Finchem's vision for the Tour will define his legacy

By Rex HoggardNovember 30, 2016, 6:28 pm

Throughout his more than two decades as the PGA Tour’s front man, Tim Finchem was never one to spend much time rehashing ancient history.

Even when his retirement was at hand and a successor in place, the former politico-turned-commissioner would talk about his Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., team and the Tour’s long-term health, not what may or may not be written on his Wikipedia page.

Even on Nov. 7, the day he announced to his team that he would be stepping down as commissioner on Jan. 1, ending a tenure that began in 1994, Finchem didn’t care to go over his career scorecard.

By various accounts, he took a moment to thank his staff and spent the evening saying goodbye to friends and colleagues. There wasn’t even a gold watch, at least not one that Jason Bohn saw, but there were gifts. Lots of gifts.

According to Bohn, one of four player directors on the Tour’s policy board, Finchem’s lowest round was a 67 he shot a few years ago in Colorado.

“I found him an 1867 U.S. half dollar to mark his ball with and I told him, ‘Sixty-seven is your best score, so your goal in retirement should be to try and beat that,’” Bohn said.

There was a lot of that during what was described as an emotional evening. There are people you work with and those you are friends with. For many, Finchem was both.

Finchem, who will turn the office over to incoming commissioner Jay Monahan early next year, was a pragmatist, some would say he was a visionary, while others would describe him as an autocrat.

What isn’t up for debate is that Finchem left the Tour better than he found it. Although he’s been reluctant to take a deep dive into his own legacy, those who have watched the circuit grow have no shortage of opinions.

 “There are so many things he did, FedEx Cup, World Golf Championships, the growth of the Tour. Bringing all of the organizations together,” Davis Love III said. “The PGA of America, USGA, R&A, Augusta National, you’d think we’d all be fighting, but it seems we’re pulling in the same direction.”

Love has had a particularly unique perspective of Finchem’s reign. The 21-time Tour winner had just been elected to his first term on the policy board in 1994 and rejoined the board last year, at the request of Finchem, to help Monahan with the transition.

While many on the outside of Finchem’s inner circle see a leader who has appeared inflexible, Love said the commissioner’s leadership style is more of a consensus builder who is willing to listen to ideas and implement them.

“Sitting in on a lot of it, there were a lot of ideas he threw out and you thought, ‘That will never work,’” Love said. “There’s been some stuff, even the New Orleans thing [the recently announced team event at the Zurich Classic]. I was like, ‘I don’t know, team event, guys are already skipping New Orleans, is that going to help.’ But it’s already working.”

Finchem wasn’t always in step with the players, but “if four player directors tell him something, he listens,” Love said.

Throughout his career, Finchem never shied away from sweeping, some would even say revolutionary, changes like the FedEx Cup, which the Tour introduced in 2007.

Every time, the challenge for Finchem was to allow the players to see the forest for the trees – which was not always easy.

“Emotionally we may have thought, ‘This is ridiculous,’” Bohn said. “As players, you don’t want to change things. We’re not very forward thinking people because we’re emotionally attached to the current situation, and it’s good.”

Whatever your opinion of the season-long FedEx Cup race, there is no denying that golf’s post-season has succeeded in bringing together the game’s best players in major markets to play meaningful events during a time of year when golf has traditionally been an afterthought.

“Tim would probably say he wants The First Tee to be his legacy, but I think the FedEx Cup is his largest legacy. Most people don’t associate The First Tee with Finchem, but they do associate the FedEx Cup with Finchem,” said Stewart Cink, a former member of the policy board.

Bohn took a more esoteric view of Finchem’s body of work, focusing on the commissioner’s lower profile accomplishments.

“I give commissioner Finchem the most credit for The First Tee, and also for putting golf back in the Olympics,” Bohn said. “I think he worked really hard at that. But what The First Tee program has done for so many kids, that’s his legacy.”

Whatever Finchem’s legacy, be it The First Tee or FedEx Cup, it might have been his analytical approach to problem solving and crisis management that is most overlooked.

There have been missteps, like the handling of the Vijay Singh and Casey Martin lawsuits – both of which left the Tour looking insensitive at best and insular at worst. But now, in the twilight of his career, it’s telling that Finchem’s detached leadership style may have been his best asset.

“I’ve met some intelligent people in my life, but he may have been the most intelligent in the sense that every time he handled a difficult situation he never reacted to emotion, he only reacted to thought,” Bohn said. “When he spoke about an issue you could tell he thought about the issue before he spoke. He didn’t just speak to be heard.”

Finchem wasn’t always in step with his players or the media, and he certainly didn’t leave behind a legacy of openness at Tour headquarters, but his vision for the circuit and the game never wavered.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.