Imagine, if you will, that we are going back in time to the very beginnings of professional golf.
As far as we are concerned, there are no major championships and no tours; we are free to do what is best for both the spectators around the world and the players who will participate in whatever we come up with.
Let’s start with what we’re not going to do:
1. We’re not going to have a motley collection of separate and inevitably self-interested tours spread all across the globe. In our brave new world, everyone will work together for the common good.
2. We’re not going to have a series of self-important tour commissioners whose sole aim in life is the accumulation of money. We’re going to appoint a benevolent dictator, someone with only the best interests of the game at heart.
3. We’re not going to hold events on mediocre courses just because they are offering the most cash. Instead, we’re going to put the best players on the best courses.
Moving right along, here’s what we are going to do:
1. The new World Tour headquarters will be in St. Andrews, the Home of Golf. Where else?
2. Every tour player will use persimmon-headed woods and balata balls so that the Old Course at St. Andrews can again be played as it was designed to be played. All the tees will be inside the boundary fences. None of the bunkers will be surrounded by long grass. And those putting surfaces will be cut so that, even in a stiffish breeze, they remained playable.
3. Only the best courses will be used, the aim being to produce, over every 11-month season, a variety of challenges for the best players. Those courses will be set-up in ways that will ask not only difficult and interesting and fun questions, but every question. One week, the rough will be long and thick (but never around the greens). In the next, long grass will be non-existent. Sometimes the fairways will be wide; sometimes they will be narrow. And the greens will be everything from really fast to really slow.
The bigger picture is that the ‘World Tour’ will live up to its name, visiting every enclave of the game from the beginning of January to the end of November. There will be no professional golf in the month of December. Both players and spectators need a break, if only to build anticipation for the next round of events.
The season will start in the Middle East with a three-week run through Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. From there, the following fortnight will be spent in South Africa, before three weeks in Australia. One of those weeks will be spent at the southern hemisphere’s premier course, Royal Melbourne, where the first major championship of the season, the World Match Play Championship, will take place.
Next up, after a one-week stop in Hawaii, four weeks in western half of the United States. Although no longer a major championship, The Masters Tournament at Augusta National will then fill its traditional spot (not everything has to change).
After the Masters, a month will then be spent in the south-east of the US, climaxing with the second major championship, the World Players Championship over the WPC course at Sawgrass. The tour will then spend the next five weeks working northwards through the eastern half of America/Canada.
From there, the tour will cross the Atlantic for five weeks in Europe. In three of those weeks, links golf will be played, ending with the third major, the Open Championship. After that mouth-watering little scenario, it will be back across the pond for another month, a run that will contain another former major, the USPGA Championship. The last of those four weeks will showcase the US Open, the fourth and final major of the year.
Following three more weeks in Europe, the tour will spend the last ten weeks in Asia, a compelling mix of events in countries like Japan, China, Thailand and India. And the climax to the season, the World Tour Championship, will be held annually in the Middle East. In other words, back where we started.
Imagine watching the very best golfers playing a game that asks them to display a wide variety of skills rather than simply hitting the same high and straight shot that has sadly become the modern norm. Imagine them playing courses that encourage the shaping of shots from left-to-right and right-to-left. Imagine them showing off their dexterity and imagination inside 50-yards, rather than shuddering as they hack out of yet another mindless patch of long grass.
Yes, yes. I know. It probably will never happen – but it could.