Team Golf
By Snyper on 10/18/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Maybe it's just this time of year that makes me think about ways to improve professional golf, but I can't help but think how awesome the PGA Tour would be if the pros competed as teams instead of just as individuals. NASCAR has a similar set up where guys are teammates, but they still compete as an individual. I love the idea that you aren't just playing for yourself, but for a bigger cause. I think it makes the game better for the players and fans alike. Need proof? Two words, Ryder Cup. I'm not suggesting that this setup would compete with guys that are playing for their country, because nothing will rival that. However, this change would revolutionize the sport, as we know it.
My proposal starts with teams comprised of four players. Points would be awarded based on the finishing positions of each player on the team each week.

Now, don't get me wrong, golf is very much an individual sport and always will be. But, that does not mean that a team element can't be successfully added to professional golf. My proposal starts with teams comprised of four players. Points would be awarded based on the finishing positions of each player on the team each week. The points could simply be the dollar amount that each player earned that week so that the majors and other bigger tournaments would be worth more points. The other option for scoring would be to arbitrarily assign values to the finishing positions each week. Either way, the idea remains that the higher your team finishes collectively, the more points you would earn. Each event would then crown a winning team in addition to a winning individual. Much like high school golf in many states, the record of your team would be kept according to the teams that you won and lost to that week. In other words, if there are 20 teams competing in the event and you win, you would be 19 and 0 for that week. If your team were to finish in 3rd place, your record for the week would be 16 and 2. Keeping track of team records would lend the sport beautifully to a playoff system like every other sport.

All fans live for the playoffs and with the system, you could actually have a playoff at the end of the season instead of a few tournaments that are exactly the same as every other tournament despite the title of a playoff. The top 8 teams would compete in a seeded single elimination tournament over the last four weeks of the season. As with the regular season, the format would remain as stroke play. The winner of the head to head match ups would be determined by the team stroke total over two days. After all, how many people watch golf on Thursday and Friday? I know, I know. There are some diehards like myself that will watch, but most fans are way more interested on Saturday and Sunday. So, instead of watching 50 guys trying to win the Fed Ex Cup when only 10 of them really have a chance and you have no idea who those ten guys are until you listen to a 20-minute tutorial from a talking head on television, you get to watch teams going head-to-head in a winner take all playoff! I would set it up on a schedule like the NFL and play the quarterfinals and the semifinals on back-to-back weekends, but give them a weekend off before the three-day finals on the last weekend. Give the media a little more time to hype-up the match ups and the course that they will be playing. Man, I'm getting excited just thinking about it.
The more events they agree to play, the more money the get paid. Big name players attending more events, who would want that?

It wouldn’t be long before fans stop cheering for just one guy and instead adopt a team to cheer for. There could be team sponsorships of individually owned teams or maybe even teams owned by corporations. How awesome would it be if Team Nike was playing Team Titleist in the season championship!? Every fan of either company would be glued to the television routing their team on! Owners could have as many as 10 players on their roster, but only four could compete in a single event. Owners would have guys on their roster from the “minors”, like the Nationwide Tour, who would get to compete for the team in tournaments that the big name players weren’t competing. Owners would also have to decide which guys to start from week to week. Because teams would own players, players would be getting paid a team salary and not just depending on their individual earnings as their income. This would be a huge incentive for the pros that play for their survival from week to week because they don’t have major sponsorship money to count on. If they made a team, they would be guaranteed a paycheck as per their individual contracts. Sure, you’re never going to get the biggest names to play in every event, but that too would be in their contract. The more events they agree to play, the more money the get paid. Big name players attending more events, who would want that?

Listen, the numbers are arbitrary. I don't care if the teams are four guys or 20 guys. I don’t care if the rosters are 10 guys or 100 guys. The bottom line is, team golf would be amazing. Can you imagine watching PGA Tour pros compete as teammates every week with their owners there grading their performances so that they can set their lineups accordingly each week? I mean, how incredible would it be to hear that his owner is benching Tiger Woods because he stinks! That would be headline news for every television channel and newspaper for weeks! Golf would become more mainstreamed than ever! I've been thinking about this for years and I just can’t think of any reason big enough to stop this from working. It creates a way better playoff system than any other idea that I have heard of or thought of myself. Players may make a little less money at first, but as the sport grew, so would the cash and the pros would be the ones benefiting financially in the long run. Come on PGA Tour! Give the fans what they want! Give us team golf all season long!

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
sepfeiff says:
Matt you have had some pretty awesome columns, but this takes the cake. Team match play similar to Ryder cup format would be epic.
Kickntrue says:
@sepfeiff- pretty awesome, maybe... but a it's a whole different league. the PGA Tour would never even consider getting close to this. You'd have to start your own league and hope to draw big players with ridiculous payouts.

the problem with NASCAR analogy is that owners exist because drivers on their own couldn't afford participation on their own. Golf doesn't have that facet- so there would never be a reason for a player to put himself under an "owner."

Closest you could get is manufacturers- like team Nike, Callaway, etc... but still not same as driving a multi-million dollar machine that needs an entire "team" to operate. The first time Team Nike benches Tiger you'd have mutiny- from fans to TV execs.
dpoimboeuf says:
Very interesting idea, agree that teams formed around equipment sponsorship probably makes the most sense. Definitely makes more of the field relevant in any given tournament. a birdie on 18 for a player well back in the field could make a difference in wether a team wins that component of the tournament. I like it!
dsferris says:
8 player teams. Top four scores count. Everybody from each team plays. If one of your golfers skip a tournament then your team only has seven players. The only thing I am trying to figure out is how to form the teams. Here is what I am thinking. DRAFT!! All the equipment companies go into a draft, and draft the players they want. Here is the rub, lets say a player plays Ping Irons and Cleveland Wedges. Ping doesn't pick that player first, then Cleveland can pick them.
windowsurfer says:
Fun ideas. I like the annual draft too - who to protect?
Backquak says:
I was thinking the same thing as the rest of u, there are already teams formed they just don't have a open competition, team nike and team callaway play each other every week but there isn't a points total for how they finish, but that could be interesting... and you know it would put more pressure on the equipment manufacturer's to keep the entire bag their brand. no more taylormade driver, callaway fairways, mizuno irons, cleveland wedges, nike putter and titleist ball. Now you have to play the whole brand.
cjgiant says:
I love this concept, as roughly formed as it is. I would definitely be looking further down the leaderboard if I had a "team" to root for.

I also agree it won't happen soon, and the pure team concept (prize money is to teams/sponsors, who pay the individuals) will likely never happen. However, if the many factors that are turning people from golf continue, a hybrid individual/team could be a shock to the system golf could use to gain interest. The only question would be how to make business sense of it instead of just glorified fantasy golf.

Could it be tested on another tour to try to increase interest (Senior Tour would have some names perhaps to draw people over the Nationwide or LPGA). These tours will suffer most from lack of fans, and if there was some increase in interest, it may be an indication of its viability.
mjaber says:
I love the team/Ryder Cup format for golf. I'd love to see a "school-yard football" team event. A few captains, pick teams from a pool of golfers and have at it.

Another option, that I've raised before, is a PGA/LPGA tourney where each PGA player is teamed with an LPGA player. I doubt you could get the PGA to go for it, but it'd help out the LPGA a ton.

I think there is a ton of room for different forms of golf other than just stroke play, and adding those formats to a few tournaments each year would help grow the game of golf.
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