Golf Australia - - AROUND THE TRAPS - – Michael Jones

GOLF is cer­tainly in an in­ter­est­ing place right now. There is young tal­ent emerg­ing from all cor­ners of the globe and main­stays like Dustin John­son and Rory McIl­roy are fir­ing on all cylin­ders. We have the World Cup, Ry­der Cup, Pres­i­dents Cup and the Olympic Games. Then there’s Tiger Woods and the resur­gence of Bubba Wat­son and Phil Mick­el­son. But this doesn’t mean the game can’t be im­proved.

Whether it’s the new Rules of Golf set to be un­veiled in 2019 or the po­ten­tial roll back of the mod­ern golf ball, the gov­ern­ing bod­ies are al­ways look­ing for what changes could and should be made. So, in light of that, I put to you the age-old ques­tion: Should there be a fifth ma­jor cham­pi­onship in men’s golf?

An­swers vary. So do rea­sons. Tra­di­tion­al­ists, like renowned swing coach Butch Har­mon, sug­gest: “We’ve al­ways had four ma­jors and we should keep it that way.”

Mean­while, most of those in favour of the con­cept be­lieve The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship should sim­ply be awarded ma­jor sta­tus. “I think this should be a ma­jor, I re­ally do,” said Jor­dan Spi­eth at TPC Saw­grass. “I’m telling you, if you win here, you can win any­where. It’s the strong­est field in golf.”

So it seems only log­i­cal that the un­of­fi­cial ‘fifth ma­jor’ would fill the void if it was de­cided that an­other ma­jor cham­pi­onship was ap­pro­pri­ate. The fi­nal holes at Pete Dye’s iconic course have cre­ated last­ing mem­o­ries and the list of cham­pi­ons in­cludes some of the game’s all-time greats.

But this would do noth­ing to grow the game … It would mean four ma­jors on Amer­i­can soil. Com­pare that to ten­nis, which vis­its Mel­bourne, Paris, Lon­don and New York for its main events.

The reschedul­ing of the PGA Tour sea­son will see the US PGA Cham­pi­onship moved from Au­gust to May start­ing in 2019. This means there will be an eight-and-a-half month gap be­tween The Open Cham­pi­onship in July and the 2020 Masters in April.

So here’s an­other ques­tion to pon­der: Could the fifth ma­jor be held in the Asia-Pa­cific in that time­frame?

Asia has more golf fa­cil­i­ties in plan­ning or un­der con­struc­tion than any other re­gion in the

world. The R&A re­leased that find­ing in its “Golf around the world” re­port last year. The PGA Tour has also ex­pressed its de­sire to cap­ture the grow­ing mar­ket in Asia and al­ready holds events in Korea, Malaysia and China.

Is there po­ten­tial to hold a fifth ma­jor in ei­ther of those coun­tries? What about Aus­tralia?

Those against the idea of an­other ma­jor would prob­a­bly find that con­cept even harder to swal­low. But con­sider this. Golf, as we know it, has ex­isted since the 15th cen­tury. The cur­rent four ma­jors have only co-ex­isted since the in­cep­tion of the Masters in 1934. His­tory is im­por­tant. But it doesn’t need to stand in the way of progress.

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