Look Into My Crystal Ball
By JP McNaney
How do I start the 2023 edition of my little column?
“Hello frien….” nope can’t do that one. Too iconic and probably trademarked. Besides, it’s still two months away from Augusta.
“Play Bal”…um…not quite. Right time of year but wrong sport.
“Let’s get ready to rumb”….given the events of the 2022 golf landscape, might be appropriate but perhaps too soon.
“Gentlemen…start your”…stop…not even close!
A new year brings new beginnings for everyone including golf columnists. This first edition usually takes longer to start than others for a variety of reasons. Typically, not much has happened during the PGA TOUR off-season other than a few players changing equipment.
Occasionally a storyline carries over from the previous year or the USGA unveils a new edition of The Rules of Golf giving us something to talk about, but the start of the 2023 golf season presents a unique challenge…too many things to choose!
LIV vs the PGA TOUR, Tiger playing regular TOUR events again, iconic (yet defunct) brands suddenly reappearing on the retail landscape or Department of Justice investigations of the PGA TOUR, the USGA and Augusta National all present temping starting points.
Rather than picking one thing to opine over, I’ve chosen to cast a large net over the golf industry and do something truly reckless…try to predict the future.
I could start out picking the low hanging fruit like predicting Patrick Reed will sue someone, but that would be like saying the sun will rise in the east.
Instead, I’ve channeled my inner Nostradamus to see what 2023 will bring.
I can see an image staring to immerge.
I see John Daly. I see his son John Jr standing next to him. They are on a stage. Wait…they are at the Grammy’s. Are they presenting? No…they’ve won! They have won for the Best New Country Duo or Group. Not sure who wrote the music or the lyrics but it’s clear that Big John did not provide the vocals.
I’m starting to get another image.
I see Tiger Woods. The image is fuzzy at first but it’s beginning to become clearer. I see the color green. I see azaleas. I see red and black on a Sunday. Obviously, this can only mean one thing, right? Wait, the image is changing. There is no celebration. The faces show shock. Disbelief is the prevailing sentiment. Tiger has just 3-putted to lose The Masters on the 72nd hole. The golf world is inconsolable.
That can’t be. Let me look again.
The crystal ball is starting to show something else. This one is coming in very fast. I see it! Wow…the Minnesota golf season will start on April 1st! (editor’s note…check back on that day…might be someone playing a joke on me).
That’s it…instead of this fake crystal ball I got on Amazon…I’m going to go with my gut.
The most immediate vision coming through is that a resolution in LIV v PGA TOUR will not come in 2023. No matter what the UK court rules nor what the discovery process in the US Courts reveals, history suggests that litigation on this scale will last for YEARS. The added intrigue of Department of Justice Investigations of most of the defendants in the LIV suit means this thing will drag out far beyond December 2023…or 2024 for that matter. In essence, we are in the first episode of the first season of a show that signed on for three seasons on Netflix so sit back, grab your popcorn and get ready to binge watch.
Speaking of Netflix, “Full Swing” the PGA TOUR sanctioned 8-episode series that debuted in February will produce a spin-off. While not a PGA TOUR production, the YouTube series “The Grind” produced by The Firepit Collective (full disclosure, sponsored by the writer’s employers GOLFTEC) will capture a broader following. This will prompt Netflix executives to quickly produce a follow-up that tells the stories of the middle-class PGA TOUR players rather than showing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas randomly taking a 45-minute private jet ride to play golf in Oklahoma or Brooks Koepka lamenting his poor play poolside at his oceanfront mansion.
Finally, I predict that we will see a relatively unknown player win a major this year. It’s happened before. Shaun Micheel won the PGA in 2003. Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton won the Open Championship in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Most will say “no one saw that coming” but obviously someone did. Even if it was only those players.
We have not seen that in several seasons. I believe that changes in 2023. I am not entirely sure who it will be but if I was in Vegas, I would put money on Joel Dahmen and I predict it will be the PGA Championship. He had a chance at the 2022 US Open and had one of his most consistent years. Even though he was the main subject of episode 4 of “Full Swing,” he’s still relatively unknown.
There they are. Those are my predictions for the 2023 golf season. Given my lack of gambling skills, I wouldn’t go to the casino and bet the mortgage, but it will be fun to see how this column ages.
Here’s to a great 2023!