PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

The Loop

A (possibly) leaked internal memo on how to make golf less boring

January 21, 2018
PGA Championship - Round One

Chris Graythen

Note: A recent survey by YouGov in Great Britain declared golf the most boring among 17 sports. Sports deemed more engaging included cricket, snooker and darts. It’s impossible to know what the Tour’s official response will be, but an internal communication slipped to us from Ponte Vedra may suggest current thinking.*

(*Or maybe we're making this up)


To: The Commissioner

From: Director of Marketing

Re: Suggested Tour Response (with Action Points) to survey declaring Golf “Most Boring” Spectator Sport

Very important that our response here not be defensive. Yes, we could say golf is boring in Britain because everything’s boring in Britain. Or hang our hat on the fact that baseball wasn’t included. But why not go Big Humble and say: “We’ve heard our fans. We will change. In fact, we’re incorporating best practices from sports that beat us to make ours more exciting!!”

Consider these simple fan-appeal boosters:

Concussion protocol. Tour fans get bonked every week. No doubt a few die. Can’t we make more of this? Or even add a Tour Mental Health Protocol (TMPH) for competitors. When a player is completely stumped by a simple rule, TMHP protocol would be: “Where are you? How many clubs am I holding? How many rules seminars have you attended?” Nothing could be more pulse-quickening.

Time Qualifying. In January, we send players out one by one on a course to be named later and sponsored, by, say, Toro Time Cutter, and each gets a time. From that point on, fastest players start before slower ones all the time. Identification with weekend warrior is enhanced. Adds whole new event to the calendar and an annual award: The Bridgestone Pole Sitter. Millennial as hell.

A season. Review of the 16 sports that were deemed less boring than us indicates that all possess a season. This means they benefit from an off-season and resultant fan anticipation. (Even cricket, one suspects, is exciting after a period of no-cricket.) The intern calculated that our off-season this year was December 27. Probably insufficient. What if we took off, say, an entire week?

Shorts. Nothing’s more exciting than shorts, but we’ve let other sports steal the idea of putting competitors in them. Fans dig ‘em. Look at those legs! Look at those muscles! Look at that gnarly scar! Plus, makes for a better broadcast: "Kostis: 'He has pronated his left patella to a degree no one but Bobby Locke has ever achieved.'”* If shorts aren’t a fit, why not yoga pants? LPGA way ahead here. “Official Bottoms of PGA Tour?” I’m on the phone to Lulu right now.

Shot clock. Not a pace-of-play thing, boss, of which we’re all sick. This is about the thrill of watching anyone do anything when they don’t have entirely forever to do it. Talk about broadcast intensity! “Holly, Jordan can walk a mile, talk things over with Michael, position Michael up on the hill, and talk a bit to himself about this one, but that could cost him two shots. Or, he can run to his ball in the next 26 seconds and pull the trigger, costing him nothing. Which way’s he leaning?” Easily gameified.

Penalty Box. The game of golf has more penalties than a Catholic grade school, but totally lacks humiliation and public shaming. Why can’t the Tour lead the way here? Physical box probably of the question—pace of play and all—so we suggest a virtual box: Incur a penalty and for two holes violator wears computer-generated purple T-shirt with a giant white P or a message like, Guilty as Charged. Front and back panels could be sponsored separately, but with category exclusivity. Viral. Viral. Viral.

Mascots. I can’t believe we haven’t done this before. Each player in Top Ten gets a mascot. Mascot runs up and down the ropes cheering his man and heckling his opponents. A fan favorite-underwritten by ten different companies! Job opportunity for old caddies (or wives). Total disruptor.

Halftime Show. Darius is the obvious choice here. Justin, if we have a sponsor. Option to extend to playoffs during all that driving-back-to-18 time. At the very least every stadium course should have an organ—just like stadiums!! I’ll call to follow up.