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"Are pro golfers losing their longevity?"

That's the topic tackled by the WSJ's Brian Costa in light of injuries to top players, huge purses, wraparound calendars and signs that we may see shorter runs by tour players.

After setting up the premise, Costa includes this:

Of course, no one wants to end up exactly like Woods, no matter how many tournaments they win along the way. His present is painful and his future appears increasingly bleak. And there are plenty of ways today’s stars can avoid the same fate.

Day said he is making a slight swing change this year that will make it easier on his back even if it is likely to cost him a few yards off the tee. Players are becoming ever smarter about the way they approach fitness. And if more of them break down at earlier ages, their peers can draw lessons from that.

“If these guys only have 10-year careers, that will be more learning for golf,” said 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. But if they have 20-year careers, that might well be enough for some of them.

Thomas Pieters, a 25-year-old Belgian who is one of golf’s rising stars, said for as much as he wants to win major championships now, he wants to do something else by the time he is in his mid-40s. He has thought about joining some of his friends in the real estate business one day.

“There is more to life than golf,” he said.

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Reader Comments (25)

Less longevity (and familiarity) in golf careers will affect audiences. Less audiences will affect marketability. Less marketability will affect purses. Less purses will affect longevity and ultimately viability. In the end too much money will kill ALL pro sports. Golf CAN survive by going back to the future. I wrote a book about it that only a thousand or so have read. The rest of you are uninformed!
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
All the more reason to play in at least one Olympic competition before decrepitude arrives, right? And as long as they're healthy, the IOC should demand golf be a more athletic competition. Lug the bag, use one brain and ditch the paid servant.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
"Less longevity (and familiarity) in golf careers will affect audiences."

That's quite a premise. I say that quality trumps quantity. 20 years of Steve Stricker, no offense, and his ilk didn't do anything for pro golf, entertainment-wise. Just Jack and Arnie raised pro golf for decades.
“There is more to life than golf,” .

That's what SHE said.
Ye gods! Tell this to those scenescent gentlemen still sclaffing and foozling it around on the elder tour. Good for them.
Finally a golf ball and driver that will cut their careers (and backs) short, like flys dropping right and left. However, on a brighter note this will be good news for the social security [sic] fund, and those in charge of it.
Truly great players, ie multi major winners will go on as long as possible, they are competing against history. They will battle until they can't compete. You only have to look at Federer and Nedal in tennis as a classic example. For them, it's not all about money. The ones who want to be rich, that is a different matter.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
@Ivan Morris - Since I am one of the uninformed that has not read your book do you have an example of a sport that did the rise and fall that you are referring to here? I would ask for the book title, but I frankly don't have time for books at this moment in my life (sorry).

- - - - - - -
I like that Jason Day is changing to possibly sacrifice a little distance for longevity. I think that many people on here have referenced that Jack, Arnie and other players back then 'could' hit it much further but instead chose to swing at 80% most of the time. That probably helped their longevity.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMattS
The game of golf offers no place to x-rays every person’s soul, it does not discriminate in whom it exposes. If $$ is the primary objective, longevity will be negatively affected
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZokol
The financial rewards of very top level results are so great that absolutely players are going to sacrifice their longetivity in hopes of capturing that Speith 2015 year of $20M+ on course which drives years of $20M+ off course. Second place in the FedEx Cup can represent $10M - $15M less than 1st in a single year.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
Think of professional golf in its current state as The Bell Curve. You're going to have the top 10% who succeed and can maintain longevity (Mickelson, Sergio, even Kuchar for the past 8 years). Then you have the middle of the pack, guys who are satisfied as long as they're in the top-125 (Ricky Barnes, Aaron Baddeley come to mind). Then you have the remaining part of the curve, guys who may have won once or twice in their career, but ultimately lose their card (D.A. Points comes to mind).

The issue that will affect the future generation(s) of golf will be that Tiger created the biggest bubble golf could ever imagine. Not Rory, nor Jordan or Jason, will ever be able to move the needle the way Tiger did from 1997-2008/09. Even Mickelson couldn't do that. This, and that with TV contracts coming up soon, and an ever changing broadcast media (cord cutting), will the TV revenue be there? I use Indycar racing as the prime example. Incredibly weak TV numbers means that it is harder and harder for teams to find sponsors. No sponsors equals no ride and teams fold up shop. So you look at how the next TV contracts are setup, dollar wise, along with what title sponsors are willing to pay the tour for naming rights, will players be able to cash in the way they have been the past 15 years?

Golfers who win majors will never go hungry. I think John Daly said in the 30 for 30 on ESPN that the Open Championship made him $10-$15 million. And that was in 1995. But, you look at the middle of the road guys, they may not be as lucky.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon
What are you saying that the courses are not maintained as well as they have been - that they no longer give the Pro's the edge they need, is the grass longer than the felt on a pool table - come on guy seems you may be slipping and technology is getting the credit, because the ball is not, well according to the R&A/USGA.

It can't be down to the equipment makers - would they dare ruin a great game for money, nay they cannot be that........................ or can they?
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
2 schools of thought:
1) Trevino said Tiger would have a bad back on TV in 1998.
2) Galea's potions shorten careers in all pro spots leagues
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSouthside
Of course golfers will lose their longevity as golf becomes more and more athletic. Goes unsaid.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterShivas

"as golf becomes more and more athletic" you think? Because many ODG wore tweed does not make them less athletic.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
@ Shivas

Bingo. More stress, shorter careers. The explosion in purses has allowed the mediocre, (in the pro golf sense), to bank for life if they're financially savvy. Picture that pre-Woods. He brought the TV money up and allowed to many to reach the eff it point that hadn't previously existed. Still, the whole lot of them worldwide is a speck in numbers. making the show, staying for a few years, is the goal for most. Wins and majors are frosting.
02.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOriginal AG
Several years ago I said Rory McC would be sitting on a couch on his porxh in his underwear after 30, before 35; and I have bee preaching the demise of Day for almost as many years.

Both are on their way out, sadly, unless they address the 80-85 % rule instead of 110%.

they make more than one iron to hit into the green with more than an 8,9 or W and it is no embarrassment. They are only fooling themselves. Sad.

02.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Jason Day..there is a swing that will cause trouble. Dustin Johnson swings with more grace, I see him lasting well into his 40's should he choose.

Rory, I'd put him somewhere in between. His tempo to me is far smoother than Jason Day who really looks like he's at it 100%
02.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
MattS, Perhaps Jack & Arnie chose to hit it at 80% not to extend their careers but because: a) that's what everyone did, and b) the balata balls would banana more than the current ones, so 100% was riskier.
02.18.2017 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
EW- true about the swinng of Rory not being the lash of Day,: nut look at how often Rory is hurt, even non golf injuries-- he is either injury prone, or clumsy or simply needs to be aware of more around him; his career is sure to be cut short at the rate he is going. And that's ashame.
02.18.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Digs, probably the latter. I feel he just needs to get it together better. I hope his desire holds up, because I still think he can win another 6 majors. He can't afford to waste these precious years
02.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
Length has always been an advantage, but in the modern game, power is now more important than accuracy and skill. Sad that we'll never see another Corey Pavin on Tour.
02.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Norrie
@3foot1 I agree that they didn't swing at 80% to extend their careers, but I wonder if that was a result.
02.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMattS
"So you look at how the next TV contracts are setup, dollar wise, along with what title sponsors are willing to pay the tour for naming rights, will players be able to cash in the way they have been the past 15 years?"

@Brandon pretty interesting post. The answer to your question is, yes, the PGA Tour will continue to be able to py players at or above current levels. That said, this only applies to the PGA Tour, players on the Euro Tour are in for pay cuts in the next 5 years.
02.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPygmy

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