1. Trading Pacific blue for the NFL
Given the PGA Tour's desire to avoid the NFL in the fall, rushing to end its season in September, it remains interesting that the tour is OK with going up against two of the NFL's biggest weekends of the year -- the wild-card and divisional playoff rounds.
Two games on Saturday, followed by two on Sunday for two weekends in a row. The games draw massive interest, and you know there a good number of golf fans included in that mix who either put the dimpled ball out of their minds or simply can't devote even more time to watching golf when football ends.
Those views from Hawaii these first two weeks of the new year are tough to beat, but anecdotally and via ratings it is clear that the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii are watched by a less-than-ideal number of viewers. An average of 797,000 (2.55-million unique viewers) were watching nationwide as Jordan Spieth locked up his victory at Kapalua on Sunday night, even though he's the No. 1-ranked player in the world and obviously one of the game's biggest stars.
But this has nothing to do with Spieth, or the beautiful venues, or the excellent tournaments. Blame the behemoth that is the NFL and a finite amount of free time for sports fans.
There continue to be rumblings that both Hawaii tournaments will be switched to the fall, perhaps as a gateway to or from the two Asian events on the PGA Tour schedule.
If so, wouldn't it make sense to leave these two weekends free -- giving the players a full two-month PGA Tour break -- and start the season next week? Whatever the event -- and there would be nothing wrong with Palm Springs, where the weather is typically excellent -- there is only Sunday NFL football to worry about (the NFC and AFC Championship Games).
No college football, either. Start on Wednesday, end on Saturday. The following week there is only the Pro Bowl during the Super Bowl break, offering another opportunity for golf to build some hype and momentum.
2. Have a Coke and a $mile
Apparently it didn't hurt Jordan Spieth's endorsement potential that he impressed Coca-Cola officials during the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The company is a big sponsor of the PGA Tour and its link to golf goes back to Bobby Jones, who signed with the company after he retired.
3. No Tiger schedule
Spieth is drawing comparisons with Tiger Woods based on the start of his career, but so far there's not much correlation in scheduling. Woods has typically maintained a limited schedule; Spieth is seemingly always playing. And his schedule leading up to the Masters shows the difference.
There is a possibility that Spieth will play nine tournaments in 2016 prior to defending his title at Augusta National. He has already played at Kapalua, and so far is down to play next week in Abu Dhabi followed by Singapore, AT&T Pebble Beach, Northern Trust, WGC-Cadillac and Valspar. That's seven events. He will undoubtedly play the WGC-Dell Match play in Austin, Texas, two weeks prior to the Masters. And it's possible he will play the Shell Houston Open, where he lost in a playoff last year a week prior to the Masters. But that would mean three weeks in a row, including a major.
Woods never has played nine times going into the Masters. Three times he had eight tournament starts prior to Augusta, the last coming in 2001. The last time he played as many as seven was in 2006 and he played six in 2012.
4. Next up: getting rid of the flip phone
We don't really know what kind of mobile phone Brandt Snedeker uses, but we do know he was loyal to his TaylorMade driver. For the record, Snedeker until last week had been playing the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver -- since 2010.
Given the changes in technology, player whims and tinkering, playing a club for more than five years is pretty rare. The website golfwrx.com put the resale value of the TaylorMade driver at $39.60. Snedeker, who plays Bridgestone irons, has switched to the company's JGR driver at the Tournament of Champions, where he finished 12th. Snedeker said on Twitter that "the driver was going forever in Maui.''
5. Poults' Ryder Cup audition
It is hard to imagine Ian Poulter traveling to Malaysia for the EurAsia Cup if he didn't feel the need to impress European captain Darren Clarke -- who also happens to be the captain for the Ryder Cup team later this year. Poutler, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, has slipped to 58th in the world after being as high as 12th two years ago. He knows his place on the European team at Hazeltine is no lock. So taking part in the Ryder Cup-like competition that pits a European team against an Asia team is a good move.
6. Boo's beard
Boo Weekley showed up in Honolulu looking like hunting, and not so much golf, has been part of his recent past.
7. Finding a new putting stroke
The anchored putting ban might not have a bigger effect on any professional player than Tim Clark, who was highly critical of the rules change when it was first announced. Clark, a veteran from South Africa who turned pro in 1998 and has two PGA Tour titles, was born with a congenital condition that makes it impossible to supinate his wrists. He has argued that a conventional putting stroke does not work for him, and he used a broomstick putter going back to his college days at NC State.
Clark, 40, told Golfweek this week at the Sony Open that he has experimented with numerous putters over the past year and that he settled on one that will allow him to secure the grip against his left arm, much like Matt Kuchar -- a method that is legal, although many wonder why.
Still, it is going to take some getting used to, Clark said. "You can't wipe away 18 years of a habit,'' he said. "So in some ways, I feel like this is a rookie season for me.''
8. Joburg Open
Nothing says The Open quite like South Africa. Well, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Gary Player and Bobby Locke, of course, have great links to golf's oldest championship because of their victories. But deciding who gets in the tournament?
This week's Joburg Open on the European Tour offers three Open spots and is among several tournaments in which golfers can qualify for Royal Troon in July.
Several years ago, the Open eliminated a final qualifying tournament near the Open site in favor of 36-hole qualifiers overseas. It then scrapped those for this system, which sees qualifiers come from actual tournaments.
Although there are still final qualifying events in the U.K., the tournament misses some of its old charm with those 36-hole shootouts.
9. It's not Powerball, but ...
Dustin Johnson's tie for 10th at the Tournament of Champions pushed him past $30 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour, making him the 20th player to reach the milestone. All of the players are active, led by Tiger Woods with more than $110 million, followed by Phil Mickelson with $77.4 million. The only players older than age 50 are Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Kenny Perry.