Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
THE SOAP OPERA THAT WAS 2022
What a year it was for golf fans, who had their sport flipped upside down, in and out of courtrooms and on the front pages of news outlets across the world this past year. Congrats everyone – in the age where everything needs to have two sides that hate each other, we politicized golf in 2022 from here forward. Golf took center stage in 2022 for mostly the wrong reasons as the LIV Golf initiative drove a massive fault line into the men’s professional game. As the chaos and controversy ensued and the Saudi-backed golf league run by a disgruntled Greg Norman wrangled several world-class players to play, it became an “us vs them” pick-a-side type of debate amongst golf fans, golfers, and sports fans that continues on feverishly.
On the actual course – Tiger returned (sort of), Scottie Scheffler burst onto the scene, Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko defied the odds, and the familiar faces of the PGA Tour kept finding the winner’s circle in 2022 as all of the LIV golf drama played out in real-time. Since that storyline is clearly not over, where does it all go from here? Let’s dissect what’s to come in the game of golf in 2023 with what’s on tap in the new year.
LIV VS. PGA TOUR – KISS AND MAKE-UP IN 2023?
If the sports world is framed as a romantic comedy, we’re all wondering if we get the settlement and negotiations in 2023 that lead to SOME sort of collaboration or alignment between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. They may never be BFFs, but we’re quickly figuring out that they’re going to have to co-exist in each other’s stratosphere for the years to come. Phil, DJ, Brooksy, and the LIV golf cohorts have drawn the line in the sand, and the PGA Tour cronies Rory, Tiger, Spieth, and JT have not minced words about their thoughts on the rival league (read: they hate it).
In 2023 golf fans are going to find themselves watching more courtroom drama than ever before, as LIV golfers still fight for the right to play anywhere they want, the debate over world golf ranking points will simmer and tensions will surely only rise. There have already been recent departures in the LIV golf executive trust, so Greg Norman’s future is certainly on ice heading into the New Year.
THE FUTURE IS HERE
One bright side in the game that’s driving golf into the future is being fueled by technology, and that will continue to expand in 2023. The PGA Tour has been ambitious in linking up several sportsbook betting partnerships in 2022 that have bolstered the golf wagering experience in the best ways. With the recent announcement of a PGA Tour-fueled sportsbook being built on the ground of TPC Scottsdale, it’s no secret that golf is ALL THE WAY in on sports wagering. Live betting at tournaments and online, shot-by-shot wagering, and kiosks on the course? It could all be very soon.
If that isn’t interactive enough, brace yourself for the onslaught of made-for-tv matches, and a lot more buildup for the 2024 stadium links series that Tiger and Rory are authoring. It’s clear the PGA Tour recognizes the need to get increasingly modern, and technology-driven, and lean into the live watching and wagering experience. Look for 2023 to take golf tech and interactivity to new heights – we’re already playing in the metaverse anyways!
THE MAJORS: A LOOK AHEAD
Well, obviously we’ll be on Tiger watch until April to see if he can hobble through 72 holes as he bracket did in 2022. Outside of that, a Scottie Scheffler repeat narrative is in play, and will there be LIV players walking the grounds? Very likely. While Augusta has wagged its finger at LIV golfers, they haven’t formally banned them from playing if they qualify.
The PGA is in mid-may at a BEAR of a track in Oak Hill, which should play more like a U.S. Open track in difficulty. Definitely, a carnage course in the PGA rotation that should be a stern test – Justin Thomas defends his second Wannamaker trophy.
California…knows how to party. For the first time in its history, the national championship will be played at Los Angeles Country Club, an iconic Southern California track that will be a brand new look in a major for golf fans. There should be a lot of media coverage and hype around this event in L.A., and it’s about as far away from last year’s venue (Brookline CC in Mass.) as you can get. Matt Fitzpatrick defends his first major championship victory.
It feels like ages ago that Cam Smith won the Open at St. Andrews and then hopped to LIV golf days later. That was the jaw-drop headline of the year for sure, now let’s see if he’s back to defend. The R&A has been much more direct speaking against LIV golf, but like the Masters, they have OUTRIGHT banned players from competing. Oh, the drama to come around this hot-button topic…
THE LPGA: WHO’S THE NEW QUEEN?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out the women;’s game, which has soared to new heights on the heels of bigger purses, higher ratings, and top-tier worldwide stars playing at their best. The world’s #1 ranking was tossed between Lydia Ko and Nelly Korda for most of the season. Ko re-emerged at the top after being a teenage phenom turned letdown, who revived her greatness in her mid-20s. Nelly Korda faced the course adversity and health scare that was tamed, and she came back in winning style to end the season. Throw in worldwide stars like Minjee Lee and Jin Young Ko, and you have a truly global tour with bigger things to come in 2023.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2023
-Battle of the Sexes: Let’s get the LPGA’s best involved in future made for tv matches. Tiger and Nelly Korda versus Rory and Lydia Ko would add a whole new dimension to the event.
-Team Up MORE: let’s elevate some other events or at least switch up the flow and have a few more team competitions. Imagine if those Tuesday money matches on tour were actually televised.
-More Korn: Selfishly, I’m asking the Golf Channel for more Korn Ferry Tour coverage – it’s the next crop of PGA Tour stars and I want more Korn in my life.
-Meet me at the Sunset: Can we get some sunset/under-the-lights finishes in 2023? If we can do a 12-match under the lights in Florida, we should have holes 16-18 of some events ready for twilight golf, right? What a vibe that would be…