Here are my thoughts on the six most impactful stories in golf this year…
Arnold Palmer is the greatest golfer that ever lived, maybe not the best, but in terms of overall impact on the game the greatest. His passing on the Sunday leading into the Ryder Cup week in September, created a celebration of his life unlike any golf has ever seen. Arnold had a truly profound effect on my career and my life and for that, I will be eternally grateful. There will never be another Arnold Palmer…
After nearly two decades of European domination, the US retools its commitment and plan and wins back the Ryder Cup. From beginning to end, the quality of competition, and enthusiasm at spectacular Hazeltine C.C. was incredible….almost surreal. This was simply the greatest sporting event I have ever witnessed.
The Open at Royal Troon was aired for the first time on Golf Channel and NBC Sports. On Sunday, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson delivered a duel that many are saying was one of the best in major championship history. In the end, Stenson prevailed, and the two left us all with tremendous anticipation for 2017 at Birkdale.
After nearly a decade of major championship close calls, bad fortune and frustration, Dustin Johnson finally claimed his at the US Open at Oakmont. Shaking off an unbelievably distracting rules snafu that plagued DJ and the television viewers for much of the final round, Johnson persevered and established himself as a major championship favorite for many years to come.
In a major breakthrough regarding the Rules of Golf, the USGA announced the implementation, beginning on Jan. 1, 2017 of a local rule that eliminates the penalty for a player that accidentally causes a ball to move on the putting green. This is an extremely significant step that was instigated primarily because of the Dustin Johnson fiasco at Oakmont. I believe this will be a big step by the USGA and R&A toward the very important process of simplifying the Rules of Golf.
There is no player in the history of the game that “moves the needle” for fan interest like Tiger Woods. For over two decades, Tiger has attracted audiences both on site and on television like no player we have ever seen. His return to competitive golf in December, after 15 months off, produced gigantic ratings and captured the attention of fans worldwide….a great sign for the game over the next couple of years.