by Jeff Skinner
In the March issue of Golf Digest, the magazine that is, Senior Writer Jaime Diaz asks why we constantly feel the need to ordain good young golfers “The Next One.” We do it all the time in every sport. Poor Andrew Luck already has the weight of an NFL franchise on his shoulders and he hasn’t even graduated yet.
We are always labeling someone the next Michael Jordan or the next Nicklaus or Woods. Rory McIlroy is probably the most popular choice for “The Next One” as he looks to have all the tools to compete for decades. Diaz likes Keegan Bradley and his “toughness” and the fact that he has never been the golden boy.
The PGA Tour capitalizes on this Who’s the Next One theme with its “Versus” ad campaign where it selects a young stud and then shows an older player and kind of pits the two against each other. It is a great theme, challenging the next generation to come and take the glory from those seasoned veterans.
That’s all well and good and I thoroughly enjoy watching Rory, Ryo, Rickie, Mannassero and even Cauley and Cantlay try and shift the balance of power to the twentysomethings. I am guilty of calling these guys the next one but for my money I may just as well watch the old guard. And I don’t mean Ernie, Vijay, Phil or Tiger.
I get to a decent amount of tournaments around the Northeast and if there’s a major near a day’s drive I’ll pack it up and head there to see the current crop of “greats” out there. But I tell you this: I would lay down some serious cash to see the real old guard tee it up again. If Jack, Arnie, Gary or Tom were playing some dog patch course with a stick and a rock I would dump these “Johnny Come Latelys” in a second.
Sorry guys, I would rather watch any combination of the Big Four than any player in the top fifty today. I still get to see Watson on the Champions Tour but I, like a few generations of golf fans miss Jack, Arnie and Gary.
So in between looking for the “next one” and waiting for the next dominant champion I’ll have to make do with those old Golf Channel reruns when the Big Four were in their prime. That’s fine with me; none of these young studs come close to the Big Four.