| ||It may have been 1999, but golf fans got a glimpse of the 21st century a
year early. The beginnings of a global tour, huge increases in purses and
disappearing stars are just part of the future of golf.
The World Golf Championships made their debut in 1999 with three events
featuring players from tours around the world. In 2001, it will increase to
four. As the 21st century moves forward, that number could become 52 as the
best players in the world begin to compete against each other on a regular
When the Million Dollar Challenge began in the early '90s, it was the only
tournament offering a $1 million purse to the winner. In 1999, there were
four such events -- and more are on the way.
Big purses lead to big paydays for the top players, which leads to fans
seeing less of the biggest stars. In 1999, Fred Couples played just 16
official events; Ernie Els played 18; Greg Norman played 12. That
will become more and more the case as the new century rolls around.
The big purses could also shorten careers. Will the young stars currently
roaming the PGA Tour continue to play beyond their prime? If Tiger Woods
becomes the career money leader before his 30th birthday, will he hang
around? That's not likely. Don't count on any of the current crop of players
to be ambassadors for the game like Arnold Palmer.
As for the game itself, equipment will continue to improve, players will hit
the ball farther and farther, courses will become longer and longer, and
scores will remain about the same.
Why? One simple fact hasn't changed over the past
100 years: Drive for show, putt for dough. Golf will
remain a game determined by chipping and putting.
|Tiger Woods will no doubt be a main part of golf in the next century.|
Why think that's going to change.
Greg Robertson is the golf editor at ESPN Golf Online