It’s summer barbeque season! I don’t know about you, but each one I attend always leads to a conversation about golf. And when strangers find out what you do for a living, the inevitable question comes up.[Insert beginning] Tiger Woods [insert ending]?
I uttered a familiar statement yesterday that has become the default answer about the game and its most unavailable asset: Tiger didn’t move the needle; he is the needle.
Why? I’ve failed trying to understand why no individual, or recent run of great individuals, has pushed interest in golf beyond traditional non-Tiger numbers. What I do know is that the past month has delivered everything a fringe fan might want.
Think about it…
- Jhonattan Vegas wins the Canadian Open by pummeling the ball, defending his title and then using the platform to bring attention to the plight in his native Venezuela.
- Jordan Spieth wins the Open Championship for his third major, doing so by overcoming self doubt and demons, while authoring a dominant closing stretch that should be the catalyst to all-time greatness.
- Grayson Murray wins the Barbasol Championship for his first PGA Tour win, ushering groans from the establishment, social media police and golf locker rooms worldwide.
- Bryson DeChambeau wins the John Deere Classic with his abacus in tow, a year after receiving more hype and attention than almost any recent rookie.
- Jon Rahm runs away with the Irish Open amidst a rules controversy that had no bearing on the outcome, overcoming his own mental hurdles to show just how dominant he can be when on.
- Jordan Spieth holes out to win the Travelers Championship and creates the sport’s best celebration gif of 2017 in the process.
Within that list of winners you have every imaginable personality that could win a golf tournament. You want stoic greatness with a flare for the dramatic [cough, Tiger, cough]? What Spieth has provided should move the needle.
You want golf’s counterculture? Murray dislikes you for disliking him, and DeChambeau is way smarter than you, or for his own good sometimes. They have cornered the niche market in the sport.
You want global success? Vegas is a marketer’s dream, if only he could stay consistent, while Rahm has the goods to be top 10 for the next 20 years.
Is it enough for people to pay more attention to golf? Fair or not, it’s a question that just won’t go away.
“I think the sport should be eternally grateful for the transformation [Tiger Woods] drove in golf,” R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said in advance of the Open Championship. “But the game also moves on… I think there are some wonderful players out there now that people want to come and watch, and the game is moving forward.”
It certainly is. Now, does anybody want to talk about it?