any time it looks like the Tour is ready to do something about it, it doesn’t — a story seemingly as old as the game itself. Are we really to believe this new policy is going to change anything?

It’s no secret who the slowest players are, certainly amongst the players themselves, but the fans know it too. What’s keeping a list of the most-likely suspects going to achieve if the same rules officials won’t penalize anyone anyways? What’s the point of keeping the list secret in the first place if we can guess who’s on it? Maybe some good ol’ fashioned online public shaming is the change we need to speed things up.

Despite the announcement, right now the Tour is no closer to solving the problem than it was to begin with. This new policy gives it a new approach at highlighting AND enforcing the problem, but given its track record for penalizing players, or lack there of, the prospect that the Tour has effected any meaningful change is still a toss up.

At least we won’t have to wait too long to find out for sure.

Crush Golf brings modern golf games to Southern Colorado

Crush Golf

An artist rendering of the new Crush Golf facility in Colorado Springs, opening summer 2020.

With the explosion of TopGolf and Drive Shack popularity across the US, we here in Southern Colorado have been patiently waiting for our turn at a brightly lit, titillating year-round golf venue. Come summer 2020, the wait will be over.

In a November press release, developers of the ever expanding Polaris Pointe retail complex on the north side of Colorado Springs announced the upcoming opening of Crush Golf and sister facility AirCity360. Currently under construction, Crush Golf will span 54,000 sqft, housing 75 heated driving range “suites” with Trackman Golf tech, a 250-yard driving range, dining and meeting facilities. Crush Golf with be the “first of its kind golf facility in the Pikes Peak Region,” according to the release, offering southern Colorado golfers a way to cure their FOMO with our neighbors to the north (Top Golf has already staked a claim in the Denver area with two locations).

Crush Golf’s sister facility, AirCity360, is said to be an all-family entertainment venue with everything from a roller coaster, climbing wall and “Ninja360” course to dodgeball, trampolines and much more. The two facilities join a host of other attractions in the Polaris Pointe center, including go-karts, shopping centers, restaurants and more to make it one of the premiere entertainment centers south of Denver, located east of I-25 and Northgate Boulevard.

Koepka pulls out of Presidents Cup, Fowler slips in

Rickie Folwer

A lingering knee injury will keep world no. 1 Brooks Koepka outside the ropes when Team USA takes on the Internationals at the 2019 Presidents Cup. The reigning PGA Champion and American Player of the Year announced his withdrawal from the event Nov. 20 on social media, making way for an alternate pick for Team USA player captain Tiger Woods.

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Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete. ⠀ Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal. ⠀ I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.

A post shared by Brooks Koepka (@bkoepka) on

Leaving zero time for speculation, Woods gave the nod to world no. 21 and fellow BD energizer Rickie Fowler — Sorry, Kevin Kisner — who’s on the up-and-up after a gastrointestinal infection that made him withdraw from the Myakoba Classic earlier this month.

While Koepka will certainly be missed, the substitution shouldn’t shock anyone or muddy Team USA’s chances of absolutely destroying the International Team. Fowler has repped America in the last two Presidents Cups (2015 and 2017), made six top-10 finishes in 2019, won the ’19 Waste Management Open, and finished top-10 in the Open (T6) and the Masters (T9) this year, and finishing top-20 in the FedEx Cup rankings. Again, not the world’s number one player’s numbers, but still better than the majority of the inexperienced International team. (Plus, who doesn’t love “Big Dick Rick” just because?)

Again we say, USA by a million.

2019 Presidents Cup coverage begins Thursday, December 12, with the fourball opening round followed by the foursome matches on Friday. Saturday brings a full slate with the second round of fourball and foursomes, and closing on Sunday with the singles matches. Tune into the Golf Channel for live coverage Thursday through Sunday, and NBC for a replay of Sunday.

The 2019 Presidents Cup teams are set — USA by a million

Look out world, the Yankees are coming (again).

We’re about a month out from the 2019 Presidents Cup — let the official countdown begin. While speculation of who captains Tiger Woods and Ernie Els would pick for their respective teams for the biennial event — each allowed to choose four players instead of just two for the first time in history — the excitement doesn’t really start until the rosters are set.

That time is now.

Ernie Els revealed his captain’s picks Dec. 6, giving the nod to Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, and Joaquín Niemann. Els’ picks join Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Abraham Ancer, Haotong Li, Cameron Smith, and C.T. Pan to round out the International team, with assistant captains K.J. Choi, Trevor Immelman, Geoff Ogilvy, and Mike Weir.

That’s the team looking to right the ship against the U.S. after 2017 International captain Nick Price and Co. suffered nothing short of a brutal ass beating at Liberty National just two years ago, the Americans’ 10th victory in 12 events. If you don’t remember what exactly happened in 2017, you’re forgiven: the beating was so thorough it made the final rounds on Sunday all but unwatchable, with the U.S. entering the day with a 14.5 to 3.5 lead. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for pseudo-spoiler wins by Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim on Saturday, the Americans could’ve closed the Internationals out before the Sunday singles rounds even began.

Embarrassing for sure, but that was two years ago. There’s no way the Internationals will let that happen again, right?

Well… here’s the thing: 2019’s version of Team USA is really, really good.

Captained by BDE himself (Tiger Woods) the American team is arguably more stacked than ever. The GOAT’s tapped Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, and (as well all had hoped) third-person Tiger Woods to join Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Cantaly to keep the Internationals in their place. Fred Couples, Zach Johnson, and Steve Stricker round out the American envoy as Woods’ assistant captains.

(Related: Koepka pull out of Presidents Cup, Fowler slips in)

Skipping the in-depth analysis and laborious breakdowns you can find elsewhere, the Americans laying it on the Internationals once again at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club is pretty much a guarantee. First, the U.S. has won seven straight against the International team. And with the exception of Kuchar, every player on the American roster is ranked higher than any player on the International team (Scott and Matsuyama are both raked above Kuchar). Els is fielding eight rookies and the youngest team in Presidents Cup history against the American veterans, three of whom — Koepka, Woodland and Woods — won majors in 2019, and all of whom are ranked top 25 in the world. And last but certainly not least, the Americans have the greatest player of all time turning in a card: TIGER FUCKING WOODS, looking to cap off a tremendous comeback season.

In short, USA by a million.

2019 Presidents Cup coverage begins Thursday, December 12, with the fourball opening round followed by the foursome matches on Friday. Saturday brings a full slate with the second round of fourball and foursomes, and closing on Sunday with the singles matches. Tune into the Golf Channel for live coverage Thursday through Sunday, and NBC for a replay of Sunday.