Rickie Fowler is asked about evolution in golf. He had 1 key wish

Rickie Fowler, ahead of this week’s Cognizant Classic, was asked about evolution in golf. He had one key wish.

The post Rickie Fowler is asked about evolution in golf. He had 1 key wish appeared first on Golf.

Rickie Fowler, ahead of this week’s Cognizant Classic, was asked about evolution in golf. He had one key wish.

The post Rickie Fowler is asked about evolution in golf. He had 1 key wish appeared first on Golf.

In men’s pro golf, for better or worse (we’ll let you be the judge), there’s maybe never been a better time to want. 

If it’s money you desire, there’s money. Billions actually. Upstart LIV Golf, backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), has that. The PGA Tour, the established brand, has that, now thanks to some wealthy sports owners, and more could be on the way, via a PIF deal announced last June but remains in the works. And players have been winners. Over the three seasons of LIV, it has tried to entice players to join while the PGA Tour has tried to persuade them to stay — and, like a Rory McIlroy tee shot, the money has gone up, up, up. 

To an extent. There’s a limit. A player won’t get a trillion bucks. (We think.) 

But there are other ways to woo. 

It’s part of the reason LIV pros wear shorts and LIV events have welcome parties. It’s part of the reason why the Tour is experimenting with its tournament structure. The sides are recruiting, which means they’re listening. Everything’s on the table. The suggestion box is open. 

Which brings us to Wednesday, a day ahead of the Tour’s Cognizant Classic and two days ahead of LIV’s event in Saudi Arabia — and Rickie Fowler, one of golf’s shiniest stars. 

What would he want? 

If you remember, the question had been tossed out by a GOLF.com reporter at last year’s FedEx-St. Jude Championship — and the answers were diverse. Jon Rahm, before he eventually left for LIV, wanted — more Port-A-Potties. (His exact quote: “I know this is going to sound very stupid, but as simple as having a freaking Port-a-Potty on every hole — I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t choose when I have to go to the bathroom. I’ve told the Tour this many times, as simple as that.) Brian Harman wanted more cold plunges. Aaron Rai wanted the Tour to focus on its stories of the players. To build the Tour brand — by building the players’ brands. Win-win. 

Fowler’s answer had a similar feel. For clarity, here is the complete exchange, started by a reporter:

“There’s a lot of talk about the money from SSG [the sports owners group] to allow the PGA Tour to be innovative and do some cool new things. Do you have any big ideas you can share?”

“I mean, I’d say luckily I haven’t had to think about that too much,” Fowler said. “I haven’t been as involved as some of the guys like Tiger [Woods] and [Patrick] Cantlay. I’m excited about the partnership because I feel like there’s some very smart and influential people part of that SSG group that I feel like ultimately can help the Tour evolve and head in a potentially better direction and be in a better position for the future.

“As far as big ideas, not necessarily. That’s a rabbit hole we could go down …”

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“Please do.”

Here, Fowler looked at his watch. He then answered. 

“No, I feel like ultimately we’re in the entertainment business, and we’ve got to figure out a better way to entertain our fans and it come across better on TV. How we do that, I don’t exactly know, but like I said, I feel like with the people that are involved, I definitely trust the guys, the players that have been involved, and I feel like the guys — especially since they’re not just golf guys, I think they have enormous respect for the game of golf, but also they come from a lot of different avenues in sports and business, and I feel like they can help us kind of give direction on where we can or need to go.”

“But how much can things really evolve? Everything that LIV has tried is been ridiculed, whether it’s the shotgun or the music or compressing the tournament into three days. Is there any room for evolution in this sport?”

“I think within reason,” Fowler said, “but at the same time, like you said, it’s also a very traditional sport with traditional tournaments, 72 holes, cut going into the weekend.

“I do feel like, say if the season is kind of where it’s at, with the January to August, is there ways to do different things in the fall, but I also at the same time I feel like there needs to — we kind of have to create the want for golf. Right now, you can basically watch golf every week of the year for the most part. There’s not really an offseason.

“I feel like with other sports, people can’t wait for football preseason to start up, and that’s just preseason. The games don’t really matter a whole lot.

“Something along those lines to create a little bit more of a demand for golf because depending on how you want to talk about it, is the product potentially diluted with how much golf is available.”

Interesting answer, right? A request for an offseason, but with the fans in mind — where ultimately interest could grow and players profit. Considering it’s Fowler, you figure someone is at least jotting the idea down. 

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Of course, there are obstacles.

The PGA Tour does run January through August — sort of. There are fall events, some long established, and players have opportunities and money — lots of it — is involved. Tournaments are big deals in cities. There’s also the question of whether every player would actually want an offseason. It was a topic GOLF’s Sean Zak discussed in an article published last August. There’s a benefit to repetition. 

Then again, LIV has an offseason. Last year, the league started at the end of February, ended a 14-event schedule at the end of October and didn’t start again until the beginning of this month. Of course, who knows what the future holds between LIV and the Tour. Maybe they merge — remember the Tour’s PIF deal is being discussed. Maybe they don’t. A lot of things could happen.    

And there’s maybe never been a better time to want.

The post Rickie Fowler is asked about evolution in golf. He had 1 key wish appeared first on Golf.