Rivalry, What Rivalry?

No-one will ever have golf under his thumb. No round ever will be so good it could not have been better. Perhaps this is why golf is the greatest of games. You are not playing a human adversary; you are playing a game. You are playing old man par. – Bobby Jones

The 2016 golf season is well under way and the media is desperately trying to create issues where there are none. They talk about the stellar play of Jason Day and bemoan the play of Jordan Spieth. Every week they look for the rise of Rory McIlroy or Rickie Fowler. It is very confusing who is who and what actually the media is trying to portray.

The golfing media continues to drone on about the rivalry between all the young players at the top of the world rankings. The expectation is that élite athletes will try and knock each other off to remain number one. Well, golf is not that type of sport.

The days of Jack Nicklaus vs Arnold Palmer are over. These two giants changed the face of professional golf and through the years players like Tom Watson, Ray Floyd, Lee Trevino and Gary Player have all come and gone against Nicklaus, but the one player that dominated was Nicklaus.

Tiger Woods faced many players that rose and fell during his 20 years of dominance. He was a unique player who wanted the ongoing competition to be the best regardless of the field; however today I am not so sure that players have the desire to always be on top. Woods was definitely comparable to Nicklaus, even better most would say, however that type of dominance is just not happening in golf today.

Rory McIlroy said in 2013 after his practice round at the PGA Championship, “In golf, eras last about 6 months instead of 20 years!” McIlroy hit the nail on the head, dominating in golf is always short-lived. Today it is Day, McIlroy and Spieth dominating from week to week; tomorrow it might be Fowler or Johnson. So how can rivalries be built if players quickly rise and fall from grace within the media.

The professional golf landscape is full of fantastic young players. The core 10 players will be around for some time and developing any real rivalries is unlikely. They will continue to play awesome golf, win every once in a while or even a couple of weeks in a row, and without question they will continue to entertain the masses. But, to intentionally develop rivalries outside the media…..I doubt it.

Many of the players today have the desire to win, but given the media attention and the intense scrutiny of their every move, I think the top players like Day, Spieth, McIlroy are happy to just play golf and let the chips fall where they may (except for the Majors). The media comparisons of these young lions to Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods is way to premature!

Golf is a game designed to compete against yourself. It is a game where only the player can gauge their play. It is a game. I love to play golf; I enjoy competing; however golf is meant to be a personal challenge and there is no room for rivalries if it detracts from playing well or having fun!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

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