PROGNOSTICATION SEASON HAS BEGUN: Now that the year is winding up, we can start making some predictions about golf's 2001 and beyond. (And if I were you right now, I'd be saying, 'Hey, who's `We'?')
Don't be surprised if:
Arnold Palmer defends his ERC II position on TV....and his fans accept the explanation.
Most major club companies market nonconforming drivers in the United States within the next three years.
The USGA Executive Committee gets some decidedly less hard-line members over the next five years.
Tiger Woods plays just as well next year....and TV ratings drop a little anyway (but still whack the NBA).
Woods and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem settle their differences on Tour sponsors' use of Tiger's name and likeness and independent contractor status.for now.
The Tour makes an enormous new TV deal in 2003 on the strength of Woods having won three more majors.
Callaway Golf redoubles its efforts in golf balls and takes on Nike; TaylorMade continues to struggle in that category.
Callaway begins a Grow the Game crusade based on more enjoyable equipment that offers performance advantages, usurping the USGA's declared mission of spreading the golf gospel.
The USGA finally gets serious professional public relations help to change its blue-coat, ivory-tower image with the majority of American recreational golfers.
Interest in the Rules of Golf increases as a result of the equipment debate. Purists abound; club championships are contested over the issue of nonconforming driver use. Chads, thankfully, are not an issue.
Nike Golf markets wedges and putters before the end of 2001, with irons to come in 2002.
The PGA Tour prevails in its appeal to the Supreme Court in the Casey Martin carts-for-disabled professionals case - assuming no Justices have died or retired and been replaced by President Whoever.
Downhill three-footers for the match won't get any easier.