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Volume 24 No. 159
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Golf Roundtable Examines Impact Of Woods' Absence On PGA Tour, Ideas For 15-Inch Holes

A roundtable this week examined Tiger Woods' absence on the PGA Tour due to a back injury and why it "looms so large this season," in addition to reaction to the HackGolf concept. Among those participating were SI's Michael Bamberger, Gary Van Sickle and Jeff Ritter, Golf magazine's Joe Passov and Josh Sens, and's Mike Walker. Below are excerpts from the roundtable.

Bamberger: "Woods's absence looms large because he has been, by far, the most compelling figure in golf for 20 years. If you aren't noting his absence or feeling it, you don't care about men's professional golf."

Van Sickle: "If you need Tiger to enjoy golf, maybe you don't actually like golf."

Passov: "Tiger's absence looms especially large this time around because so few stars have ascended to fill the void."

Walker: "I don't really get it, but it's not healthy. Woods hadn't won the Masters in eight years but his absence there was all people were talking about until Saturday afternoon. [Phil] Mickelson and [Rory] McIlroy being nonfactors this season doesn't help. More memorable finishes like Sunday at the Players, with that incredible putt by [Martin] Kaymer on 17, will help."

Ritter: "A single player can't fill Tiger's void, but no one has stepped up to become the new sheriff -- and the best rivalry on Tour is still Tiger vs. Jack's record. Phil hasn't clicked. Jimmy Walker's hot start has all but worn off. [Jordan] Spieth is rising but not there yet. Patrick Reed is, in fact, not currently in the top five. Bubba [Watson]'s your Player of the Year at the moment." 

HACKER'S PARADISE: The roundtable also discussed TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King's HackGolf idea for 15-inch holes being added to courses around the country.

Walker: "Golf's appeal is in its difficulty and its rich tradition. Changing the game to attract new players will actually turn more people away."

Bamberger: "I think King has the right idea, and the PGA does, too. They're not saying a 15-inch hole is golf as we know it. They are looking to draw people to the game."

Van Sickle: "Hack Golf is an experiment worth trying on a small scale as a way to attract juniors and beginners. I wouldn't rip out the regulation holes on a regulation course to do it and alienate the golfers who are already hooked, though."

Sens: "It doesn't have to be either/or. King has pitched the 15-inch hole (and other HackGolf ideas) as a supplement to golf-as-we-know-it, not as a replacement. They can coexist."

Ritter: "Hack Golf could hit home with casual players and especially families, and for that reason it's a concept worth exploring, even if it's limited to special outings and events" (, 5/12).