There is plenty to look forward to in golf in 2018. Tiger Woods’ pending return. Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth vying for the career Grand Slam. The U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills and the British Open going back to Carnoustie. The anticipation of the Ryder Cup outside Paris. Yet beyond the obvious, there are a handful of other storylines that provide a level of excitement and intrigue that make them worth marking on the calendar as you begin the new year.
The inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open
Nearly 40 years after the inaugural U.S. Senior Open, the USGA will debut the equivalent for women ages 50 and older in July with a 120-player field. Past U.S. Women’s Open champions and LPGA major winners will be eligible, making for an interesting question for a handful of retired players such as Amy Alcott, Pat Bradley, Meg Mallon or Dottie Pepper: Any interest in a comeback? If the intrigue of a new championship isn’t enough, the venue for the debut is sure to capture attention in Chicago Golf Club, the renowned C.B. Macdonald course that last hosted a significant national event in 2005 Walker Cup.
The Senior British Open comes to the Old Course
It’s hard to believe that since the tournament’s inception in 1987, the Senior British Open has never been held at the Old Course. That incongruence will be remedied this July when St. Andrews. More seriously than with the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, the playing of the championship at the Home of Golf could likely entice some senior men’s players who don’t regularly compete in the championship to participate (Nick Faldo and Greg Norman are two who immediately come to mind). But the guy we’d love to see contemplate a return—and we know he’s in shape for it—is Gary Player.
The release of the new Rules of Golf
After unveiling a first draft last March, and taking feedback from the initial look, USGA and R&A officials anticipate releasing a final version of the modernized Rules early this spring in order to be able to have everything buttoned up for their official implementation on Jan. 1, 2019.
Trinity Forest’s debut at the AT&T Byron Nelson
So much has already been written about the nascent Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design that there’s the potential for the hype to make the course impossible to live up to expectations. Still, early reviews have been so strong we can’t help but get excited to see how the course holds up when the PGA Tour makes the move there in May. Suffice to say, it’s not just fans who will be curious about the venue, but officials with the USGA and PGA of America who might be entertaining the possibility of bringing one of their championships there in the future.
PGA Tour golf in Washington D.C.
Not in recent memory has the PGA Tour had this big a question mark on its calendar than the fate of The National, the 11-year-old tournament that has a date (June 28-July 1) but no sponsor or venue. It would be a surprise if tour brass weren’t able to scrap something together for 2018, but the clock is ticking.
The revamped PGA Tour schedule
Sometime this summer, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will announce the most significant change to the tour’s calendar since the creation of the FedEx Cup in 2007. We know that in 2019 the PGA Championship is moving to May and the Players Championship is moving to March. We also know that PGA Tour commissioner wants to move the FedEx Cup playoffs so they end around Labor Day. What else might happen is still to be worked out, but some of the tour’s most long-standing events may perhaps find themselves with places on the calendar.
The revamped Arnold Palmer Cup at Evian Resort
For 20 years the top American college players have competed against their counterparts from Europe in an annual Ryder Cup-style event that has seen some of the top male players participate: 53 former Arnold Palmer Cup players have combined to claim 195 wins on the PGA and European tours, including six major champions. This coming summer at Evian Resort, the matches take on a new complexion with the U.S. taking on the rest of the world and women joining each roster.