Parity in golf the norm, not the exception

By Jason SobelJuly 18, 2012, 3:05 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – There have been five different teams to win the last five World Series titles and nine in the past 11 years – and Major League Baseball is widely lauded for its virtuous parity.

Four different teams have claimed the last four Super Bowls and six in the past eight years – and the National Football League is universally celebrated for its equitable diversity.

Fifteen different golfers have captured the last 15 major championships, including nine consecutive first-time winners – and the prevailing feeling is that something is “wrong” with golf.

What a crock. Instead, something’s wrong with the prevailing feeling.

It’s no secret that in the dozen years from 1997-2008, we all became desensitized to domination. Tiger Woods won 14 of the 48 majors that were contested during this period, peeling ‘em off at a clip that was never before witnessed in the game.


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Whether you recognized his individual greatness with each additional achievement or gradually took him for granted – or both – there was a sense that Woods’ accomplishments were somehow normal after a while, that we should expect him to triumph more often than not.

The truth is, that was the deviation from the norm. Not this.

In the years since that dominance has subsided, the game has reverted to form. Much like its championship counterparts in most team sports, the list of major champions is once again an eclectic mix of superstars prevailing over their peers, up-and-comers breaking through and one-hit wonders getting a turn to shine in the spotlight.

Call it a Parity Party.

No longer are questions posed in regard to choosing one player over the rest of the entire field. Such queries have instead transitioned into inquiries about the current depth of fields, which the pros almost unanimously concur are more extensive than they’ve ever been before.

“I think the fields are deeper, there's no doubt,” Woods said in advance of this week’s Open Championship. “You need to have a hot week at the right time. That's what it comes down to. I think that there are more guys now have a chance to win major championships than ever before and I think that will just continue to be that way. What do we have, 15 in a row I think it is now? It just goes to show you the depth of the field.”

The current streak of varied winners isn’t the lengthiest in the game’s history – from the 1983 U.S. Open through the 1987 Open Championship, there were 18 different champions – but it’s difficult to argue that field depths aren’t monumentally stronger than those of past generations.

Don’t believe the players who are competitive now and have only known it one way? Then ask a guy whose career has spanned two separate eras.

“I was in the right era for my time, for the tournaments that I won,” explained Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open champion who is again competing this week. “I think if I was in my prime today, I seriously doubt I’d win a major or win 13 times. Just because everybody else is that much better than they were 20 years ago.”

All of which begs the question: Which is better?

Is it more beneficial for the game to have a singularly dominant player who draws worldwide interest every time he tees it up? Or is it more advantageous to boast a competitive balance that features a different champion on any given week?

Well, it depends whom you ask.

“I think you can argue it both ways,” Rickie Fowler contended. “I think it's fun knowing going into the week that there's a full field of guys and almost anyone can win. Not saying, ‘OK, there's a 50 percent chance that this guy is going to win this week; we'll try to give him a run, if not we'll play for second.’ As a player, I think it's a lot more fun playing against a handful of guys fighting it out for a championship versus trying to beat down one guy and play for second.”

That may be the case, but any notion that something is “wrong” with the current state of the game just because it has become less predictable is foolish at best and insulting at worst.

Think back to that 12-year period when Woods claimed those 14 major titles. If the first question before each of those performances was, “Tiger or the field?” then the second was often, “Why won’t anybody step up and challenge Tiger?”

Guess what, golf fans? It isn’t just one player who has stepped up. It’s many of ‘em, consistently and constantly.

In other sports, parity is proof that the system is working, forever regenerating itself with new, different champions. In golf, the current state of the game is too often perceived in a negative light.

Instead, the prevailing feeling should be that this is perfectly normal.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: