Lamkin Grips

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To whom it may concern:

I am writing this letter as a devout fan of the game of golf; I approach you as a friend attempting to shed some light on a topic that I have to assume is pretty near and dear to your hearts and wallets at PGA Tour HQ. You certainly realize this, but you are the only game in town where people can go to watch the best golfers in the world compete on a weekly basis. This fact grants you the almighty power to decide what is best to further increase the product you market to us week in and week out. All season long we’ve been seeing the commercials and reading the ads for the FedEx Cup, clearly you have spent a very considerable amount of money on advertising. The ads aren’t bad, that is not my complaint, but based on how often we’re now being reminded, it must finally be playoff time in golf. I feel that you’re slightly missing the boat on this whole Playoff and FedEx Cup business. You are all smart people running your organization, likely much smarter than I am, but there are really some basic points that I feel you are all completely missing out on.

Every major professional sport has a playoff system, that’s great, but golf is not like every other professional sport. Playoff baseball, football, and basketball are the absolute pinnacle of their respective seasons; fans go absolutely berserk for their favorite sport’s playoffs. I have seen firsthand how a Super Bowl run can turn a highly respected corporate CEO by day into a complete fanatic come Sunday, rainbow wig, big annoying finger, 12-pack of beers and all. Is that the passion you’re looking for with the FedEx Cup playoffs? Here’s the thing, golf is different than every other major professional sport. So the NFL has the Super Bowl, it’s the one time a year that all eyes are on their sport watching the culmination of a hard work and weeks of preparation by hundreds of different individuals, trainers, coaches, scouts, doctors, players, and even cheerleaders gear up for this one event as if it’s the most important thing in the world.
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Look, I see the draw; I understand how you would want this same thing for the PGA Tour. What professional sports commissioner wouldn’t want every man woman and child in the country and half the world around watching their flagship event? Here’s the thing about golf that makes it different, you HAVE four of these flagship events every season. They’re called majors, remember those? Ask Tiger about them, he might be able to shed a little light on what goes into preparing for and executing to the best of his ability, but the beauty of golf is we get to see him and the rest of the Tour players are their absolute peak four times a year. You see it every year on the PGA Tour, players all show up on Tour at about the same time and same events every year, all preparing themselves to peak right about that second Sunday in April. The Masters to me is like having a Super Bowl being played for four consecutive days. During that week there is not a sporting event that I would rather see. So The Masters comes and goes and unlike other sports we don’t have to wait an entire off season to get more of what we love, sure there might be a lull but that’s understandable, but now with the Players Championship scheduled so conveniently right here in May we don’t wait long and our heroes are back at it again. And so the cycle goes on throughout the PGA Tour season, each event has their own special feature that makes them great; we love them all for so many different reasons. Golf fans are spoiled all season long, even on weeks that aren’t the U.S. Open or PGA or any of the other majors we still get plenty of opportunity to see our favorites all playing courses we can only dream of playing one day ourselves.

So hopefully you see where I’m coming from here, please don’t think I’m trying to tell you to shut it down after the year’s final major, I mean after all, I’ll take as much quality PGA events as you’re going to keep finding the sponsorships for. What I’m trying to say is I don’t even see it completely necessary to have this great and almighty playoff system all culminating with golf’s own “Super Bowl” in the Tour Championship. Obviously you guys do see the need, thus coming up with this complex points system for each event that is supposed to get players more involved and keep them pushing hard beyond the year’s final major. Here’s the deal though, there are a good share of them that would probably admit in a solitary moment that they don’t even give a rip about their standings at the end of the year. Ask Phil Mickelson what place he is in right now…or even Tiger. Sure Tiger will know he’s in first because well, other than the four majors he has basically won everything he’s entered this year. He knows he’s in first because he’s in first at everything he does, all the time. Do you think he cares? Here is a guy that is on record as saying that his career is all about winning majors. From day one he has had that major title record of Jack Nicklaus’ in his sights and FedEx Cup or no FedEx Cup that is what drives him.

Alright, well if you’re still standing by your decision that golf needs a playoff system to be just like every other major sporting outfit in the world then fine, do it. But if you’re going to go through the trouble of doing it could you at least make it a little bit more exciting for us as fans to watch? You can’t possibly think that The Barclays can even hold a candle to any of the majors, so please don’t try to tell me it does. I tell you what you do, take a clue from one of your own events, The WGC Accenture Match Play, we LOVE match play golf simple as that. If you must do this, then do this my way and you’ll get it right, trust me. Play the other 3 playoff events just like you do now, but instead of earning points toward a 30 man Tour Championship let’s narrow the field each week into a 16 man match play field in place of the current Tour Championship event. A win at the Barclays gets you an automatic 1 seed in this field, go home and relax; we’ll see you at East Lake. Continue to narrow the field down and each winner of the 3 playoff events leading up to the Tour Championship gets a 1 seed for the final 16 man field, the last 1 seed goes to the person who earned the most points based on their finishes without winning. This idea will essentially guarantee you a full field at The Barclays because everyone knows that winning it will get them a couple weeks off, and skipping it will put them quite a way behind and with only 16 slots available the opportunity for them to just simply make it up aren’t such a sure thing anymore.

So now you’ve got 16 of the best players in this final Tour Championship PLAYOFF bracket, to ensure that nobody will be beat out by a fluke stretch of a few holes have each match be 36 holes. Day one you narrow the field in half, 8 guys move on and 8 guys come back the next day for another 36 in day two. The third day is final four action at its finest. 36 holes will decide our last 2 standing and the final day (Sunday) will only consist of these two guys going for an all or nothing $10 mil pay day. We already know that we love match play, you’ve taken it away in a major when you changed the PGA Championship to a stroke play event, so the least you could do is give it back to us where players are going to be playing for the FedEx Cup title. I know what you’re thinking; playing 36 holes a day for four straight days is going to be hell on these players. Well it should be hell on them; it’s for $10 MILLION!!! Besides that, most of the players today are so fit they could run 36 holes and still shoot 10 under par.

So again, I just want to remind you that in no way am I coming to you as a foe. I love your product and will continue to watch every time you give me an event with the top players in the world competing. All I’m saying is take a look back and what you are and what you’ve got, you’re not like every other sport, they NEED their World Series and Stanley Cup and Super Bowl, to them every week is just another game, another one of 162 that just sort of fall right in line with the rest of the games without their respective playoff system. Golf has 4 events a year when all the stars come out and we get to see the best what everyone has to offer. So you don’t need this, so what if the players wind it down after the PGA Championship, those striving for their Tour card next year sure aren’t winding anything down now are they?! If you’re going to insist on copying what everyone else has with their playoffs and endings to their season, at least copy it just in basic principle and make golf’s playoffs great. Make it something we’re going to want to call in sick to stay home and watch, give us something that we’re going to want to have friends and family over to the house to watch it with!

Thanks for listening and I hope you take some of my advice!

Yours Truly,

Devoted Golf Fans Everywhere

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Category: The Tour Spot

About the Author ()

Jason is a busy husband and father of 2 daughters who are both just starting to take up the game that he has loved for years. Golf is his passion, when Jason is not playing golf and testing equipment he's hanging out with all his friends on the THP forum discussing every aspect of this great game.

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  1. The Hackers Paradise » Open Letter To The PGA Tour | Hack In The Box | August 27, 2009
  1. Golfer Gal says:

    Another great article Jason. This was a wonderful read.

  2. StLCardsFan says:

    I agree with most of what you have. I like the idea of the Fed Ex Cup and playoffs, and they are doing nice things so far, but there seems to be something missing. I don’t know if it is the lack of excitement, or the timing, or what it maight be. I enjoy following each event and see who makes it through to the next week, there is just something missing.
    I have always thought a match play Tour Championship would be incredible. You play the first 3 events to narrow the field and seed them. I would put in 32 players though. I like the idea of more guys getting a chance and it allows someone towards the bottom of the standings enough opportunity to make into the top 32 rather than top 16. The whole point of the Cup is that number 120 has a chance. We have seen that that chance is nil. 120 might be able to crack the top 32 if he does well enough.

  3. AHacker'sHacker says:

    Nice letter Jason. I love the idea of match play and think implementing many of your ideas just might give the playoff concept the spark it needs. The current system is simply missing something in my opinion.

  4. MO_Hacker says:

    Excellent job Jason. I love the idea of match play to decide the FedEx Cup champion, although I would agree with StLCardsFan and put 32 players through to the championship. Give more players a chance to win.

  5. Smallville says:

    Match play doesn’t work in a “event” like this because in a one loss and you’re out game, the tour could have a group of guys in the finals that no one really cares about. Or at the least, an upset of Tiger, Phil, Padraig or even Sergio early on would kill the event. The ratings would go down the toilet. I’d like to see the ratings of the last few match play events (not Ryder Cup/President’s Cup) to see just how many people watch them compared to regular stroke play events with similar fields. I don’t tune in to them like a regular tournament.

    Of course, I am not a fan of the whole FedEx thing anyway, and wish it would just go away. Unfortunately for me, that’s not going to happen!

  6. courtgolf says:

    Here’s something you’re leaving out of the equation – this isn’t about crowning a PGA Tour champion – this is about Fed Ex marketing themselves and pulling Barclays, Deutchebank, and BMW along with them. The winner of this isn’t recognized as the best golfer of the year.

    Match play is great for golf purists who actually understand the subtlties of the game – but the majority of golfers just want to watch Tiger and/or Phil. A match play final on TV is like watching paint dry to the average golf fan. Two shots followed by 3 minutes of commercials.

    You’re right – golf IS unique – but it is also a very slow game that doesn’t really have big cheering sections for 16 guys who are champions of their respective cities or countries. There are two guys who gets most of the attention, and a small handful of guys who have a decent sized following…or at least a bunch of hotties in their galleries.

    Calling this a “playoff series” is stretching the definition about as far as it can go. There isn’t any real excitement outside of seeing the best of the best play 4 weeks in a row…or at least 3 out of 4 weeks.

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