Can Professional Golf Follow in the Footsteps of Cricket?

In 2016, golf returns to the Olympic Games. It will be the first time since 1904 that the sport will be part of the Olympic program. The proposed format is for a traditional 72-hole golf tournament for men and women played over 4 days.

While it is a sign that the popularity of the sport is clearly on the rise, and with its inclusion is the clear indication that from a marketing perspective, it has a profitable appeal. It does raise a number of questions that could be addressed with regards the condition of the game currently and the direction it could head in the future.

I am sure we can all agree, that golf is a slow game. A game where nothing really seems to happen. Then after three and a half days you realize the match could still end with two or more players on the same score. Sure, you have playoffs, but they are a couple of exciting holes, where everything is on the line. This, in turn, gives rise to the question,

Golf Course caught in a sunset

For a modern audience, is there still room for golf to obtain and hold the attention of new fans?

The short answer is, in my eyes, going to be a no. Sure, the sport may be popular, but only with people who understand it. Most of them being golfers themselves.

Just imagine how much bigger the game could become if it followed the example of cricket in recent years.

I could easily see professional golf tournaments being held that run over a single day. How often do you see an unknown leading the way after the first round? Imagine if that single round was the only chance you had.

My plan would be to start by introducing a Super-League style format. There would be weekly golf tournaments held over the standard eighteen holes.  The top five places get points; I am thinking along the lines of Formula 1 scoring. You would have a smaller field, much smaller, the top ten in the world, or the top ten on the Euro tour, and the top ten of the US tour with a year-end golf tournament being held to determine the overall winner.

Nowadays everything is instant, everything is digital. People are always on the move. Could there also be room for par-three courses to step up. Using the concept of overly complex holes rather than distance to provide the challenge. Of course I am not talking of a nine iron and a putter kind of course, but something that will challenge the players and provide fast paced action for the audience.

There are a lot a different directions the sport could be taken in. This is mainly because the world of professional golf has remained somewhat stagnant over the previous generations. It may still be popular, but it is falling behind the times, and sooner or later, one of the two things will have to give.

It may be too late for the 2016 Olympic Games but I do not see why it should have to take another five years before the changes come in.

Golfer teeing off

Change is Necessary to Thrive in the Modern World

With Social Media being the hungry beast that it is, we constantly need to adapt ourselves in order to keep up with the times, and to keep relevant. The fear of becoming obsolete hangs constantly above our heads.

I am not even suggesting the golf may go down this same route, but, in order to grow to match the expectations of the younger generations, those that have yet to pick up a club, chance is needed.

Cricket did it. Nobody thought it would, but cricket changed, and now we have twenty/twenty, the Indian Premier League and the Australian Big Bash League.

I truly believe that for golf, the time is now. We are witnessing a changing of the guard in terms of the world rankings, Woods, Mickleson, Els and Singh. These top of the leader board names are reaching their twilight years, and the modern generation of golf professionals are coming into bloom. This is the perfect chance for the sport to be given a good, and let´s be honest here, long overdue makeover.

If done correctly, it will, if anything, increase the prestige of the big 4 day tournaments. The Grand Slam events would be raised upon a challenging pedestal which will see their contention become even more heated. Victories fought for even harder than before.

The Ryder Cup, would remain a fixture, let´s face it, who doesn´t love a good game of us versus them.


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