Recently, our main man Bobbycuts posted a thoughtful, well-reasoned essay about his concerns that the PGA Tour is in trouble.
I’m just kidding. Well-reasoned? Thoughtful? It was such a hot take even Skip Bayless thought it was a bit much. (In this hypothetical world where I believe that Bayless both can read and has discovered our new site.)
In one sense, I agree with Bobby – the PGA Tour has real issues. It’s become a true test of one ability – to bomb and gouge, and it’s less fun to watch than those verbs suggest. Even the most elite players are relatively underpaid (on the course, Tiger Woods has “only” made about $120,000,000 in his career. Lionel Messi made $92,000,000 last year.) This is causing things like the Premier Golf League to rise up and truly threaten the health of the tour.
But that’s not where Bobby aimed his target. Instead, he aimed directly at the players and blamed them. And that’s just way, way off base. Bobby has been spending too much time in the luxury box, and has lost his “man of the people” edge.
Now, don’t worry – I’m not going to go full Slugger White and talk about what gentlemen the players are, and I am far from thinking the tour is free of bad dudes who make the game worse. But overall, the players are the best part of the game, and allow me to respond to Bobbycuts insane claims, point-by-point.
First, he goes after The Big Cat, Le Tigre, Eldrick “Tiger” Woods. I’m sorry, but it hasn’t even been a year since this guy won The Masters, his 15th major and easily one of the most exciting sports events of the last 5-10 years. I’m certainly not going to criticize Sports Illustrated for making Megan Rapinoe the sportsperson of the year last year – it makes sense for a whole host of reasons – but in most years, The Big Cat would have won this going away.
Next up for Bobby was Phil Mickelson. I’m not going to lie, he’s got a point. Phil is chasing money at this point, his hopes of winning The Grand Slam with a U.S. Open are largely extinct, and I’m not going to defend his quest for blood money. Similarly, I think Bobby is hardly crazy for pointing out that Jason Day and Dustin Johnson are very off their games. I’ll ask a follow-up, however – when they were dominating, did anyone really care? I loved their games, but were either of them guys you rooted for? I did not.
On the other hand, Brooks Kopeka came up and … man. This is one of the top-3 golfers in the world who’s currently fighting an injury, and Bobby kicks him when he’s down. While I would never argue that Brooks has a riveting personality (I suspect weightlifting, talking about weightlifting and comparing protein shakes comprise the majority of his off-course activity), he’s a guy who is willing to call out other golfers who deserve it like Bryson DeChambeau for being slow and Patrick Reed for cheating. We need this. I crave it. More importantly, when Brooks is on the course just crushing his enemies, seeing them driven before him and hearing the lamentations of their women … I”m HERE for it.
Next up, Bobby decides to kick Jordan Spieth and while he mostly takes it easy on him, it still feels mean. I’m not sure anyone has won as much as Jordan, and then gone full Steve Sax. It’s all up in Jordan’s head, and I believe in mental health, so I’m rooting for him. (Also there’s almost nobody who it’s more fun to watch late on Sunday in a major.)
Rickie Fowler deserves all the wrath. I’ll never fault anyone for chasing the money, but I’ve lost enough of my own betting on THIS major being the one Rickie finally wins. I’ve stopped believing. He’s a world-class human being, and I respect him a ton (especially now that he’s cut his hair and shaved off his pedo mustache, and yes, I’m 1,000 years old) but if you disappoint folks enough on Sundays, you gotta own it.
Bryson DeChambeau is up next and my man Bobbycuts actually wrote this: “I still hold out hope for the mad scientist” — and folks, you are now witness to me naming Bobbycuts as my mortal enemy. I actually think Bryson is good for the game in the sense that he drives a TON of content, but in EVERY other way he sucks. He’s fake smart (the amount of times he’s arrogantly boasted about terminal velocity but gotten the details wrong, or nobody knowing how shafts work tell us this), he wears that goddamned stupid cap, his swing is literally painful to watch and most importantly, he’s slower than any analogy I could think of quickly. And he won’t own it! The networks have no idea how to deal with it, so we end up watching him doing math that doesn’t matter while a few fairways away something interesting is happening.
This is getting a bit slow as well, so I’ll jump next to the biggest issue I had – Rob called out “The Europeans” and went full Azinger (you NEVER go full Azinger), and stated this:
When Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell are still about the best you’ve got I’d say we have a problem. Touchdown Tommy Fleetwood is a nice “young” player but his pants are too tight and his face is covered with those scraggly hairs. And that mop on his head! I won’t stand for it!! Finally, to Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Bernd Weiesberger, Thomas Pieters, Tyrell Hatton, Ross Fisher, Nicholas Colsaerts, Eddie Pepperell, what the fook happened??
Hi, Bobby. Have you met Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm? They are literally the #1 and #2 players in the world, respectively, and come from European countries. Tommy Lad is 10th in the world, Justin Rose (called out separately, fairly, for chasing the cash with a club switch) is 13th, and Open Champion Shane Lowry is 20th. (Oh, and who won at Bay Hill YESTERDAY? That’d be Tyrell Hatton.) Now, sure, the OWGR has some issues but Europeans are still quite a force. In fact, I suspect when they beat the US again in the Ryder Cup this year, Bobbycuts will be eating his words.
Again, his central thesis – that PGA Tour is in trouble – is something I agree with. Unlike other professional sports, the tour waited far too long before putting limits on the ball and clubs which has led to a massive increase in length for the best players on tour. The Tour’s response? To try and fudge numbers to suggest this isn’t the case. But c’mon, when our man John Daly hit the tour, the fact he could hit 300 yard drives on the reg was major news. Now, Jordan Spieth is considered a short hitter off the tee and he is averaging 303 yards in driving distance this year. The result is that many excellent courses have fallen out of the rotation and many quality players like Kevin Na and Zac Blair head into a season knowing there are only a handful of courses they can actually have a real chance to win. Courses like Trinity Forest get pushed to the side, while things like PGA West and others just grow and grow, making the game completely different than the ones we play on the weekend. (You can argue for or against bi-furcation, but it’s already here.)
Two issues related to the players themselves make the PGA Tour a weaker product than it should be. One is that the top players are drastically underpaid. The tour has “solved” this through the cash grabs of the WGC’s, and the FedEx Cup which grows higher every season. But the season itself suffers. It’s hard to know on any given event who is playing, because the players may or may not show up. It’s one thing when a player is injured, but look at the Honda a few weeks ago. This is literally in the backyard of some of the very best players on tour, but Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods (injured) and others who live down the street couldn’t be bothered to show up. Why not do what the European Tour does and pay appearance fees – and make them public? If I KNEW that Rory was going to be at a tournament, I’d be more likely to watch and attend if possible. It would also stop these silly corporate “gigs” that the players do which are just shady ways of doing appearance fees. (It’s perhaps the only reason they all showed up to play the “3M Classic” in Minnesota last year.)
The other is that the rules and enforcement are just nonsensical. Patrick Reed gets two strokes for cheating by improving his lie, while Matt Every gets suspended for three months for using his medical marijuana license? There’s a rule against slow play – but it’s been enforced three times in the last three years, and never against a marquee player. I’m sorry, but watching J.B. Holmes stare into space while others hit, and only begin to consider what his shot should be when it’s finally his turn to HIT makes the game worse. It’s the FIRST thing most golfers are taught – it doesn’t matter if you suck, just don’t be slow.
The Tour is in trouble, for sure. But Bobbycuts got this one wrong. Boom, roasted.