The future of the game

WE’VE lost 23 per cent of the women and 36 per cent of the kids since 2006. And there’s a reason why we are losing them.

The tour has got to be the place that helps us correct that. The people out there that are dropping out of the game are the people that are paying these guys to play.

That’s the public. So we don’t want to be running the public out of the game.

With ‘Play Golf Forward’ I’ve been fiddling around with a variety of things. It’s an idea of trying to keep people in the game with 12 holes, bigger holes, all that kind of stuff. We are not trying to change the game. The game is a great game.

But you get a lady who doesn’t play very much and you get a 10-year-old kid, they need some success to stay in the game.

How do we help them feel good about themselves and what they are doing. I think that’s the thing that equipment has done is changed that a little bit.

Bifurcation: different rules for pros and amateurs

THEY have eliminated the groove issue. It’s only grandfathered in for a generation, what, 18 years or something like that? I mean, come on, that’s ridiculous.

How long does it take to wear a set of clubs down? I think I’m the only guy still playing with the same clubs I played with 18 years ago.

But I think that the USGA and the R&A would like to have one set of rules. I think that’s what the game should be played with, one set of rules. I think it’s better.

We have always had local rules that are put in. That’s OK. They do it every week. So they are not really playing by the same rules anyway.

But to go a long way away, that the amateurs play with one set of clubs, and play with the others permanently, I don’t think is the right way to do it.

The long putter

YOU’VE still got to knock it in the hole. That’s the only way I look at it. I’m not offended by it. I always feel like the game is very difficult to start with.

You try to figure out, how do you get the ball in the hole. How many Majors have been won with these putters? I guess Keegan Bradley uses one.

Is he the only one that’s ever won a Major? I’m surprised they didn’t ban that big putter I used in the Masters in 1986.

We sold a lot of them. I don’t have an issue one way or the other with it. I just don’t see the big deal about it.

The golf ball

AS much as I would like to see the golf ball adjusted, I would hate to see them have two balls. I think it’s right to play with one.

You know, it’s a difficult question to answer. Everybody always says when they play, was the right time to play, but the game is just a different game today.

And when I played, if I would play with an amateur at his club, and we both played from the back tees, I might out-hit him by 15 or 20 yards. It wasn’t a big deal.

You play with him today, the guy’s outhitting 100 yards. It’s not even close to a contest. They are playing with the same equipment. Something’s different.

Whether it’s the golf ball or the club or a combination. The only issue that I have always had with this thing is that the tour is a showcase of the game, and the tour should be the example of how the game should be played for the average golfer.

And when the average golfer cannot relate to the game that the tour guy is playing, how can you say it’s the same game.

What I always thought was the excitement was being able to come out and play this game that on any given day.

If I were an amateur, I could go out and do what Tiger does or do what Phil does. They can’t do that.
Every other sport is played in less than three hours. Why can’t we play a tournament where we play six 12-hole rounds?

Twelve-hole rounds

WHAT are the three biggest things we have? The game takes too long, the game is too hard and it’s too expensive.

I talked to Tim Finchem about a year ago and he sort of pooh poohed me about the 12-hole golf.

And he came back to me at the Masters last year and he says, you know, we are going to do more with this 12-hole golf. Hasn’t done anything yet, but he has it in his head.

I said, Tim, what would be the difference if you are going to have people play 12-hole golf, you have to play golf in 2 1/2 hours.

Every other sport is played in less than three hours. Why can’t we play a tournament where we play six 12-hole rounds?

You just play a round and a half a day. You score it differently is all. You wake up in the morning and you see where you’ve shot a 46 and a 23 and you shot 69 for the day as total number of strokes.

It’s just how you score. I hope he’ll do it. He doesn’t have to change a darn thing he’s doing.

Playing today

I DON’T play much golf any more. This time of year, I play a little bit more because we have all of the charity Pro-Ams but I’m certainly no threat.

What I thought would be a really nice event, and I’ve always thought that, is on Tuesday when all of the old guys come in, is to have all of the old guys go play a little thing on Tuesday at Augusta, or even Wednesday afternoon, have the 15 guys or 20 guys that are former Masters champions play nine holes or something.

That would be nice. The people would love that. That would be fun and I would enjoy doing that. But I want to do it with them.

I’m not playing the Pro-Am at the Memorial Tournament. I just don’t think I need to clutter up the course with my golf game at this point in time. I’ve played my golf. So it’s fine.

The hardest Major to win for a young player

Well, the weather at the PGA is fairly benign. So to take a lead in the PGA Championship, you’re not going to have a weather issue usually; whereas the Masters, you can have a perfect Saturday and a gale on Sunday.

US Open can have similar because it’s coming out of spring and of course the British Open, you never know what you’re going to have.

Frankly, if I had the lead, I would welcome the bad weather day. Because the bad weather day, really, if you’re behind, it’s really difficult to shoot a good score.

And generally speaking if your golf game is pretty good, you can figure some way to hack it around if you have a lead somehow, because nobody is going to come at you. PGA would be difficult.

Offering Advice to today’s stars

I THINK that people learn from somebody who has done it. And there’s many different ways to do it. The thing that I try to impress upon these kids is that each one is an individual and everybody does things differently.

How do you get it in your brain that when you come down the stretch, you’re not going to worry about whatever names are on the board.

Just like I never worried about whether it was Palmer or Player. I had to worry about me.

I’m the only guy that I can control. So I’ve got to get into their head to find out what they are thinking, so I can tell them how they can do it.

I didn’t think I would ever be a psyche coach but it’s actually kind of fun to see these kids come and try to be able to help them and see them have some success.

My mistake at Turnberry ’77

TOM WATSON and I were tied, I was on 18 and he was on 17.

I’m sitting in the middle of the fairway, 156 yards to the hole, and I heard this yell go up, and the pin was front left, and that was the only time in my playing career that I couldn’t regather myself and change my thought pattern.

I changed my thought pattern, and I shouldn’t have. I had a 6-iron in my hand, planning to play it by the hole to the right and have it coming back and have that 15-foot putt right of the hole to win the golf tournament.

I tried to stuff it in, hit it fat, hit in the bunker and let Watson play the last hole any way he wanted, which was really stupid.

It was. I mean, here I am, 37 years old and I still make a dumb mistake like that. So it’s one of the few that I can turn around and kick myself for what I did.