04 Apr 2024

Pete Cowen: Golf is at a Major crossroad

I’m in America at the moment, working with my players, but it’s a challenge to say the least with the current professional golfing climate.

Previously, I could just catch up with them all prior to a PGA Tour event and then during the relevant practice rounds. These days I’m all over the place, but ironically most of my players are based on the LIV Golf League and things will feel more normal going into their event in Miami the week before the Masters.

Out of the LIV Golf line up I will only have two players at Augusta, Brooks Koepka and Joaquim Niemann. Both stand a great chance of winning, but I’ve got to have a proper catch up with Brooks. He will be fired up, finishing twice now at the Masters will not sit well with him. I know McIlroy, Scheffler and Rahm are regarded by many in the press as favourites, but I don’t see why. Rory has not won a Major in 10 years; Scottie and Rahm have only three Majors between them, yet Brooks finished runner-up last year and went on to win the PGA Championship and isn’t considered a favourite?

That will suit Brooks, he isn’t flying under the radar, but will want to win to silence to critics and more importantly, bag another Major.


Golf courses suit a players’ eye or not, and Augusta National highlights this when you see how well many of the past champions perform. Just look at Langer and Couples, they can still make the cut regardless of their age, on a course that is now more than 7,500 yards. It’s not all about distance off the tee but managing your way round the challenges.

I’ve just been working hard with one past champion, Danny Willett, who is coming back to fitness after shoulder rehab. He’s doing brilliantly and hopefully might tee it up on Thursday. He will be able to play a few practice rounds beforehand to see where his game is at and call it one way or the other just before the start. That’s the great thing about being a former winner, you get a spot regardless. So, you are not taking away an invite by playing or pulling out at the last minute.

Standing on the range at Augusta will still feel odd without the likes of Westwood, Stenson and Poulter. In addition to not have the likes of Talor Gooch and Thomas Pieters just highlights the field does not contain the best golfers in the world.

This might play a part in Willett committing to start, as if you factor in the limited field and where the cut might be, he just needs to beat around 20 players over the two rounds. 

The Masters will also be the first Major for Guy Kinnings as head of the DP World Tour and it will be interesting to see how he does things differently to Keith Pelley. But we need to remember the DP World Tour is run by a committee, and just like Keith, Guy will just be one voice at the table. I do hope that the DP World Tour try to keep hold of their star players more, as trying to entice sponsors for regular events has got to be a challenge when you gift your 10 best players each year PGA Tour cards, especially when many of your European household names are at LIV Golf.

I keep on hearing that all this is about growing the game. But what does that exactly mean? It sounds impressive, but how is all this growing the game?

Surely, growing the game should be about making the game more accessible to those not currently involved, and not those actively playing. Golf remains a minority sport and that will only change if we give more people, especially the kids, the opportunity to play.

Clubs around the world continue to close due to lack of funds and in turn that limits the game. Not everyone can afford to join a country club and municipal courses have always been the backbone of the game. Affordable golf for the masses is needed, especially if we are trying to provide a stepping stone into the game from Topgolf or Toptracer ranges.

Golf is at a crossroads in more ways than one.

Related articles

Scheffler is the man but keep an eye on Brooks

Having just got home from four straight weeks on the road...

Guy Kinnings takes the helm of the DP World Tour

A new chapter in the history of the DP World Tour...

Keeping an eye on Brooks and Niemann

It’s getting close to Masters time again and it’ll be interesting...