The PGA/LPGA Tour agreement
On Friday, there was a “strategic alliance agreement” announced between the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour that should bring many benefits to the LPGA Tour, particularly in the way of the television deal they are looking to sign in a few years. Ron Sirak at Golf World has some further details on what it all means, but there’s one thing that caught my eye that I think could be an awful lot of fun for golf fans. From the release:
” and exploring the potential development of joint events. “
One of the biggest problems that the LPGA has right now is the lack of exposure and coverage it receives when compared to the PGA Tour. When people talk about how golf is in a great place right now, their focus is usually on the men’s game, but the women’s game is in great shape too with Lydia Ko doing things at the top that are very Spieth-like. Having a mixed field event, with the men playing from the back tees and the women up front would be great but I think there’s even more value in a different format: team match play.
I’ve written before about how golf needs more match play events to break up the monotony of stroke play tournaments on the schedule, and a mixed tour event seems like the perfect chance to get that done. So, how would it look?
Initially when I sent it out on Twitter, I suggested that it should be a March Madness style elimination bracket, but to be honest, it doesn’t really make a ton of sense to have players show up for a “one and done” scenario. That was the biggest problem for years at the Accenture and it caused a format change to follow the European Tour’s Volvo match play event.
That format, with players in pools of four and playing three round robin matches before advancing to the weekend, is what I think makes the most sense. Make it a better ball event, with 64 teams of two players each (32 teams perhaps if you’re concerned about slow play) and have the best teams advance to the weekend. The real question, and the fun part of it to me, is how to determine the teams.
My first thought was again to follow standard March Madness practices and take the best players in the world based on world rankings, and pair them together. So, you’d have Jordan Spieth and Lydia Ko together and on down the line, but then I got this response on Twitter:
So, first off: this is a fantastic idea. Secondly, it’s very similar to an idea that the No Laying Up crew suggested a couple of years ago. Think about the setting.
The tournament starts on Wednesday, so on Tuesday night, you gather all of the players in a hall with an open bar and televise it on Golf Channel. Lydia Ko starts it off by making her selection, and then they have the open mic to talk trash to the rest of the field, while Brandel lobs barrel fire takes from the Golf Channel booth in the back.
It goes all the way down to the end with the top seeds each being placed in a pool, and then they go down the line and decide who is in their groups. Will the players take the “easy” way out and select lesser teams, or do they want to beat their closest friends instead? Would Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie call out Tiger and Cheyenne Woods? This would be must watch TV even before the actual tournament gets underway.
As far as who would host the actual event? I can’t think of a better place to do it than Pebble Beach, a site that deserves an event that isn’t loaded with celebrities or tricked out by the USGA.
This would check all of the boxes. The LPGA gets great exposure, we get a great and different pre-tournament special and the golf would be fantastic. Everyone wins.