Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez and explained why he finds it so difficult to watch modern-day golf:
“It’s boring watching golf these days. It’s just not very interesting any more. The game has become all about smashing the ball as far as you can and about putting contests.
You see the distances the modern-day player is hitting the ball and the fact they can use wedges to get the ball out of the rough and get it on the green. If they were hitting it 50 yards shorter and having to hit five-irons for the second shot, they wouldn’t be getting the ball on the green from the rough.
The game is upside down with new technology. The modern players simply don’t need it. It was brought in to help the amateurs, not the pros, but I’m bound to think that the ball is the biggest culprit. They’re hitting nine-irons now where the top players were hitting five-irons 50 years ago.
The courses are getting longer so it costs more to keep them maintained and it means it takes so much more time to play.
I also don’t consider these elite guys are that talented and nobody looks like they’re having a good time. They’re all just going about their business. A 30-foot putt goes in but they don’t smile, there’s no fist pumping and it’s all just very matter of fact.
The players have become too robotic. There’s no emotion. I watched Patrick Cantlay in the BMW Championship last week and he was miserable all day long. The guys these days don’t interact with the galleries at all.
It’s the same people every week getting millions of dollars. Who cares any more? It’s all very predictable.
It’s not like when Arnold Palmer or Seve Ballesteros were in their pomp. It used to be a real spectacle to see those charismatic players in action. Tiger Woods still pulls the biggest crowds and he’s got a bit more oomph...but generally speaking there’s little emotion shown and I don’t think that’s good.
Golf is at a crossroads and I wonder how on earth it’s going to move forward. The powers-that-be have lost the plot. Look at this week, Justin Thomas goes into the Tour Championship with a two-shot lead and the event hasn’t even started. It’s a nonsense.
A lot of us senior players have been imploring the R&A and the USGA to rein in the distance the ball travels. They say they are monitoring it but I wonder whether they are seeing what the rest of us see.
The players shoot 61s and 62s as a matter of fact every week and it’s making a mockery of the game.
They don’t need 14 clubs in the bag, they don’t use half of them. It’s crazy. And the greens are all perfect, they can tap spike marks down, unlike the old days. If you had 25 putts a round back in my day it was a fantastic putting round but they’re regularly taking 22 and 23 these days.
There’s no finesse to the game any more. You don’t see them fading or drawing the ball, it’s all about gripping it and ripping it. Tiger put it in a nutshell when he said the guys go for the driver every time.
I always thought you had to hit the fairway to give yourself a chance with the second shot but accuracy doesn’t seem to matter any more. It’s sad. These guys are all swilling around in money, they take private planes everywhere but maybe that bubble will burst.
I just don’t think the people responsible for shepherding the game can see the consequences of their actions. No one who truly loves golf could say this is fantastic what we’ve got now.
I don’t blame the players for it. It all needs a big rethink from the top but I don’t think that’ll happen. There have been warning signs for years, alarm bells ringing. Arnie said the same for the last 10, 15 years of his life, Jack Nicklaus likewise, Greg Norman, Gary Player. But none of it has been heeded. The powers-that-be choose to go their own way and I don’t think the game is better for it.
All the wonderful golf courses that used to exist that were 6,800 to 7,000 yards long, the Sunningdales, the Cypress Points, they would still be spectacular if they were played differently.
I played Cypress Point with double US Open champion Retief Goosen earlier this year and he was driving the par-fours at the age of 50. You wouldn’t dream of doing that before. The way they’ve gone with the ball has made thousands of courses like that extinct around the world.
It’s a smash and grab thing. A 7,500-yard course that used to be a renowned test is not a challenge to the modern guys because they’re hitting wedges and nine-irons into the green more than 50 percent of the time. It’s not a challenge any more, it’s all very samey to them.
We used to read about Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, the greats of yesteryear, but golf has gone so far away from what they all did, it’s difficult to relate to the modern game.
Hogan’s swing was a thing of beauty and you watch guys today jumping off their feet. I’m fast losing interest in it. The game’s not compelling to me any longer.
The game is in a sorry state and I’d like to see some of the old skills coming back, accuracy given more attention, more importance, rather than brute strength.
It’s so predictable now. I can imagine some of these young guys thinking its sour grapes from an old man but I just have the best interests of the game at heart because it’s a game I’ve always loved.
Whether it’s Brooks Koepka or Rory McIlroy, it’s impossible to relate to the game they’re playing now. I don’t blame them one bit because as a player you take advantage wherever you can as you try to get in the winners’ circle.
When The Open goes back to St Andrews in 2021 you are going to see 60 broken if the weather is fine. That surely can’t be right.
Anchoring is another big deal for me. It used to be a major thing but suddenly it’s not an issue any more. They can do what they like. Players are still anchoring but it doesn’t seem to matter now.
I’d like to see the ball go a maximum of 275 yards but I think that’s a pipe dream. There are so many good players around these days. There never used to be when the equipment was difficult to use, when we had persimmon heads, steel shafts and a ball that didn’t travel as far.
You wouldn’t get this mass of humanity being so good. It all needs rethinking or someone needs to reinvent the game. We need to go back to the drawing board.”