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  • Smokin Joe

Happy New Year!

The time between Christmas and New Year’s allows us to sit back and reflect how 2018 played out and what 2019 potentially holds for the golf fans everywhere. As I share my thoughts hopefully I’ll kick start your own thoughts from last year and insights to 2019. Don’t be shy let me know what I missed, got wrong and way out of bounds on what 2019 holds.

Let’s start with the conversation that is the foundation of golf – how healthy is the sport I love? From my perspective golf has been going through an identity crisis the last 18 years and what golf has found is a bright future for the game.

  1. The increase popularity of Top Golf will only spill over on to the golf course. Nothing sparks curiosity like a great tease – every major blockbuster movie started with a tease! Top Golf is spreading around the world and the demand is only growing every day. Have you tried to get a tee time for prime time Friday/Saturday or Sunday – good luck.

  2. The 1st tee continues to promote the 9 core beliefs of golf and families are uniting around ranges and golf courses from coast to coast. My own experience is the 1st tee program at Quail Valley Golf Course in Missouri City that has a waiting list of young individuals that want to learn the game of golf. Plus the sight on any Saturday morning of hundreds of young individuals excited to be at the driving range, intense on learning from the lessons for the day and high fiving after making a good drive or long putt.

  3. Drive, Chip and Putt program created by the PGA and Augusta National, with the finals hosted at the Masters the week prior to the tournament has become an annual tradition to watch on TV and smile at the competition being created among boys and girls all under the age of 15.

  4. Young guns coming on the PGA and LPGA tour are amazing. They hit it farther, straighter and have no fear. On top of all the God given talent these golfers have they also have a comradery with each other that is so exciting. To see their peers waiting on the 18th green to celebrate a player’s 1st win or even more exciting – 1st major is truly the definition of golf.

What a year 2018 provided. Some quick takeaways;

  1. Back to Back US Open wins and throw in the PGA Champions – Brooks Koepka is #1 in the world of golf.

  2. 2. Patrick Reed definitely makes golf interesting with his win at the Masters and his foot in the mouth ego.

  3. Jordan Spieth was somewhat quiet. But end of the year wedding will put his mind back on winning and in a Major way I believe.

  4. Phil will win but I don’t see any more majors. I do hope I’m wrong.

  5. What a year Tiger gave the game of golf. His win at the tour ending championship was one for the history books. Welcome back Tiger, you were missed. (Oh by the way I love the new and improved Tiger personality. Keep it up and the world will be your biggest fan.)

  6. Young guns continue to amaze but none more the Bryson DeChambeau – he just keeps on winning.

Looking into the crystal ball of 2019 let’s make some wild and crazy predictions that we can look back on in 2019 and grade our performance.

  1. The Majors take a big step this year moving the Players to March and the PGA to May. New weather elements, for the tournaments that rotate their golf locations some exciting venues. so let’s make some predictions;

  • The Players – March has not been the best weather month in Florida and the rains could take the roll out of play with a soft course. It’s still TPC at Sawgrass and course management will be key. Let’s go with Justin Rose to win with Rickie Fowler, Matt Kucher and Justin Thomas outside the ropes watching.

  • The Masters – 2018 leads into quite the conversation as is this the Major that Tiger wins to continue his stalking of Nicklaus? I don’t think so nor will Patrick Reed repeat. But I do think that Augusta is the perfect major and course for Jordan Spieth to claim – I’m Back!

  • PGA Championship moves to May and away from the crazy heat, humidity and the NFL. Watch for the TV ratings to boom and the competition to grow. Being played at Bethpage you can eliminate any golfer that is not a bomber – Zack Johnson and group. I also think the length will eliminate Phil Mickelson – he will try too hard. From the bomber ranks – Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas would be a great final threesome on Sunday in a playoff with Dustin Johnson raising the Wanamaker trophy.

  • US Open will be played at Pebble Beach and so many historic memories come into play – Nicklaus iron shot, Watson holing out from the rough and Tiger lapping the field not once but twice. Players to watch would be Tiger, Phil, Rory, Fleetwood but the one to rise to the occasion will be Jason Day.

  • The Open says it all – this is the father of golf and in 2019 returns to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and everyone is hoping for an Irish pot of gold. Could the Beef Johnson pull off a miracle – no. How about senior golfer Darren Clark – time has caught up to him and the young guns will leave him in their dust. Graeme McDowell – has not really pushed the majors since he was handed the US Open at Pebble by Dustin Johnson. So I would put money on Rory McIlroy to win.

Smokin Joe reflections of 2018 and bold predictions for 2019. Let the New Year get going and let’s hear the starter proclaim, “Now on the tee ….

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