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The decade in golf: Two steps forward and one step back

Golf has never been known as being overly robust but things are generally going in the right direction. The Fourball team discuss the biggest changes of the last 10 years

Our latest Decade in Golf round-up is a two-parter. First up, how has golf moved forward in a positive way this decade?

Dan: It’s taken far too long, but I think the wheels are in motion for greater recognition of women’s golf at all levels. I’m fascinated to see what happens with the LPGA Tour’s takeover of the LET. I think we’d all feared for the LET’s future for several years now. This feels like the right solution but the devil will be in the detail.

Andy: I like that there’s at least been an attempt to introduce more modern rules. The knee-height drops and penalty incidents surrounding caddies lining up players up show there’s still a ways to go but it’s a start.  

Mark: I like, very slowly and very gingerly, how the game is beginning to incorporate different formats away from the monotony of 72-hole strokeplay. I still find it amazing that, in pretty much a 50-week season, there isn’t more scope to have more mixed events but it is beginning to seep in.

And women playing at Augusta? Who would have thought it? It’s so depressing that these things even exist and all being well the women’s game in Europe will be in a far brighter place in 10 years’ time.

Steve: If I can focus at club level, there’s still a problem out there with how the game is perceived but things are finally starting to move. When venerable clubs such as North Berwick relax their dress codes in the clubhouse you can see change is happening. There are still far too many clubs arguing about socks but market forces will eventually make them see the error of their ways.

And what about something that still needs rectifying?

Dan: I don’t like the length of the season, nor its wrap-around nature. Call me a traditionalist, but the season begins in January, when we start looking out for Masters hopefuls, and culminates every other year with the Ryder Cup in September. I don’t mind light-hearted events in the autumn but don’t expect me to get too involved given that the year’s major business is done and dusted. 

Andy: Slow play is still a serious issue with seemingly no solution on the horizon. It puts all but the hardcore fans off at a time when popularity is declining rapidly. But a lot of the players don’t seem to care and therein lies the problem. The incidents involving Bryson DeChambeau at the Northern Trust event and JB Holmes at Torrey Pines spring to mind. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. 

Mark: Like anyone of a certain age I’d quite like to see players hit long irons into par 4s and only the really big boys tiptoeing onto the front edge of the odd par 5. I’d love to see fewer drivers and more guile and definitely more interesting courses to try and keep some of us entertained. How good was the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne?

When I think of a decent European Tour event my mind flicks to Hillside or Walton Heath or some Dutch masterpiece rather than a tedious resort course that could be anywhere. 

Steve: Sorry, but I hate the new major structure. As someone on the road for most of them in 2019, it felt we started the Masters one week and then wrapped up at Portrush a few days later. You have to allow time for epic achievement to resonate – both with players and spectators. Frankly, the idea of cramming in our showpiece events simply so the FedEx Cup can squeeze in before the NFL kicks off is outrageous.

What have you liked and disliked about the way the game has moved forward in the past 10 years? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet us.

Source: National Club Golf