Azaleas In Bloom

By: Colin Lacy news services

The azaleas are in full bloom. The towering pine and flowering dogwood trees are in pristine condition. That can only mean one thing…it’s time for the golf world to flock to Augusta, Ga for the 2024 Masters.

The 88th playing of the Masters Tournament officially gets underway Thursday April 11th and will hand out the coveted green jacket on Sunday at the conclusion of the final round for a “tradition unlike any other.”

The Masters is always the first of the four Major Championships in the golf world and is slated for the first full week in April each year.

The tournament that began in 1934 is considerably smaller (in terms of number of participants) than the other three championships because it’s an invitational event held by the Augusta National Golf Course.

There are 20 ways that a player can be invited to participate in the exclusive Masters Tournament. Any former Masters Champion has a lifetime invitation back to Augusta. Similarly, any champion of the other three major championships in the previous five years gets an automatic invitation to the field. Although 20 ways to qualify for the Masters may seem like a lot of ways to get in the field, it’s an elusive ticket.

Nineteen former Masters champions are expected to compete for the crown again in 2024 including Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, and 2023 champion Jon Rahm.

The 2020 Masters Champion Dustin Johnson set the Masters record with a -20 final card to win the only masters to not be played in April (had to be moved to November because of COVID-19).

Other former Masters Champions expected to be in the field for the 88th playing are Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and 2021 Champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Others that get in the field because of winning one of the other three major championships in the last five years include U.S. Open Champions Wyndham Clark, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Gary Woodland. British Open Champions Brian Harman, Cam Smith, Collin Morikawa, and Shane Lowry will also tee it up in Augusta.

Finally, PGA Championship winners Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are expected to be in the field come April.

With less than 50 others that meet one of the 20 criteria to enter the tournament, some familiar names just make the cut.

Patrick Cantlay and Tommy Fleetwood enter the eligibility with the 18th criteria point of qualifying for the 2023 Tour Championship.

Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler come into the mix with the 17th criteria checked of “Individual winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from the 2023 Masters to the 2024 Masters (including fall 2023)”.

Other notable names include Rory McIlroy and Neal Shipley for various check marks.

After all the minutia to set the field, the whole golf world (and many outside the golf community) will flock to the small corner of Eastern Georgia called Augusta either by physically going down Bobby Jones Expressway, or via the televisions, computer screens, or courtesy of Westwood One Sports Radio.

However, if you take in the Masters tournament, it’s special, and it’s a big day on Sunday when you hear Jim Nantz sets the scene poetically in his 39th Masters for CBS along with his colleague Verne Lundquist who announced that the 2024 Masters will be his 40th and final Masters.

Just remember to tune in early on Sunday to hear Nantz describe the pink azaleas and beautifully sun-soaked skies and so on “….AT THE MASTERS.”

The 5th Major

By: Joe Delaney news services

The 2024 Players Championship at Sawgrass will go down as one of the best and most exciting golf tournaments in its 50-year history.

It will also go down as the first TPC with a back-to-back champion. Scottie Scheffler blistered the Sawgrass course on Sunday going out in 31 on the front nine and vaulting into contention.

He then ripped the back nine with three more birdies to card an unbelievable final round 64 and take home the 4.5 million dollar first place prize. He navigated the final round bogey free and came from way back. Scheffler showed why he’s currently the number one ranked player in the world.

Blessed with great weather on the weekend, the TPC Sawgrass course was on point. Great crowds, great golf and a great finish, the tournament was just outstanding.

From the drama of the 17th hole to the fantastic finish with three golfers trying to find a birdie on 18 to catch Scheffler, it was golf at its best.

Round one began with Rory Mcllroy, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark all dropping  65s on the stadium course.

From day one this was going to be a battle of the heavyweights. Scheffler and RSM winner Ludvig Aberg were two shots back.

Round two at Sawgrass was the Wyndham Clark show. After shooting a 65 in the first round, Clark showed out with another 65 to take a 4-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 2023 U.S. Open winner was on top of his game and looked smooth and confident heading into the weekend. Four shots back were Nick Taylor and Xander Schauffele.

Saturday was moving day at the Players and it did not disappoint.

The 4 shot lead that Wyndham Clark carried into the round disappeared as Xander Schauffele took a one-shot lead into Sunday with Clark right behind him one shot off the pace. Brian Harman followed at 15 under while eventual winner Scottie Scheffler was a full 5 shots back.

Notables were Rory Mcllroy at -9 along with Ludvig Aberg. With 7 golfers within 5 shots of the lead, Sunday was shaping up to be a great day for the Players Championship. And boy oh boy it didn’t disappoint.

Sunday at the Players was a day to remember. With a beautiful spring day in northeast Florida with temps around 80 and a very manageable breeze, the stage was set for some great golf.

Scottie Scheffler began the day 5 shots back and after 3 straight pars, the man found his groove. After his iron shot at the fourth found the hole for an eagle and his putter dropped a long birdies on the fifth and the eighth, he found himself in contention only one shot back. Another putt at the ninth leading to a front nine 31 and he was tied.

But Schauffele, Harman, and Clark weren’t going anywhere and it was game on for one of the most exciting nine holes of golf in TPC history.

Clark began with a bogey on the 10th that dropped him 2 shots back of Schauffele and Scheffler.

Harman sat at -17 two back. By the twelfth all four golfers were within a shot of each other. As they dueled over the next 4 holes, Scheffler went one up and finished first at -20.  His 67, 69, 68, 64 set the bar.

Could the three amigos catch him with 2 holes to play?

What followed was Sunday PGA golf at its best. Schauffele came off 2 bogies to birdie 16. That put him one back with 2 to play.

He would hit a beautiful shot within 10 feet on 17 only to watch his putt and a chance to tie slide by the hole.

Wyndham Clark was next at the island hole with a beautiful approach shot within 5 feet. He knocked it down to get within one.

To the 18th we went with the tournament in the balance. Harman would put it on the green at 18 only to watch his putt slide by and finish one back.

Next Schauffele would miss right and have a long birdie miss. He would finish one back also.

Clark coming off the birdie at 17 would hit a great second into the 18th green. With a chance to tie Scheffler,  he hit a putt that will be replayed for years to come. From about 15 feet the putt was perfect.  Within 2 feet it slightly slides to the left and then lipped in and out of the hole coming to rest back toward Clark.  No one could believe it didn’t drop.

It was a heartbreaker but a fitting end to a Players that will be talked about for years.

Scottie Scheffler takes his second tournament win in a row and his second Players in a row with a come from behind win being 7 shots back at one time on Saturday.

Great golf, great crowds, great finish, and a great tournament.

It’s Another Gimme

By: Joe Delaney news services

In 2022 the Glynn Academy Girls Golf team led by senior Maria Barr, junior Chandley Box and freshmen Elyse Burney and Emma Hill took home Glynn’s first state girls’ golf championship since 2011.

As one of the preeminent golf programs in the state, it had been quite a drought for the girls.

As for the 2023 outfit, you felt Kip Hall’s Lady Terrors would be good, very good. And they didn’t disappoint.

With all that returning firepower the Glynn girls led the GHSA 6A Girls Golf Tournament on Jekyll Island from day one. Starting hot and staying that way, the Red Terrors walked away with a 480 total and another addition to the trophy case.

Second place Alpharetta was a distant 16 strokes back. Glynn lead by 5 after day one and stretched it out even more on day two.

As with their fellow state champion Red Terror Boys team, the girls had to fight through some adversity with injuries. Senior team leader Chanley Box had to deal with strained ligaments in her hand which was injured shortly before the tournament.

She felt the pain everytime she swung the club. And she played through it. The North Georgia signee shot an 86 on the first day but roared back with a 78 on day two to finish with a 164 total and a tie for sixth on the overall score. That’s how you spell TEAM.

Sophomore and rising star Elyse Burney matched Chanley with a 164 of her own. That consistency gave the Red Terror ladies a tremendous advantage over the field with three players placing in the top six overall scores.

That’s because Emma Hill blistered the Jekyll course for a final round 73 and a two day total only 1 shot off being low medalist. This was a VERY good Glynn Academy girls squad.

Senior Charley Podlesney shot a 198 to round out the scoring in the tournament and finished her career with two state titles.

Much like the boys outfit, the girls team was built and molded with effort and character.

Coach Hall spoke on numerous occasions about the work effort of the girls and the extra time and effort they all put in. While he was lavish with his praise for the girls and what they had accomplished, he was quick to point out that they all earned what they got.

And they did it with excellence both on the course and in the classroom. This was the narrative for both Kip Hall’s Lady Terrors and Mike Zito’s Terrors.

It was never in doubt where this trophy was heading after Day One. The win gave the Red Terror ladies golf team 9 state titles since the year 2000.

And with the returning talent and effort that coaches Pete Irby and Kip Hall put in, the threepeat is not out of the question.

The Lady Terrors will roll into 2024 as favorites to repeat with the returning 1,2 punch of Burney and Hill. They will probably be the most seasoned juniors in the state next year.

Remember Elyse shot a 77 to lead the Terrors to LAST year’s title, while Emma went low this year. Quite the returning combo. Elyse and Emma will be a Double E Terror as they look to defend and repeat in 2024.

GHSA 2023 AAAAAA Girls Golf State Champions




By: Kipp Branch news services

Spring is in the air as the best in the world head to the Augusta National Golf Club for the 87th playing of the Masters Tournament.

Blooming dogwoods, azaleas, and the beautiful golf sanctuary of Augusta National tell you that Spring has officially arrived on the calendar.

Patrons will choose between two Masters favorites on the low priced food menu, the Pimento Cheese or Egg Salad Sandwich. No cell phones are allowed, limited commercials if you happen to watch on TV, and finally my favorite, tradition, the rough is referred to as the “second cut.”

Up until 1983 players had to use local caddies provided by Augusta National. Players are allowed to use their own caddies now, but they have to wear the Augusta uniform, which is a green hat and white jumpsuit.

The Masters has always been the crown jewel of Georgia based sporting events, and in 2023 the event will be completed on Easter Sunday.

2023 Masters odds:

Jon Rahm 15-2: Rahm is the betting favorite coming into the 2023. Rahm has never won the Masters but always seems to be near the top of leaderboards during the big events.

This guy is mentally tough and has every shot in his arsenal to win multiple Masters over his career.

He is the 21 US Open winner, and has top 5 finishes in the other 3 majors.

Scottie Scheffler 8-1: The defending champion is the best player in the world currently.

Scheffler is coming off a win at the Players Championship, and he has won a lot of golf tournaments (6) since the start of 2022. A win in 2023 puts him in the club of repeat winners that includes Nicklaus, Woods, and Faldo.

Rory McIlroy 17-2: Rory shot a final round 64 in 2022 to finish second three shots behind Scheffler.

He is only 32 years old so there is still plenty of time. He has six top-10 finishes to his name at The Masters and has only missed the cut twice. From 2014 to 2020 he finished outside the top-10 only once. Rory plays well at Augusta. The career Grand Slam is in his sights.

Cameron Smith 12-1: Smith can putt. He is the current holder of the Open Championship. He currently plays on the LIV Golf League. With all the drama going on between LIV and the PGA tour will this be a distraction for Smith?

Jordan Spieth 15-1: Can Spieth get back to the status of a few years ago? I think he is close to another breakthrough win.

Justin Thomas 16-1: Thomas has that ‘it’ factor now. Multiple major winner that can compete at every major moving forward.

Xander Schauffele 18-1: Talent is there. Zander just needs a break to go his way at Augusta.

Tony Finau 20-1: Tony has it all. Some tag him as the best player to never win a major. I dislike that tag. Finau’s time will come.

Will Zalatoris 20-1: Will has been very close at majors. Lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas at Southern Hills for the 2022 PGA Championship. Another player who seems to play his best in the majors.

Collin Morikawa 22-1: Two time major winner has the game to win at Augusta. Can win on any type of golf course. Solid all around player.

Will Tiger be in the field? If he is then I will watch every shot from Thursday to Sunday and make the wife upset.

Hopefully she understands by now that if Tiger is on the tube then count Kipp Branch out of everything. Tiger brings massive TV ratings.

Winner Prediction: Rory gets it done and completes the career grand slam and cements his place as one of the all-time greats.

Winner Score: 276 (-12)



The Green Jacket

By: Kipp Branch news services

Spring is in the air as the world’s best head to Augusta National Golf Club for the 86th playing of the Masters Tournament.

Blooming dogwoods, azaleas, and the beautiful golf sanctuary of Augusta National tells you that Spring has officially arrived on the calendar.

Now news is breaking that Tiger Woods may play this year after a long grueling rehabilitation from an automobile accident that almost cost him a leg adds that much more excitement to an event that kicks off the most prestigious tournament in professional golf.

The weather forecast in Augusta is calling for sunny, cool, fall like temperatures for this year’s event.

Here are my thoughts on the favorites going in the 2022 Masters:


2022 Masters odds


Jon Rahm +1000: Rahm is considered the best golfer in the world. When his game is on, he dominates. Rahm seems to have conquered the mental side of the game over the past few years. Look for Rahm to be in contention for a Green Jacket in 2022.

Justin Thomas +1400: Maybe it is just me, but I am just not feeling like Thomas will be a factor in the 2022 Masters. Big name, big game, but it is just not his time yet.

Dustin Johnson +1600: Johnson has won at Augusta. With his length he should always be a betting favorite at Augusta. He should be in contention over the weekend.

Cameron Smith +1600: If you watched Smith make putt after putt at The Players Championship you should factor this guy in the mix for the coveted Green Jacket. The Players win has Smith peaking at the right time coming into the first major of 2022.

Scottie Scheffler +1600: Scheffler will be a non-factor which means he will be within two strokes of the lead on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy +1800: A Green Jacket would give Rory the career grand slam, but he has not finished in the top-20 in his last three starts at Augusta. Is Rory placing too much pressure on himself to win at Augusta?

Brooks Koepka +2000: Koepka only has one win since 2019. He has the game for majors, but he is in a victory drought and cannot seem to end it.

Patrick Cantlay +2000: I picked him to win The Players and it did not happen. Does not seem to be on the top of his game currently.

Jordan Spieth +2000: Always a threat at Augusta. Will be a serious contender to win in 2022. The 2015 champion always seems to play well in Augusta.

Viktor Hovland +2000: I know this kid is exceptionally good. Could be a factor in 2022.

Collin Morikawa +2000: Great all-around game. Two-time major winner plays well on all types of courses.

Xander Schauffele +2200: Finished 2nd to Tiger in 2019 at Augusta. He is due. Only a matter of time before he wins a major. Top ten finishes in all four major championships. Top three finishes in the Masters, US Open, and Open Championship. Xander could break through this weekend.

Will Zalatoris +2800: Will had a great run in 2021 finishing second at Augusta. The crowd will be going crazy if this kid is in contention on Sunday.

Bryson DeChambeau +3500: I love to watch Bryson hit the golf ball. Power golf is appealing to the masses.


My dream scenario would be for Tiger to compete in the tournament and be in contention on Sunday. That scenario ensures that I do not move out of my recliner on Sunday afternoon.



Winning Score: 274 (-14)

Winner: Xander Schauffele

The 5th Major

By: Kipp Branch news services

We are a week away from returning to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for The Players Championship.

The total purse of $20 million is a record for the tournament. The winner will take home over $2 million. Justin Thomas won the 2021 Championship with a score of -14 under par.


The Favorites:

John Rahm 10/1: Rahm is the current favorite to win the TPC. Rahm is playing exceptionally good golf so far this year with three top ten finishes.

He is coming into this tournament with his game peaking. At last year’s tournament, Rahm finished in a tie for ninth. He finished with a Sunday score of 73.

You must think if he can improve his play in the final round, he stands a good shot at winning.

Rahm is currently the top ranked player in the world. Rahm is the type of player that can dominate the competition if he gets hot.

Justin Thomas 14/1: Thomas comes in second to Rahm as betting odds go for this year’s tournament.

Since the event last year, Thomas has not won another tournament. Thomas currently ranked seventh in the World Golf Rankings and is still playing as one of the best players on tour.

He already has three Top-10 finishes this season, his latest coming at The Genesis Invitational. In the history of the Players Championship no player has ever won in back-to-back years. History is working against Thomas in this area.


Other Odds:

Collin Morikawa 16/1: The Open Champion plays well on tough golf venues.

Morikawa just seems to hover near the top of leaderboards in about every big event on the PGA Tour. If he is within striking distance on Sunday, then he will be a major factor in the outcome.

Patrick Cantlay 20/1: Cantlay is one cool customer on the golf course. Pressure does not seem to bother him at all. He has the mental makeup to win the TPC.

Do not be surprised if Cantlay is holding the TPC trophy at the conclusion of this year’s event. He is that good. Also do not be surprised if Cantlay does not win The Masters in April.

Will Zalatoris 50/1: Who does not want to see Will win the TPC?

Zalatoris will be a huge crowd favorite if he is in contention. This kid brings a ton of excitement to the game of golf. Players like Will Zalatoris provide a bright future for the PGA Tour.


The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was built in 1980 to be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS Championship.

As the first true Stadium Course, it was designed to improve the overall on-site fan experience.

The signature island green on the par-3, 17th hole is one of the most recognized in golf and the course is consistently named among the best in the world.

My Pick: Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay is on track to becoming the number one player in the world in 2022.

Dark Horse: Will Zalatoris. The kid is a great ball striker, and would it not be impressive if the kid wins his first PGA tournament at TPC Sawgrass?

I hope golf gets a big shot in the arm after the negativity surrounding some comments made by Phil Mickelson recently.

Phil has had a brutal week with sponsorship losses after his controversial comments about Saudi Arabia.

Can we give Lefty a break? Society seems so unforgiving these days.

The Green Jacket

By: Kipp Branch news services

My wife and I were riding around town last week and we commented on a blooming Dogwood tree we drove by.

I said its Masters time baby. We get an unexpected treat in a couple of weeks and that is we will enjoy our second Masters Tournament in 5 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Masters was played last November with Dustin Johnson claiming his first Green Jacket.

The Favorites:

Dustin Johnson: Johnson is the betting favorite to win back-to-back in Augusta.

Johnson has the ability to overpower a golf course, and if the putter is clicking then he will be in the mix.

Johnson has been playing well and we will see if everything comes together again. Johnson is a player that plays well in major championships. Johnson is also the 2016 US Open champion.

Justin Thomas: Thomas just won The Players Championship, so his game is peaking going into Augusta.

Thomas may be the best player in the world at the moment, and a Green Jacket in 2021 could be the first of many. This is a guy to keep a close eye on.

Thomas finished 4th in the 2020 Masters. Thomas won the 2017 PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy: Rory needs the Masters to cap off the career grand slam. His best finish at Augusta is 4th back in 2015. Rory is searching for his game right now.

He just brought in a new swing coach and trying to find your game right before coming to Augusta National is like trying to mix oil and water.

Could it all come together for Rory in a couple of weeks? At 31 years of age there is plenty of time to get that elusive Green Jacket.

Jon Rahm: Currently ranked 3rd in the World Golf Rankings Rahm is due to win a major championship.

His best finish at Augusta is 4th and he has top 5 finishes in the US Open and PGA Championship.

Have you ever known a Spanish golfer that doesn’t have a great short game? Rahm will be the next major champion from Spain.

Brooks Koepka: This guy just plays well in the major championships. He has a couple of US Open’s and PGAs to his name. He finished in a tie for 2nd in the 2019 Masters.

He will be near the top of the leaderboard and will be a factor on Sunday. His game is rounding into form currently.

Bryson DeChambeau: The current US Open champion has not played well at Augusta. His best finish is 21st in 2016.

Will he try to overpower the golf course? The answer is yes and will that risk/reward style be successful for him in 2021. He has something to prove at Augusta.


Rickie Fowler: I’m a huge Rickie Fowler fan.

He has top 3 finishes in all 4 major championships and finished 2nd in 3 of the 4. At 32 years of age, he is due.

He has the game to win at Augusta with a runner-up finish in 2018. If Fowler is in contention on Sunday, I will not leave my couch that day.

He will win a major in his career. Why not the 2021 Masters? Come on Rickie get it done.

Patrick Cantlay: Not many are talking about this guy, but he is that good. Every time I tune into golf on TV he is on the leaderboard. Don’t sleep on this guy folks.

Prediction: My head says Brooks Koepka and my heart says Rickie Fowler.

A Tradition Unlike Any Other takes place in just a couple of weeks.


Can I Wear That Jacket?

By: Kipp Branch news services

This year’s telecast of the Masters on CBS recorded the major tournament’s lowest final-round numbers since 1957, extending a streak of soft sports TV viewership numbers.

The broadcast averaged a 3.4 rating and 5.59 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

That is about 51% lower than last year, when Tiger Woods recorded a comeback win, and also well below the previous lows of 6.7 in 1980 and 11.05 million viewers in 2017. (Viewership has been tracked since 1995.) In 1957, CBS aired one hour of coverage and drew a 3.0.

I enjoyed The Masters. I liked the fact that three of golf’s Major Championships were able to reschedule and play in 2020. The Open Championship cancelled the 2020 tournament early on in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dustin Johnson is the number one golfer in the world according to the World Golf Rankings.

With the win at Augusta he capped a stellar stretch in the majors this year finishing 2nd in the PGA Championship, and 6th in the US Open.

Johnson has now won the US Open and The Masters, and has runner-up finishes in the PGA and Open Championship.

The play has been consistently very good since August where has finished no worse than 6th in seven starts on tours with two wins.

Johnson was born in Columbia, South Carolina and played his golf at Coastal Carolina University so the proximity to Augusta National made last weekend’s win very special to Johnson.

Johnson grew up in Irmo, South Carolina. His childhood dream was to win The Masters.

Once the Green Jacket was placed on him by Tiger Woods, he became very emotional and barely could speak a word.

That raw emotion from Johnson was very good to see. Johnson is known as stoic player, who just handles his business on the golf course and in 2020 style that post tournament side of Johnson was something that I wish we could see more of on the PGA tour.

Back to the final round of The Masters, Johnson carded a final round of 68 that left him at 20-under 268, beating the previous tournament best of 18-under set by both defending champion Tiger Woods, in 1997, and Jordan Spieth, in 2015.

Johnson shot four rounds under par for the tournament. He has played 11 straight rounds under par at Augusta which is a record.

Johnson became the first world number one to win at Augusta since Tiger in 2002.

Don’t let the low television ratings from last weekend put a damper on the quality of golf that was played.

Those of us who watched saw a record-breaking performance by Dustin Johnson, who has rapidly become one of my favorite golfers on the tour.

Johnson’s work ethic is better than most on the tour. At age 36 Johnson is in his golfing prime. Many more wins could be on the horizon.

Brooks Koepka called out Dustin Johnson as only having one major championship going into the final round of the PGA Championship in August and it backfired on Brooks.

Koepka finished tied for 7th at 10 under par at The Masters. Good showing but it was 10 strokes behind your 2020 Master Champion Dustin Johnson, who now has two majors under his belt.

Dustin Johnson is the best golfer in the world and he may stay there for a while. He has The Green Jacket to prove it.

He will defend in April and this time we will have Azalea’s and Dogwood’s blooming once again.

Yellowstone is my favorite show on TV right now and in grand Rip Wheeler fashion it is time to take 2020 on a trip to the Train Station.

Hole In One

By: Mike Anthony news services

The sports world is still a far cry from being normal, but at least one item on my personal checklist returned on Sunday afternoon.

As has happened on countless spring and summer weekends, I accomplished half of the household chores my wife had asked of me, only to be lured to the television – and a nap – by golf.

In a charity event held at the esteemed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla., Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeated Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a skins match that raised over $5 million.

With every sport trying to figure out what strange new features will enable them to return to play as soon as possible, golf certainly seems like it can deliver the same sort of product while adhering to safety guidelines.

The lack of a crowd didn’t change my personal viewing experience. If anything, it allowed viewers to take in a spectacular Seminole Club course that had never appeared on television before.

The players wore shorts and carried their own bags, but – if anything – that made the action even more relatable to the high-handicappers watching at home who don’t play with caddies and who would never show up to a course wearing slacks on a muggy Florida afternoon.

Following Sunday’s event, it dawned on me that this could be a huge turning point for the sport and for how players choose to promote themselves.

To be sure, the marquee events on the PGA Tour and the four majors aren’t going anywhere. Ratings will be stellar if and when the tour is able to play its amended major schedule this fall, and attendance at those events figures to remain high as soon as crowds are permitted back on the links.

But as for many other dates on the golf calendar, who’s to say?

While current times are certainly an exception and not a rule, it’s not hard to fathom a future where huge names are reeled in for a payday in exclusive one-off events. Years of ratings prove that viewers follow the game’s biggest stars and plenty of non-pandemic TV specials have raked in tons of money.

If the money is there to be had, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to envision a golf club looking to make a name for itself ponying up the purse to put on a show.

If the television and online streaming eyeballs will be focused on the event, it seems like a no-brainer that top brands might organize an event featuring all the stars under their umbrella putting on a five-hour infomercial for the latest line of products.

Golf has been primetime viewing – at least during the biggest events – ever since Tiger Woods burst onto the scene. But prior to the late 90s, there was little hype for lesser events and nobody outside of the top 10-20 players in the world were getting rich off of the game.

And the truth is, anyone not consistently making cuts and finishing on the first few pages of the leaderboard every week still isn’t exactly a legend at their local bank.

It should come as no surprise that the lowest-level tour events – or those played concurrent to majors or big overseas tournaments – feature no-name players with sparse crowds and not much on the way of possible winnings.

The world’s top players already make more money in endorsements than they do through tournament checks.

If special events can guarantee big paydays – while also offering the lack of excessive media obligations, pro-ams, long days due to slow play from a 150-man field, etc. – there’s little that will stop the world’s top players from ditching smaller tournaments in favor of receiving top billing at a special event.

The Premier Golf League is currently trying to compete with the PGA. It aims to be a more global affair, playing only half as many tournaments while still offering huge purses.

However, many of the game’s biggest names have already declined potential offers to join.

But with more singular, unaffiliated events, it would be easy for big draws to pocket more money without the hassle of worldwide travel or learning the rules and format of an entirely new tour.

The PGA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but if Sunday’s Seminole showdown proves anything, it’s that there could be more opportunities soon for the world’s top players might call in sick to lesser events in order to sneak out for a round of golf.

No Azaleas

By: Mike Anthony news services

Over a whirlwind 48-hour span, the entire sports world came to a halt. Over the course of a few days.

What started with the NBA suspending its season quickly turned into the NHL following suit, MLB nerve wracking days, a domino effect went into full effect; suspending all operations in the middle of spring training and every collegiate sport coming to a screeching halt.

Lifelong sports fans were in a sort of state of shock as each news update brought about worse news and more cancelations.

By the time Friday, March 13 rolled around, the gravity of the situation still hadn’t quite set in, with plenty of rumors circulating about how quickly everything could get back on track.

And then it happened. The Masters – a shining jewel in American sports and one of the most fiercely protected events and brands in the world – put its annual tournament on hold.

Calendars, warmer weather and the beginning of baseball aside, anyone with roots to the south knows that the true arrival of spring comes during four magical days in April when the world’s best golfers descend upon Augusta National Golf Club.

It is possibly the most mythicized and celebrated tournament in all of sports. It gets played amongst the backdrop of an impossible green and vibrant course.

It has always been a hint to the sports world that it is safe to come outside and play for the spring and summer months.

But just like everything else, the Masters will also be empty.

If there’s one bit of silver lining, it’s that the official scoreboard for the Masters reads ‘postponed’ where so many other events are canceled outright.

Communications from Augusta National have stressed that efforts will be made to hold the tournament at some point. There have also been rumors floating out of Augusta that the club might be aiming for a Masters held in the fall as the course usually shuts down during the summer months.

For as much as the stoppage of other sports stung, the postponement of the Masters may have been the signal to the sports world that the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic isn’t an overreaction, but rather a very urgent and necessary step to protect the masses.

No golf at Augusta in April is like the constant halts to trading on stock exchange floors. It’s the near total halt of international travel. It’s the empty shelves in stores and longtime local businesses that are now shuttered.

It’s a punch in the gut, is what it is. But hopefully a measure that will work out once the world catches its breath.

This is already guaranteed to be a sports year unlike any other. Here’s hoping that we still get our tradition unlike any other.