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What Golf Can Learn From Other Sports

By: | Mon 15 Jan 2024

You don’t need me to tell you that the world of golf is in turmoil at the moment, especially at the professional level. 

The game is shrouded in uncertainty as the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf desperately try to find a way to work together. 

On top of that, Keith Pelley is leaving the DP World Tour and R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has also announced his departure.

It got us thinking about the way other sports deal with change. So the simple question is: what can golf learn from other sports?


Will Zalatoris has just returned to competitive action after back fusion surgery. When he competed at the WGC Dell Technologies Matchplay last year he was ranked eighth in the world. It was his final competitive appearance before going under the knife. Through no fault of his own, his ranking is now 44th. Why doesn’t golf follow the example of tennis, which provides protected rankings for players who suffer long-term injuries?

And staying with tennis, the winners of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open all collect exactly the same amount of prize money, regardless of their sex. Each of the Grand Slams - for both genders - are played concurrently at the same venue. Interestingly, the women play the best of three sets while their male equivalents play the best of five.

What about golf?

Jon Rahm banked $3.24m for winning The Masters;

Brooks Kopeka picked up $3.15m for winning the US PGA;

Wyndham Clark collected $3.6m for winning the US Open;

Brian Harman collected $3m for winning The Open.

Allison Corpuz won the US Women’s Open. Her prize? $2m. Lilia Vu took home $1.35m for winning the Women’s Open. The winners of all five women’s majors collected far less than their male equivalents. 

Men and women play their majors over 72 holes.

Formula One

Formula One is one of the most popular sports on the planet. It is a sport that is dominated by changing technology, and every year the people who run the sport are happy to change the rules in an effort to make F1 more appealing and more competitive. They don’t always succeed in getting it right but at least they try.

Why does golf find it so difficult to change the rules? Take the golf ball rollback as an example. Why on earth do we have to wait six years before the USGA and R&A introduce new regulations designed to ensure that the golf ball does not fly as far. Just get on with it.


Cricket is seen by many as a sport that is stuck in the past, watched by men wearing blazers, shirts and ties - just like golf! For much of its history it was all about Test cricket.

If you are a 'proper’ cricket fan you will probably happily sit through all five days of a Test match. But the number of people prepared to do that was dwindling. 

And so T20 was born. It is fast, it is exciting, it is entertaining - and it has introduced a whole new audience to the sport. And here’s the thing - the crash, bang, wallop nature of T20 has translated itself to the Test arena. The England Test team now play the long form of the game in almost exactly the same way as they approach T20. 

It is time that golf embraced change, and one of the best ways to rid it of its muddy-duddy image is to get rid of the dress code and to find ways to make the top professionals play the game more quickly. Maybe it’s time for some nine-hole tournaments.


Sport is always looking for new and emerging markets. Snooker is now big business in China - they simply cannot get enough of it. Players such as Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are serious superstars in China. 

Golf has played with the idea of growth in China and, to be honest, its failure to take this on as a serious quest defies belief. It is a no brainer. 

The Chinese love sport and if we could get them to embrace the game of golf and then find a couple of home-grown superstars the progress made would be truly mind-boggling!

Professional Golf

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Snooker, Rugby & Tennis

I am sick to the back teeth of droning on and on about slow play. The powers-that-be have a problem with it, they know they have a problem with it and yet still they refuse to address it. Anybody who watches Jordan Spieth agonising over three-foot putts or Keegan Bradley agonising over every shot he plays will agree that something needs to be done. 

In tennis, players have 30 seconds to serve a ball, snooker has a tournament in which players have to hit the ball within 20 seconds of coming to the table and when a rugby player steps up to plant a conversion between the posts a clock starts counting down. 

And guess what? All of these work. 

On the PGA Tour, players have 40 seconds to hit a shot but we all know that almost none of them adhere to it. Let’s get them on the clock and penalise them EVERY time they break the time limit. And let’s do it NOW!


When footballers show dissent or commit fouls they are shown yellow cards; for serious foul play they are shown a red card and are sent from the field of play. How many times have you heard a TV commentator apologise for the language of a Tour golfer? And how many times have you been appalled when one of them breaks a club in anger or verbally abuses his caddie? 

Here’s a thought - have a referee follow every golf match. The first time a player swears he is shown a yellow card, the second him he swears he is shown a red card and given an automatic two-shot penalty. Breaking a club in anger is also a two-shot penalty offence. And if there is a third offence he is disqualified.


I love the darts. Don’t get me wrong - I know it is not a sport. But it is fabulous entertainment. 

And one of the best parts is the player walk-on. They are announced, along with everything they have achieved, and then head to the oche accompanied by their favourite piece of music. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that this would work at golf tournaments. If nothing else, it would get the crowd going. And the choice of walk-on songs would tell you a great deal about the players too.

It is worth noting that darts also survived a damaging split and has actually thrived in the years since that happened. Can that happen with golf? The jury is out but we have to live in hope, don’t we?

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