Saudi deal, Tiger and the best rando golf partners ever: 23 Christmas wishes  

Here are 23 Christmas wishes for the golf world, including wishes for the Saudi deal, Tiger Woods — and the best random golf partners ever.

The post Saudi deal, Tiger and the best rando golf partners ever: 23 Christmas wishes   appeared first on Golf.

Here are 23 Christmas wishes for the golf world, including wishes for the Saudi deal, Tiger Woods — and the best random golf partners ever.

The post Saudi deal, Tiger and the best rando golf partners ever: 23 Christmas wishes   appeared first on Golf.

“Well, how the fa-la-la-la are you?”

Only she said another F word there. Her friend then added this:

“Don’t mind her. She’s four drinks in.”

I was smitten. In love. All you need is that, right? And these ladies had it. Me, too. On a late summer afternoon, on a well-used muni in the Bronx, New York, I had fallen head over golf shoes for two previously unknown women whom I had joined up with. 

They were very merry. 

They drank. They cursed. They laughed. At themselves. At each other. Eventually at me. They talked about how their lessons weren’t working. They wanted to fight some slower players ahead of us. They cheered for good shots. They asked where I worked. They told me where they worked: Both were longtime teachers. Sweet!

Eventually, sadly, we went our separate ways. But they’ll go down as the best rando golf partners I’ve ever had. I told them that, too. So they immediately came to mind as we renew this annual exercise where we offer up Christmas wishes for folks across the golf world. They deserve a present. It’s simple, though: 

More. Just keep doing what you’re doing. No changes. No notes. They’ve got this silly game won. They love it. So just more of that for them. 

Here are 22 more thoughts.  

2. About a month earlier, at that same course, I was paired up with two more memorable players, a dad and his young son, both visiting from the United Arab Emirates. Dad brought up LIV Golf. Watching neighboring Saudi Arabia spend billions on the golf league, he was interested by it all, and I’ll simply leave it at that.

My wish, though, is for the son.  

He’s a Rory McIlroy fan. He’s seen him often at the Dubai Desert Classic. My wish is that he gets to watch more pro golf in his area. The kid was really good. And inspired. 

3. With that, let’s make some wishes for the Saudi PIF-PGA Tour deal. Or whatever may come of it. Then again, what do you get for something that already has everything?  

But wish one for the deal is transparency. And the clear, definitive ability to answer this: Why would the Tour take Saudi money, after its commissioner once said this, on national TV, in reference to others who had: “I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would ever consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?’”  

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4. Wish two for the deal — there are just three; I promise there won’t be 23 — is the ability to answer this question: Are golfers really worth that much?

On the Five Clubs podcast a few weeks ago, former pro-turned-analyst Frank Nobilo wondered that actually.

“But I also think there’s a realization — we don’t rate high enough, as much as it pains me to say,” he said on the podcast. “Golfers are overpaid compared to every other sport. No one wants to admit that. They don’t want to say it. 

“If LIV never came along — we’re going to have so many 20 million-plus purses. And we don’t have the ratings. We’ll globally — and I’ve used this a bunch of times — volleyball worldwide rates higher than golf. I don’t see volleyball players racing around in private planes and all sorts of things. So we are in a really weird space.”

5. The last wish for the deal is the ability to understand that the fans still matter. They have pull. They have choice. They don’t have to go to tournaments. They don’t have to watch events. Pro golf is still fan entertainment. 

6. LIV Golf. The wish is the competence to take a good look at a product that requires you to spend a half-billion dollars or so to convince one player to join

7. PGA Tour. The wish is the competence to take a good look at a product that has your star players thinking about leaving for a tour that has been routinely criticized. 

8. Pro golf fans. Some finality to all this.  

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9. Pro golf news fans. More of all this. 

10. Phil Mickelson. A U.S. Open win. Finally. At, of all places, Pinehurst, where 25 years earlier he memorably embraced Payne Stewart on the 18th. The Mickelson story, one of the weirdest-ever in golf, would just get weirder. 

11. Tiger Woods. A PGA Championship win. At Valhalla, where 24 years earlier, he won major No. 5.  

12. McIlroy. A Masters win. Whew, now we’re really rolling. 

13. Aaron Rai. An Open Championship win. 

Wait, why Aaron Rai? Glad you asked. 

Back in this space during the PGA Championship, it was Rai who was playing a practice round late on a Tuesday at Oak Hill. And it was at Oak Hill where, according to local legend, the ghost of Buffalo Bill visits the grounds. Earlier, I had even talked to a psychic on how to talk to ghosts, should I ever encounter one. So I asked Rai about it all soon after he teed off on a hole. He laughed. But he said he believed in ghosts and thoughtfully explained why.

Then, coming up to a point where the ghost apparently has been often seen, I tried to talk to it. Nothing. I thanked Rai for the time.

Only he asked to try. 

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Of course he could! But nothing. I again thanked Rai. 

Only he asked if we both should try. 

Of course we could! But nothing again. 

So yeah, I hope Rai wins the Claret Jug. (If you’re at all curious, here’s the story — and video.)

14. The USGA and the R&A. The understanding to communicate your rollback. Roll-back the ball 5 yards. Ten yards. A hundred yards. 

But be clear with your constituency. 

15. Golf-ball purchasers. The kindness not to buy up all these hot golf balls. Save me some! 

16. Presidents Cup. Hats for the International fans this upcoming year in Montreal. Seems to work

17. Solheim Cup. A name like Carlota Ciganda for the fans this upcoming year in Virginia. The way last year’s rowdies chanted it to the tune of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army has been stuck in my head for three months. Car-lo-ta Ci-gan-da. Car-lo-ta Ci-gan-da. Car-lo-ta Ci-gan-da. 

18. U.S. Women’s Open. The Rose Zhang breakthrough. 

19. Women’s Open. A Gemma Dryburgh victory. She’s another favorite in this space. But an Open win, in her home country of Scotland, at legendary St. Andrews, would be a hoot. And St. Andrews Brewing Company, one of her sponsors, would be pouring loooong into the night.  

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20. Golf’s powers-that-be. The ability to listen to Nelly Korda. It was Korda who had this exchange last week with a reporter at the PNC Championship:

“Prize money is growing; attraction is there. Do you feel like the LPGA is getting enough attention as it should compared with other women’s sports? And if not, what’s holding it back, do you think?”

“I mean, I think what’s holding it back is that we’re not on prime-time TV obviously all the time like the men are. I think that’s where you get the most viewership.

“But it is trending in the right direction. And a lot of people, if you give them a finger, they want the whole hand, they want the whole arm. So you have to go a step at a time.

“And I think that we are making the right steps forward as a Tour. But obviously being there, you would like it to progress maybe faster. But I think it’s all about putting it in the right spot and on the right platform, and that’s, honestly, prime-time TV.”

21. Golf fans. The ability to play this game just a little more like Will McGee, the young son of Annika Sorenstam.  

22. Golf fans wish two. Same as last year, actually. And forever. The ability to cut out at noon on Friday and play until the sun sets. And eat a brat at the turn. And win the Masters ticket lottery. And go on a fall golf trip. The good stuff.  

23. Me. The chance to stumble across more monkeys at exotic places like the Playboy Mansion. 

Like I did at the U.S. Open. 

The post Saudi deal, Tiger and the best rando golf partners ever: 23 Christmas wishes   appeared first on Golf.

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