Twelve influential, experienced, opinionated people. One stage. One moderator.
Worse than L.A. traffic?
No; much better, really. Thats not to say that managing the logistics and exchanges among the panelists during the taping of Royal Bank of Scotland presents The State of the Game was easy. But it was a great deal more exhilarating than an hour on the 405.
Actually, it was a dream assignment. Jack Nicklaus, Suzy Whaley, TaylorMade-adidas golf chief Mark King, Golf 20/20 director Ruffin Beckwith, Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim, Golf World editor-in-chief Geoff Russell, PGA Tour veteran John Cook, LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw, Nike Golf GM David Pillsbury, course designer Tom Fazio, Cleveland Golf president Greg Hopkins and Golf Channel technical adviser Frank Thomas formed the panel. And yes, their heavyweight insights into golf are as substantial as all that.
Starting from a basis of healthy respect, this group lit into each other pretty hard on their ideas ' and differences ' about whats good for golf. Always with the decency the games traditions demand, they took each other on, not waiting for me to call on them. Their energy made for a fun ' and fast-paced ' evening.
Jack Nicklaus took the offensive in his defense of his and Gary Players decision at the Presidents Cup. Suzy Whaley, who brings a lot of positive energy to any issue, was ready with the grass-roots perspective on participation and what recreational players think. After all, she just about loses count of how many lessons she gives every week.
Greg Hopkins was frank about golfs growth ' which is stuck, in his view. John Solheim brings 40 years of experience, begun working at the side of his father Karsten, who founded Ping. Tom Fazio had cogent observations on how golfs playing fields have changed in response to equipment advances and other factors.
Naturally, player performance and golf ball distance generated more heat than any other subjects. The constant tension between recreational player desires, advances at the games elite level, and manufacturers need to innovate make for lively discussion.
Fact is, we could have gone on all night, and I think the panelists were willing. To me, that illuminates one more reason why golf is superior to so many other sports. Our game is as interesting to talk about as it is to play. And legends and the lesser-known can come together to discuss it ' and do.
Thanks for watching. I hope youll enjoy the show.