Growing the GameDecember 24, 2014

Here's what I'm asking Santa for to help get golf going in 2015

It's that wishing time of the year. We wish for gifts. We wish for golf. We wish for different relatives. And so on.

My wish list is really short. And it's very altruistic. These gifts that I ask for, Santa, I ask for not for myself but as just one member of the great golf family. For the game we love.  I'm Tiny Tim praying, "God bless us every one!" In golf clothes.

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I leave it up to you then, but try to get to as many of these blessings as possible. It's pretty important.

1. The McSlam. Rory McIlroy holds title to the last two majors of 2014. I wish as hard as a person can wish that he wins the first two of 2015 -- his first Masters and his second U.S. Open. This would be cooler than an igloo. Then, as the world of golf treks to St. Andrews, the home of golf, we anticipate a feat no one has ever accomplished--- five consecutive majors. Then, and this just too much to ask for, the PGA Championship becomes Rory's chance to complete the Grand Slam and make golf the coolest sport in the world again. It would also establish a different standard for "greatest player of all time," shifting from Jack's 18 majors to The Slam, whether it be the Tiger Slam, the McSlam, or the Grand Slam. Not even Jack has done that. So the debate over who is the greatest player of all time would continue even if no one reaches Jack's 18 majors, and that's a good thing.

2. The Return of the Tiger. If Rory does not win every major next year, I ask that Tiger win one. Santa, Tiger was naughty, and now he's trying to be nice, and he should be compensated, err, rewarded. Plus, no one stokes the rating like he does. He's had coal in his headcovers for about five years now and how sweet would it be for that major drought to end and the whole world to watch our sport again. If I may push my request just a bit, I also ask that, upon receiving the trophy he says, tearfully, "I just went back to playing golf. Just like I did as a kid. I gave up all the technical stuff. It's a game, right?" We're all excited to hear that Seth Rogen will do a fake interview with the major winner.

3. The National Foursomes Championship. In a surprise move (not to you, of course), the USGA adds this pure alternate shot championship and insists that competitors play as fast as the format can be played -- in about two hours. It's a model for a new kind of golf, and all over the country clubs add foursomes tournaments that revive a sport that has curdled into the Bataan Death March. "Honey, I'll be home for breakfast," replaces "While We're Young" as the USGA motto.  Other formats are also tested. The Met Golf Association expands its promotion of Stableford -- it already uses it on its member "play days" -- and other groups follow suit.

4. Playability. This one should be easy, Santa, because it's kind of already started. You know how we all got into thinking it's fun to shoot 106 and spend a month's rent at a new course that's a "really great test of golf?" Well, it's dawning on architects that maybe that wasn't such a good idea. They acknowledge they got all into Resistance to Scoring until someone said, "Wait, who wants to resist that?" One of them even said  "stern test of golf" was just jargon for "too darn hard." So now they're talking about Playability as the thing golf courses really need, and that's a good thing, because, as one of those architects said, "If we kept designing courses like we did in the 80s we'd all be out of business." Golf should be about fun, especially for new golfers, who need a bit of success to stay with it. Could you speed things up a bit in this department? Wouldn't it be great if courses and clubs did renovations to make their courses more playable, not tougher? It's a slippery Slope, I know. But who knows slopes better than you?

5. A new handicap system. Most people don't use it anyway, but for those who do, the USGA handicap system is a second tax code. Clever people work it. Other people get worked by it. And it's a great excuse to get bogged down in numbers when we should be playing a game. To quote Mr. Hogan, the only shot that counts is the next one.  With a new system play would move faster because only certain rounds  -- tournament or monthly "medal" days—would be recorded, and no one could record more than a double bogey. Differentials would be built on Stableford scores, so there would be fewer conversations beginning, "I'm not sure if that was a 9 or a 10. Let me see…."  Handicap rules like this seem to work in places like Ireland. You know, home of the McSlam.

So that's it, Santa.  I expect if you're able to grant some of these wishes you'll be getting a whole lot more golfer mail this time next year.

Happy Holidays!

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